The importance of Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is nothing new. Yet, it seems that more and more advertisers are realizing that the significance of SEO to their business has risen as they have essentially hit a ceiling with their SEM activities. As the SEMPO State of Search Engine Marketing 2008 report puts it: “Despite increasing ad spend and year-to-year growth in the value of search engine marketing, we are likely nearing a pricing plateau as advertisers near their maximum efficacy.”
A newly launched SEO platform called ‘Drive’ by Jerusalem-based RankAbove wants to assist large websites—ones that range from 1000 pages to as far as several million—to get the most out of their SEO juice. In many ways, RankAbove is the flipside of hotshot Kenshoo, which aims at the same target market but with an SEM solution.
Launched into beta, Drive provides a complete SEO management interface, handling everything from keyword research and on-page analysis, to link building and acquisition. The product begins by downloading and parsing the entire website on its servers, generating a complete analysis which is repeated upon site updates. Artificial intelligence and predictive modeling are used to determine how SEO changes will affect site pages—remember these can be in the millions—and keywords, which can reach up to the tens of thousands.
The site which is automatically divided into sections by Drive, can now be inspected for all SEO issues, with granularity reaching all the way down to single pages and individual page elements. Drive also analyzes competitor sites in order to determine the difficulty of ranking for each keyword. There is no limit on the amount of keywords and Drive will even perform automated tail keyword discovery. Testing the impact of new keywords and other SEO tweaks and fixes on the site takes minutes—an obvious plus compared to pushing it out to production and waiting for the ‘Google Dance’.
I’ve asked RankAbove to run an analysis on TechCrunch.com. Here are a few SEO basic issues it identified:
- TechCrunch rarely uses the <h1> tag. This affects proper keyword insertion in the page header tags that lets the search engines know the more relevant keywords for a particular page.
- Company Index pages all have the same title. Duplicate title issues prevent search engines from understanding which is the main page.
- Images could use better <alt> tagging. This impedes screenshots, pictures, and company logos to come up in image search results and will cause them to rank poorly for relevant searches.
Unlike most startups that begin their business from scratch, RankAbove been running an SEO consultancy business for several years. This has had multiple benefits: First, the team was able to gain product/market-fit insights from real customers. Second, the company is in a position where it can now leverage existing relationships with agencies and online retailers to establish design and beta customers, one of which is 1-800-Flowers. Finally, a major upside is that the SEO consultancy business has allowed RankAbove to self-fund development, placing it in a better negotiation position with investors. I’m told by CEO Mayer Reich, that the company is in negotiation with several investors to complete a Round A in the neighborhood of $1.5M.
I’ve been following RankAbove’s progress from the initial days of development and it’s one of the Israeli startups I’m most bullish about. Who knows, it might just be the next Kenshoo .