Over the past six months or so, I've had discussions with several Search Engine Guide readers and professional search marketers about the trouble that companies have finding a search marketing vendor that they can trust. It seems like everyone, especially small businesses have been burned at least once and that many companies are more than willing to hire someone, they just are worried about hiring the wrong someone.
The discussion popped up again this past week in Detlev Johnson's Search Rank newsletter. (Quick plug...if you don't already subscribe, sign up now, it's the only newsletter that I actually manage to read all the way through each time it shows up.)
The question here was two-fold...how do we as search marketers figure out who to send referral work to and how do businesses figure out which companies they can trust. You can read through the archives at the Search Rank site to get the entire conversation, but here's a snippet of the post that I put in to the mix...
On my more ambitious days, I think that I'll actually build something out on www.seomatch.com, a domain that I bought earlier this year when I thought it would be interesting to get into SEM brokering. The reality is that the size and scope of this type of project would be larger than what I care to manage. As I see it, you'd need to have a good system in place as far as reviewing and cataloging techniques, skill levels, price ranges etc. I don't see this as a system limited to white hats or black hats; I see it as a system that matches a business up with the best skill set for what they need. That may mean white hat, may mean black hat, may mean big firm, may mean small.
I think if you had someone that was really familiar with a wide range of companies and could confidently send a business off to one of them, you could set up a decent business model. The service could be free for companies looking to hire a vendor, and vendors could pay a referral fee to the service the same way that they would to a salesman.
I see a true need for this type "match-making" service if search marketing is going to continue to grow. While the industry is starting to mature, there are still valid concerns from companies about who they can safely hire. It's not at all unusual for me to hear from business owners that very much want to invest in SEM but that have simply been burned so many times by bad vendors that they're not sure any good ones actually exist.
So my question to our readers is, what do you think? Do you see a need for some type of search marketing match-maker? Would you want this to be overseen by an actual professional organization like SEMPO or SMA-NA? Should it be overseen by someone within the industry, or by one of the popular discussion forums? If you could envision a system that would help you figure out who to hire to do your search marketing, how would it work?
I'd love to hear your feedback. To that end, I've started a discussion thread in our forums. If you've got two cents to throw in on the subject, please post it there.
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