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The Six Minute Pay per Click Firm Interview

May 29, 2008
From the people who designed your web site to the people who create your traditional advertising, it seems like everyone claims to be experts in search engine marketing. The problem is that most web site designers don't know much about search engine friendly design because it's contrary to many things a designer might want to do. And ad agencies that deal with traditional media don't really understand paid search engine marketing. Don't get ripped off!

Here is a six minute interview that will help you determine if the person or company you are considering hiring to manage pay per click for your web site really knows what they are doing...or if they're just trying to get more of your money! I call this the six minute interview because there are six questions which should probably take an average of a minute to answer.

1. Are you certified? Google, Yahoo!, and Microsoft each offer a certification. I will be the first to admit that in some ways (especially with Yahoo!) it's more of a marketing ploy to make agencies more adept at selling search ads. But it still displays a level of interest in the workings of the search engines that you should expect your search engine marketer to have.

2. How many companies have you worked with? You want to get an idea of the experience of the person or company that will be managing your account. If the total number of is small, are the company's existing clients large or small?

3. Who specifically will be managing my account? You want to know if your account will be personally handled by an experienced search engine marketer, or a person fresh out of college with little real experience.

4. What does your company do other than search engine marketing? If search engine marketing is just an add-on service, or one that is clearly not the company's focus, you are probably better off looking for a company that specializes in search.

5. Have you worked with a business like mine before? This is not necessarily a requirement, but every industry and every market is different, so if the company has already worked with a similar kind of business then your paid search account will reach profitability quicker.

6. Do you have any references? Whether or not you actually follow up with the references, just getting them from the company at least shows that they have confidence in their work. Testimonials are also nice to see, although some companies don't collect them so you can't really use that as a gauge.

This interview is not foolproof. I will not mention names, but my company has picked up a fair amount of business from disgruntled customers of much larger firms that only do search engine marketing. So hiring a search firm over another type of company is not a guarantee of success. But your chances of success are still much better if you hire a company that has some experience and is devoted to the field of search engine marketing.
About the Author
Jerry Work is president of Work Media, LLC, http://workmedia.net, a search engine optimization and pay per click firm based in Nashville.
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