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5 questions to ask before selecting an SEM agency

5 questions to ask before selecting an SEM agencyThere’s no denying that featuring prominently in search engines such as Google is important. A report from retailingtoday found that over 60% of people use them to start their product research before heading to a specific website. Successful search engine marketing can lead to huge benefits for your business, so getting it right is vital, and professional help is a good way to ensuring this happens.

For small businesses, search engine marketing, or SEM as it’s often called, can sound intense, complex and intricate. Although it’s possible to undertake your own SEM, it is often a more effective and convenient option to put it into the hands of experts.

Hiring an agency that’s right for you isn’t always straightforward. Consider these questions when you’re looking to hire, so you can be confident that you’ll be in safe hands and getting the best return on your investment.

1. Is the agency transparent?
Agencies can often bombard clients with buzzwords and jargon that may sound impressive to a novice, but to an expert doesn’t actually carry much substance. Asking the agency to explain things in layman’s terms shouldn’t be an inconvenience for them, and helping you to understand what they actually do should all be part of the service.

Your business is important, and when spending money, you need to be sure that you’re putting yourself in good hands. Asking for an agency to prove previous successes or show you examples of previous campaigns should all be done before confirming any work. Testimonials, recommendations on sites like LinkedIn or a company that is approved as a Google AdWords Premier SME Partner are all good indicators of a business that can be trusted.

2. Does the agency share your goals?
Just as you make your own customers feel valued; it’s important that an agency makes you feel the same. For an agency to work effectively with your business, you need to ensure that they’re able to understand what you require, and what your goals are.

Although a relationship can sometimes take some time to develop before being most effective, it’s vital early on that you are made to feel a priority and that the agency is going to help you achieve your goals. Ask the agency if there are any kick-off meetings to get things started, and if they’ll be undertaking any in-depth research to find out more about your company and what you do.

3. Does the agency offer maintenance?
A proactive agency won’t just set up your SEM and leave it to run. In order to maximise the impact, the agency should be continually optimising to ensure your campaigns are running effectively. 

Over time as your business evolves and your goals change, so will the objectives of your website and your SEM. When hiring an agency it’s important that they’re able to acknowledge this and can adapt accordingly to your needs and requirements. Over time you may want to adjust your SEM so that potential customers view and enquire about a new product or service you’ve launched. Finding out if an agency can develop your campaigns as your goals change should be a key part of your questioning.

4. How will you be charged?
Different agencies have varying models for pricing and payment so you need to ensure that you get the one that’s right for you and your business. Some agencies will charge per click based upon the total number of clicks that your advert earns while some may just charge a standard monthly fee.

You should take care with agencies that offer a charge per click model. While you may get a lot of visitors to your website, they may not be interested in buying from you. This is because the agency have an incentive to drive more people to your site to earn more money, regardless of whether those people are interested in your products and services.

5. Can you monitor performance?
Although you’re putting your marketing into the hands of experts, it’s still important that you’re able to see how it’s performing. An agency should be able to provide you with a dashboard or regular reporting that shows you various useful measurements and statistics. A good agency should be able to explain performance for you and things you should be looking out for.


Search engine marketing is an effective tool in your marketing strategy, driving people to your website, and ultimately creating quality leads for your business. Putting it in the hands of an expert is a great way to do it; just ensure you find the right agency to understand and meet your needs, so you can make the most of your campaigns.


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