7 Essential Tips for Avoiding a Nightmare PPC Agency

You’ve probably dabbled in PPC before, and it probably wasn’t pretty. Results might have been catastrophic. Communication was probably non-existent. And the usage of your money was most likely as transparent as the last legal document you’ve read.

Pay-per-click marketing is not as simple as a lot of fly-by-night providers promise, you’ve come to realize that, and that’s the first step to recovery.

You know that PPC is important, that it might be your greatest source of business, but you also know you need dedicated specialists. You need them to spare you the headache of learning the ins and outs of, what you should consider, a profession. Now you’re ready to research PPC agencies, and, hopefully, find the one that fits your needs.

Choosing a PPC agency is serious. But how do you know which PPC agency is right for you? Let’s take a look at the main points you should consider:

1. Barriers to Entry

Having a laptop doesn't make one a PPC Pro

Having a laptop doesn’t make one a PPC Pro

Anyone intuitive enough to create a landing page and some ad copy can trumpet that they’re a fully fledged and capable PPC manager. They might even have a few months of experience under their belt managing small AdWords accounts. But it takes years to build up the foundation of experience that an account manager needs to run successful campaigns in competitive industries.

One of the first questions you should ask is: how long has the PPC agency been around?

To answer this you should consult with the following checklist:

  • LinkedIn

    Check out their LinkedIn page (which they should have) to see how many years they have been operating. If the agency has more than five years under their belt, they’re probably doing something right. This is good for you because they have probably tested and optimized many strategies with previous clients, and that means they can access your situation all the more accurately.

  • Location

    Check their location. Do they have an office? A stable, physical location is one of the best ways to facilitate the kind of manpower needed to run efficient and effective PPC campaigns. Also, it’s nice to be able to track down your PPC agency at all times.

  • Google+ Local Page

    Check out their Google+ Local Page. How are the reviews? If they’re all 5 stars, the agency might be spectacular, but might also mean the reviews are fabricated. This is also another check for physical existence, as spectral PPC agencies often work awkward hours

  • Meet Face to Face

    If they’re nearby, arrange to have a face to face chat. Meeting the faces of the PPC agency helps insure genuine intentions and competence in a way emails and phone calls can’t. It also lets you make a general assessment of what things would be like in the future. When times get tough, a face to face meeting can often make all the difference.

2. Certifications & References

We passed the Google exams and are now expert PPC managers!

We passed the Google exams and are now expert PPC managers!

The exams required for Google certifications do not take the sharpest tools in the shed (it’s open-book, i.e., another monitor helps a lot). Any agency that uses their certified status as their greatest strength is not a strong agency. Avoid them and tell yourself: certification does not equal expertise.

Then you must ask: How do I assess how capable a PPC agency is, really?

Look no further, we have another checklist:

    • Google Partner Page

      Certifications aren’t meaningless, so you should still make sure that they’re listed on the Google Partner’s directory: https://www.google.com/partners/#a_search
      Check out how many people are certified within the agency. If it’s only one, you might want to stay away, unless it’s clear it’s a one man show.

    • What Companies Have They Worked With?

      Take a look at the PPC Agency’s website, it should list past and current clients of the agency. See any recognizable names? No? Dig deeper, visit the clients’ websites. Do the clients’ businesses look genuine?

    • Make Contact

      Look for any of the PPC agency’s clients that are similar to your own business model and make contact with them. If there aren’t any similar businesses, still make contact! Whatever you do, make sure you’ve spoken with a client that has worked with the PPC agency, if you can’t contact one, you should probably move on.

3. Agency Fit

It's not you, it's the exorbitant amount of money you're making me waste

It’s not you, it’s the exorbitant amount of money you’re making me waste

Relationships are tough. You and your PPC Agency need a certain chemistry because if you don’t, it might turn into another messy, expensive break-up. Big agencies often handle large volumes of small accounts, and yours might take backseat priority to larger accounts. And if your account is a larger one, a smaller agency might not have the sheer resources available to effectively manage and optimize it. You need

a solution that caters to your needs and makes you feel special.

So how do you make sure your PPC account gets the love it needs and deserves?

Text your PPC manager every fifteen minutes, make sure to use lots of emoticons to symbolize your appreciation for them. Or take a look at this checklist:

      • Spend Range

        Ask the PPC agency what their clients spend. If your spending goals fall too far outside of their range, look to other agencies.

      • One Stop Shop

        Make sure you know what you’re getting because no one’s good at everything. A PPC agency excels solely in PPC. If they’re promising you solutions to all your online needs, it’s probably too good to be true.

      • Data Doesn’t Lie

        Ask the PPC agency how they will keep your account updated and prioritized. Ask them to make predictions for what they can do. Ask them to demonstrate how they have used data in the past to improve another client. PPC can’t beat around the bush, and your account should reflect that.

4. Your Point of Contact

If the PPC agency is looking promising, you’ll want to know who would actually be responsible for the management of your account.

Make sure you check for:

      • Experience

        A junior manager will not have the experience necessary to avoid and fix problems. You’re paying for an experienced specialist, make sure this is true. Check the LinkedIn page of the manager you would be assigned.

      • Transparency

        Your sales contact might have wooed you but your account manager is the partner you’re getting. You need to make sure you know who’s managing your account, speak with them, and if possible, meet them. The account manager is the most important person for your PPC success.

      • Answers

        Can the account manager answer your questions? If there’s avoidance or redirection, be skeptical. The account manager should be able to answer any of your questions regarding your PPC account within 24 hours. Can they attest to this reliability?

5. Contracts

Sign here, here, and here, there too if you don't mind.

Sign here, here, and here, there too if you don’t mind.

PPC is an ongoing process

      The nature of the business will often involve contracts.

How do you go about approaching a PPC contract, when results are never guaranteed?

      • Fairness

        Most PPC agencies will allow prospective clients flexible trial periods in which the contracts will either be short term or non-existent. This is fair to the client and the agency as both are testing each other out. Once the trial period of about 2-3 months is over, longer term contracts might be introduced.

      • Expectations

        You should expect to see improvements in your PPC within this trial period of 2-3 months. If the agency is pushing you to hold on just a bit longer, it’s probably too late.

      • Commitment

        You do not want to commit to any long term contract right off the bat. As mentioned above, both parties should see the fairness in holding off on the contracts until trust has been established.

6. Optimization & Testing

PPC requires ongoing management. The PPC agency you select should be well aware of this. You want your account to consistently be optimized so that your money is spent in the best ways possible. Staying optimized is essential to maintaining a competitive edge in PPC.

What is the agency going to do on a monthly basis to make your account better?

      • Monthly Basis

        Ask what the PPC agency will do on a monthly basis to optimize your account. Search query reports, bidding optimizations, and landing page reviews are some of the staples here.

      • Reports

        Ask how regularly and in what format reports will come. Each month, you should be receiving a non-automated report explaining what the PPC agency has been working on.

      • Testing

        You want your account to undergo consistent testing so as to find new ways to make your PPC campaigns produce the results you want. Almost everything within a PPC account can be tested and optimized, e.g., ad copy, landing pages, targeting, etc. A diligent agency will make you well aware of this.

7. Results

Another successful meeting!

Another successful meeting!

In PPC, results are everything

A PPC makeover can offer your business a massive boost in profitability, but it will never let you eat your cake and have it too. If a PPC agency is promising you the world, be skeptical.

Are they angels or are we being deceived?

      • Sales

        Sales people are trying to make the sale. What a surprise! This means that they might exaggerate what their agency can actually do. This is why it’s highly recommended to meet with both a member of sales as well as a member of the actual analytical PPC team, preferably your prospective account manager.

      • Conversions

        Make sure you know how much a sale is worth to you in relation to money spent on advertising. The PPC agency works around these numbers, and if you have no idea, they’ll have even less of an idea. But more importantly, if you do have an idea of what your cost-per-acquisition is, or CPA, make sure the agency isn’t trying to change it to fit their needs. You come first because it’s your money being spent

      • Averages

        Ask the PPC agency for the average improvement in results their clients experience.


Having a good PPC agency on your side is like a wonderful dream. If you make sure to do your due diligence when researching the right PPC agency for your business, you might just experience this wonderful dream. And remember, PPC is a specialization that takes long hours and hard work to become proficient in.