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Climb Online SEO – Like it or not, Mark Wright is the new face of SEO.

I have a little Apprentice addiction, and being a fellow SEO & digital marketing professional myself, enjoyed watching Mark Wright come through the process to win with his Climb Online ( internet marketing agency proposal.

I don't watch much TV...

I won’t start trolling here and ripping apart the idea (well not too much) as extensively as here and here, or talk about the domain mess up, the lack of email optin box on the landing page, and how exposed they are to negative SEO.

The fact is, there hasn’t been enough transparency on how any of it will actually work to really ‘argue’ with.

Having an account manager isn’t a USP. What about the process behind the digital marketing campaigns?

Grey hat link building in India or the Philippines? Infographics created by freelancers? Local citations created inhouse? 3000 word ‘how to’ blog articles? Private blog networks?

We just don’t know.

Sorry Mark, but this is hype. This is Google’s house you are in. Google makes the rules. There is nothing ‘new’ to use (that is white hat anyway) which isn’t already mainstream.

But hey, we just don’t know yet. Maybe SEO will be changed forever once the Climb Online website goes live.

Mark is a good salesman, and he WILL smash sales with Climb Online. But SEO?

Climb Online will make money due to this fact – the publicity, and the USP of Mark. Remove Mark (which will happen as the business scales) from the equation and it’s a just another digital agency. One which outsources and white labels all the work. Of which there are hundreds offering exactly the same thing.. Its doable, but it’ll be tough.

Particularly tough if the strategy is to just focused on local businesses.

Local clients typically won’t be paying much more than £500/mth for SEO services, the ‘3k/mth’ client from the show was an exception to the norm.

Then add in:

  • two customer visits per month, the odd phone call, emails…
  • The ‘outsourcing’
  • technical on page changes
  • link building costs
  • content creation
  • Infrastructure (google rank checking, reporting etc)

Not much left. The focus will be on churn and filling that sales funnel, unless there is a water tight local strategy to smash the customer retention.

Selling additional services, such as PPC, will be a must to eek out more revenue.

Climb Online would bill around 10-15% of the clients monthly PPC spend of £100-1500/mth for Adwords campaign management, but no more than that to stay competitive. Again not big bucks unless it’s scaled, scaled real big and automated to streamline the workflow.

That said – I’m intrigued to see what’s on offer when the website goes live, and how Climb Online clients rate the experience of the latest and greatest SEO service. Out of all of the apprentice candidates this year, Mark was my favourite, and I wish him every success with Climb Online.


  1. I’ve been in SEO for over 10 years now. There is alot of “flack” directed at blackhat techniques for ranking but what really grinds my gears and what I think is the real problem in SEO are Whitehat companies who charge large sums of money to their clients in return for small amounts of misguided work.

    A lot fo whitehat companies just learn how to say the right things in order to get clients without concentrating on the quality of the SEO thy’re selling. And with the changes Google has made it has actually become easier than ever for these companies to “wing-it” and provide a half-arsed service.

    It grinds my bones. He has no unbelievable SEO product.

    • Thanks Agent. Agree with your points.

      The Blackhat guys are leagues ahead of the SEO snake oil outsourcers (not implying Climb Online is either). Testing and pushing the boundaries, on their own properties – not on clients.

      And cheap whitehat just doesn’t exist. We see the evidence of that all too often with every *insert animal here* Google update.

      Unbelievable SEO…maybe we’ve been missing something obvious!

  2. I must admit, I laughed at this guy through most of the apprentice (when I watched it) and said to my girlfriend “this guy hasn’t a clue”.

    I was most surprised when he won, didn’t think he could pull the wool over the eyes of ‘Lord Sugar’ so easily. Guess it goes to show how much he knows about the web.

    My main issue with him was this notion that all he needed to do well was money, most established agencies already have money. It’s a naive assumption to make that SEO is about money – really we know it’s partly about money, but when everyone has money it’s more about how good you are.

    I saw your post and hopped on through to see what you had to say, totally agree that the business model is awful for the most part and that sales will be good for a time, but wait until they have to expand into more competitive markets.

    The negative feedback on their poor white label, outsourced work on such a high profile agency will kill them, or run them into the ground with ORM expenses.

    Even in the local market, I know hundreds of guys (literally) who are scaling at an incredible rate, dominating local, by selling leads to businesses directly. A model that offers far less risk to businesses, and in my opinion it’s the way forward. They have the money, knowledge and skill. What does this guy have? An investment and a duty to make that come good. He’s screwed :)

    • Great points Daniel. Climb Online will make a lot of money from local business selling SEO for sure – but unless they have their strategy sorted (and not just outsourced) customer retention will be tough long term…

      After seeing Twitter light up and seeing all the interest I had the same thoughts regarding local lead gen sites! :D

  3. Was my favourite through the entire process, sadly now a mockery which I can’t help but join in with, enjoy and ultimately agree with.

    Great salesman but not a great user of Twitter, it seems. Kinda important that a ‘gamechanging’ SEO would understand the fundamentals to good use of social media; i.e. being signed up in the first place.

    Good post Andrew!

    • Thanks for the comment, Luke. Have to agree I find it baffling they are only ‘just’ onto Twitter.. Seems to happen with every season. Maybe they are fresh accounts to not disclose any history.

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