If you want soaring profits while showing your competition whose boss, it’s critical that you hire a search marketing agency that has a proven track record and the industry qualifications that count. The dangers of skipping this step may land you an agency riddled with false expectations, missed opportunities and poor profitability.

But how do you know if an agency is right for the job? You may ask yourself:

  1. How can I gauge their industry experience?
  2. What industry qualification exist & are they qualified?

In this post, we have broken the 5 key steps to assess the competency of your prospective SEM agency.

  1. Do they have case studies & testimonials?

This is the critical point.

Review the agency’s website to see the volume and sentiment of their testimonials. If they don’t feature any, find out why? If they do, select a handful and request to contact these individuals for references.

Request case studies on their 3 most recent projects. They needn’t divulge the identity of their clients, but the case studies should include the following:

  1. Client Industry
  2. Budget Size
  3. Client Brief
  4. Challenges
  5. Solution
  6. Results
  1. What is the typical spend of their clients?

Find out what size budgets that they manage on average?

If you planned to invest much less than this, they may be too big for your business and you will not get much personal attention.

If you plan to spend more than their average spend, consider that they may not have the necessary skills and resources to deliver on your budget.

  1. Who will be working on your project?

The next step is to get to know the team who will be working on your project.

  • Find out who will be doing the work on your account and request a brief summary of their past experience in your industry.
  • See how long they have been in the industry and take note of their Recommendations, Endorsements and Qualifications.
  1. Are they thought leaders?

Typically, if an agency is sharing their knowledge with the online community, they are confident in their knowledge and their ability to deliver results. Find out whether they:

  • Share helpful articles on their blog
  • Attend industry workshops and networking events
  • Offer free advice such as  guides, webinars and podcasts
  • Speak at industry conferences
  • Share useful and relevant information on social media
  1. Are they qualified?

There are a multitude of courses and qualifications to be found for the budding AdWords advertiser. Courses are available online and even through some universities.

While these courses are great for preparing a would-be AdWords manager for the rigors of AdWords campaigning, expanding their knowledge and informing them of the latest trends, the hard truth is that most of these courses and qualifications hold no weight in the AdWords industry.

Google Partners is a virtual study guide and testing center. Those interested in AdWords can study, prep and take the free exams on offer by Google and, once successfully completed, will earn a person the coveted AdWords certification.

People with this certification have met and exceeded the standards and knowledge required by Google in order to be an official Google AdWords Partner. The tests need to be repeated every year or so in order to maintain an AdWords certified status, to ensure that a Google Partner is kept up to speed on the changes and new tools available.

Most AdWords agencies require all of their AdWords staff to be certified. If an agency’s website has the Google Partners badge then you are assured that they have met the standards set out by Google.

Pulling it all together

We suggest preparing a spreadsheet and recording your feedback as you assess the competency of each agency:

Waisting adwords budget

Once you have this information to hand, making your decision should be fairly painless.

In Conclusion

Finding the best fitted SEM agency for your business may seem challenging, but like any interview, if you know what information you want from your questions the process can be relatively straightforward. In this post, we have highlighted 5 key steps to assessing the competency of your prospective SEM agency and provided you with a template for recording and assessing your feedback. Happy hunting.


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