It’s actually pretty easy…
1. Decide if hiring in-house for SEO + PPC or SEM combined is more feasible in terms of your spend than outsourcing.
I realize it depends on size and revenues… but as soon as you get to a point where you can hire inhouse, you chould. Using an agency initially may give you an idea of the power of SEM (SEO+PPC) assuming you get a decent agency. I recommend contacting Epiar or Clix Marketing in the first instance for SEO and PPC respectively. If their books are full, they will point you in the right direction (North America wide).
As with anything, you pay for what you get. If you want to look for your own agency for SEO or PPC, or combined services – I recommend:
- steering clear of combined unless they are pretty big with a decent size staff
- asking to see their current and past client list
- determining how they charge – if they really know their stuff, they will charge for performance, though most will ask for a % of PPC spend and/or will have a flat rate per page/per site (based on pages escalating) or per unit of SEO (keyword research/title tags/meta data etc) for SEO services. If anyone asks you for more than 10% of spend for PPC…reconsider – even that is pretty high, and again, it depends on the size of your account. The best way to go with SEO is via performance models. In which case you will need to give them your analytics data. MNDAs or simple NDAs are fine, most will have no problem signing. If anyone does – don’t sign…
- Clarify how often they will check your account and analytics, how they will report, and how often along with what tactical refinements they will make – and how often
- The key thing is to know what you want to achieve (realistically) and then shop around to see who can offer you the best bang for your buck – hinging on the BANG
- Go cheap and lose your $. Go with what sounds great but with unproven promises or undisclosed clients, and lose $ – pretty safe to say that. Play safe – especially with your PPC dollars…
2. Know which questions to ask
If you hire a consultant – pleas read this post, if you are hiring an agency, we’ve covered that with the above info and the post, and if you’re hiring in-house, I suggest the following along with a review of the type of questions asked in the post mentioned:
- Have a screening phone call first to find out if you think the person might be a fit for your business based on a predetermined set of questions based on your corporate culture, expectations and the personalities of your existing staff. It may sound a bit daft, but it will save you endless amounts of frustration and possible unnecessary quits during probation.
- Follow up prior to first face-to-face with an SEM based questionnaire – preferably about your own site asking for good points, bad points and top points to address for maximum impact within a time frame and/or budget.
- Face-to-face and decide.
- Offer what they are worth, and if you can’t afford them based on their worth, offer them bonus, shares etc to get them. Check out GlassDoor to get an idea of what people may expect. And don’t think cheap or new is better. If you really want to make a difference in the search engines results – you need a pro, or at least some significant experience with what makes SEO work, and what gives PPC a decent ROAS.
LMK if you have any questions, and good luck!