Jerri: If you find that your relationship with a search marketing organization isn’t working,
how do you get out of that relationship?
Contracts, contracts, contracts. Make absolutely certain there are performance clauses in
the contracts before you sign them. And because search is a long-term investment, clarify how long
it will take to reach the results that you’re being promised by the search marketing firm. Then you
can incorporate a provision to pay a percentage of the fee up front and the balance of the fee when
the performance goals are reached. If the organization is doing a good job with meeting their prom-
ised performance goals, then they should have no problem allowing this type of clause in the con-
tract that they ask you to sign.
The most important part of hiring a search marketing firm is vetting them as a vendor. Ask for at
least three references and then speak to them. If, for some reason you can’t reach one of the refer-
ences, then go back to the vendor and request another one. Successful agencies should have plenty
of customers waiting to tell others how good they are, and in fact larger agencies have a list that’s as
long as your arm of people who have praises for them.
One final thought:
If an agency or consultant ever promises you they can get you ranked as number one for any organic
efforts, run, don’t walk away from them. No one can guarantee results in the world of organic search
results. We don’t know the actual algorithms the engines use to rank sites, so making guarantees such
as #1 is just a sales tactic, nothing more.
Results should be measured on actual metrics — inbound traffic from each search engine, conversion
on the site, those types of things.
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