LONDON — UK agency Threepipe has acquired Spot Digital in a bid to boost its SEO capabilities.

The all-share deal sees Spot Digital's 12-person team move into Threepipe's offices. Spot MD and founder Tony Thomas becomes a Threepipe board member alongside Jim Hawker and Farhad Koodoruth.

While public relations and SEO have often seemed like natural bedfellows, deals such as this one have remained a rarity. "PR agencies have delivered SEO impact more by accident than by design and for a long time now people have considered the PR industry to have failed to really grasp the potential that SEO knowledge can deliver to clients," said Hawker.

The acquisition takes Threepipe's headcount to 60, after the agency merged with digital shop Blowfish three years ago. Last year, Threepipe co-founder Eddie May divested his ownership stake in the business; he is now launching a creative consultancy for Hanover.

Hawker notes that client SEO teams are increasingly looking for PR firms to help deliver linkbacks through their editorial relationships. "The budgets are much better than working with PR teams," he said. "PR and SEO teams have traditionally worked very separately but we see that changing fast as most of our industry continues to move away from print focused media."

Spot Digital, which was founded in 2014, has worked with such clients as Jack Wills, L’Occitane and Panasonic. The team will sit in between Threepipe's PR and paid digital units.

"We have been working closely with Spot Digital for some time now by building their capability into our paid media campaigns and vice versa," said Koodoruth. "This investment provides us with onsite technical skills for clients’ websites to improve navigation, dwell time and to reduce bounce rate. It also provides clients with another effective revenue generating channel in terms of driving targeted traffic."