If you're considering using search marketing techniques to top the rankings, you're that much ahead of your competition. But knowing how to execute a solid strategy takes time and expertise – something that plenty of search engine marketing agencies claim to have in spades, but few can deliver on.
We wanted to see which agencies could really walk the walk, so we did extensive digging and research to find the true star players.
The result? Six firms and digital freelance platforms that we think can help rocket you to the top of the search rankings.
Best for B2B Marketing
- Strength in brand marketing, growth marketing, and fractional CMOs.
- Elite, “Top 3%” of marketing talent in the world.
- 48-hour talent matching, with 75% of clients hiring their first match.
Best for B2C Marketing
- Strength in performance marketing, including paid ads and affiliate programs.
- Specialties in SEO, content, and email marketing.
- Great for growing agencies to augment staff. Easy to scale your team.
Match With the Perfect Agency
Use our free agency concierge service to find the perfect match. Takes about 1 minute.
We offer this website completely free to our visitors. To help pay the bills, we’ll often (but not always) set up affiliate relationships with the top providers after selecting our favorites. However, we do our best not to let this impact our choices. There are plenty of high-paying companies we’ve turned down because we didn’t like their product.
An added benefit of our relationships is that we always try to negotiate exclusive discounts for our visitors.
Best Search Marketing Services
When you're ready to hire a search marketing agency, you want to work with a team that can offer an expert blend of knowledge, expertise, value, and technical understanding.
Best for growth-oriented businesses looking to work with thoroughly vetted freelancers who know your niche as well as you do.Learn More
Want to work with freelancers, but aren’t keen on the time and hassle of vetting, reviewing, and hiring them yourself? GrowTal wants to help. Its premise is simple: it helps you leverage freelance talent without the headaches by pairing you with the perfect pre-vetted candidate.
Every GrowTal-affiliated marketer must first pass through a four-step process prior to working with clients. It begins with a review of an applicant’s online profile, followed by multiple rounds of interviews that intend to gauge a candidate’s skill level, professionalism, and abilities. The final call on whether or not to accept a freelancer onto the platform is made by a seasoned pro within the particular marketing vertical that an applicant is interested in, ensuring that no poseurs slip through the gates.
GrowTal’s stats are equally impressive. They claim companies who choose to work with their freelancers over hiring someone in-house benefit from an average 62 percent savings rate. Factor in the peace of mind from knowing you can trust their pre-vetted talent pool, and the savings suddenly seem priceless.
- Read our GrowTal Review
Best for businesses looking for a provider that offers quality freelance talent in an agency-like arrangement for an affordable, transparent price.Learn More
Maple offers top marketing talent the opportunity to work with high-profile clients on search marketing strategies big and small. The agency also is upfront and transparent about the cost of its services – a highly uncommon approach in an industry that prefers opaque messaging about free first calls and consultations rather than definitive pricing details.
About that pricing: you’ll find that when it comes to search marketing, you can choose either a paid search package or SEO package. On the paid front, you can expect to pay anywhere from $1,850 to $17,500 a month, depending on your current monthly media budget. Their online tools make it easy to see where exactly you’d fall along that scale based on your current budget and expectations.
The SEO packages take a bit of a different approach. You can choose from one of three packages, each of which increases in scope and price as you work up this three-rung ladder. The cheapest option is $2,860 a month and provides up to 100 page and keyword optimizations; the priciest choice buys you 500 optimized pages and keywords and will run you $7,200 a month. All three packages include perks like site audits, regular reporting, and competitor analysis.
And how is your assigned marketer chosen? Data. The freelancer you’re paired with is determined by a complex algorithm that takes into account more than 25 factors, ranging from personality type to prior work experience.
With a data-driven approach, a diverse pool of talent, and client feedback stats through the roof, this agency is a prime candidate to consider for your search marketing needs.
- Read our Mayple Review
Best for companies looking to work with top-performing freelancers that have already been vetted by industry experts.Learn More
MarketerHire is a platform that connects freelancers and clients, but it stands out in a big way: they thoroughly review every freelancer joining their network to ensure that the people they work with are at the top of their game.
Meeting their standards as a freelancer isn’t easy: only five percent of MarketerHire hopefuls make it through their multi-step application process. Though ambitious marketers might wring their hands at that statistic, you and your business can rest easy knowing that you’re only working with the cream of the crop.
MarketerHire freelancers offer a wide swath of expertise. including specialists in both paid search marketing as well as search engine optimization (SEO), two cornerstone skill sets you’ll want any search marketing strategist to have expertise in. These experts bring you their extensive experience without you having to worry about hiring and vetting in-house or freelance staff yourself.
MarketerHire’s 4.7-star rating, 2,500 clients, and 12,500 matches to date suggest that the company has hit upon a compelling modern solution to today’s search engine marketing needs.
- Read out MarketerHire Review
Best for companies looking to complete smaller, simpler projects with affordable freelance talent.Learn More
Fiverr is a well-known marketplace that makes it easy for businesses and individuals to hire freelancers on an as-needed basis for jobs of various scales and difficulties. Its intuitive platform, large talent pool, and affordable price point make it one of the most popular freelance platforms on the web.
Unlike some other freelance platforms, Fiverr is geared to small-scale projects – you won’t have to look long before you find someone offering their search-engine marketing skills for $5 a job (or Gig, in Fiverr parlance). Though many freelancers do offer recurring contract options and multiple tiers of service that ladder up in both cost and scope, it’s quickly apparent that Fiverr thrives on quick-hit and low-cost type of work.
Don’t be dissuaded by that. The affordable price point makes Fiverr an excellent platform to hire someone who can implement new ideas you might want to try or help tackle a few assignments your ordinary team doesn’t have the bandwidth for. Considering the ratings, professionalism, and fast turnaround times that distinguish the top Fiverr players, don’t be surprised if who you hire becomes one of your primary freelancers.
- Read our Fiverr Review
Best for businesses looking to work with eCommerce specialists that know how to use search marketing to drive sales and brand awareness.Learn More
Inflow is a digital marketing agency that pushes innovative search marketing within the specialized sphere of eCommerce. Billing themselves as an eCommerce digital agency, this is a team that knows its niche and sticks to it.
Notably, the approach Inflow takes is totally custom. They push the fact that their solutions aren’t cut-and-paste but rather designed around the intricacies of your business. The idea is to mold search marketing solutions to your eCommerce operations and strategies rather than vice versa. The ultimate goal? Develop your online presence to boost your sales, traffic, and brand awareness.
Inflow offers both SEO and pay-per-click solutions, each offered as standalone services. This approach offers two distinct advantages: it saves you money and also ensures there are two dedicated, specialized teams on the Inflow payroll working their magic in their respective niche. Rather than have one team stretched thin between both, you’ll work with a group that lives and breathes just organic or paid.
As eCommerce specialists, this team is also ready to help you develop a strategy around how you sell online, which is why they’re a great resource for concerns like platform migration. It’s also telling that clients seem to overwhelmingly praise the work Inflow does: the agency boasts a 97 percent client retention rate and a 134 percent average increase in client revenue. With stats like those, it’s no wonder Inflow is a top search marketing agency.
Best for businesses that want to work directly with freelance talent for projects big and small.Learn More
Upwork is one of the biggest names in online freelance work, and the site is home to countless freelance SEM specialists. The easy-to-use website makes it effortless to attract applicants – all you have to do is post your job and let the Upwork algorithm show it to the right candidates via the job feed.
You’ll enjoy peace of mind working through Upwork thanks to a robust rating system that lets you see who stands out and who might drop the ball. Payment is also secured thanks to an escrow system that parks freelancer earnings in a holding account until all aspects of the contract are satisfied. This lets you ensure you don’t pay for services until you’re happy with the results.
We think Upwork is the ideal solution for clients who have a clear vision of what they want from an SEM campaign and aren’t afraid to hire and vet freelancers on their own.
- Read our Upwork Review
Types of Digital Marketing Agencies
What Is a Search Engine Marketing Agency?
A search engine marketing agency devises digital strategies that are intended to put your pages and products at the top of Google search results for specific queries.
These agencies typically subdivide their SEM services into two categories: search engine optimization or SEO, and paid search campaigns. Paid search is all about paying for one of the coveted ad positions that dominate the top four slots in a typical Google search results page. SEO is about writing custom, authentic content that weaves in the keywords your audience commonly uses to find similar products and services.
The best SEM agencies often provide these services together. This ensures their clients can get a mix of paid Google positions for certain keywords as well as a website or blog that is optimized for the appropriate search queries.
Many agencies bundle their search marketing programs with other digital solutions as well, as both paid and SEO strategies are core pieces of any modern marketing plan. For our part, we’ve tried to highlight search marketing agencies that specialize in this work, but most of these top-rated firms also offer many other services you can take advantage of.
What Does a Search Marketing Agency Do?
An SEM agency specializes in improving your position on the search engine results page, or SERP. They do this by devising an actionable strategy that takes into account your website, niche, and target audience, among other factors. They also strategize how to effectively blend both paid and organic search efforts so that they complement rather than cannibalize each other.
While it might seem easy enough to write a few landing pages with some keywords showered in, that’s not quite the case. Agencies distinguish themselves by using data and analysis to drive their decisions, including how to determine what to write for optimization purposes and which keywords should be tracked for further improvement and long-term growth.
An important point to note is that while all search marketing professionals will know some level of digital marketing, not all marketers will know how search marketing works. Forget this and you could end up working with someone who professes digital marketing knowledge but doesn’t have a clue about building an effective organic or paid search campaign. This is especially important to keep in mind when hiring freelancers for the job.
How Much Does a Search Marketing Agency Charge?
You won’t know until you contact your short list of potential agencies and have an exploratory call. This is because the work is so custom: depending on agency service packages, client needs, and the inevitable contract negotiations, SEM pricing can be frustratingly difficult to pinpoint.
The quality and scope of service also play into pricing: you can pay a garden-variety freelancer from Fiverr $5 per optimized article, or you could contract with a full-service agency that charges thousands of dollars a month for complete SEO and paid campaign development.
Our advice? Determine just how much you want to spend and how thorough of a solution you’re looking for. If you just want to test the waters of search marketing, we’d say go with a freelancer – there’s plenty on Fiverr and Upwork. For a more ambitious approach, try one of the agencies outlined above. This will require deeper pockets, but you’ll be rewarded with data-driven solutions and agency-level support.
Of course, when choosing providers and agencies, be sure to review the rates per click and any other fees and expenses. Rates can fluctuate between agencies, so do your homework and ask the hard questions on the exploratory calls.
What is a search engine marketing agency?
A search engine marketing agency is a firm that has one goal: getting your business to the top of the search engine results page, or SERP. They make this happen through optimizing your website for important keywords and utilizing paid ad placement.
Is it worth it to hire a search marketing agency?
Generally, yes. These agencies will grow the reach of your brand by making sure more of the right people find and discover your website and service offerings. By hiring a specialist, you’ll save yourself countless hours trying to implement a similar SEM strategy yourself, therefore freeing you up to do what you do best: developing your product or service.
How do I choose a search marketing agency?
Start with a list like the one above, then determine what your needs and budget are. If you only want some light SEM work done, consider an independent freelancer. Looking for a bit more support, such as deep analytics and a robust keyword tracking campaign? Consider a traditional agency or a firm that contracts out vetted freelancers eager to take on more serious projects.
Which search marketing agency is best for small businesses?
For small businesses, we’d recommend starting with Upwork or Fiverr. Why? Because of ease of use and price point. You can easily find someone to help write some SEO-friendly articles or give you a boost on your paid campaign without a major financial or contractual commitment. When you’re ready to take things up a notch, contract with a dedicated agency.