Most small businesses are constantly pestered by firms who promise a rapid appearance at the top of page rankings and lots of clicks through to their website. If you are hearing promises that sound too good to be true, they probably are. A search marketing agency should approach a client as a potential business partner. Their responsibility will be to understand your business well enough – who you are, what you sell, who are your customers, and why your offering is different and compelling – so that search engines will see your business favorably.
Good Search Marketing? Priceless
When it is well applied, effective search marketing is almost priceless, because it enables you to create a lasting, positive image of your company that will generate significant new revenue for your company with decreased incremental spending. Alternatively, poorly executed search marketing can be a waste of both time and money.
A good search marketing agency should talk about more than clicks and rankings. They should be inquiring about your business model. They should be straightforward and honest about your current digital platforms and programs, and how they are working (or aren’t working) with your business model. Here are some tips you can use to help find a good search firm for your business:
- Look for an agency that thinks about your business goals and strategies first. If they don’t do this, how can you be confident they will be adapting their search techniques to your business?
- Find an agency that helps you think about your long-term search engine marketing. Search is an activity that will have long term impact, so you should get a good idea of how they will help you plan long term for your search marketing.
- Look for an agency that can help with a variety of search marketing techniques. Each client will have different requirements to achieve results, and the agency should be able to demonstrate several different on-page and off-page SEO techniques.
- Engage with an agency that doesn’t lock you into a long-term contract. While it takes more time to have progress with search techniques instead of PPC, it makes no sense to lock into a long-term contract. If the agency is talented and good to work with, they should not need to pressure you into one of these contracts.
- Find an agency that can work with your internal people and other agencies. A good search marketing firm will be flexible in the work arrangements it manages with its different clients.
- If their pitch sounds too good to be true, it probably is. There are no free lunches in search, and it will take some time and effort to achieve success.
- Have a good idea of what you want to spend before you get started. While budget allocations will change, having a good budget outline will let the search firm give you a good understanding of what you can expect.
- Be alert for “black hat” search practitioners. Know what are SEO practices that can put your site at risk with search engines and avoid firms that practice questionable techniques.
- Look for an agency that is transparent and comfortable with performance metrics. Search is measureable, and the firm you work with should be able to clearly explain itself and its techniques in layman’s terms. It should also be comfortable with looking at meaningful metrics.
- Local search capabilities aren’t nice to have, they are need to have. According to Google, 20% of all searches come with local qualifiers, so your firm should be comfortable with techniques that will drive local search.