A Simple Way to Keep Your SEM Vendor Honest

Paid search is the most effective channel to capture low-funnel shoppers. If you partner with an agency, it’s important to know the metrics their SEM service achieves. Unfortunately, many digital marketing companies manipulate or cherry-pick the data to give the appearance of progress.

Is there a way to verify that your paid search partner is doing its job?

Google Your Keywords to See SEM Results

At your dealership, Google one of your keywords with a modifier of “near me” or your primary location (e.g., Ford Focus near me; 2018 Ford Focus Apex NC). If you’re not high in the search results in SERPs, don’t panic. Your agency may be prioritizing other keywords because the data shows that the keyword isn’t worth buying.

There may also be another practical reason for not ranking:

  • The total budget has been exhausted for the month.
  • The daily budget runs out each night by 7 p.m.
  • The Ad Rank may be too low.
  • The Quality Score may be too low.

Here’s the point: Not showing up for a search might not be a bad thing. You need to be willing to contact your agency to have open, honest discussions by asking the right questions. Just make sure they offer a reasonable explanation of the why behind their decisions.

There are exceptions: your high-priority keywords.

Understand Your High-Priority Keywords for Paid Search

Your agency should identify and share your dealership’s high-priority keywords, as well as the reasoning for why they were chosen. These are the keywords most important to your business objectives, so you always want a high impression share and dominant position.

For example, if you’re a Ford dealer and have the third position in SERPs for F-150 searches, that’s a problem.

Your agency should aggressively pursue the top position for high-priority, high-intent keywords that have significant local search volume. If your impression share or rank doesn’t satisfy your expectations, then you need to find out if your agency has a process to improve it.

Remember: Higher positions = more extensions = more SERP real estate you take up.

Other Benefits of Googling Your Keywords

Not only can you set priorities, but you can also see what your competitors’ prioritize:

  • Lease offers
  • Refunds
  • Interest rate deals
  • New or used
  • Sales event offers

You can ensure that you have competitive rates and lease deals, or you may even consider creating an event offer.  

Reunion Bonus Tip 1: You can use BrightLocal no matter where you are to preview your ads by Googling those queries.
Reunion Bonus Tip 2: Bing owns 25% of the desktop market share. So search those keywords on Bing, too. If your competitors are on there and you’re not, they’re stealing 25% of your searches.

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