August 16, 2011

Top SEO companies in South Africa ranked


With the current climate of the online world we all know that SEO is of the utmost importance to the success of a company, especially online. That being said, South Africa’s SEO industry, although a little behind the rest of the world, has sprung to life in recent years with more and more companies entering the competitive market of SEO.

We at SEOBlog have created our own ranking system known as SEOScore – a scoring system which we applied to some of the top SEO companies in South Africa. To qualify for SEOScore, there are certain rules and criteria that have to be met. Once this is determined, a range of specific keywords is used to test rankings in Google. Read below to see how various companies ranked and scored once the method was applied.

The Results

* Based on 15 August 2011 rankings

Download the full WebCeo results here

Additional Results

Below is a table of how each company performed based on the 15 selected keywords. For example, ranked in the top 30 for nine out of the 15 selected keywords.

The following graph shows the exact rankings for each company based on keywords.


We checked to make sure that each website met the criteria:

  • Companies are ranked on keywords gathered from the Google Adwords keyword tool, according to the most popular keywords in the SEO and paid advertising industry.
  • WebCeo was used to determine the rankings.
  • We also used WebCeo’s Ranking Score to gather the overall score for each company.

The Method

The score is made up of your position for the 15 keywords listed below. We chose these keywords based on the amount of searches done on them according to the Adword keyword tool. We also took into account the most commonly used keywords within the online marketing industry.

Keyword Search Volume
seo 60500
search engine optimization 18100
search optimization 18100
internet marketing 14800
ppc 14800
search engine optimisation 14800
search engine marketing 8100
online marketing 6600
pay per click 6600
seo company 5400
seo services 4400
ppc pay per click 3600
seo consultants 3600
search engine optimization companies 1000
search engine marketing company 4400

Then we used WebCeo’s Ranking Score with search results set to Google South Africa, and weight set to 10, to determine the final score.

The weight is a setting that WebCeo uses to determine the importance of a certain ranking or search engine. For the weight of the rankings we used WebCeo’s default settings:

This gives us the ability to set a certain weight for all keywords ranking between one and 30 and each position will have a certain score of importance. Below you can see the formula WebCeo uses to determine the scores. This was also left on default:


There were certain rules that we had to have in place for the ranking of SEOScore:

  • The company must be based in and have an office in South Africa.
  • The company needs to rank for at least two main SEO terms to qualify.

As you can see from the results – after applying the rules using guidelines and WebCeo, the top three companies are R.O.I. Media, Synergize and SEO Rankings. These results reflect how well each company ranked in Google with the respective keywords that were selected.

Every three months SEOBlog will be redoing SEOScore to see where SA’s top SEO companies are ranking in Google. The question is: who can knock R.O.I. Media, who won by some margin this time around, out of their position? Well done… enjoy your unofficial Google award! 

About the Author

Darren has been working in the SEO industry for 3 years and has further enhanced his SEO skills on a daily basis. While improving his skills, he has also played a vital part in achieving better results for clients in many different industries.


  1. Jade

    I really am not suprised that ROI Media is No 1 – what a great company! The results speak for themselves – Well Done!

  2. Marian Mcclure

    Seo in South Africa has come a long way, but still has some strides to make, its good to see who is leading us there

  3. A Good SEO company is not about where they rank for their own site, it is about where they rank their clients. Just because they rank well for SEO related keywords does not make them a good company.

    • Ben

      I agree that there is a bigger picture then just ranking a company website, but surely if they can do it in a competitive industry like SEO they should be able to translate that to other industries? We can bring in other metric to measure them like domain age, years in business, etc – but in the end it’s about where you rank on the SERP.

    • York

      As an SEO comapny if you cannot get your site to rank for prime keywords then how can you deliver this service to your clients?

      It’s a bit hypocritical to promise good rankings for clients if your own site is not even in the top 10…doesn’t give the client much confidence…I think you need to practice what you preach and set an example through your own site. :-)

      • Absolutely, we are not disputing the fact that you should rank well yourself, we disputing the fact that ranking for yourself should not be the sole “criteria” of a top SEO company. Like Google’s algorithm, there is more than one way to be “top” :) To decide that one company is any better than another is a matter of opinion and cannot possible be answered as there are just too many factors, this post has looked at a couple good factors but what about the rest…

    • A company that has time to rank for that many keywords isn’t spending enough time on the clients ;)

      Bryan – Well said.

      • York

        As an SEO company your site should be a prime example of good optimisation and SEO practices – how can you have a website that is not up to par and then be telling clients you are a leader in SEO….A site that does not even comply to the basic principles of SEO that are not even time consuming…


        • Just a little change, York:

          As an SEO company your client’s sites should be a prime example of good optimisation and SEO practices.

          Using SEO to land SEO projects is only a tiny part of the marketing plan – with the general lack of SEO understanding in South Africa, it is more than likely easier to acquire client’s through other channels such as word of mouth. When it comes to proving skills, use client case studies to prove skills.

          Don’t jump to reply, think about this for a moment first, I don’t have 45 minutes to write an entire essay on this topic so I’m leaving it up to you to fill in the spots and recognise that my point is actually very valid.

          Peace out.

  4. Jay Lovato

    SEO is definitely becoming a booming market here in SA so it’s interesting to see who’s pioneering the way, good stuff guys!

  5. David Philips

    If you choose a web design agency and their site has a terrible design, would you choose them? Probably not… same applies to a SEO company. First see if they rank before you hire them.

  6. I’m sure there should be a disclaimer somewhere here stating that is owned by ROI Media, surely?

    Just saying ;)

  7. Darren

    On the sidebar Chris :-)

  8. Akiko Villalon

    I don’t Know what everyone is getting so riled up about, even if ROI own the blog, the results speak for themselves, if my company ranked on top then I would be happy, but it doesnt so I am not going to complain. Instead I am going to work to topple them off, I hope there will be an updated SEOSCORE soon.

  9. Is SEO just about ranking or is it about visibility + increased qualified visitors equating to the generation of revenue/business.

    I.E. our business in seo is making our clients more money… if we arent doing that, then what are we doing it for?

    Our rankings give our clients nothing; our clients’ rankings (and conversions) give both our clients and us the right to brag about a successful digital strategy.

    • Rob Paulo

      Just like York says above, the SEO company should set an example with their own website. The SEO industry is one of the hardest to rank in and the keywords used here are some of the most competitive in the industry. Im sure if they can get their own website to rank this well then they can do the same on others.

      I work in SEO and can understand that people would think its a bit suspect that R.O.I Media owns this blog and ranks first in this SEOScore but their whole method used is also shown in this blog post. If people doubt the outcome then simply run the scan in Web CEO yourself and check the results.

  10. I agree with you in terms of the keywords and that emphasising the ability to rank in a competitive industry shows that the company has a strategy which works.

    My question is more along the lines of achieving ROI at the end of the day, instead of just achieving Rankings – so it would be nice to see a respective conversion or revenue graph as well.

    P.S: I dont think that the fact that ROI Media own this blog is of any relevance at all – big up to them for making it happen, and if they benefit from acting on opportunity then it is well deserved.

    • York

      Isn’t SEO all bout achieving rankings?? I mean without the rankings you wont get the traffic to your website which means you wont get the conversions which = no ROI

      As an SEO company you need to focus on the rankings 1st, then move onto the rest. You can have a amazing site that is user friendly and follows all the conversion principles, but if you don’t have visibility on Google via rankings…who is gonna find you….

      • York, of course one should focus on the rankings first and without the ranking-based traffic the ROI wont come anyway, but I have seen many times how targeted SEO traffic gets completely lost in a website that isnt optimised for conversion / search – which then lands up being an expense, not ROI.

        So SEO should really be considerd the optimisation of the process of making a website more visible in organic search results pages, and optimising the funnel of that search engine traffic toward the goal page/action.

        That being said, we all have our own perspective of what the end goal needs to be – aslong as clients are getting results, that’s all that matters.

  11. Jeff Rogers

    “achieving ROI at the end of the day, instead of just achieving Rankings”

    The rankings of a site is what creates the ROI. That’s the main point of doing SEO for any website.

    Here is Wikipedia’s(and most SEO’s) understanding of the word and industry of SEO:

    “Search engine optimization (SEO) is the process of improving the visibility of a web site or a web page in search engines via the “natural” or un-paid (“organic” or “algorithmic”) search results.”

  12. Some great responses here… I have been in countless meetings where a potential client says “I Googled you to see if you actually rank”. This is definitely one of many benchmarks to see if you are good at what you preach.

    SEO is a great method for lead acquisition and revenue generation. We did not pursue these rankings for any other reason then this… The above rankings bring us targeted rankings + traffic + enquiries and this is our business model.

    If we can achieve these rankings in a competitive industry, we can definitely replicate this .

    It goes without saying that your clients MUST have great rankings and achieve R.O.I.

    @ Dave, you make a good point. This is what the post is based on.
    @ Bryan – Hopefully the above sheds light on your post.
    @ Chris – “The son of the shoemaker has no shoes” . This saying implies that if you are so busy working on other clients, you cannot work on your own site. Even if it generates enquiries?

    • “The son of the shoemaker has no shoes”

      You’re implying that I said “Don’t do any SEO”, which isn’t the case at all, read my comment again and then refer further down to my next comment, where I’ve had to elaborate in the hopes that assumption isn’t made again.

      Peace out

  13. Anonomouse

    Fact is… you are all right in some way.

    Rankings matter just as much as ROI
    The one statement that rankings creates ROI is completely off. Rankings will generate traffic – once the traffic lands it is up to the site and the company to convert it into ROI.

    To be the best SEO company it is a combination of both your rankings and your track record/clients performance. Just cause you rank with your own site does not mean you can create ROI for anyone. A true analyst understands that creating traffic through rankings is step one but if your site is a load of dump your not going to get any conversions anyway.

    The only problem i see with this scoring system is that it is not calculating who is ranking on page 1 but actually who ranks for a keyword in any position. If your on page 8 for a keyword then it counts as points. Problem being… I didn’t even know there was a page 8.

    Other issue i have… the research is done by a machine. If you go and manually check some of these rankings you will find that WEB CEO can be wrong. If Google changed something in the algorithm that very same day you did this test then how would WEB CEO update in time to meet that algorithm change?

    Perhaps you can adjust the weights to only keywords that rank on page 1? it makes sense right, if your on page 1… you rock. If not… what’s the point?

    All in all i do say well done to those that have come up with this. You are pioneers in the country and I’m proud to see it happening.

    Keep on keepin on

    • Well said Anon… I have no problem at all with being owned by ROI Media, they created a topic that was work discussing and that is what made the post a great one.

      Let me throw a spanner in the works. If you have a SEO company and are ranked page one for lets say 8/20 keywords displayed does that make you the top company…

      Now lets say there is another company that is ranked page one in 4790 “SEO” related keywords and use the bulk reach to gain 5 times more traffic than the company with 8/20 (possibly 100 SEO related keywords)…. Who is the better SEO company?

      It all comes down to where the target is and whether you have targeted all possible options… yes you have the street covered but do you have the whole block covered?

  14. I completely agree with Bryan and Chris M. This rating has absolutely nothing to do with SEO skills, or the work that these agencies are delivering to clients – and that is the only thing that they should be ranked by.

    These are also different kinds of companies, with different service offerings. It is easier to rank for these keywords if all your company does is search marketing. A full service agency has a far more diverse website, and you would expect their content to be less focused on search marketing – this doesn’t mean that they cannot be delivering the best SEO services in the country though.

    • Jean Stevenson

      Joseph that’s quite a poor argument, read the title of the post “Top SEO companies in South Africa ranked” SEO companies being the key word here. SEO is what is being focused on here and clearly the results speak for themselves. working at RCL we don’t even feature here but I can appreciate a good company when I see one. If you cant rank your own company in competitive keywords how are you going to rank clients that have a tough industry

      • Hi Jean, I’m not making any comments about any of the companies in the list, or their SEO prowess, I am saying that the article is misleading and that to suggest that ranking SEO service agencies based on how well they rank for a predefined list of SEO related keywords is completely incorrect. One can make any kind of associations one likes between how well a company’s website ranks for certain terms, and what that means for their ability to deliver excellent SEO services for clients, but those associations would not be founded on anything relevant.

        Lots of companies might not even be attempting to rank for the keywords in this list, since SEO is not a meaningful source of new business for them.

        If you know about SEO, then you will also know that simply ranking for certain terms is really not what it is about, it is about ranking for relevant search terms that convert well for you – these might be very different for each of the companies in the list above.

        The title is misleading – ‘ranked’ is ambiguous. Many of the companies are not actually ‘SEO companies’ at all anyway, and the only thing that is clear about the results is that they show that the company that produces this blog have decently optimised their own website for a predefined list of keywords that they are now using as an objective criteria to judge everyone by.

        I’m not a hater, just stating objective facts.

        • Akiko Villalon

          I dont know about that

        • “Lots of companies might not even be attempting to rank for the keywords in this list, since SEO is not a meaningful source of new business for them. ”

          All the companies in the list actually offer SEO as a service, it’s fair to say they that SEO is a source of business/revenue.

          “If you know about SEO, then you will also know that simply ranking for certain terms is really not what it is about, it is about ranking for relevant search terms that convert well for you – these might be very different for each of the companies in the list above”

          It’s true that different keywords have higher conversion rates but based on search inventory, all these keywords are getting searched for in Google South Africa and are ALL sources of potential business.

          “predefined list of keywords ”

          The keywords made it on to our list due to Relevance + Search inventory.

          We welcome suggestions to add/subtract keywords going forward.

        • Thank you Joseph, I share your opinion.

  15. Jean Stevenson Joseph read this article its their next one. If I must buy you a Dictionary then I will. SEO is not about conversion. Conversion falls under the bigger picture of Online marketing and not seo. If you know SEO you would know that rankings matter and showing your clients you can do it is a great way to show you have the capabilities. I see you take a stab at the owners of this blog because they come first. I say well done to them.

    On looking into you I see you work at quirk so maybe you are just sour that you are ranked 6th…..don’t worry 6th is better than 7th

  16. Hey All,
    My name is Shaune and I am from Synergize. Yes its important to rank you own website- to be honest we spend very little time focusing on our selves- our strategy has been on hold for ages! However, we know how to rank companies- we will gladly have a audit on client portfolio and results- I assure you they are FAR better than our own. Our clients are our main drive- we deliver vastly greater results for them because our focus is our clients, but fact remains that you should be able to rank your self with little effort if you know what your doing, and you have a solid platform to work from.

    Thanks for the great read and keep SEO alive fellow South Africans.

  17. Who do you think is going to win the World Cup?

  18. [...] of attracting a lot of attention, especially from those receiving the award. An example of such is Top SEO companies in South Africa ranked, even companies that weren’t chosen reacted and interacted with the article. So why not [...]

  19. After taking myself back from this article and seeing now that the heated debate has cooled down.. Kudos to the writer for getting such great responses!

    I’d have to say though that the ratings are not entirely accurate. If you want to see who are the best SEO companies, then just type in “SEO” in The problem here though is depending on where in the country you are searching from, you are going get localised search results pertinent to your location (google maps), which are much more focused and give better return on investment.

    These set of results don’t focus only on SEO but also on many other keywords, which a SEO company might not be focusing on i.e. internet marketing, ppc, pay per click etc etc Also.. SEO compared to search engine optimisation is rated 10 to 1 according to google insights, hardly anyone searches for that long archaic …… yet the article is headed “top SEO company”.

    Also notice that only 2 of the companies are in the top 5 for “SEO” and “SEO Companies”. In my OPINION the two most important keywords for this article.

    I’d rather have a company rank 1st only for “SEO” than be 10th for all of those keywords.

    We’ve heard many times don’t focus on rankings but rather traffic and lead generation. Rankings are good but definitely not the be and end all of SEO because of personlised search becoming more prevalent.

    Sorry Darren, not best research but great article in terms of discussion. Well done! If you wanted debate, you got it :)

    • Good point Neil, results are out that localised (Universal) search is an important part of SEO and should always be considered as a ranking factor (actually more clicked that #1 #2 & #3). This factor will change your results drastically. Being found under “SEO” when searching from Johannesburg gives me highly targeted leads far more valuable to me than an organic listing. This would mean you would have to do the test again per location to get some nice stats

  20. So when you guys going to do “Top SEO Expert/Specialist/Guru in South Africa” . Google has a clear winner for than one…. SEO Expert, SEO Specialist, SEO Guru, SEO Professional, SEO individual :) :) …. there is only one SEO Cowboy

  21. Aden Smith

    The information on top seo companies is totally up to date and I liked lot of essential aspects about it. Thanks for sharing it.
    Website Redesign Singapore

Click on a tab to select how you'd like to leave your comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>