New research suggests that a surprisingly low number of UK based companies offering search engine optimisation can really call themselves specialists - that is, offering search engine marketing services only.

Vertical Leap’s researchers analysed the top 300 pages reported by Google for the search phrase “search engine optimisation”.

Duplicates, and any non-commercial sites were then removed and each of the remaining 217 sites were analysed for defining information including their geographical location, the services offered specifically by each ‘specialist’ and those of their parent company.

From the sample of 217 businesses, 83% (181) were UK based. Of these 19% specialised in search engine services. The rest offered web design, email marketing, display advertising and hosting among their many other on-line services.

When one-man concerns and independent consultants were removed the percentage of specialist companies offering search engine marketing services fell to just 12%.

These findings underline what is already a confusing market for companies looking to appoint a search engine optimisation company.

By its very definition a specialist like Vertical Leap will live or die by its skills in this particularly competitive market sector. Anybody buying into anything more diverse has no way of telling what emphasis is put on search by a company offering a range of services, never mind the skill set and resource necessary to achieve the best results.

The research highlights the dilemma faced by many clients and agencies that is easily overlooked: at what point does the convenience of a full service offering with a “one phone call sorts it all” offering dilute the individual core strengths of a particular marketing discipline, in this case search engine optimisation?

Many global advertising agency corporates avoid this by acquiring specialists in particular market sectors and then market them as individual brands and skills, with clients cherry-picking each resource from the resulting agency ‘boutique’ as required.

As a leading, but totally independent company, Vertical Leap already partners with many advertising agencies as a named search engine marketing specialist.

However, in a market where almost 90% of the companies offering search engine optimisation also promote many other services too, Matt Hopkins, Vertical Leap’s Managing Director, suggests that the research highlights some important questions for those looking to appoint a reliable search engine optimisation company.

“For me, the impact of this study is that many different companies are listing SEO as only one of their many services. But are they really capable of delivering the service? Managing and implementing an on-going, effective SEO campaign requires specialist skills and experience. It also requires the internal systems and processes to consistently deliver success for clients...I just don’t believe you can get this from someone who is providing multiple services to multiple clients.”


Notes: Vertical Leap is a leading search engine marketing company, providing its clients with a fully managed and comprehensive campaign to improve ranking results and website performance. At the heart of Vertical Leap is TotalPropulsion, a unique concept and relentless methodology that gets results and guarantees you high service. Vertical Leap is committed to providing unrivalled search intelligence to enhance that service with is own proprietary technology, Apollo, the ultimate campaign management system delivering informed data in real time to maximise Return on Investment.

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Published on: 12:00AM on 24th September 2008