Many marketers erroneously go about hiring an SEM firm as they would an ad agency. But according to Rimm-Kaufman Group's George Michie, the process is more akin to hiring a law or accounting firm. In a recent Search Engine Land post, Michie suggested your search for the right search firm should probe into four areas: general business, keyword construction, bidding and data analysis.

  • Focus your general business questions on the firm's clientele. How many are in your vertical, and how much do they spend per month? Also find out the SEM firm's ratio of client-services employees to marketing employees.
  • Ask tough questions about keyword construction. Does the agency or the client build the keyword list? How is it initially built? What type of maintenance will be required?
  • When a firm claims to have "the most advanced bidding system," dig deeper. Ask who built the system, whether it is built on finding the right page position or bidding what the advertiser can afford, and how granular the bidding goes, Michie advises.
  • Get the facts on data analysis. You'll want to know what the company's system can do, how it does it, who does the analysis, and how quickly it can be done, he notes.

The Point: Searching for the right partner ain't easy. Ask smart questions to help you slice through the sales pitch and glimpse how a firm really approaches search.

Source: Search Engine Land. Read the full post here.

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