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Choosing the Best Internet Marketing Company

Seth Godin wrote a great article bemoaning the shortage in Search Engine Marketing of podiatrists–i.e., targeted, inexpensive, efficient specialists as opposed to dramatic and overly complex generalists (“Doctors” in his example). He observes that there are people who already know how to be “podiatrists”, but wonders if any of them are trying to market themselves as such. Funny he should mention that!

Firms with these skills exist in droves, but in our experience it’s hard to convince people to use them. We think it’s because Search Engine Marketing is still an unknown, and, for most people, an unproven practice, especially when the primary indicator of success–”Black Box” search engine algorithms–change monthly or even weekly.

So how is a consumer supposed to choose a good Search Engine Marketing company? Interview them! This is what we’d look for in a company. It should:

  • be client and results focused. Fairly early in the discussion, a good Internet Marketing company should be able to describe how Internet Marketing will apply to your business model.
  • place an emphasis on metrics. Internet Marketing is a moving target. Work with firms that emphasize how they will test assumptions and how they rely on published research to drive their processes. Read their blog to see how they think about this aspect of their work.
  • show humility about their work. Work with firms that are willing to learn from their mistakes. There’s no such thing as a perfect Internet Marketing engagement.
  • explain things simply. The fundamental concepts of internet marketing are simple; it’s the details that are hairy. An Internet Marketing firm that can simply describe its vision will be better at getting those details right in a way that works for you.
  • enjoy client loyalty. Although not all engagements are long-term, successful Internet Marketing Companies have strong, long-term engagements with a large portion of the people in their portfolio because they know how to identify needs and execute. Ask the firm flat-out: for long-term engagements, how many companies decide to renew their contract with you?
  • be certified either in an analytics tool or a Paid Search tool. Or both. Why? Because companies that can take the time to get their people certified are committed to training and professional development. Better trained people provide better service.

SEO consultant has some good questions to ask that can elicit this information. We like this overview as well, although it may be too in-depth and dependent on documentation, which isn’t a strong indication of effectiveness. Still, these questions are good start. Good luck!

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