Search Engine Optimization is a critical ingredient to launching a new site. This post shares some of my experience with SEO — good and bad. It also describes a special program for clients who want to experience the impact of professional SEO.
I used to be a SEO skeptic
My first serious exposure to SEO was through collaboration with Matias de Tezanos, the CEO of Healthcare.com. I was a founding investor of the company and served as the Company’s first Chairman. At one point Healthcare.com had more pages indexed than Wikipedia –more than 20 million pages. Although that number came down over time, the insight remained that there is a a right way and a wrong way to build an SEO footprint. Today, Healthcare.com is #5 on Google for “Healthcare” — a highly competitive search term with more than 16 million monthly searches and more than 450,000 exact searches.
My second major exposure to SEO was through Patents.com, a company which I co-founded and still serve as Chairman. It competes with SEO heavyweight, FreePatentsOnline.com (FPO), a successful 2-man show that packages publicly available content in an SEO-friendly manner. FPO company is fundamentally an SEO play, pretty much from start to finish. It is as impressive in its simplicity as it is remarkable in its financial success. Today, Patents.com is #6 on Google for “Patents” executing a bigger, better version of the FPO model with global coverage and a more comprehensive approach to the Patent value chain.
There are many more examples of sites that live or die by SEO as their primary source of new visitors. And by this, I am talking about sites that get 90+% of their traffic from organic search — day in and day out — because they reliably answer a question that users of search engines are trying to answer. In 2007, I used to think SEO was largely a masturbatory exercise (I still think that about Twitter, by the way!). No longer. SEO matters. You are helping Google to help the consumer to help you, and that is a win-win-win.
SEO should be an integral part of Product Launch
This Friday, Epik will release 102 product portals, in addition to the normal cadence of Minisites. In the next few weeks, we’ll also launch Clothing.com and a completely redesigned Directory Platform, both of which are large scale projects commensurate with the caliber of the domains they will power. For the first time in the history of Epik, we have formally integrated SEO activities into the product launch cycle. What does this mean?
- Best practices: One of the derivative benefits of partnering with demanding customers is that they share what they know. This in turn improves the entire platform. While our SEO best practices are decent, Epik client, Avi Sacajiu of ClickResponse.net, brought in SEO talent Deborah Lipp as part of deploying a portfolio of product portals. This uncovered some SEO improvements that are being deployed network-wide in the forthcoming upgrade.
- Search engine submission: There are many service providers who offer an automated solution to directory and search engine submission. The better providers also allow you to vary the submitted content in order to minimize redundancy.
- Article submission: Article submission has been acknowledged by SEO experts as on of the better performing SEO strategies. Article syndication services such as eZineArticles.com and AssociatedContent provide a vehicle for getting articles syndicated with integrated backlinks.
- Social Bookmarking: These are typically done as manual submissions to popular bookmarking services in the form of endorsements of endorsement-worthy articles residing on your site.
To be clear, this is not about “unnatural acts” that are designed to fool the search engines. That is a fool’s game so I advise against trying it. Rather this is about playing by the rules — earning authority, trust and relevance — so that the algorithm can help the consumer to find a decent concentration of relevant content when searching.
Does SEO work? The case study of IceCreamMaker.com
Personally, I am convinced that SEO, done well, is an excellent investment and a mandatory component of the site launch process. It accelerates the entire process of turning an undeveloped domain into a thriving website. It also helps get you the type of recurring traffic that can be used to drive continuous improvement of the site — a topic for a future blog post.
A case study that is taking shape right now on the product portals network is Kenny Hartog’s IceCreamMaker.com. Last night, Kenny’s site moved from page 2 of Google’s SERP to #8 on Page 1. His traffic doubled overnight, including a tripling of Google traffic. Kenny’s net weekly revenue on IceCreamMaker.com alone was $60 last week and should crush that this week.
Kenny is fast becoming one of the most active builders on the Epik network. His early deployments are cash flowing nicely and the newer builds are coming online rapidly. I could not be happier for him. He has built a solid portfolio of names with solid search patterns and is methodically optimizing each step of the value chain: Acquire, Develop, Operate, Sell.
Epik’s SEO Partner Network
Epik has negotiated bulk SEO services with selected SEO service providers. We are looking for more and are benchmarking their performance over the short, medium and long-term. As part of this vendor benchmarking process we have also negotiated better pricing, and we are passing these savings along to our clients who are building on Epik. We can do this because SEO is not a profit center for Epik. It is an enabling investment that increases the value of sites that we build. SEO service providers who are interested in being included in our Partner program are welcome to contact me.
Special Promotional Offer — Free SEO bundle with your Epik Portal!
For orders placed before Monday, May 3, any site that is built on Epik, we will include an SEO bundle at no additional cost. The service provider is a reputable Indian service provider who is already doing good work for Epik client, Kenny Hartog. By buying in volume, we negotiated a bundle that normally costs $120. Here is what is included:
- 200 Search engine submissions
- 100 Directory submissions with at least 10 unique submission texts
- 200 Article submissions with a custom article
- 125 Social bookmark submissions
Each site is audited for execution of these SEO tasks. The audit report is passed to you for review.
Any other SEO experiences out there?
What else works for you?
Any favorite SEO providers with proven ability to achieve and sustain top ranking using white hat methodologies?