Everyone around the office loves when I get going into one of my rants. I rant about lots of things. I rant about shady SEO companies using black hat techniques. I rant about people that have social media pages but don’t actually use them. I rant about ugly, ineffective websites. I rant about social pages that only post sales-y content. Most recently, I ranted about the problems with many digital agencies. The fact is, too many digital agencies say they do things but don’t actually do them correctly.
Just this week, I’ve seen sites for digital marketing agencies that have basic facts about search engine marketing WRONG – like SEM 101 wrong. I’ve seen more ineffective language about SEO than I’d care to – if you’re doing an SEO campaign, say WHAT you’re doing, not just that you’re doing something that’s results driven. If you’re a company that says you do PPC, you better have a certified partner doing it. I saw a local vendor that offered premium SEO services using SUPER outdated strategies and are not going to be effective at all. All these make me irrationally angry. And so I run around the office like a She-Hulk wanting to smash something because I’m so passionate about what we do and the standards we set, that seeing those who just don’t measure up makes me want to throw something.
Now, after all that ranting, I have some answers. I always say if you aren’t creating a solution, you’re part of the problem, so I’ve outlined some of the MOST important questions you absolutely must ask any potential agency if you’re going to work with them. They must have good answers for everything before you pull the trigger.
Who is going to be managing your projects and who will be your point of contact? How are they qualified?
These questions are absolutely paramount to understanding your agency experience. You can like an agency’s branding or materials, but you may not click with your account manager. The person managing your account may also have zero experience with PPC but be a great copywriter. If your account is PPC heavy, then that is pointless. You want transparency and a streamlined process in your communications, so make sure you understand their process up front.
What certifications do they have? What organizations are they a part of?
While not a requirement to be a Google Partner or a BingAds Certified Professional or a SEMPO member, it HELPS. You don’t have to be a voice for digital marketing education in the community, but it certainly helps. Having the right certifications and experience demonstrates a baseline level of knowledge and experience that is lacking in this industry which has no true educational program. Are they staying on top of their certifications, as well? Digital marketing is constantly changing, so you need to know that your agency is staying current on the current trends and continuing educational opportunities.
What are you paying for? What are the deliverables, the deadlines, the expectations?
Now, a good agency cannot guarantee performance (it’s a major red flag if they do), but you need to know what your money pays for and you need transparent reporting to track progress.
Have they used this type of plan before and what are the expected results?
It’s not required that an agency has worked with your exact type of business before; rather it’s more important that they are adaptable, willing to learn, and have an understanding of who your target customer is.
Are they promising SEO results without any attention to content?
Any SEO strategy that doesn’t utilize content is crap. Yes, I said it.
Do they get the basic definitions right?
If there are errors on their own site or flaws in their digital strategy, theory, or understanding of the process, move on!
I have pretty exacting standards but I think if every company cared about their digital presence as we do, then the business marketplace would be a much better place. If at any point you want to talk to an agency about your digital presence, reach out to us and we would be glad to answer all these questions for you.