One of the most common questions we get from our readers is how to select an agency to manage their search marketing campaigns for them.
There is definitely an abundance of firms out there that can do anything and everything from managing a PPC campaign or performing SEO work on a website to developing link baiting campaigns and so on. But it seems that many business owners – especially those that are new to the industry – have a hard time selecting the right company for themselves.
It’s an interesting issue to think about. In the web hosting industry in which I worked extensively in the past, there were a million websites that would rank web hosts on every imaginable criteria. Plus, it was very easy to find reviews from satisfied or disgruntled customers. So, even though it still took quite a bit of research to find a good web host and not all of the information was trustworthy, at least the data was out there.
In the SEM field, it’s a bit different. There may be a site or two that ranks different agencies, but it’s quite unclear what criteria they use to determine their decisions. Every once in a while, a study comes out praising one company or the other, but it’s also unclear as to what they are based on. Aside from that, there are very few resources that a prospect can go to find out if the company they are considering for their search campaigns is worth their salt.
Personally, I put a lot of weight on the contributions made by the agencies in the SEM community. When I read informative and insightful posts made on the blogs and in the forums by people such as Rand Fishkin from SEOMoz, Andy Hagans, Aaron Wall and others, it instinctively makes me trust those companies – even before I tried them out myself.
However, there are still hundreds of other companies that don’t participate in the community as much. What about them? What kind of criteria would you use to select an agency for yourself or your client?