Joel Klettke is a Search Engine Optimization specialist at Vovia. Joel's also an experienced writer and local marketing expert.

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Does Your Online Marketing Agency Pass The Sniff Test?

Sniff-Test350So you’re looking to hire an online marketing agency, but you’re unsure whether or not they’re actually any good. Here are 5 quick “sniff tests” that can help you figure out whether you’re hiring a professional or a snake oil salesman.

1. Look At Their Website

  • Does their website reflect a company that has put care and attention into their online presence? If not, how can you be sure they’ll put it into yours?
  • Does their copywriting read naturally? Does it engage you? Or is it long, awkward and written for search engines instead of people?
  • Do all of their pages serve a useful purpose? Is the site easy to navigate? Or are they building out doorway pages with ugly content for the sake of getting rankings?

2. Check Out Their Clients

  • Do their client’s websites look professional? Does their copy read naturally?
  • How do their clients rank for the important phrases in that niche?
  • Don’t be afraid to call a client and ask them whether or not they’re happy. Go to the source!
  • Keep in mind that what they do (or don’t do) for their clients, they’ll do for you!

3. Ask About Their Reporting

  • Ask to see an example of a monthly report. If they won’t give you one, don’t work with them.
  • How frequent are their reports? Are they keeping clients in the loop?
  • What key metrics do they report on? What is reported on is what is managed. 
  • Do they explain what they’re doing and why? Don’t accept smoke and mirrors. You deserve to be communicated with in plain English, not techspeak.

4. Investigate Their Social Media Channels

  • Do they have one? Online marketing agencies should practice what they preach.
  • Are they sharing relevant information – or just promoting themselves?
  • Do they participate in conversations and reply to followers?
  • Are they regularly updating, posting and communicating, or letting things hang?

5. Evaluate Their Sales Pitch

  • Look at their track record – not their promises. 
  • Anyone who “guarantees” a top 10 ranking or a specific traffic volume is lying. This can never be guaranteed. Look instead for a history of getting sites ranked for words that convert and reasonable traffic estimates.
  • Beware of unrealistic time lines. For example, offering to get you “2000 Twitter Followers in a week” or “#1 rankings in a month!” means something sketchy is going on behind the scenes. 
  • Be very skeptical of anything that sounds too good to be true. It probably is.
Because online marketing is still an emerging industry, it can be very hard to tell who is reputable. The tips offered above are a good starting point, but always trust your gut. 
Do you have any other tips for making sure an online marketing agency is reputable? Share them in the comments!