Conductor Helps Companies Compete for Prime Spots in Web Searches

11/7/12Follow @jpruth

Every company wants to be first, especially when it comes to marketing on the Web. Getting brand names and links at the top of search results may attract more customers, but figuring out how to grab and hold onto such prime spots can be confusing. That’s where Conductor, a New York-based search engine optimization technology company, comes in.

Conductor, much like others in the SEO industry, offers its technology to help clients get their pages listed higher with Google and other search engines. With a recent infusion of new cash, Conductor plans to expand and further develop its software.

Seth Dotterer, co-founder and vice president of marketing for Conductor, says many businesses do not realize they can improve their rankings in Web searches with a bit of technology. Just because companies attain high positions in search results with Google or Bing there is no guarantee they will maintain those places. The structure of the websites, content, and the way the brands interact with their customers online can influence who gets listed first by search engines. The farther down the company gets listed, the less likely they are to catch the eyes of online customers, Dotterer says.

His company helps its clients determine recommended changes to gain more traction in Web searches—but Conductor is far from alone in this sector. Rivals include seoClarity based in the Chicago area, and Germany’s Searchmetrics. Dotterer believes his company’s software sets itself apart from its competitors by checking for tags and keywords that should be placed on websites but may be missing or in the wrong spot.

Conductor’s cloud-based Searchlight platform also lets companies monitor how their websites stack up in searches. “Our technology audits where companies show up and where the competition’s pages show up [in search results],” he says. It also alerts companies to ranking changes and what precipitated the shifts.

That way, businesses know if they’re losing or gaining ground. Searchlight can also measure the effectiveness of marketing dollars spent on improving rankings in natural searches. Clients who license this software-as-a-service include FedEx, Best Buy, Staples, Siemens, and General Electric.

The Searchlight platform automatically performs tasks that companies’ in-house technical staff may not have the time or means to accomplish. “Large retailers may have hundreds of thousands of keywords and pages they are trying to track,” Dotterer says. “Throwing people at that problem is the difficult way of going about it.”

Not surprisingly, Dotterer is bullish about the influence he sees natural Web search results have on online customers. He believes such links are more likely to draw attention than the paid links promoted through search engines. “You rarely find someone who clicked on paid ads,” he says. Dotterer also believes links promoted via social media have yet to match the sway of such Web searches. “The social media aspect is sexy, but marketing in general has changed from outbound marketing to inbound,” he says.

Conductor has more cash coming inbound to further its own plans. Late last month the company raised $20 million in a Series C round led by Investor Growth Capital with participation from FirstMark Capital and Matrix Partners. The money will go toward development of the Searchlight platform, including new hires. Conductor has a staff of 85 and plans to add 50 new employees in 2013, Dotterer says. In addition to New York, Conductor has offices in Boston and near San Mateo, CA.

Keeping Conductor’s technology fresh, Dotterer says, well help the company stay nimble in this ever-evolving sector. “Google updates its algorithm every day of the year,” he says. “Sometimes those are big updates such as Panda and Penguin, or minor updates.”

João-Pierre S. Ruth is the editor of Xconomy New York. He can be reached at jpruth@xconomy.com and followed on Twitter @jpruth. Follow @jpruth

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