When looking for a website design or Internet marketing company, it’s important to ask the right questions. We know your phone rings off the hook with people “calling from Google”, and companies offering “guaranteed results” in marketing your business online. We know this because we get the same calls! Asking the right questions can be vital in determining which company is right for your business…
As stated directly by Google: “No one can guarantee a #1 ranking on Google”, (https://support.google.com/webmasters/answer/35291?hl=en).
This should be an immediate red flag to you. Internet marketing is an ever-changing industry. Search engines continuously update their algorithms to ensure that companies aren’t ‘playing the system’, and that users are seeing the most helpful, cleanest results possible. A good company will tell you that they cannot guarantee specific results, but that they will work to improve your overall web presence and ultimately, your bottom line.
Much like the question above, be wary of companies or individuals promising immediate results. Sometimes, ‘black hat’ methods are discovered to trick search engines into ranking websites quickly. However, as search engines continue to update their algorithms to eliminate these spammy strategies, it won’t be long until you fall off search engine rankings completely, as a direct result of trying to trick the system.
Look for a company that is working to improve your web presence the right way. It might take a little time to achieve results, but it’s vital to your long-term Internet marketing success.
Google Adwords is a great way to gain a presence in Google for a wide range of keyword searches, and Google AdWords management is a service commonly offered by marketing agencies. However, it’s easy for companies to make money on your click costs. Ask if your billing information will be entered directly in Google, so you can see the click costs you accrue, first-hand, on your credit card statements. If a marketing company charges you for clicks as part of your package pricing, it’s likely that they’ll not only inflate your cost per click, but that they will also work to keep your costs and clicks at a minimum to increase their own profit.
Have you ever heard the term, ‘jack of all trades, but a master of none’?
There’s an endless list of services that an Internet marketing company might offer to help improve your web presence, and it’s beneficial to have your Internet marketing services under one roof, as many of these services actually work the best when they’re working together.
However, be leery of those that offer a wide range of services outside of one speciality; in this case, Internet marketing and customer acquisition. The quality of one or more of the products/services will almost certainly suffer. It takes a lot of time and manpower not only to manage Internet marketing campaigns, but to keep up with changing trends and stay ahead of your competitors. If a company offers Internet marketing and customer acquisition services, plus customer retention products, PR services, to clean your waiting area and watch your kids – run away!
A good Internet marketing company will be able to show you examples of their successes. When reviewing any such case studies, be sure that you’re looking at true results. These days, it’s easy to manipulate screenshots and data with just a few clicks of a mouse. If given a screenshot of search results, perform that same search on your own computer. Do you see similar results?
To the same point, if you’re watching someone else perform searches, keep in mind that it’s easy to manipulate the results with prior searches. Some things to look out for: Does the search automatically populate as they type? Are the headlines in the search results purple (this indicates that they’ve been clicked recently, which increases it’s position when searched again from the same browser).
A good Internet marketing company shouldn’t struggle to find a few happy customers that are willing to provide references to you. Don’t be afraid to call those customers and ask about their experience and results. As you know in your own business, word-of-mouth is the oldest, and arguably, the most trusted form of recommendation.
Although not all businesses can afford to operate on a no-contract basis, it does provide a level of trust that a company will work to ensure that your account is performing. Contract-free service providers allow you the opportunity to try a new company on for size, without the long-term commitment and risk. Often times, the longer the contract, the bigger the risk.
There is no exact right answer for this question. You want to ensure that someone is paying attention to your account and gets to know you and your business personally, for the best opportunity for growth. However, one set of eyes on your account isn’t always ideal, especially if you’re running several services that might require specialized skills, such as Adwords, Social Media, SEO and so on.
The team of people that you’ll be working with should be small enough that you recognize the person answering the phone, but large enough to effectively manage all areas of your marketing.
It’s important to be able to track the progress and ROI of any marketing campaign. Does the company in question offer access to Analytics and Adwords data, social media activity, and conversions?
It’s ideal to have access to live data, or a system that streams live data from recognized sources (such as Google Analytics, Google Adwords, social media platforms, phone tracker, etc.). Static reports can be manipulated easily, so be sure that you know where the information is coming from.
Ideally, you want a website that will set you apart from your competition. How do you achieve these results? A good website development team will allow you be a part of the website design process.
It’s your personal input on the structure of the website, design, colors and branding that will truly allow your website to stand out against your competitors, and display your professionalism and personal brand. Ask if the websites are custom built, and how involved you’ll be in the process. The website should also display content that’s specific to your shop, what sets you apart, how you got started, and so on.