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August 15, 2008
Tips on What to Look for When You Hire an SEO or PPC Firm
Hiring a firm to help market your website through Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and Pay Per Click (PPC) advertising is a bit like shopping for a car. You probably don’t want to buy the first car the salesperson shows you and you’re much better off visiting more than one car lot to see and weigh your options. You’ll want to take great care that your ultimate decision is the right one because:
  1. Your website is the most powerful marketing tool at your disposal and you’ll want an Internet marketing firm that knows what they’re doing and shares the same perspective on long-term success that you do.
  1. Even under the best of circumstances, PPC and especially SEO require an investment in time and money to achieve their goals. You’ll want to be sure that you and your marketing firm are on the same page at every stage of the process.
To help inform your decisions, here are some tips on what to look for when you hire an SEO or PPC firm for your website:
Pay close attention to how your questions are answered – Is the Internet marketing expert giving you straight answers to your questions or weaseling around? Instead of answering your questions, are they slipping into practiced sales subroutines which lead the conversation in another direction? If the answer to either of these is yes, thank them for their time and continue your search.
Look for easy access to references – It’s entirely reasonable to want to speak with current and former clients as part of the vetting process. Ask for a handful of references that you can contact to hear what they thought of the firm and the results of their efforts.
Avoid outfits that only tell you what you want to hear – Success with SEO and PPC is largely dependent on a wide range of factors and the firm should tell you that right up front. If they’re only telling you what you want to hear with no caveats or exceptions to the rules, cross that outfit off your list.
Trust your gut – If something the firm said made your antennae twitch and it sounded too good to be true, follow up with an even more specific question and gauge their response. There’s a reason we sometimes call an instinctive response a ‘gut reaction’ and if something about the firm seems a bit off, it probably is.
This may seem like a primer on common sense but whether you’re shopping for an Internet marketing firm, a car, or a television, the same fundamental rules apply. What’s tricky about SEO and PPC is that the rules are evolving and changing all the time and what was accepted as fact six months ago may or may not still hold true. One thing’s for sure however, there’s plenty of ethical Internet marketing firms out there and a whole lot of outfits that aren’t. If you come across one that isn’t on the level or doesn’t seem like a good fit, it’ll be well worth your time to continue looking until you find one that is.

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Nick Stamoulis is the president of the full-service Internet Marketing Firm, Brick Marketing.  Nick’s philosophy and strategies can be found in his SEO blog the, Search Engine Optimization JournalNick Stamoulis is also the editor and publisher for seven Internet marketing-related blogs: Pay Per Click Journal, Social Marketing Journal, Blog Marketing Journal, Email Marketing JournalLocal Advertising Journal, and Online Publicity Journal.

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