SEM – Search Engine Marketing (SEM) is where businesses currently spend tens of thousands of dollars on marketing each year. There are good folks and bad guys in Search Engine Marketing, just like in any other sector; therefore, purchasers need to be educated and have some basic information to properly determine whether or not they are receiving value for their dollar invested.
To prevent unscrupulous businesses, you should also do due diligence (examine references, outcomes, etc.). Some may be unaware of the importance of ethics in efficient SEM but are aware that an unethical company may lower your website’s rating, and you may even face the ultimate destiny of having your site blocked from a search engine due to an SEM agency’s unethical tactics.
What are your search engine marketing campaign objectives?
Maybe you’re starting a new website or a new company and need a website. Regardless, you must incorporate search engine marketing into your entire marketing strategy since it may save you a lot of money in the long run. I recently chatted with a company owner who was going out of business after just a few months.
One of his main gripes was that he had spent a lot of money on advertising and got little or nothing in return. I can’t help but wonder how much more successfully that money would have been spent if it had been put on SEM, where the effects do not fade away after a few weeks like print advertising.
Perhaps you already have an established website and want to improve its ranking and conversion rate or make it more lucrative. Make sure you have well-defined objectives for your SEM campaign, such as how many search engines you want to be featured in, how many monthly visits you want, etc. You must use an excellent online statistics application to monitor this; otherwise, you are wasting your money. Also, rather than relying on the corporation, you should examine your own statistics.
Inform them ahead of time that you will be watching the statistics alongside them since this will add accountability. If they have any objections, the discussions should be terminated immediately. Make sure your contract includes consulting time to know what is going on with the procedure. You should contact the business at least once a month to check progress or study any information you get from them.
You should also decide if you want written reports, which may vary from basic to extensive and cost anywhere from cheap to extremely expensive. Large complex reports do not appeal to me since they are not cheap, and you may wind up spending a lot of money on fluff, hype, and unfulfilled promises for the future. The following are the fundamentals of your SEM campaign:
- Do we have online traffic?
- From whence is it coming?
- Are we successfully converting visitors?
- If not, why not? If yes, how can we increase the number of visitors that convert?
- What steps are being taken to boost site traffic or client conversions?
- Do I spend more money on SEM than I make? (which may make sense at first but will not support your firm in the long run).
Did you hire the best search engine marketing company?
Let’s start with the Good Guys (also known as white hat SEO businesses) – The nice folks work hard to have your website ranked high in search engines everywhere. They often use a wide range of strategies, such as raising your visibility in high-quality search engines and directories, web coding and content analysis, and enhancing the quality of your content via techniques like copywriting, article submission, and blogging.
This is a time-consuming procedure that should be compensated appropriately. To really assess the campaign’s performance, you must be prepared to commit to a least 6 months, and preferably a year, which is why it is critical, to begin with, the correct business. The questions never go away:
- What happens if no results are obtained?
- What should I pay?
- Will I be able to receive my money back?
Let’s go over them in sequence. First, your outcomes may differ based on the age of your site and what you want to achieve. A new site will experience a significant rise in traffic since it is not difficult to get from zero to anything.
If the site has been there for a while and you’re looking to boost your rankings and traffic, you should see moderate but constant improvements in traffic, but you may notice occasional (upward) surges if they can acquire strong inbound links or favorable publicity.
Pricing for SEM varies greatly. Finally, you should only pay what you can afford. If you have a restricted budget, you MUST study SEM and learn how to do it yourself, or you will go bankrupt in the process. If you are starting a new website, it is not unreasonable to expect to pay more than $1,000 in fees to get included in directories.
Make sure your contract clearly states what you are paying for, and although I think firms can charge for submissions, I do not feel they should mark up search engine directory prices (they are high enough already). Make sure you understand what will be done about pay-per-click advertising since you do not want someone to use your money to acquire traffic.
If you do not have a long-term strategy, so will the traffic once the money is gone. I believe that using sponsored search as you build your site is beneficial since it is one of the quickest methods to acquire people to your site. I prefer the big giants like Yahoo (Overture), MSN, or Google over smaller pay-per-click sites like 7Search or aggregators like Enhance.
In my experience, the quality of traffic from secondary pay-per-click sites is just not as excellent. Some swear by the tiny guys (pay-per-click sites), claiming that they provide more traffic for less money, but I think you get what you pay for. The amount you pay on genuine sponsored traffic is determined by your industry and the competitiveness of the phrases; some are pennies per click, while others are many dollars per hit.
Most businesses do not provide a money-back guarantee since you generally pay for consultancy or real work completed. If you believe that anything unlawful or unethical has occurred, or if the firm you chose breaks their contract, you should seek a refund legally (contact your lawyer, go to small claims court, submit complaints with the Better Business Bureau and/or the Federal Trade Commission).
This brings us to the subject of SEM’s villains. It’s not always simple to recognize a scam, but certain telltale indicators exist. If anything seems too good to be true, it probably is. This may seem trite, but I examine businesses and “opportunities” every week, and it is terrible what I see out there since so many of these firms look to have a good online presence, but if you do a little investigation, you will discover that it is a hoax. Here are several guidelines for avoiding terrible SEM firms:
- PERIOD. No one can promise outcomes. Other than if pay-per-click is employed, which is a shifting goal that is expensive and competitive to remain #1, no SEM agency influences ranking.
- Always research the company. Perform a Google search for the company’s name and the owner or CEO, if available.
- Perform a whois check on the domain to ensure that the addresses match those on the site. If the site claims to be in Ohio, but the domain is registered in the United Kingdom to a UK address, you may have cause to be sceptical.
- Never collaborate with a company that employs automated website submissions or cloaking. These are two of the most popular black hat SEM methods that will certainly result in your website being blacklisted. More information about unethical SEM strategies may be found in the Google Webmaster Help Center.
- Seek second opinions. When a doctor suggests treatment or a new medication, most of us will do our homework and maybe consult with another doctor. Your SEM campaign will almost certainly cost you more than most medical visits; therefore, calling another agency for a consultation should be worthwhile. A firm’s charging for such a consultation is not unfair, and it may be money well spent.
- Look for the company’s membership in a search marketing or Internet advertising association.
The objective is to ensure that the organization is authentic and not fabricated or owned by the SEM business you are investigating (a whois check will usually let you know). Conduct more research on that organization to learn about the practices that the company has committed to preserving. For example, our company is a member of SEO Pros, an association of SEM businesses dedicated to best practices in Search Engine Marketing.
You’ve become armed and deadly! After making the sensible decision to conduct a search engine marketing campaign, you have been empowered to make a good option in your SEM company selection.
-From WindySEO only.