In short, no! The Australian marketplace has changed radically over the past 10 years. When I first started working for an Australian search agency back in 2002 there were only a few established companies who specialised in Search. The change in consumer behaviour over the years and the increased demand for search engine marketing has resulted in a myriad of different companies offering search services, including:
- Specialised search agencies – SEO & Paid Search
- Digital agencies – SEO, Paid Search, Social Media, Analytics, Mobile, Display, Email, Wed dev’ etc.
- Web development agencies – website creation
- Media agencies – traditional media (TV, radio, outdoor etc.) and digital services
- Content agencies – creation and marketing of copy, videos, images, infographics etc.
- Freelancers – independent contractors
- One and two-man bands – individuals and duos who form their own small business
I could probably keep going but I think you get the point, most companies with an online product offering claim they can provide search marketing services. If they don’t, they’re usually scrambling to build their own teams or trying to acquire an already established agency.
If we tweaked the question to ask “Is the market saturated with companies who are not doing it well?” my answer would be “Yes”.
It’s quite easy to slot ‘Search Marketing Services’ into your product offering and market it to give an exaggerated perception of the skills and experience involved….most of us in the industry have seen this happen time and time again.
Over the past year alone I’ve seen blue-chip companies suffer severely because their ‘specialised’ search agency has deployed unethical practices which has seen them demoted in Google. If this is still happening in ‘specialised’ agencies you can only imagine some of the dodgy tactics that are still being deployed by providers. It may not be the standard practice of such agencies, more a lack of training, experience and quality assurance provided to the search campaign manager.
Those who know me know I’m a massive advocate for having a rigid QA system in place when it comes to search marketing (maybe it’s from my early days as a QA engineer). Can you imagine the potential repercussions if we allowed a search campaign manager to handle the online branding and marketing for a client without any QA controls in place? Employing the wrong strategy could severely damage the brand reputation for both the client and the Search provider. Unfortunately there are still too many instances in the industry where the entire strategy lies solely in the hands of one person…..risky business!
To summarise, I believe the Australian market still has plenty of room for new/vibrant search providers. This can only be a good thing for both competitors and brands. Competitors will need to continue to ‘sharpen their pencils’ and ensure they have a clear USP. Brands should continue to enjoy the increased choice that exists in the marketplace and align themselves with the most suited provider for their business.
That’s my two cents worth….do you agree?