SEO Agency 101 (the return)

What is happening in the SEO Agency world? We revisit some research carried out last year to explore how SEO agencies have evolved throughout 2012.

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101-uk-seo-agencies-2013-thumb We have seen big changes in the online marketing industry since our 2012 SEO agency survey.

We predicted the changes last year, and they’ve come thick and fast… Pandas and Penguins (Panguins) caused seismic shifts in SEO and the move towards ethical tactics has been industry wide. Google penalties have been harsh – the most public of which (the Interflora debacle) received national press coverage.

But how has the search landscape evolved in the last year?

In early 2012, we looked at 101 agencies (sourced from Econsultancy’s supplier directory), and produced an infographic to show the current state of the SEO industry.

This year, we looked at the same 101 agencies as last year to document how they have developed since 2012.

And the data brought some interesting trends to life;

  • 5 agencies now no longer offer SEO as a standalone service
  • Agencies, on average have 8.5 times more Twitter followers than G+ followers and +1s – despite G+ engagement stats increasing tenfold.
  • Agencies on the whole tweeted a lot less, but had gained lots more followers in 2012 – on average, followers increased by 50%
  • 15% more of the businesses we surveyed now brand themselves specifically as an “agency” , representing a shift away from “consultancy”, “company” and “services”.
  • 2 agencies went bust in 2012, 1 was acquired by PWC and 2 underwent a rebrand.

One of the strangest findings of the survey was the fact that the majority of agencies seemed to be offering fewer services than last year; a prime example of this being the reduced number of agencies that appeared to offer SEO as a standalone service.

However, dig a little deeper and the real reason for this becomes clear. It’s not that agencies are not offering SEO, it is because these services are increasingly coming under the all-encompassing tag of digital marketing.

Is this a sign of a maturing industry?

Stop me if I’m wrong, but I’d say that “blended” digital marketing services are becoming increasingly popular with clients and agencies alike. It makes sense to work closely with one digital agency across all your online marketing goals, right?

I think we can assume that a digital marketing agency will offer SEO, PPC and social in some guise. This is also evidenced in the wordcloud at the foot of the infographic; the use of the word “SEO” pales in comparison to the word “digital”, and even trails “search” as a form of nomenclature.

The amount of agencies offering  international SEO has almost doubled, is this another indication of an industry broadening its horizons?


On the face of it, the social statistics are unremarkable. However, what is remarkable is that 20 agencies failed to tweet at all in December  and less than half found the time to tweet more than 10 times.

The good news for Google Plus is that engagement increased  tenfold in the last year, 20 times the rate of Twitter’s growth.

The bad news is that Twitter has 8.5 times the number of users. And if you take away the one huge outlier (the solitary agency with 16,000 followers) that number skyrockets, to over 16 times the total.

What implications do these findings have of the industry? Do you think these findings are representative of the SEO industry as a whole? And where do you see SEO going in 2013 and beyond?

You are welcome to republish the infographic if you wish to but we would appreciate a credit back to this page as it needs more explanation than most standalone infographics.

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