Choosing a PPC agency or consultant to manage your Google Ads campaign is a major decision for your company.
You’re not just trusting them with your marketing dollars. You’re potentially entrusting them with your company’s future. And you’re paying them to do it.
If you make the wrong decision, you’re not just out the money, but the potential business that money might have generated for you if it had been conducted correctly.
If you’re running an ad campaign, you’re most likely getting emails or phone calls from an agency that says they can improve your current campaign.
Understandably, you might secretly wonder if they are right. I’ve even written an article in the past on how to evaluate your current agency.
Even though I market myself as a Google AdWords agency, I’m contacted daily by “agencies” that can help me do better with Google Ads. Often, I’m amazed at how obvious it is, that they’re not legitimate. The could actually put an account at risk.
Finding a PPC agency and the warning signs to look forFinding a PPC agency and the warning signs to look for
Let’s assume that you want to go with another agency or are just looking for your first. You sometimes wonder how to know if an agency is legitimate.
If you’re in need of a pay per click agency, here are some red flags to look out for when you talk to them or visit their website.
1) They have fake certifications on their site.
Google has a Partners program that lists agencies that have met their requirements to be certified. These requirements include taking a series of tests each year on various subjects (mobile, display, etc.), that their total client spend is a certain amount, and that they follow best practices for Google Ads.
Bing Ad has a similar program, although not quite as many conditions as Google.
Agencies or consultants that meet the requirements can put a logo on their site that links to their listing with Bing and Google. It links to their agency or consultant page on Google Partners.
Unfortunately, many businesses put this logo on their site and have no certification.
On the site below neither links works on the site of an agency that contacted me. And if you search both directories for the company name, they’re not listed. Often you can tell immediately if their Partner badge has no link to it.
Example of fake Google Ads Partner.Example of fake Google Ads Partner.
Another thing to keep an eye out for are fake Better Business logos. A legitimate client of the BBB will have a link to their listing or at least can be found in their directory when you search it.
2)They boast of having a special relationship with Google.
As mentioned, Google does have a Partner program and in fact, I’m a certified Google AdWords Partner.
That doesn’t result in any special relationship with Google. What it does allow is for agencies to often learn about the latest features of Google AdWords and upcoming changes. Often, anyone following the Google Ads blog will learn the same thing.
Some agencies will try to suggest that this “special relationship,” will also help with SEO. Google AdWords and Google search are separate entities. If they’re marketing their SEO by referencing their special relationship, then avoid that agency.
3)They have a poor command of English.
First, let me stress that you must hire an American agency or consultant. There are many fine agencies throughout the world that might be able to assist you.
The problem with some is that they have a poor command of English. Look at this excerpt from a letter I recently received from a company that wanted to assist me.
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If they have this many grammatical errors in an email sent out, then how can they be relied on to write ads, or worse, develop landing pages.
This is one of a number of emails that I’ve received from a variety of agencies that would make an English teacher cringe.
Don’t worry if the person you’re speaking to has an accent. Do worry if you see a lot of grammatical errors in their correspondence or in their site. You want to make sure the person creating your ads can speak to your market.
4) They have no staff on their site.
This is another tactic that companies that are based in other countries due to hide their actual location. They often have a US address, but it’s often a UPS store or some other location they can get that they don’t actually inhabit.
A good indicator of this is if they hide their staff. No pictures of employees on their site and no names. Nearly all reputable agencies have someone on their site, even if they don’t list all their employees. They even have a photo of them.
I’m always amazed when I go to a website and its loaded with stock images of culturally diverse people smiling at one another. You know they don’t work there. And yet that is all they have anywhere on the site to represent their employees.
Similarly, if you get an email from someone offering to review your AdWords campaign and they don’t list a website or a mailing address on their email, then send that to your spam folder.
5) They ask for your login information to review your account
It’s important for an agency to review your account, but that doesn’t mean you need to give them your login information. In fact, they shouldn’t.
With legitimate agencies, they have a Client Center with Google AdWords or something similar with Bing Ads. This means that this allows agencies to temporarily link to an account in order to review it. You grant them permission to link to your account to complete a review and then unlink whenever you want.
Only in the rarest of circumstances would you give them your login information. And then you immediately change your password.
6) They guarantee the first-place position
No agency can guarantee this, particularly if they don’t know the keywords you’ll be targeting and what your monthly budget will be.
For example, if you’re a plumber in a large city, the cost per click for some of your words could be 50 dollars. How can they keep you in first place for that phrase unless you have an unlimited budget?
The way they’ll get around this is to make sure your ads are number one for less competitive words that often don’t convert as well. You’ll be number one, but you’re phone won’t be ringing.
7) Do they over-promise with their conversation
Often the last hurdle an agency will have to make with you is when you talk with them. You’ve been impressed with their website and the proposal seems promising. Then you set up a time to talk.
Ideally, they’ve had a chance to take a look at your account in advance of your conversation. They might not want to go into too much of a review of your current campaign, but they should show an understanding of it. And give you some specifics of what they would do differently.
For example, I’ll often point out to a prospect some of the phrases their ads showed up for that don’t apply.
What I don’t do is make a promise of an immediate turnaround or that their phones will be ringing constantly. Or that they’ll be receiving a lot of forms. I try to explain there is a process and it can take a little time
Other things to look out for is if they boast of their special relationship with Google or that they have a proprietary program to help manages their campaign. There are some larger agencies that do this, but an average run of the mill agency won’t.
Ask them how they approach AdWords, what they’ll be doing for your account each month.
8) They’ll block or limit your access to your account.
This is the ultimate red flag.
Your account is your account. Even if they say the best option is to create a new account (something I’ve done with clients), it should still be your account. No matter if they promise to give you regular updates, you should have complete access to your account.
Make sure you know in advance whose name the account will be in and what access you’ll have.
You want to take some time to talk to an agency representative or specialist before you hire them, and ideally, you want to talk to a couple. Yet, by recognizing the warning signs of a potentially bad agency before you schedule a talk you can weed out the bad apples and not waste time on them.
If you’d like to talk to someone about your pay per click account and want someone with actual experience, feel free to reach out to me. All my information is on my website and readily accessible by anyone. As a Google Ads Consultant I offer a free campaign review for accounts that meet my criteria