SEM Vendor Checklist

Wondering how to qualify search engine optimization (SEO) or pay per click (PPC) vendors that knock on your door and offer their services? Marty Weintraub has a list of questions that help us understand more about the background and abilities of our prospective business partners. It is important to learn more about the foundation of their service by asking vendors about different aspects of search marketing; we must ask them questions related to paid search even if we only want vendors to showcase to us their organic search capabilities.

Begin it with a courteous e-mail:

Dear [Prospective SEM Vendor],

Thank you for entering into a dialog with us as we vet potential SEM vendors for [Name of Company]. In order to keep the process as streamlined as possible, please take a few minutes to respond to this questionnaire. Our goal is to make sure we are a right fit for each other before getting too far along in the process, and to make sure we do not waste your time.

Then begin asking them questions:

Pay Per Click

1. Is anyone in your firm AdWords Qualified or a Yahoo Ambassador?
2. Does your agency have a designated Google or Yahoo representative?
3. What is your agency’s billing model for PPC: percentage of spend, percentage of revenue, monthly fee, hybrid?

By spending time answering the questions well, we see genuine interest in becoming legitimate business partners; SEO vendors should be treated more like business partners rather than a typical vendor. And by providing sensible case studies, credible client reference or sound business model, we feel a little more reassured of the quality of work.

Otherwise, maybe indeed, we’re just wasting their time as much as they waste our time.

For a complete article and list of SEO qualifying questions, refer to Weintraub’s Search Engine Watch article.