When You Hire an SEM Agency, What are your options?

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Agencies are usually organized in packages. These packages are the basis for agreements between agencies and advertisers. The article below, our own contribution to the industry, is intended to give you a non-technical description of services that can be offered by the main SEM/SEO agency packages. In the end, we combine them in a matrix to make it even simpler to compare and choose what best suits your business needs and budget constraints.

Packages: just like you would get with “car insurance,” there are several options to choose from. Each pack has its pros and cons for both advertisers and agencies. The most common SEM Agency packages are:

  1. a) PPC on Google Adwords only
  2. b) PPC on both Google Adwords and Bing Ads
  3. c) Social media management – management of social media presence of brand pages in Facebook, Twitter, etc. [This can be combined with one or more other packages
  4. d) SEO only This can be combined with one or more other packages

Let’s have a look at what each of these options may include.

  1. PPC on Google Adwords only: this is the most common package that agencies offer, as it covers 100% of your online presence. In this case, your ads will be shown in Google’s search engine. [In the US – Adwords only includes the USA.
  2. PPC on both Google Adwords and Bing Ads: when doing SEM on your own, you must know that a significant number of advertisers are also bidding in Bing, even though most searches are done on Google. This is why it’s interesting to have your ads shown on both search engines.
  3. Social media management: an increasing number of people are looking for products or services on social media, or at least use social media channels before making a purchase online. As the main medium is Facebook, this package usually includes management of your brand pages in FB. You can also add Twitter, Linked In, and Google+ services.
  4. SEO only: this covers 3rd party optimization of your website: content creation, link building, and submission in search engines’ “natural” results (not paid). This is the most requested service by websites that are already doing well on organic rankings but need some help to increase their visibility.unnamed 9
  5. All-inclusive package: these are becoming the market, as small agencies have a hard time providing all the services you will find listed above. As most of them include management of social media accounts, they can be considered as full SEM agency packages (including both PPC and SEO).
  6. SEO plus website design: this is for companies that want an agency to design their website but are wary of SEO companies.

Matrix of packages offered by SEM agencies worldwide

Below, you find a matrix with the main services included in each package. On the left, the paid search services are listed (Google Adwords or both Google and Bing). On the top, the organic optimization services are listed. The other services are not included in this matrix.

Note that each service can be offered either as an individual package or combined with other services. For instance, you can have both PPC and SEO on your website. Or pay only for the social media management of one Facebook page, combined with SEO only on the company website.

Advice on which SEM agency package to choose for your business

The first step is simple: find out what you need and tell it to the SEM agency. Tell them what your budget is and ask them if they can provide you those services within this budget. Pay attention to whether some changes in the services requested will increase the price (for instance, if we add social media management to website SEO).

If you don’t know what you need and how much it costs, tell this to the agency: they should be able to provide a solution in several packages. Depending on your budget and your needs, choose accordingly which one is the most adapted for you.

Note that a large agency can have hundreds of customers and is usually divided into different branches according to the services provided. Thus, even if a company offers a specific package, its employees may be specialized in another one (for instance, PPC on both Google Adwords and Bing Ads combined with SEO optimization).

Remember that there is no difference between SEO agencies and PPC agencies. The only thing you should look for in an agency is whether its employees are skilled or not, be it in SEO or Adwords/Bing Ads. It’s the same thing to have an all-inclusive package that includes both paid search optimization and SEO on your website: if the employees are skilled and know their job, you should be satisfied with what they will provide. If they don’t, then you should change agency!



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