As a top 3% SEM agency who manages over $80M in client ad spend, we know a thing or two about what makes a great agency partner — and these SEM agencies are the cream of the crop.
Here, you’ll find:
- What is an SEM agency
- The typical cost for an SEM agency
- What to look for in an SEM agency
- Top 12 SEM agencies to use in 2023
The SEM agency challenging what is to help you create what’s next.
Leading data-driven CXM company specializing in the delivery of unique customer experiences across platforms.
Award-winning performance marketing agency specializing in digital media, analytics, and CX.
The largest independent performance marketing firm across Streaming TV.
|Services|| || || || |
|Best For||B2B, B2C, Ecommerce, SaaS, Finance, Healthcare, Education, Professional services||Enterprise businesses and businesses looking to scale||Healthcare companies, B2B, ecommerce, enterprise and SMB||Fortune 1000, multichannel|
Building a successful search engine marketing (SEM) strategy isn’t just about what you work on. It’s also about who you decide to work with.
The people on your team will determine how well you plan and execute your SEM campaigns. And we’re not just talking about your in-house experts — it’s also about your agency partners.
Working with a search marketing agency can ensure you have the support and expertise you need to reach your goals. But how do you find the right agency?
Lucky for you, we have a list of the top agencies money can buy. Here’s a peek at our list of the best SEM agencies on the virtual block.
Top 12 SEM Agencies
- Rise Interactive
- Ignite Visibility
- Victorious SEO
The best SEM agencies to consider in 2023
Selecting the top SEM companies was easy because we’ve been in the business for over a decade and have seen the excellent work of other agencies. So we’re not just throwing together a top list based on what others are saying — these are hand-selected by us.
These SEM firms made it to the list because of their quality and expertise in the industry. In fact, we refer prospects to them when they aren’t the best fit for our agency.
The SEM agencies we listed made it to the top because of their:
- Years of experience
- Awards won
- Partnership with Google
- Organic search and social presence for their own brand
- Impressive client base (multiple companies across multiple industries)
So without further ado, let’s jump into the top 12 SEM agencies.
HawkSEM makes it to the top of the list because of our wide-ranging services and expertise across various fields. We work with countless small businesses and enterprises, including those in B2B, B2C, eCommerce, software-as-a-service (SaaS), finance, healthcare, education, and professional services.
Odds are, if you need to build your online presence, traffic, and conversions, we can help you get the job done.
If you’re looking for a well-rounded search engine marketing strategy, we can build and execute it for you. But don’t just take our word for it. We have numerous case studies to back this claim.
For example, Caring Places Management, an assisted living services provider, partnered with HawkSEM to drive more organic traffic to its website from the SERPs (search engine results pages). They worked with another agency before, but to no avail.
After developing a solid, long-term SEO strategy, we put it into action and monitored their site’s performance. This included developing blog categories and filters, and optimizing existing content for high-value keywords.
The end result: triple the keyword rankings and a 79% increase in website traffic. Our proprietary software, ConversionIQ, makes keyword research easier. It pinpoints keywords that drive results, which means more quality leads coming to your site.
If you’d like to see more of our results-driven campaigns, then check out our other case studies.
Best for: B2B/B2C, ecommerce, SaaS, finance, healthcare, education, professional services
- Search Engine Marketing (SEM)
- PPC Services (Google Ads + Microsoft Ads)
- SEO (for both Google and Bing)
- Content Marketing
- Paid Social Media Marketing
- Conversion Rate Optimization
- Ecommerce Marketing
- Landing page optimization (with the help of our talented copywriters)
Merkle isn’t just the top two on our list — it also made it to the #2 position on LinkedIn’s top marketing and advertising companies list in 2022. And rightfully so, it’s a big agency with over 16,000 employees across the world and world-class clients.
But it’s not your typical Fortune 500 company — it works closely with customers to build deep relationships. It offers a range of multi-channel marketing services that encompass everything from digital marketing strategy to google analytics and more.
It also offers several high-quality products, such as New Stream Media, which is a platform that uses first-party data to match vendors with shoppers in their preferred media channels. Cutting-edge technology for a cutting-edge agency.
The advantages of working with Merkle is that it:
- Can handle large workloads (ideal for scaling)
- Has huge market expertise and a personal database
- Offers several products tailored to the services it provides
The only downside is that it may not be suitable for small business’s budgets.
Best for: Enterprise businesses and businesses looking to scale
- Performance Media
- Digital messaging
- Digital and user experience
- B2B marketing solutions
- Customer Strategy
- Data solutions
- Performance creatives
- Loyalty solutions
- Promotion and gamification
- Enterprise Technology
Rise Interactive is a performance marketing agency that caters to B2B and ecommerce brands. They excel in helping companies with lead generation via its wide range of SEM services.
It also has its own proprietary tool called Connex, which is an online marketing platform that provides cross-channel management and optimization. This tool gathers and unifies data from various channels to detect performance trends. Then the agency proactively uses the intelligence to capitalize on opportunities in real time.
Now, that’s innovation.
This agency has also won many awards and accolades, such as Forrester Wave recognition. It’s also prominent in the healthcare space, winning the 40th annual Healthcare Ads Awards.
Rise Interactive is a strategic partner of Google, Meta, Amazon Ads, and Snapchat Business, giving it an advantage in building winning campaigns across these channels.
The fact it’s a well-established brand and recognized by industry partners makes it a good choice for companies large and small.
Best for: Healthcare companies, B2B, ecommerce, enterprise and SMB
- Paid search
- Amazon ads
- Programmatic ad solutions
- A wide range of analytics
- Customer experience (CX)
- Content marketing
- Nicklaus Children’s Hospital
- American Lung Association
Tinuiti is a Fortune 1000 agency that dubbed itself as “Brand Performance Accelerators” and we agree. It’s one of the largest independent performance marketing firms on Streaming TV and platforms like Google, Facebook, and Amazon.
It’s worked with major brands, such as Converse, Nestle, Ethan Allen, and Etsy. Plus, it managed media budgets as high as $3 billion. Tinuiti has over 1,000 employees that help its clients achieve their internet marketing goals.
It uses multiple channels, including commerce, streaming, paid media, and earned and owned media. Like most top agencies, it’s built its own proprietary software called Mobius which is a suite of marketing intelligence and media activation technology to help clients understand every data touchpoint. In other words, the agency can make moves in real time to optimize your marketing campaigns.
Best for: Ecommerce brands, businesses looking to expand their streaming campaigns
- Marketing and strategy services for Amazon
- Paid search
- Target acceleration program
- Walmart eCommerce
- Paid social
- Lifestyle marketing
- Influencer marketing
- Shoppable media
- Rite Aid
- E.L.F cosmetics
Next up is iCrossing, which was named a leader in Gartner’s Magic Quandrant for Global Marketing Agencies for the 8th Consecutive Year (in 2021). It’s a big agency doing big things with 19 offices across the world, including the U.S., U.K., Germany, Italy, and Latin America.
It’s also a strategic partner of Google, Adobe, Microsoft, Shopify, Amazon, and Salesforce. Talk about a big contender for driving amazing results. If you’re a large enterprise looking to scale, then this is the perfect SEM company for you.
Best for: Enterprise businesses
- Data and consumer insights
- Customer and user experience
- Creative strategy
- Cross-platform integration & engineering
- SEO and performance media
- LG Electronics
Jellyfish is an agency that helps businesses innovate by combining talent and partnerships to delight global audiences. It uses a unique approach — giving brands a platform to perform. The agency has proprietary J+ media suites that use a mix of digital marketing, graphic design, and content creation to develop and manage paid ad campaigns.
It also tracks and analyzes data, and can accelerate growth on ecommerce platforms. Jellyfish is a strategic partner of Google, Meta, Amazon Ads, Salesforce, LinkedIn, Tiktok, and others.
In one of its campaigns for Greenpeace, Jellyfish developed a creative campaign, including social posts and display ads, to address France’s food poverty. The campaign generated two million impressions across social media, received seven industry awards, and 22,000 petition signatures.
Jellyfish is equipped with over 2,100 employees in 38 offices across 21 countries. So wherever you are, they can likely localize your campaign for success. Ideal clients are those with larger enterprises.
Best for: Enterprise businesses
- Paid search campaigns
- Retail media
- Paid social
- Brand strategy
- Marketing intelligence
- Web and app measurement
- Advanced analytics and modeling
- Willowton Group
- Deckers Brands.
Wpromote is a multi-award-winning, full-service digital marketing agency that works with SMBs and medium-sized enterprises. It’s won awards from Adweek, The Drum, U.S. Campaigns, and U.S. Agency Awards 2021 for being the fastest growing, most effective, and innovative digital marketing agency.
And these are just some of the accolades it has received.
With offices across the U.S., including Chicago, Manhattan, San Francisco, Dallas, Denver, and L.A., Wpromote runs the gamut with top-notch talent and invaluable insight across industries and demographics.
So if you need an agency that can develop a complete digital marketing campaign and execute it, contact Wpromote.
Best for: SMB, medium-sized companies
- Paid search
- Paid social
- Amazon and retail media
- Performance creative
- Affiliate marketing
- Converged TB
- Digital experience
- SEO services
- Content marketing
- Email marketing
- Influencer marketing
- Conversion rate optimization
- Strategy and planning
- Reporting and data visualization
AdVenture is a prestigious SEM marketing agency, but without the hefty price. It’s perfect for small and medium businesses (SMBs) that desire industry experience that can deliver results without hurting their budget. According to AdVenture, they provide 100% neurotic digital advertising services, which says plenty about their out-of-the-box style.
And it’s grown in popularity, catering to over 500 companies that chose this agency to manage their paid search and social campaigns. AdVenture was also named a Clutch 1000 Global Leader Among B2B Firms WorldWide in 2019. And then in 2020, was awarded the Top 32 Ad Agencies in NYC.
If you’re not ready to add this premier Google Partner to your team, consider consulting with its SEM experts before bringing them aboard.
Best for: SMB, startups
- Enterprise AdWords management
- PPC for eCommerce
- Facebook PPC campaign management
- Landing page design
- Training and consulting
- A/B Testing
- Web development
- Sports Illustrated
- Hanes Brands
Ignite Visibility is a top-rated search engine marketing agency that caters to SMBs. It’s a 6x Inc. 5000 Company and was ranked #1 on Clutch.co in 2022. Although it has big-name clients like Experian, Tony Robbins, and Army & Navy Academy, it still values helping the underdog companies looking to grow and scale.
You won’t find many agencies that are dedicated to honesty, integrity, and striving for 100% client satisfaction. It holds itself accountable by clearly defining key performance indicators (KPIs) or metrics for clients’ campaigns and adhering to them.
Furthermore, Ignite Visibility is also involved in social causes in San Diego and donates 5-10% of its business to pro-bono campaigns.
Ignite Visibility is an agency you stick with long-term. Doing so provides more value since its packages are intensive and designed to improve your business over time. Free consultations are available, so you can begin with talking to one of its experts.
Best for: SMB
- Website design and development
- Google penalty removal and recovery
- Amazon optimization and marketing
- Online reputation management
- Email marketing
- Franchise marketing
- Influencer marketing
- Tony Robbins
- The Knot Worldwide
Victorious SEO is a local and national agency that concentrates on everything search engine optimization. It has offices throughout the U.S., including Denver, San Francisco, Phoenix, Portland, Chicago, DC, L.A., and Austin (to name a few).
It caters to several markets, such as:
- Niche sites
- SEO for Small Businesses
- SEO for Local Services
- Enterprise SEO
- National SEO
- International SEO
- New Websites
- White-label SEO
- SEO Reseller
- San Francisco SEO
Being strictly an SEO agency makes it a master of optimization, earning it awards from Search Engine Land, U.S. Search Awards, and Clutch for being a top global SEO agency.
The agency’s company culture is also worth noting if you prefer to work with ethical professionals. It has a people-first ethos and believes in total transparency and honest communication regarding client SEO campaigns.
As an ROI-obsessed agency, you know you can trust Victorious SEO to generate a return on your campaigns.
Best for: SMB and local services
- E-commerce (Shopify, WooCommerce, Magento, BigCommerce)
- Real Estate
- SEO for News Publishers
- Cannabis SEO
- Citron Hennessey
- Save the Music Foundation
- Eden Health
- Union Bay
Thrive is another multi-award-winning agency that’s received recognition for being a top SEO company from Clutch, Inc. 5000, and UpCity. Plus, it’s a Premier Google Partner, which means it has a proven track record of generating real results. Then to top it off, Thrive’s an official member of the Forbes Agency Council.
Their services are available to any size business, including SMBs, local brick-and-mortar companies, and multi-location organizations. However, its core focus areas are education, finance, health/medical, home services, and manufacturing.
If you’re interested in seeing how this agency can help you thrive, then schedule a call to receive a free proposal.
Best for: SMB, brick-and-mortar, finance, healthcare, home services, and manufacturing
- Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
- Franchise SEO
- Local SEO
- Technical SEO
- Link Building
- Web Design & Development
- Custom Website Design
- Social Media Marketing
- Pay Per Click (PPC) Management
- Video Production
- Innovate MR
- American Institute of Dental Public Health
- Kranium Consulting
- Prestige ER
Dentsu isn’t just in the marketing industry — it’s a leader that loves to move and shake the digital world. You know you have a winner when the agency you work with puts out reports that direct CMOs of the newest trends and economic climate to prepare them to make tough decisions.
It even claims to develop research and analysis that causes debate, which is always a good thing if you’re looking to innovate.
Apparently, household name brands like Oreo, Kroger, and Foot Locker found this agency attractive enough to use for their campaigns. What sets this agency apart is its focus on leveraging consumer intelligence to help brands spearhead competitors, while winning the hearts of consumers.
To date, it’s had over 11,000 clients, caters to 143 markets, and employs 66,000 passionate professionals.
If you need an agency that’s well-orchestrated, yet flexible enough to try new things, then reach out to its experts today.
Best for: Enterprise businesses
- Design, create, and optimize media experiences
- Develop data-driven strategies for enhanced customer experiences
FAQs about SEM agencies:
What is an SEM agency?
An SEM agency is a team of digital marketing experts that help brands strategize, build, and improve their search engine marketing strategies. It consists of services like search engine optimization (SEO), pay-per-click (PPC) advertising, and content marketing. Agencies offering SEM services help businesses grow their online presence, increase brand awareness, and improve conversion rates.
How much do SEM agencies charge?
An SEM Agency will typically charge a flat fee of $2,500 – $10,000+/month. The cost for an SEM company ranges, depending on the services offered and the size of your campaigns. In certain cases, fees can be a percentage of ad spend, an hourly rate, or a performance-based fee. At HawkSEM, we typically charge a simple flat fee, without any setup costs.
However, you shouldn’t base your decision on price alone — find out about contract requirements and how long it takes to see results.
“Finding an agency with relevant experiences is key, so ask for case studies of other clients that have had similar challenges and how the agency helped solve them,” says Sam Yadegar, CEO at HawkSEM. “It’d also be nice to meet their potential account managers before you sign on. We provide that here at HawkSEM.”
How long does it take to see results on SEM campaigns?
Generally, you’ll start seeing initial results within 2-3 months. However, to achieve significant and sustainable results, it often requires 6 months or more of consistent effort and optimization.The time it takes to see results on SEM campaigns can vary depending on several factors, such as your industry, competition, budget, and campaign objectives.
What should you ask an SEM agency in a discovery call?
There’s a lot to go over on a discovery call with an SEM agency. We recommend asking the following questions:
- What is their experience and expertise in SEM?
- How do they develop and implement their SEM strategies?
- What metrics do they track and report on?
- Can they provide case studies or examples of successful campaigns? (bonus points if these examples are within your industry)
- What is their approach to keyword research and targeting?
- How do they optimize campaigns to improve performance?
- What is their pricing structure and contract terms?
- Do they offer any additional services or insights beyond SEM?
How do I choose the best SEM agency?
Here are some factors to consider when choosing the best SEM agency for your business:
- Reputation and reviews: Research their reputation, read client testimonials, and check online reviews.
- Experience and expertise in SEM: Look for agencies with a proven track record of successful SEM campaigns.
- Services and capabilities: Ensure the agency offers the specific SEM services you need, such as search advertising, display advertising, or remarketing.
- Customized strategies: Look for agencies that develop tailored strategies based on your business goals and target audiences.
- Communication and transparency: Evaluate their communication style, responsiveness, and how transparent they are with their processes and results.
- Pricing and ROI: Consider the agency’s pricing structure and evaluate the potential return on investment their services can deliver.
How can a Search Engine Marketing Agency benefit My business?
Partnering with an SEM agency can benefit your business in several ways, namely:
- Increased visibility: An SEM agency can help improve your website’s visibility in search engine results, driving more targeted traffic to your site.
- Targeted advertising: SEM agencies specialize in creating targeted ad campaigns that reach your desired audience, increasing the chances of converting them into customers.
- Improved conversion rates: By optimizing your SEM campaigns, an agency can enhance the effectiveness of your ads, resulting in higher conversion rates and better return on investment.
- Expertise and knowledge: SEM agencies stay updated on the latest trends, algorithms, and best practices, leveraging their expertise to create and manage successful campaigns.
- Time and resource savings: Outsourcing SEM to an agency allows you to focus on other core aspects of your business while professionals handle your online advertising efforts.
- Data-driven insights: SEM agencies track and analyze campaign data, providing valuable insights that can inform future marketing strategies and decision-making.
The bottom line
Generally, when selecting the right agency for your needs, consider everything: cost, vertical expertise, experience, and past successes. The more you know about the agency, the better you can evaluate if they can add value to your business.
So check out the options on this list and connect with a few to see which matches your business best.
If you consider HawkSEM as an option for your company, then reach out to our team to see how we can take your business to the next level.