Ginzametrics Helps Huge Sites Get More Search & Social Attention

10/10/12Follow @wroush

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powerful distributed-computing and database tools like Hadoop and MongoDB were just becoming available, so he was able to optimize the software from the start to handle large sites.

“Because SEO has been such an agency-driven service industry, people don’t really view it in the context of what’s been happening in cloud computing and big data and large-scale analytics, but that’s one of the things that, as an engineer, I get really excited about,” Grieselhuber says. “It’s one of the reasons I was able to be so successful as a single founder. By taking a fresh start on this in 2010 I had a competitive edge over technologies that were built only a few years earlier.”

In contrast to older website optimization tools like Adobe’s Omniture SiteCatalyst, which runs on a company’s own infrastructure and can cost over $100,000 per year, Ginzametrics runs in the cloud and is available for $299 to $2,500 per month, depending on the number of pages and keywords being monitored. The biggest customers are following the performance of 300,000 or more keywords.

Grieselhuber’s original hypothesis was that SEO was a major pain point for these big publishers, and two years in, he says he’s validated it. “The ideal customer for us typically has a large number of domains that they’re managing, with really large keyword volumes and large numbers of customers,” he says. The hard part for these companies, he says, is not necessarily achieving a high search ranking, but discovering which keywords to emphasize in the content of their sites in the first place. “How do you focus on the keywords and the content that’s going to improve your sales the most over time? Conceptually, that’s not hard for people to understand, but when you’re dealing with really big sites, scaling it up is hard. Managing these simple concepts at scale is the problem we are trying to solve.”

Ginzametrics' social signals dashboard

Ginzametrics' social signals dashboard

Now, in addition to showing how a Web page is performing in search results for a given keyword, Ginzametrics can show customers social signals, such as the likes and shares their pages are attracting on Facebook, as well as retweets on Twitter and +1s on Google Plus. Garnering social media attention isn’t quite as straightforward as adjusting keywords to boost search rankings, but Grieselhuber says companies need to do both these days—in part because Google itself its paying more attention to social signals. “Pure SEO is phasing out in favor of a more holistic inbound marketing approach,” he says. “If you get good at making sure your content is well-shared on social networks, your likelihood of getting more natural backlinks and overall domain authority is much higher.”

In most big companies, SEO and social media campaigns are managed by separate teams. But Grieselhuber says he hopes that tools like Ginzametrics will bring them together, since at bottom, it’s all about the quality of the content on the company’s website. “The really smart companies are starting to roll up reporting into a single set of metrics that drive decisions,” he says. “If you are creating content and expecting to be found on a search engine, you had better be sure you are actually engaging with your customers, and the best way to engage with lots of customers at scale is through social media.”

Back in 2010, when I first met Grieselhuber, he said he’d been nose-to-grindstone for three straight years, without a single vacation. He said his hope, eventually, was to “automate myself out of a job” by making Ginzametrics into a completely self-service operation. I asked him recently whether that’s actually happened.

“Ah, pipe dreams,” he replied. “We do actually automate quite a bit relative to other companies in our space so we can stay lean, but I’m still busier than ever.”

On the other hand, Grieselhuber says his team is big enough now that the site won’t collapse if he’s away—so he’s taken a few much-needed vacations with his family since that first interview. As have I—so thanks for your patience, Ray.

Wade Roush is a contributing editor at Xconomy. Follow @wroush

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