I recently came across a keyword report provided by an IYP doing paid-search advertising for a local advertiser. The advertiser is a Heating & Air guy located in Central New Jersey.

I’m not going to say what IYP managed this campaign and because I got this report from a third party I couldn’t tell you whether the business is happy or not with the results. And because I’m looking at this keyword report in a vacuum, my objective in this post is not to judge the campaign. But rather to educate small business owners that are getting into search marketing for the first time as to what questions they should be asking their SEM.

Let’s begin by taking a look at the last 7 days of the report (note: I copied this excerpt from the original format into Google Docs and removed the column containing IP addresses):

Keyword Report .

  1. Is the SEM fee-based or are they charging a percentage of spend?
  2. Are there separate ads set-up for the different keywords? i.e would searchers find one ad, appropriate, for the keyword frigidaire and a different one for refrigeration?
  3. Do each of the keyword/ad groups go directly to a page on my site that is relevant to the keyword when the ad is clicked?
  4. Could I see the list of negative keywords for each of the campaigns? (and could you add ‘four seasons’ to it?)
  5. What is the Click-Thru Rate for each of the ad groups?

Question one has to do with motive. Questions 2 through 4 represent the bare minimum of competence. Question 5 is a measure of quality in how well the SEM executed questions 2-4. If I did not get satisfactory answers to these questions I would abandon the SEM firm… not Search Marketing.

With all that said, you may be wondering why I did not mention conversion. That would certainly be among the first questions I asked when measuring the competence of a SEM. However, I did not mention it before in this article because I think that is the only question local businesses are asking their SEMs. And if they want to get the most out of their search campaigns they are going to have to get beyond that and demand more.

Please let me know your thoughts on this keyword report and/or any additional questions you think local advertisers should ask their SEM in the comments.

 

6 Responses to 5 Basic Questions To Ask Your Local SEM

  1. The report is pretty out of context and ultimately meaningless per your notes above. It’s hard to critique it without seeing the full package, but if this is pretty much what it looked like in its original form then it seems like they are not giving their client the full picture. Per your note on conversions I think providing a list of a all the keywords you’re targeting, while interesting, probably just adds to the noise and confusion for the client. Tell them how many calls, emails and people in the door they got as a result of your efforts and how much it cost. That’s about the right amount of info that most of these small guys want to know and can digest. I’ll always default to wanting to see more data but I think I/we may be in the minority.

  2. For clarification, this is a report showing the keywords that generated the clicks we don’t know what was targeted. And your definitely right that conversions are ultimately the most important metric.

    My point is that even if this program is providing a good ROI, of which I’m suspicious, small business owners participating in search should be familiar with the questions above to force better service from the SEM. And hence even better ROIs. In other words, since they are getting this report, they would be well-served knowing how to interpret it.

  3. The “money” words for an air conditioning contractor are “air conditioning repair”. Peerless and Bradford-White are plumbing products.

    For the most part, IYP is a total waste unless you pay top dollar to be at the top. Long term contracts lock the poor HVAC guys in so they can’t quite when it is painfully obvious the program does not work.

    Most, if not all, IYPs don’t track anything but clicks. Contractors should rent a phone number for every type of advertising.

    Contractors go with IYPs because they are use to going with print yellow page companies. A successful campaign must include all of the new media like blogs, Youtube ( but stay away from IYP videos), press releases, organic listings and PPC.

    My IYP friends are looking for new jobs.

  4. There is one good thing about Internet Yellow Page ads. They will often pass on link juice. But that’s a high price to pay for a link.

  5. [...] conditioning, plumbing and pest control contractor should see about Internet Yellow Pages. See my comments. The author asks 5 Basic Questions To Ask Your Local SEM. I would not use a service like this [...]

  6. Bay Area says:

    Now I am ready to do my breakfast, after having my breakfast coming
    over again to read other news.

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