Would you hire The Apprentice’s SEO firm?

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Last night Australian Mark Wright won The Apprentice to become Alan Sugar’s 10th apprentice and a £250,000 investment in his digital marketing business.

Apart from enjoying the inevitable carnage of the tasks which we all know we could do better, this is the first time an Apprentice winner has been of further interest to ecommerce professionals. Mark aims to set up a digital marketing agency aimed at small to medium sized business to boost their presence on search engines or as Sir Alan Sugar puts it “Get them up the pecking order”.

Hailing London as the land of opportunity, Mark is no doubt a stellar sales man and already a success in selling digital marketing, but his claim to be the most knowledgeable in the land will now be put to the test, as will his business acumen, it’s a very different proposition running a digital marketing agency to being the top sales person in a digital marketing agency.

There’s a lot of competition out there as well, and no doubt the first thing Mark will struggle with will be his chosen company name, that’s if he’s not forced to change it before he even launches. A Google search (yes the leading search engine he wants to help people up the pecking order on).

There’s already a website climbonline.co.uk (unsurprisingly about rock climbing), but even worse there’s already a digital marketing agency based in Portsmouth called Climb Digital, so that URL has been claimed too! Whilst a URL isn’t what will make or break a company, it certainly helps to be able to claim your natural URL so a name change might be Mark’s best course of action.

The big question of course is would you engage Mark to do your SEO. He’s promising a named account manager and monthly face to face meeting which isn’t the norm for most SEO companies.

What do you want from an SEO company? Do you even use one currently or could Mark Wright be the person who convinces you to focus on SEO in 2015?

23 Responses

  1. We have had our fingers burned too many times with SEO agencies and have lost trust with the SEO / digital marketing industry. We have nearly recovered from a Google penalty which has taken many months cleaning up dodgy bank links from forums, article directories etc. from previous SEO agencies work to partially recover. With thousands of agencies all promising to get you on the page 1 and clients wanting results a lot of agencies must still be using ‘black hat’ techniques. I don’t think the return on investment justifies the spend and unless you have a massive budget are unlikely to see much from a few hundred pounds a month for a twelve month contract with a SEO agency. Now we are just focusing on unique content and product descriptions, good navigation and regular blog posts ourselves and are unlikely to ever employ an SEO agency again.

  2. I’ve had the pleasure of working with a couple of ex-contestants on this show and am pleased to say they have not been the kind of egotistical idiots TV editing can often portray. Hopefully Mark will fall into that same category. However, with limited experience, Mark still has a lot to learn. Here’s my tuppence on some of the difficulties Mark will face when launching his new business.


  3. I saw nothing that was any real difference from any other company – the type of call most small businesses get 4 or 5 times a week.

    Do I want a face to face meeting? Not really. Email me the reports on what you’ve done. I’ll ask you questions or give you a call to ask you to explain.

    Will many small companies want to spend £400 a month? It’s a fair wack. i’ve spent more but got burnt.

    Is he after organic or paid? Now most small businesses are either ok or really bad SEO wise. For £400 you could fix most small business sites in under a day and the client would be happy and see results. But how much more would you see if you carried on for the rest of the year? I’ve always done my own SEO and been quite successful but we did reach a plateau where nothing seemed to work so I employed a SEO company. It made no difference, other than costing me money.

    Paid search is different. i can do this myself but it does need regular monitoring to keep it in check. When i’ve been busy I’ve outsourced this as it’s time consuming. I wouldn’t say the companies i’ve used have ever been better then me but cost wise it was ok. Then I thoroughly shafted when after 4 years of okish service my account manager changed. Firstly, in conversation with him he didn’t quite seem to know as much as me. But the account was simply to look after and he only needed to do the same as before. But he didn’t. He ignored the budget targets that were set up and everything went haywire. I should have kept a better eye on him but then again I was paying a professional because i didn’t have time. 3 months later and I find the bank account is empty – he’d over spent the budget by 200% for 3 months and not generated any more revenue. I have since employed another agency to work on adwords for me and they could make little change. In future it’s all stuff that I’ll do myself.

  4. The truth in the matter is that no matter the company, only you and your employees know your company. These guys offer personal service but will also have multiple other clients. Its not easy but try to teach yourself as much as possible.

  5. We rescue many businesses from poor SEO companies.

    Done professionally SEO will work and we can provide evidence of companies we have helped to transform from just being a website to becoming a successful web business.

  6. There is one major issue that no one seems to have noticed….

    To run a digital marketing agency you need the following core staff. None of the wages include company contributions. This is the average for London wages, so not even asking for the most experienced people.

    Developer – Average london wage of £52,500 PY,
    Graphic Designer – £32,500 PY
    Content Writer/Journalist – £37,500 PY
    Out-reach Executive – £32-500
    Sales – £35,000
    Account Manager – £40,000

    So far the wage bill not including PAYE and NI contributions is £197,500.00. So if we add just 12% on for NI and PAYE contributions we are at £221.200.00

    Out of the £250,000.00 investment we have £28,800 for the rest of the year.

    He still has to find office space (min 6 month contract in London usually), have capital for marketing, exhibitions and all the general business expenses that come with this type of business.

    My one major worry for this is the fact that Lord Sugars advisers could not see this major hurdle.

  7. Why would any one give their hard earned cash to an online marketing company who makes such a schoolboy error such as not to check that the URL for their brand name is available LOL
    SEO is a dead business industry anyway so don’t waste your cash guys and simply follow Google’s advice.

  8. Best option would be to start with a name change.

    Mark Wright is that fella from Only Way Is Essex. (So I’m told).

    I know I’d hang up if that Mark Wright called looking to do my SEO.


  9. Been burnt by 3 different SEO companies, the last one built spammy links from foreign websites and we got hit hard by google. We tried to recover but after 6 months gave up and setup a new website. I eventually setup my own SEO team and the results so far have been great. Forget employing SEO agencies as they’re all the same, employ your own team if you can afford to do so

  10. No I would not hire him, I watched the program it looks like he can sell but knows nothing about digital marketing, he recommended out-sourcing the work to India. Seo from India is a big no no. his pitch was very vague he mentioned nothing about viral marketing, social marketing, content marketing, link baiting, editorials, infographic. Almost every Seo knows this is just the basics of what you need to know.

  11. I have been in the industry since 1997, building websites and SEO. The general trend from Google is to squeeze out people who game the Google search index,
    Google does not like SEO, with all the recent updates with Pigeon, Penguin, Panda. and the ones don’t know exist, SEO is a dying art.

    Mark is a decade behind the curve, these business are not a long term investment anymore, as you are dependent on Google. The clued up people in the industry know where goggle is heading. I won’t go into details here as it would cause a major outburst. But suffice to say the money you pay monthly to SEO firms is a rip-off, you are not investing in a log term foundation for your business to grown upon, it’s a gamble you will convert enough short term buyers to offset the costs.
    Ohh wait another update Google releases out of the blue it’s called blackbird update, building links, blogging, forum posts, social media, onsite SEO ha all changed, google changed every goal post.
    All that work the SEO work mark has done is now counted as a major negative SEO force, it’s destroyed your business overnight? Your search results downgraded. I suppose it was nice for 14 or so months to think you’re the boss in your industry, but you’re on the way to becoming bankrupt and stuck in monthly contract to pay the people who are responsible, the terms & conditions or contact that you signed releases the people responsible from any recourse or blame or claim.
    Unless Mark is moonlighting as search engineers at google with inside knowledge, all those clients are going to go mental when they all disappear from the search index. It’s happened before and it will happen again and again until SEO is no more.
    GOOGLE is your overload Lord Sugar you should have invested your 250k in Google shares if you wanted to get into search.

  12. SEO is ever changing and its always best to build your own SEO, Social Media, and content writing team. Everyone knows black hat is dead and Google will slap you silly for spammy links. White hat SEO, creating unique content, building partnerships with sites relevant to your industry and signing up with the correct affiliate networks and then distributing your content through social media is the way to go. Social Media now plays a big role in SEO rankings, the more people talking about you on social media the higher you will show up in search. Do all of this with a combination of PPC ads and you have one of the best formula’s right now. The trick is, creating the right content so people will click =)

    If anyone is looking to build their own team, I can help. We will build you a team of seasoned professionals from the Philippines that will work exclusively for your business at very affordable rates.

  13. So why would you need to pay Mark Wright for this when guys like Matthew Woodward will share how to do SEO for free. Try googling SEO mark and compare with SEO matt

  14. Organic Eclipse offer guaranteed rankings in 30 days or your money back for local keywords. You will get a monthly ranking report along with an analytical report, rankings are pointless without the visitors! Only a small company themselves, their prices of £60 per month with no contract makes them affordable for most if not all small business’.


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