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Koozai Interviews the Linkdex Team

Samantha Noble

by Samantha Noble on 5th September 2011

Linkdex is quickly becoming one of the most talked about SEO tools in the industry and considering it has only been around since the start of 2011, this is pretty impressive. It is an evolving tool and still has a long way to go based on the conversations I have had with the Linkdex team.

I know there are a lot of agencies and companies using Linkdex already and many of us will be asking the same questions and wanting to know what their plans are for taking this great tool to the next level.

I caught up with John Straw, Collette Easton and Matt Roberts from the Linkdex team to find out what their plans were for the year ahead.

John Straw – Founder and VP Business Development

Tell us a little bit about you and how you got into the digital marketing world?

Ah that would be about 273 years ago. I worked for a log analysis business call Interse in Silicon Valley between 95 and 97 when we were acquired by Microsoft for $166m. I then went to work in Huntsville, Alabama (different planet) for an email marketing startup called Revnet – I was marketing VP – we were sold to MessageMedia for $66m.

I came back to the UK in 2000 and setup one of the first SEO’s businesses in the UK called Netrank. That was a brilliant success and I sold it in 2008 for some money.

Other than that I’m a fairly normal 52 year old who still does boxing training 5 times a week! I live in the centre of Bath at the weekend and in central London during the week.

 

What inspired you to create a tool like this?

OK first we regard it as a platform not a tool. A tool is something, like a hammer, you use tactically. A platform is strategic.

The inspiration. When I sold Netrank I came away thinking I could have sold it for a lot lot more if I’d have been able to scale it. I saw four main problems with the SEO business

  1. I was running SEO projects across 52 people from Excel. That’s sub optimal to say the least
  2. Data quality was poor and insight was crude and poor. Surely this can be better?
  3. There was little workflow and protocol in link building, which meant it was hugely inefficient
  4. The benchmarking of natural search performance over time was either avoided or lacked accuracy which prevented businesses investing at the right level

So in 2009 I raised £1.5m in VC from Mayfair and Silicon Valley with the idea of revolutionising the way SEO businesses run their business.

What is your favourite feature in Linkdex?

Competitive link insight combined with link building workflow is just the best in the business by a long long way.

Where do you see Linkdex in two years time?

Linkdex are going to continue to help businesses and agencies get the optimal level of investment and ROI from natural search through better analysis, insight and productivity.

Do you see the cost of the tool increasing much overtime?

No.

Some of the functionality in Linkdex is entry level and not necessarily useful for advanced SEO’s. Can you see different versions of Linkdex being created for differing levels of expertise?

Linkdex wants to get the right features in the hands of the best people to do the work using a common platform. Some will be complex but appear simple, like our link analysis and link building tools. Others are simple and appear simple because they serve a function or because it acts as a starting point on which to build complexity in under the surface, but with a simple interface for the user.

We do this because simplicity offers many advantages. For example, it allow pros to work alone or collaborate with other less experienced team members or clients on a common platform.

So you can be assured that the non link building areas of our product are also getting the same level of attention and investment over the coming months, but like our link building and analysis interface they will be easy to use and appeal to users of all levels of experience.

In your opinion who do you see as your biggest competitor?
It would be easy to benchmark Linkdex against mature products offered by companies like SEOMoz and Raven, but we’re not trying to imitate. We have a unique and clear vision for where we want to take Linkdex and in 12 months the ability and desire for people to want to make comparisons will stop.

What would your response be to anyone that says ‘SEO is Dead’?

That they are attention seeking. It’s not dead, it’s morphing and maturing. The fact that Mckensey’s have just run a whole piece of research on search tells me it’s growing up. http://goo.gl/H0D8Z

It’s time to get serious about SEO – I am meeting CEO’s who now understand search and the importance to their businesses.

Jeez I might even have to climb into a suit again soon.


Matt Roberts – Co Founder and VP Product

Tell us a little bit about you and how you got into the digital marketing world?
I started my marketing career planning media at a Direct Marketing agency called WWAV nearly 20 years ago. When the dot com boom happened I was one the first to jump ship and try and make my fortune which like most failed at, but what I realised was digital marketing is direct marketing. I found my way back to digital agency employment and also immersed myself in SEO about 8 years ago. Since which time I have created and trained SEO teams, worked with brilliant brands, and become an SEO affiliate, as well as designing all aspects of the Linkdex product.

What is your favourite feature in Linkdex?
I’ve lots. Some of which are live and some just about to be released. If pushed it’s a simple one. The annotation of completed tasks and links built on the rank change charts. Knowing what you did and whether it appears to have caused a shift is brilliant. It just makes you want to do more.

 

What exciting new features can we expect to see this year?
In the near future there are two key areas we want to become world class at, these are reporting both inside the platform and where appropriate to clients and stakeholders. The other is site optimisation.

However, to put this into context we’re releasing new features every two week, and have one of the largest and most talented development teams in the industry, so you can expect to most of features you might expect to see from a platform with Linkdex’s ambition, and many you won’t because they are ground breaking.

What do you have planned for Linkdex to push it well above your competitors level?
More re-thinking of what really makes rankings, traffic and revenues go up, and what features and processes support that.

What led you to using a Majestic SEO API, and do you have plans to use other link metrics in the future?
I’ve just written a short post about our data sources and why our data is better that the data you’re using now http://www.linkdex.com/about/linkdex-data-sources/.

It’s worth a read as it something we get asked about a lot and is an often misunderstood part of the Linkdex platform. We have a number of other Link Building innovation coming and where appropriate or valuable, will include other data sources.

Do you see Linkdex being a one stop portal for all elements of SEO?
Absolutely :) We’ve got some brilliant features planned for Q4 2011 as well as next year already.

How long does it typically take for a new feature to go from user idea, to live feature?
I spend a lot of time talking to our customers, and we get as much of their feedback into the product as possible as quickly as possible. We also show a number of our customers’ prototypes of upcoming features for their comments. But the speed of implementation depends on the feature. Some take a huge amount of time and investment, others are really quick. For example, we’ve been asked for a feature one week and have put it live for the customer who asked the next.

What would your response be to anyone that says ‘SEO is Dead’?
I’m not a fan of the term ‘SEO’ but everyone knows what you mean when you use it. As increasing natural search revenues becomes more about content, social, PR and customers, and Google gets better and discovering Link Spam, I think we’ll talk more about growing natural search revenues and maximising earned media and achieve it via a profession some call ‘marketing’.


Collette Easton – Director of Client Services

Tell us a little bit about you and how you got into the digital marketing world?
I have been involved specifically in SEO delivery since 2001.  John Straw recruited me as employee number 2 to an early UK SEO agency Netrank. I was the Client Services Director and our strategy was to target Blue Chip Clients and we were the white labelled SEO solution for many of the leading digital agencies.  What a ride it was with some highs and lows – but an experience that I look back on very fondly and know that I was incredibly lucky to be a part of it.

I was a building block in a brand new profession! It was amazing to see it grow from just playing with some meta data on the 000′s of ‘landing’ pages to seeing how Google changed the whole game, helping move the true professionals into the strategic thinking behind digital thinking.

When we sold the business it coincided with the birth of my son, so after a little time out I was lucky to stay in the game with a series of consultancy gigs.  My last stop before getting involved with Linkdex was the creation of Search Division at a large Bristol agency.  A really fabulous experience, working with the most wonderful and intelligent people. It was hard slog being a little search island inside a well established design house, but very rewarding as there was a huge appetite for all things search.

However I had reached the stage where I was really needing to manage the search processes better as we were looking at large volumes of work and I wanted to create a platform where I could manage my whole SEO projects – no matter what the search objectives – from cradle to grave in one console, rather than running hundreds of spreadsheets. John and I were obviously still in touch and I talked to him about my frustrations and he did the ‘big reveal’ the early iteration of Linkdex. I was blown away, it was exactly what I was looking for, and I instantly realised that this wasn’t something that could be built in-house, no matter how good our tech team was.  I simply couldn’t resist the offer to get involved.

My son is now 4 and starting school soon, I can’t believe where the time has gone, and I am truly relishing being back in a start-up environment, which I believe is my true calling in life! Well that, and buying shoes.

Where do you get the most business from, agencies or in-house teams?
Its very much an even split.  There are 3 types of customer, Matt talks about it in terms of I do, You do, We do.

The I do’s are usually agencies or in-house practitioners, conducting SEO with a specific strategy.

The You do’s are generally the Client, who may use Linkdex to track their progress but generally aren’t too engaged with the workflow processes.

The We do’s are incredibly interesting. The philosophy being that carving up the work and handing responsibility to all parties can make for very interesting results.  Teams definitely win in SEO.  I often talk about responsibility – clients and agencies have different responsibility and working together can see a huge success.

Is Linkdex being used by companies across the globe?
Absolutely. We are currently supporting 14 countries. This will be ramped up significantly by the end of the year.  In this age it’s much easier to do international business as we conduct most of our meetings online, but it does mean that your day can start very early when talking to Australia or Singapore and end very last when talking to the West Coast of America!

What is your favourite feature in Linkdex?
That’s such a tough question! The fact that the system saves you literally days of link research blows my mind all the time, the workflow processes are so simple even I can use them are up there. But I suppose, if you are forcing me to make a decision, the Event Blocks on the rank tracking graph; whenever you complete a task in the system such as an onpage optimisation element, or build a link, a Green Block is annotated on the Rank tracking graph. This is totally unique in that, for the first time your activity is tied together with your campaign results. Simple but brilliant!

My favourite thing about Linkdex is the pace at which the features are rolling out. I was blown away about January’s release, but looking back that wasn’t a patch on the platform today.

How quickly can you see your team acting on feedback from users?
It can vary. Product prioritisation is based on volume of demand – if 10 people ask for the same thing, it gets bumped up the list.  But as you can imagine although we are tech heavy (we have 10 developers) this is still only a finite amount of resource.

We track all requests through our customer service platform, this way no conversations can go astray. The feature requests, ideas and bugs all get tracked and allocated to the right team to get put on the priority list. So you may not always get an immediate answer, but don’t ever think its being ignored.  Feedback and ideas are invaluable to Linkex – we are not another toolset where practitioners pick the odd tool that’s useful.  We are building a platform that will make your SEO way of life much easier.  We have significant backing from a very grown-up VC house and the pressure from them isn’t a massive volume of customers its to take the time to listen to those customers, found out what they want and see how we can build it into the platform.   Absolutely no point building something that people won’t use.

What would your response be to anyone that says ‘SEO is Dead’?
I can’t believe that people are still saying it! SEO has matured beautifully, and I am very proud to be involved in the profession.  It gets a bad rep because there are some bad practitioners out there, making pretty wild claims and not being visible with their work, a few years ago I think that had an incredibly negative impact on the value of SEOers.

Today, I believe we have claimed back our professional status, bad practitioners are on the decline. This is due to structure and process finally being put in place by the many excellent SEO ambassadors and agencies, just like Koozai.

I strongly believe that Linkdex, and the future releases show how important SEO is to your very digital existence.  Good SEO is the absolute bedrock of any digital strategy. Linkdex clearly identifies the gap and finally gives the client the visibility of what needs to be done allowing the Agency to finally show what they can do, at a better value because hours of research have been removed allowing practitioners to be creative in their solutions, rather than concentrating on the excel grunt work we’ve all had to suffer in the past, whilst delivering much better results. It’s a win, win, win.

SEO is dead? Long live SEO!

Summary

All in all, there seems to be a lot planned for Linkdex and the team are all very excited about what is to be launched in the forthcoming months.

We have been using Linkdex at Koozai since January and it has formed part of our daily tasks for all clients. If you want to check out a review of the tool from a Digital Marketing Agencies perspective, take a look at this post – Linkdex Review.

Samantha Noble

Samantha Noble

Samantha Noble is the Marketing Director at Koozai; having worked within the marketing industry for over nine years, Sam has a plethora of marketing knowledge. With a strong understanding of digital marketing techniques, Sam will be covering all aspects of search and the industry in general.

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