Search Engine Marketing in Singapore: 10 Questions You Need to Ask Before Hiring

Search Engine Marketing in Singapore_ 10 Questions You Need to Ask Before Hiring

Are you planning to do intensive digital marketing in Singapore and considering incorporating search engine marketing (SEM) into your strategy? We have good news for you; SEM is one of the most powerful marketing strategies not only here in Singapore but also abroad.

What is Search Engine Marketing in Singapore?

Before we look at the ten important questions that you need to ask when hiring an SEM agency, let us define what is search engine marketing? Simply put, this is a form of internet marketing whose main goal is to increase the website visibility on search engines by placing ads of the respective site on top of the normal search results displayed when a user uses the specified keyword to search for information on a search engine.

The ads are displayed based on the specified keywords you want to rank for on search engines. Advertisers bid for keywords and the amount you pay for the campaign is based on the number of clicks on the ads. This billing arrangement is the reason they are referred to as Pay-Per-Click ads.

Here is an overview of search engine market share in Singapore based on the most recent report of April 2019.

  • Google 95.13%
  • Yahoo! 2.28%
  • Bing 1.23%

10 Questions that you should Ask When Hiring a Search Engine Marketing Agency in Singapore

Question 1: Do you have Testimonials and Case Studies I can look at?

This is the first question that you need to ask before you dive into the nitty-gritty details of search engine marketing in Singapore.

Case studies and testimonials will give you a clearer perspective of the quality of services that the agency or expert offers. The results will help you to gauge the ROI you can expect if they have done a similar SEM project for a company in your niche.

Request for details of the three projects that they recently did and completed successfully. Most likely, they will not be comfortable revealing the name of the brands and that is totally fine, but the case studies should include information such as:

  • Client industry
  • Budget
  • Client brief
  • Challenges
  • Solutions
  • Results

Take a day or two to discuss the case studies with your in-house digital marketing team in Singapore then make your final decision based on the discussions. For instance, you will be able to tell if the agency has a proper structure for resolving project challenges based on the solutions highlighted in the document.

Question 2: What is the Average Budget Size of your Clients?

Find out information about the average budget size of clients that they work with to know if your brand can fit in with their current infrastructure. For example, if you planned to invest $1,000 and the average budget size of their clients is $20,000, the agency might be too big for your brand at the moment. You might not get as much personal attention from the team as you would want to and this will be reflected in the results that you get.

search engine marketing in Singapore

On the other hand, if the average spend is lower than your budget, consider that they might not have the skills and resources required to ensure that you get optimal ROI.

The goal is to find an agency that has worked with clients whose budget size is similar or equivalent to yours to get the best results.

Question 3: Do you have a Specific Team that will be working on my Project?

Once you have narrowed down on several agencies that offer services related to search engine marketing in Singapore, the next thing that you need to do is inquire about the team that will be assigned your project. Get as much information about the team such as academic qualifications and experience to know what you can expect.

  • Find out the people who will be working on your project, request a brief summary of their academic qualifications and past experience.
  • Check the number of years they have been doing search engine marketing in Singapore
  • Take note of their endorsements and recommendations for reference before making your final decision

Question 4: Are they thought leaders?

If the SEM agency openly shares knowledge about the industry with the online community, chances are they are confident about their skills and the services that they offer. Look around to know if they:

  • Publish insightful articles about SEM on their blog
  • Attend Singapore digital marketing, networking events, workshops, and conferences
  • Provide free advice such as podcasts, webinars, and guides online
  • Get invited to speak at internet & digital marketing conferences and other related events
  • Share information about SEM on social media platforms

If the answer to all five questions is YES, proceed to look at the content they offer and events they have attended or presented in to get a better perspective of their experience and understanding of the internet marketing industry in Singapore.

Question 5: Are you qualified to do Search Engine Marketing in Singapore?

There is no shortage of courses and qualifications that anyone interested in mastering search engine marketing best practices can enroll in and thrive. The courses are tailored to prepare marketers for the roles of an Adwords Manager such as Adwords campaigning, management, and keyword bidding. They also offer details of the latest trends and projections in the digital world of marketing.

One of the most comprehensive courses in the Google Partners virtual study guide and testing center. Anyone who is interested in AdWords can enroll to study, prep, and even take exams prepared by Google. Those who complete the course and pass the exams are coveted AdWords Certification.

SEM experts who have AdWords Certification from Google are conversant with the industry standards and are considered official Google AdWords Partners. One is required to do the tests every year to maintain the AdWords certified status and keep tabs on new tools and trends.

Question 6: Which Tools do you Use to Track SEM Campaigns?

Thanks to advancements in technology, there are many paid and free tools that are designed to help Singapore internet marketers track SEM campaigns. Before you hire a particular SEM agency in Singapore, it is important to request information about the tools they normally use to track campaigns.

search engine marketing in Singapore

Most of the agencies use two or three tools, do some background research, and if possible request them to show you how each works. Knowing how the tools work will help you to gauge the level of monitoring done and interpret the results presented accurately.

Question 7: Are you going to set milestones?

Just like any other digital marketing campaign in Singapore, it is imperative to keep track of the performance of the campaign to know if you are heading in the right direction. The Singapore SEM agency you hire should set milestones for campaign performance monitoring.

As the client, you should be involved in the milestones setting process to avoid disagreements down the road. Let them know how frequently you would want to get a report to be sure that the campaign is delivering the expected results.

Question 8: Do they understand your goals?

Have a list of goals that you want to achieve from the search engine marketing campaign. The goals should be SMART:

  • S = Specific
  • M = Measurable
  • A = Attainable
  • R = Relevant
  • T = Time-based

Discuss the goals with the SEM agency in Singapore before the onboarding process so that they come up with an ideal plan to ensure that each of them is achieved. While at it, be open to ideas as the team are experts and can tweak your original plan to help your brand get even better results.

Question 9: What is your Price Structure?

Simply knowing the total cost of hiring an SEM agent or agency is not enough to make the necessary financial plans. Different search engine marketing service providers in Singapore have varying price models that you need to know before committing yourself.

For example, there are SEM agencies that charge clients based on the number of clicks accrued over a given period of time. Others calculate the cost based on a percentage of the overall output or ROI. Compare the price structures offered by each agency to identify one that resonates with you.

Question 10: Which Other Services do you offer?

Chances are the search engine marketing agency in Singapore offers additional services such as SEO and reputation management. They can help your brand get even better results from SEM by improving the manner in which you relate with clients.

SEO will ensure that even though your ads are displayed on SERPs, your site is also ranked well and visible to millions of Singaporeans who rely on the internet as the primary source of information about businesses.

Key Search Engine Marketing Performance Metrics and KPIs To Monitor

Since we already know what search engine marketing is and the key questions to consider when hiring a search engine marketer. Let’s now examine metrics and KPIs to monitor to determine search marketing performance. 

Organic Traffic

Organic traffic shows users originating from different search engines such as Google, Bing, and Yahoo. It’s essential to monitor traffic flow on certain pages and dynamics, such as organic traffic from certain countries or new users. When analyzing this report, consider the business objectives you need to achieve. 

Analyzing traffic relating to rankings will help you understand which pages and keywords to focus on. For instance, some pages are not ranked higher for high-volume keywords but get a lot of traffic from low-volume search queries that are easily not considered. 

Determining how traffic is converting is crucial. A drop in traffic rates may indicate a possible website problem that needs resolving. 

You can use Google Analytics to track daily traffic searches by; 

Go to the Audience> Overview report, click on ‘Add segment,’ and choose ‘Organic Traffic’ 

Keyword Rankings

Monitoring keyword ranking positions shows your site ranking and placement in search for specific search queries. It is essential to determine your competitor’s status and the ranking dynamics involved. 

What to track?

  • High-volume keywords are high potential keywords that drive more traffic to your site but are more competitive, hence difficult to rank for. It’s best to mix them with mid-and low-volume keywords. 
  • Product keywords: monitoring them gives you perspectives on how well your products are ranking in search, probability of reaching targeted traffic, and highly interested users in your products.
  • The number of branded keywords (search volume): these metrics show popular brand keywords in search. For effectiveness, focus mainly on the search volume, indicating brand popularity and the diversity of branded keywords.

 Monitoring keywords is crucial as long as the tracked keywords are relevant to the business marketing objective. You can use SE Keyword Rank Tracker to get reports on your sites’ search engine ranking position and your competitor’s ranking for the tracked keywords. 

Direct Traffic 

Direct traffic shows the number of visitors who accessed your site by directly entering your site URL into the search field or through other sources such as clicking a link on a PDF, email, mobile app, etc.

You can obtain this information on the ‘direct traffic section’ of Google Analytics.  The data can help you identify which pages are directly accessed more often than others. Hence, establishing your brand’s equity development. The higher the direct traffic you get, the more people are aware of your brand.

Bounce Rate

The bounce rate metric indicates the percentage of users who viewed a single website page and left without taking the desired call to action. Based on your industry, an average bounce rate ranges between 40-60%. A higher percentage shows that your page is irrelevant to the search query. 

 Monitoring bounce rates gives you insights into how users interact with your web pages and ultimately guides you into what sections on your site’s pages require improvements. 

 You can view your page’s bounce rate on the Google Analytics Overview report to identify which ones have high bounce rates and implement different techniques that can help reduce it.

Session Duration

The session duration metric helps determine whether your site’s visitors are engaged enough to spend more time on your site. It also shows the number of pages users visit in a single session. 

Monitoring it helps you assess your site’s quality and determine whether its structure needs to be improved. To encourage more extended user sessions, create an in-depth content structure, i.e., internal linking, hamburger menus, breadcrumbs, etc.

Click-Through Rate (CTR)

CTR is a performance metric that measures link clicks to the number of users who viewed the search results. Thus, high CTR= high traffic. 

CTR is a vital search engine ranking factor. Low CTR indicates to the search robots that your site doesn’t meet users’ expectations, leading to a lower site ranking.  

Tracking your organic CTR helps you identify that increased impressions don’t result in significant traffic, allowing you to fix the problem. You can monitor it from Google Search Console. 

Cost Per Click (CPC)

CPC is the sum of money you pay per visitor obtained from an organic search result. Use the below formula to calculate it;

Set budget / total website traffic.

‘Set budget’ is the sum of money set for spending on search engine optimization, including SEO tools, expert rates, copywriting, etc.

A successful SEO strategy has a low monthly CPC.

Backlink Quality and Quantity

Since backlinks are among the most crucial site ranking factors, your SEO strategy should focus more on acquiring more quality links. The more quality backlinks you have, the higher your chances are to boost your site’s ranking. To build a quality link profile, consider tracking your site’s quality score. 

Leverage Backlink Checker provided by SE ranking to get a complete list of any domain’s backlinks. The list helps you identify quality backlinks and the ones you should add or remove.  

Website Quality Metrics

It’s crucial to track and monitor below website quality metrics closely related to building a quality backlink profile and website authority, which affects your SEO performance. 

 Monitor their dynamics to maintain your site’s stability in growth. 

  • Domain Trust (DT):  is determined by multiple factors, including the quantity and the quality of a website’s backlinks and referring domain. 
  • Page Authority) (PT):  It’s a quality score that measures the authority of a particular page.
  • Alexa Rank is a traffic metric identifies and determined by the total number of unique visitors and pageviews. A low Alexa rank indicates that your site is more popular.
  • Citation Flow (CF) shows Majestic’s score between 0-100, which indicates the strength of your URL from a particular site, based on the number of sites that link to it, used together with Trust Flow.
  • Trust Flow (TF) represents a majestic trustworthiness score between 0-100, determined by the quality of the eternal links to the site.

Use of the Majestic SEO Chrome plugin to view majestic metrics.

Page Loading Speed

If a site load speed is slow, there is a likelihood of increased bounced rates, resulting in low conversion rates and ultimately affecting your site’s search ranking.  A page load time varies on the complexity of the site, but ideally, users are likely to bounce off if it takes more than 3 seconds to load. 90% of users abandon the site if it takes 5 secs to load. 

 Google added site speed as a ranking factor in 2020. It’s, therefore, crucial to creating a good user experience for your visitors as far as page speed is concerned, considering the following website best practices;

  • Enable site file compression.
  • Leverage browser caching.
  • Reduce page redirects.
  • Optimize images.
  • Improve your server’s response time.
  • Utilize content distribution networks (CDN).

 Need to check your URL speed factors? Use Google Pagespeed Insights

Lead/ Conversion Rates

Lead/conversion rate is an essential KPI that directly relates to the business objectives of increasing sales. Monitoring this metric lets, you see how the incoming traffic is converting, assess the quality traffic, and adjust the SEO strategy accordingly.  Therefore, it’s essential to set the right SEO objective and conversion goals. 

Conversion rates include completed call-to-action such as; newsletter signup, phone calls, registering a webinar, or completing a purchase. 

Utilize Google Analytics to set up goals funnels to track users across various dimensions and determine where users drop off to make improvements on your site.

 To improve the effectiveness of this KPI, focus on conversion rate optimization (CRO) and user experience (UX).

  • How is your site’s navigation?
  • Are the calls-to-action (CTAs) clear?
  • Is the content relevant, informative, and persuasive?
  • Can move meet the user expectation through the conversion funnel with ease? 

News Vs. Returning Visitors

This metric indicates the number of new visitors; those visiting your site for the first time and returning visitors; those who have visited your site at least once within two years. 

Analyzing these data through traffic channels/segments gives you perspectives on what channels attract high-quality traffic and those that need a marketing boost. Prioritize either new or returning visitors or both, depending on your marketing goal. 

Exit Pages

This metric shows a list of pages that users visit before ending the session. They help you identify and establish user drop-off points to optimize user’s journey throughout your website and lead them to conversion.

However, the exit page is not inherently negative – a user can leave a page after completing the desired actions, exiting on the purchase confirmation page, thank you page, or leaving a comment on a blog post.  

Use Google Analytics and navigate to Behaviour Reports > Site Content > Exit Pages to obtain exit pages details. It gives you assess not only raw data but also the exit rate. The higher the exit rate on pages that you don’t intend to be exit pages portrays a need for optimization improvements. 

Crawl Errors

Your site’s search visibility can be affected by crawl errors. Google bots and other crawlers need to fully access your site’s content to access its value and relevance. 

A site with crawl errors indicates that crawlers have challenges reading your content or accessing your site. Hence, significantly affecting your site search ranking. 

Utilize Google Search Console to see crawl errors. To test how well bots can crawl your site, use the “Fetch as Google” tool in the search console and choose the “fetch and render option.” 

Crawl errors at the server level indicate that Googlebot cannot communicate with the DNS server, resulting in request time-out or your site is down if a given page doesn’t exist or has a long redirect chain, crawl errors at the URL level. 

A spike in crawl errors stipulates a need for immediate actions on the site’s pages.


The transaction metric is vital on e-commerce websites to determine the total number of successful transactions gained. You can have a massive number of leads with minimal transaction rates. Remember, in business; it’s about the money, not the number of prospects. 

You can set, monitor, and obtain transaction information on the conversion section and E-commerce subsection of Google Analytics; this definitely should be one of your critical business KPIs.   

Return On Investment (ROI)

This metric helps you establish whether the income obtained is worth the money spent to optimize search performance. Percentage ROI calculated using the below formula;

(Gain from Investment – Cost of Investment) / Cost of Investment. 

ROI improves over time as you implement changes and optimize search results on your marketing strategies. It’s an important KPI as it measures performance over time.

How To Track SEO Metrics and Report on KPIs

We have mentioned at least four tools for measuring SEO and KPI; Google Analytics, Google PageInsights, Google Search Console, and SE ranking. Below are five more tools that you can consider.


SEMrush is a paid tool for measuring and tracking SEO performance. It makes it easier to identify, track and utilize keywords, backlinks and make comparisons to your competitors. 

It can also help you obtain reports showing how your site has performed on particular keywords. 


Like the tool mentioned above, Ahref is a paid tool that provides comprehensive information on backlinks, keywords, page performance, and much more under a single dashboard.

It helps measure page performance, and you can detect when a page loses its rank on the search engine or when targeted keywords are not yielding intended results. You can view all this data on its dashboard. 


BuzzSumo assists in researching topics or improving existing pages. It’s a paid tool with free usability for researching content topics, keywords, sharing, and trends. 

 It gives a clear presentation of user’s interests, search queries, and questions across your industry. You can also view information about your competitor’s site.


Yoast is a free WordPress plugin that enables you to measure your site’s performance. It analyses your post or page based on the specified keyword. You can also check metrics readability and meta information. 

 With Yoast, you can specify a canonical URL, apply the advanced setting on meta robots to see how pages will look once shared on social media. It’s a great tool to measure SEO and implement changes and updates on the go.


Moz collects SEO information to check and measure your keywords and SEO performance. Use it to analyze keyword data, social media sharing information, and backlinks. 

MozCast gives you daily updates on SEO performance. Its Google algorithm update history analyses performance to explain shifts on your pages. 

Closing Remarks

MediaOne is the leading and most trusted Search Engine Marketing Agency in Singapore. We take pride in providing holistic internet marketing services to businesses in all industries. Call us today at +65 6789 9852 for a free and no-obligation consultation session about SEM or any other digital marketing services you might need.


About the Author

Tom Koh

Tom is the CEO and Principal Consultant of MediaOne, a leading digital marketing agency. He has consulted for MNCs like Canon, Maybank, Capitaland, SingTel, ST Engineering, WWF, Cambridge University, as well as Government organisations like Enterprise Singapore, Ministry of Law, National Galleries, NTUC, e2i, SingHealth. His articles are published and referenced in CNA, Straits Times, MoneyFM, Financial Times, Yahoo! Finance, Hubspot, Zendesk, CIO Advisor.


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