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Lord Sugar’s SEO Company Fails to Climb Online But Still Manages to Bag New Customers

Lord Sugar’s SEO Company Fails to Climb Online But Still Manages to Bag New Customers

by Philip Armstrong30th March 2015

Four months on from the crowning of Mark Wright as Lord Sugar’s new business partner, their internet marketing company “Climb Online” appears to have yet to get off the ground

Part of the problem was that poor Mark seemed to fall foul to every internet marketing school boy error imaginable, including:

1. Choosing a domain name that was already taken by a climbing blog

domain taken

2. Not having a personal Twitter account, and also allowing the climb_online (climbonline was already taken) account name to be taken after the final was aired.

no Twitter account

3. Having a flawed business model that aims to provide a personal hands-on service to clients, but at the same time outsource all of the technical work to a third-party provider.


4. Not having a website for close to two months – thus failing to capitalise on any potential momentum.

holding page

So after an initial rocky start (pun intended), why is it that the website still hasn’t gained any traction?


Spammy Black-Hat Links

Mark Wright claimed that Climb Online would be using white hat SEO techniques:
white hat
That was in early Jan – it was not long after that Mark (or whoever he is outsourcing his SEO to) began building thousands of low quality garbage links:
black hat links


Here is an example of one of Climb Online’s backlinks:

bad links
Is that what you call “White Hat” Mark? Thousands of links on spam site full of payday loan, viagra, and porn links?

The Website Is Terrible

With that investment of £250,000 they could have got a decent website up and running within 24 hours if they’d wanted to; and after all that time stalling, this is what they came up with:
bad website
A drawing that a five year old could have done in five minutes…

“Do you want to increase leads via paid adverts?…”
“No – I want something else.”
I.E. I want a marketing agency that actually does paid search marketing.

Climb Online don’t even bother to protect their own brand name in the paid search results:

climb online ppc

A Focus On PR

Mark Wright’s focus is quite clearly on public relations:
mark wright PR
So Climb Online has a PR team, but no:

  • Web Developers – the site construction was outsourced to (notice the similarity in the theme?)
  • SEO’s – if they had a dedicated SEO their link profile wouldn’t be such a toxic mess.
  • SEM’s – we’ve already established they don’t do PPC.

The True Business Model: Selling Snake Oil

As Climb Online don’t appear to have the capacity to provide online marketing (since they don’t seem to be marketing their own website), but do appear to be aggressively promoting themselves through other forms of media, and at the same time taking on new account managers:
account managers
Mark Wright is a salesman; he sells SEO; but selling SEO is not the same as providing SEO.

Here are a couple of customers Mark picked up in Jan:

new customers


Let’s see how their site is doing now:

customer rankings

Wait! Three links in three months – that sounds about right.
But wait, they did get a picture of Mark on their website:
mark on the site
That’s got to be worth the £600 or whatever monthly fee they’re paying.

Nothing New Here

Mark Wright said that his SEO product would “change the way SEO is done in the UK”. Nothing could be further from the truth.
There are countless SEO agencies that are better at selling SEO than they are at delivering it. There are probably more agencies like this than there are agencies that can provide a quality service.
Their business model is based on their ability to acquire new customers and retain those customers by hiring in slick account managers, who possess little knowledge about how to rank a website, but who have enough gab to get clients tied in to long contracts.
As it turns out, this type of business model may prove to be more profitable than actually providing a good service – ultimately making Climb Online a smart investment choice for Alan Sugar.

last image

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About The Author
Philip Armstrong
Philip Armstrong is a content writer for the Just SEO newsroom. Having served as an Adword's manager for a number of paid search campaigns, he is an expert in spending money to make money, and regularly contributes in-depth articles on the latest news and updates on pay-per-click (PPC) matters.
  • George
    30th March 2015 at 7:51 pm

    Is there anybody that didn’t see this happening after watching last years Apprentice?

  • 4th April 2015 at 9:16 pm

    i do agree that not everything Climb Online has done has been perfect, what they are doing a great job of is PR which is generating great brand exposure and fantastic links. I also think that the aftermath of the show generated so many leads above what Mark Wright was expecting that the last thing he was thinking about was his own SEO and PPC strategy. Once their leads start to dry up, we might just see them cropping up on Google.

    • Jenny Smith
      7th April 2015 at 2:56 pm

      Yes he has done a good job of PR, which has been made easier by winning The Apprentice. However I’m not sure that neglecting the SEO for his own website is a good idea – or that spending very little time / effort on the website was a good idea.

  • 15th April 2015 at 6:11 pm

    The outsourcing model is flawed, you still need core skills in house and senior management needs to understand what works and what does not.

  • Gary
    27th July 2015 at 12:17 pm

    I agree with most of this post. but its clear the links are an attack on the domain.

    • Bob
      19th November 2015 at 10:03 am

      I’ll give you that Gary… looks like someone was pissed off by this little prick and wanted to give him a lesson. Making him even more valuable. Dones’t matter if good or bad, as long as you keep talking about him :). That’s how marketing works.

  • 11th August 2015 at 11:21 pm

    You should see the nick of his own site’s backlinks – particularly the anchor text. The guys done a good job of selling himself but, as you said, selling SEO is different from doing it. In his own brain, as with so many other people’s, this ‘SEO’ can’t be that difficult eh? Get some good content and some good links and job done 😉

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