Do SEMs Have Special Partnerships With Search Engines?

Do certain search marketing firms have special partnerships with search engines like Google, Yahoo or MSN? You would think some do in the way they have pages on their sites announcing “special” search partnerships. Sure SEMs can have account reps in regards to PPC of PFI services that the search engines offer. They can even know powerful contacts such as Matt Cutts or Tim Mayer, both of whom are prominent reps of Google and Yahoo. But are there any SEM firms that have formed partnerships with the engines that would give them some kind of advantage or special status? Or are web pages that announce special partnerships between SEMs and engines simply a sales technique?

I was reviewing a RFP (Request for Proposal) today that was submitted through our site over the weekend and when looking at their current search engine marketing (SEM) firm’s web site, I noticed a section that displayed their “Search Distribution Partnerships”. The list included Looksmart, FAST, Google, Alta Vista and Inktomi. A bit outdated as the major search services nowadays are Ask, Google, MSN and Yahoo. That is not what I want to bring attention to here but rather that I always find it amusing when search marketing firms claim they have formed “partnerships” with search engines – like they have some kind of special relationship.

Sure there can be relationships between search engines and search marketing agencies. An agency could handle a large amount of advertising money through a program like AdWords or Yahoo!’s Sponsored Search and have their own human account reps. They could participate in programs such as Google’s Site Maps or Yahoo!’s Search Submit PFI program and have specific human contacts they work with. They could even have relationships with well know search engine reps such as Matt Cutts or Tim Mayer. However even with these types of relations, search marketers do not need to form partnerships with search engines to provide a search marketing service.

When you see SEMs feature pages on their sites announcing special partnerships they have with search engines, it is almost like they want you to believe that they have some kind of special status or favor with the engine. Nothing could be further from the truth. The engines are simply the vehicle by which a marketing firm tries to promote their client’s sites through.

So don’t be fooled. While it is true that relations between search marketers and engines are improving all the time, SEMs do not build special partnerships with engines that would give them any kind of advantage. So the next time you see a page on a SEM’s web site announcing their “strategic” or “special” partnerships they have with a specific engine, understand that it is a sales technique, nothing more. Oh an if you are an SEM that boasts of your search engine partnerships, at least make sure your list is up to date. ;-)

David Wallace

David Wallace, co-founder and CEO of SearchRank, is a recognized expert in the industry of search and social media marketing. Since 1997, David has been involved in developing successful search engine and social media marketing campaigns for large and small businesses. Follow +David Wallace on Google + as well as Twitter.

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