When it comes to search engine marketing (SEM) agencies, there are great ones, and there are not-so-great ones. The great companies (a.k.a. White-hat SEM agencies) work hard to get your website ranked well in the search engines across the board. From maximizing your online exposure to producing quality content, they can do it all.

It’s important to understand that marketing to search engines can be a time-consuming process. A commitment of at least six months (ideally one year) is necessary if you truly want to evaluate your SEM campaign’s effectiveness. This makes it important to start off with the right Chicago SEM agency.

The questions always remain:

– How long until you see any results?

– How much should I pay?

Let’s take a look and answer these questions below.

How long until you see any results?

Depending on your website’s age and your online marketing goals, the answer may vary. It is not hard to jump from zero to anything, so a new website will probably see a substantial traffic increase. However, if your website has been around for a while, you may not see a jump as quickly or as drastically as you might expect. For your established website, a steady increase in rankings and traffic month-over-month can go a long way.

How much should I pay?

Pricing for SEM is all over the board. Generally, how much you spend on actual paid traffic depends on your industry and how competitive the search terms are — some cost just a few pennies per click, and some are several dollars per click. How much you will have to pay depends on your cost-per-click.

Red Flags to Avoid

It is not always easy to spot a fraud, but there are some common signs. To that end, here are a few things you should look out for to avoid untrustworthy SEM agencies.

1) No one can guarantee results — PERIOD. No SEM agency has any control over search ranking, other than if pay-per-click is used, and that is a moving target that is costly and competitive to stay #1 in.

2) Always check out the agency. Do a Google search on the agency by name, and perhaps the owner or CEO if you can find that information.

3) Never work with an agency that uses automated web site submissions or cloaking. These are two of the most common black hat SEM practices that will very likely get your website banned.

4) Get a second opinion. Your SEM campaign can be a significant investment, so it is worth your time to call multiple agencies for consultations. Some agencies will charge money for a consultation, but at Digital Destination, we offer them for free.

5) Look for the agency’s affiliation with a search marketing or internet advertising organization. The key here is to make sure that organization is legitimate and not made up or owned by the SEM agency you are checking out. Do your research on that organization and know what practices the agency has committed to upholding.

You are now armed and dangerous! With all of this information in mind, you are empowered to make a wise choice in your SEM agency selection.

Make the Most Out of Your Paid Search Efforts in Chicago, Illinois

If you would like to partner with a top-rated SEM agency in Chicago, contact the team at Digital Destination today. We can develop a custom online marketing strategy that will maximize your paid search campaign’s effectiveness in a very cost-effective way.