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 Growth Marketers
Best for Paid Ads & CMO's
Best for eCommerce Marketing
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.
For more SEO Marketing agencies in a certain city, check out:
Best Overall SEM AgencyLearn More
Dedicated to offering top-quality search engine marketing services of all vareties, Hawk SEM is our top overall pick for SEM agencies.
This performance-oriented agency is made up of over 70 marketing professionals across over 30 states nationwide.
The team at Hawk SEM excels in creating integrated programs that ensure a significant ROI by targeting the perfect audience at the perfect time. They’re most passionate about partnering with industry pioneers, trendsetters, and innovators.
HawkSEM delves deep into the client's business framework with the goal of creating substantial, long-lasting revenue increases.
Check out some evidence backing up Hawk SEM’s claims of increasing revenue:
“They brought in 40% additional leads at a cost per lead that was half that of our previous vendor. They hit the ground running, learning what our programs are, and fine-tuning the strategy around the keywords in the ad copy.” -director of marketing and communications at a university on the west coast.
- Offers a comprehensive range of search engine marketing services
- Large team of over 70 marketing professionals ensures diverse expertise
- Strong focus on ROI with tailored audience targeting strategies
- Proven track record with substantial revenue increases for clients
- Nationwide presence, indicating a broad understanding of various markets
- The large team size might lead to less personalized attention for smaller clients
- May be more suited for larger businesses with substantial budgets
- The broad service range could dilute their focus on specific niche needs
Best Full-Service Marketing AgencyLearn More
Our top pick for the best overall full-service search marketing agency is SmartSites.
They offer a full suite of digital marketing services to businesses large and small, but their Google Ad campaigns and PPC offerings really stand out. Clients have seen a huge ROI on their services in these departments, and note that cost per click and cost per conversion have gone down considerably as well.
Their customer service is also unmatched and they have thousands of 5-star reviews to prove it. They are quick in their responses and communicative, involving the client when necessary and handling the workload behind-the-scenes when the clients doesn’t need to be involved.
The team at SmartSites brings innovative solutions to the table and delivers on KPIs for their clients, making them our favorite search marketing agency.
- Recognized for exceptional full-service digital marketing
- Strong performance in Google Ad campaigns and PPC, crucial for search marketing
- Excellent customer service with a high number of positive reviews
- Demonstrated ability to reduce cost per click and improve ROI
- Innovative solutions tailored to client KPIs
- Full-service approach might be overwhelming for clients seeking only search marketing
- Potentially higher cost due to comprehensive service offerings
- High demand may lead to selective client intake
Best for eCommerce businessesLearn More
Paid advertising is one of the most effective ways to reach new customers, and WebFX is our favorite marketing partner for eCommerce businesses.
Clients get a dedicated manager who becomes a part of their team, but they take it one step further. Their uniquely customized approach rotates marketing specialists for clients, allowing a regular flow of fresh perspective that pays off; they’ve made $3 billion in revenue for their clients.
Where this agency shines is in its excellent understanding of correspondence. Their team is always responsive and maintains regular contact with clients. WebFX also has a special cloud where they keep info on the progress they make for their clients.
- Specialized in eCommerce, making them ideal for online businesses
- Unique approach with rotating marketing specialists for fresh perspectives
- Strong track record of client revenue generation
- Excellent communication and a dedicated manager for each client
- Specialized cloud system for progress tracking
- Rotating specialists might lead to a lack of consistency in strategy
- eCommerce focus may not align with all business types
- The approach may be too complex for small businesses or startups
Best for small businessesLearn More
LoudMouth Media, based in the UK, ranks among the top 3% of agencies in 2022 and holds the distinction of being a Google Premier partner.
They offer a audit to every client, giving prospective clients insights into potential improvements and showcasing what they can bring to the table.
While their expertise spans a variety of sectors, they most often serve clients in the retail and eCommerce domains. This makes them an ideal choice for both online boutiques and physical stores.
Staying updated on the latest algorithm shifts and marketing techniques, LoudMouth offers clients effective PPC, remarketing, and display advertising campaigns.
- High ranking among agencies and a Google Premier partner
- Offers free audits to prospective clients, showcasing potential improvements
- Expertise in retail and eCommerce, ideal for relevant sectors
- Up-to-date with the latest algorithm shifts and marketing techniques
- Effective PPC, remarketing, and display advertising campaigns/li>
- UK-based, which might limit their effectiveness in other geographical markets
- May have a narrower focus, less suited for non-retail or eCommerce businesses
- The agency's size and scope might not be ideal for very large businesses
With a track record of managing over $1 billion in advertising budgets, Disruptive has successfully thousands of clients through their search engine marketing and PPC journeys.
Their domain knowledge encompasses sectors like eCommerce, finance, B2B, legal, insurance, and healthcare. They've collaborated with huge brands including Death Wish Coffee, Adobe, Scott’s MiracleGro, and many other major players.
Clients love the company’s timeliness, structured approach, and receptiveness to innovative ideas.
While the majority of their PPC expertise is centered on Google AdWords, Disruptive also extends its services to Amazon, Bing, and YouTube advertising. They also specialize in lifecycle marketing, website enhancement, and creative solutions.
- Extensive experience with over $1 billion in advertising budgets managed
- Broad sector knowledge including eCommerce, finance, B2B, and more
- Strong PPC expertise across multiple platforms like Google AdWords, Amazon, Bing
- Notable for structured, timely, and innovative approaches
- Offers additional services in lifecycle marketing and website enhancement/li>
- The broad range of services might dilute their focus on specific client needs
- May be more suited for larger clients given their work with major brands
- The emphasis on large-scale advertising might not align with smaller budget clients
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.
- Specialized in eCommerce, providing tailored search marketing strategies
- Custom approach, ensuring solutions fit the specific needs of each business/li>
- Offers both SEO and pay-per-click as standalone services
- High client retention rate and significant average increase in client revenue
- Expertise in platform migration and online sales strategy development/li>
- Niche focus on eCommerce might not suit all types of businesses
- Custom solutions might come at a higher price point
- The dual focus on SEO and PPC might not be as integrated as some clients need
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.