Are you in need of professional assistance on your Pay-Per-Click (PPC) accounts, specifically Google AdWords? Not sure where to look or what questions we should be asking?  Can we help?  Answer: Choosing a good Pay-Per-Click (PPC) provider is not something to take lightly. As you would with an internal hire, finding the right PPC company involves both time and patience and a clear communication of expectations by both parties.

Whether you hire a single PPC consultant or go with a larger firm with dozens of certified specialists in PPC campaign management, there are certain places to look AND certain questions to ASK that will make the process go much easier.

Since your current need is primarily Google AdWords, our first recommendation is the Google Partner Search. This simple search engine is maintained directly by Google and lists all those who have been certified by Google to manage AdWords campaigns. With the ability to search providers by your projected campaign spend, locally within your area, or by industry focus, this is the first place you should look to find and generate a list of qualified Google AdWords PPC management professionals.

Note: The Google Partner Search also includes a handy Search by Partner Name field which allows you to check the certification status of any company who “claims” they have a Google AdWords Professional Certification.

Once you’ve generated a list of possible PPC candidates, it’s time to interview them. Understanding their level of expertise, their cost structure, past results, and approach to your accounts is IMPERATIVE going forward.

Here are five suggested questions to ask any potential candidate:

1. How long have they been doing PPC campaign management? Look for at least five years of experience and ask for a DOCUMENTED history of success. Request at least two examples of past and current clients who are willing to speak with you directly.
2. Who is running your campaign? Are you getting a dedicated representative who is a GAP (Google Advertising Professional) or certified by Google as an expert in Google AdWords campaign management?
3. What reporting should you expect? What metrics will be given “on-demand” and will you have full access to reporting functions? What type of reports will you receive on the status of your account daily, weekly, monthly? Make sure you discuss transparency so nothing comes as a surprise down the road.
4. How do you measure success? What metrics do you believe are the most important in determining the success (or failure) of a PPC campaign? Will you be provided with detailed assistance fleshing out goals for this campaign and adjusting them as necessary?
5. Who keeps your accounts? The worst thing you can do is hire a firm who sets-up and manages PPC accounts for you, then KEEPS these accounts when they are done or you decide to go in another direction. Make sure you confirm that these accounts are YOURS once you part ways. Otherwise, keep looking for a provider.

This isn’t an exhaustive list and for those of you with suggestions or additions to this list, please feel free to use our comments below. But from a bare bones standpoint, doing the above will insure you get off on the right foot as you look for a quality PPC vendor.

With the average CPC on Google surpassing $1.24 in 2010 and expected to rise between 5-8% in 2011, getting ALL you can out of your current accounts is vital. Make sure you choose your next PPC manager wisely. Mistakes are costly!