There seems to be a mixed reaction to the backing of Climb Digital, the SEO focused Digital Marketing Agency proposition backed as the winner of Alan Sugar’s The Apprentice.
Okay so just for the record I didn’t watch this series of the Apprentice nor have a watched the last few as each series seemed to become more contrived and to steal a phrase from Sean Lock it seems to have descended into the “World Wanker Championship” with candidates appearing to be chosen for their “Big Brother” esque controversial character traits rather than their apparent business acumen. But that’s just my ranty opinion.
Perhaps not watching this series means I haven’t been sucked in to Mark Wright’s sales spiel which the Daily Mail eluded to being what the Americans call “BS”, which I’d like to think is a good thing. Working in the SEO industry for over 8 years I do have some concerns whether Climb Online is the real deal and the Apprentice panel may be pinning too much on the fact that “all Mark needs to start his business is a telephone”.
Whilst no doubt everyone wants a young business entrepreneur to succeed in the UK, I have a few concerns I’d have for Climb Online:
No forward online search planning for the brand off the back of Apprentice victory
I’m not sure how far The Apprentice is filmed in advance but it appears that there is no real search brand presence for Climb Online in page 1 of Google UK. This would be an immediate concern for any prospective customer wanting to find out whether Climb Online have the credentials to manage their SEO. At the end of the day customers in this industry expect you to practice what you preach.
I’d imagine this rock climbing site is gaining quite a bit of traffic right now at #1 for climb online but at a high bounce rate unfortunately.
My point is that Mark Wright should have at least done the following first to help with initial organic visibility:
- Chosen a brand that would have given him suitable domain availability at .co.uk and .com TLD market levels
- Got a website hosted, put live and indexed in the search engines (ideally for a Brand name that had no other real coverage in Google) prior to the Apprentice final
- Established relevant social media accounts with the brand name also and ensured these were set up ready to go
Maybe there were legal implications to get such a set up ready to go but this could have been worked around such as using another website in another brand name and then migrating the website. Better forward planning could have been done as today an Apprentice winner is their to be shot at by the industry experts and this lack of brand search forward planning is considered basic SEO.
No real USP appears to being offered versus the competition
So whilst I’ve not been charmed by watching the show (potentially a big issue I know), the write ups in the national newspapers don’t suggest that anything particularly unique is being offered by Climb Online.
Key issues that that may impact the launch of Climb Online are:
- There are numerous SEO companies in the UK all promising the same thing. You only have go to classified listing sites and search seo companies and receive list such as this
- There are a number of digital marketing companies in the UK that offer rounded digital services (not just SEO) and with many more creds and heritage that Climb Online
- There are a number of companies that specialise in selling SEO services smaller businesses in the UK and they do it well.
It’s going to take a bit more than telling prospects that Blogs and ‘coders’ were involved, along with ‘writing content’
Whilst the current media publicity and the backing of a well respected business man are a plus, Climb Online will have to bring in a significant amount of expertise to allow the agency to be taken seriously. Which brings me on to my next point…….
SEO is product where success is determined by production not a salesman
Currently Climb Online has one or two core competencies:
- An entrepreneurial salesman with a vision
- Has a well known, well respected and well funded backer
For the company to deliver on it’s promises to customer it’s going to have to recruit some world class SEO and wider multi channel digital experts to fulfil what Mark Wright is promising. There are plenty of SEO fraudsters out there that talk a good game but can’t walk the walk. So recruitment of good SEO staff will need to be done by an SEO Expert not an SEO salesman.
Setting Customer Expectations for an over hyped SEO company will be tough
SEO is a not a tap that can be turned on and off, it takes time to generate positive ROI due to the investment that is required into the building the SEO foundations on a website.
If clients are to be signed on a short term basis on say sub 12 month deals such as 3 month and 6 month deals it may be difficult to achieve the desired results for a business who wants ROI quickly. One of the key challenges in the SEO industry is often the decision makers who control the purse strings do not understand SEO and therefore do not understand the investment period required until positive ROI is seen.
Climb Online will need to secure a number of 12 month contracts to ensure the business operates respectively in year 1. The reality of a digital agency is that you can experience high churn of SEO campaigns and clients especially when dealing with small businesses on short contracts.
Let’s see what happen I guess
It will be interesting to see whether Climb Online becomes a success. To those outside the digital marketing industry it may be seen as an innovative business venture being backed by Alan Sugar but those within the industry know it’s going to be a hard slog in an already saturated industry.
Hopefully the brand won’t be another one to promote the SEO Snake Oil salesman image further (which has dogged the industry to a certain extent).
If Claudine Collins, (MD of MediaCom) is backing Mark then this is great endorsement but Mark Wright will need to obtain a number of talented SEO and digital marketing people to achieve his vision.
It appears that the real Climb Online got it on the act and went for a bit of Meta description optimisation to increase their click through rate on the increased brand search. I wonder what the correlation level of climbers to Apprentice viewers is :-). Hopefully for them a few.
They continue with a small text banner on the home page ….
Followed by an explanation of the confusion that may have arisen ….
Looks like Mark’s getting well and truly schooled on this one with a online climbing information site teaching him how to do Meta description optimisation to increase CTR 🙂