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Posts Tagged ‘2012’


Announcing Moz’s 2012 Metrics, Acquisition of AudienceWise, & Opening of Our Portland Office

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Posted by randfish

2012 was an amazing year at SEOmoz. We grew tremendously in members, revenue, and employees; finally raised a second round of funding; added some cool features to PRO; and acquired three companies (though, until today, we've only publicly talked about two of those). In this blog post, I'm going to cover our 2012 numbers in some detail and tell you about our very exciting, final acquisition of the year, AudienceWise.

The blog post is broken into several sections for those who'd like to jump around:

Moz's Acquisition of AudienceWise

I first met Matthew Brown along with his partner-in-crime at Define, Marshall Simmonds, in Xiamen, China. I was with my grandfather, Si, speaking at SES Xiamen, and the NYTimes' SEO team was hosting us for dinner. I still remember my Grandfather commenting that he'd been a subscriber to the Times for 50 years, and it was about time they took him out to dinner :-)

Since then, Matthew's gone on to start his own consultancy, AudienceWise, with Tim Resnik, former CEO of a gaming startup and a tremendously accomplished marketer & data junkie. Both have been frequently involved in the Moz community – Matt spoke at Mozcon two years ago and will again. Tim and he are both quiet lurkers on the blog, but with this transaction, I expect that to change a bit. Over the past couple years, we've talked extensively about recruiting them to the SEOmoz team. They were on our list of potential acquisitions for our failed funding round in summer 2011, and part of the "use of funds" we spoke about with Brad Feld in our April 2012 round.

Matt and Tim are really here at Moz to help us scale our in-house marketing and product expertise. Both have built software products in the past (Matt worked with Marshall on SearchCLU, Tim on an online poker subscription service) and have tremendous depth-of-knowledge in the fields of both inbound and paid marketing. We have a lot of phenomenal talent at SEOmoz, but only a few of us are deep into the fields of SEO, social media, content marketing, email, CRO, etc. Matt and Tim are here to help serve as mentors and as internal-consultant experts to our entire team, a role that I've been far too busy to fill effectively the last 18 months.

Matt and Tim Visiting the Mozplex

The AudienceWisers have been by the Mozplex several times, but in their first official visit as employees, they impressed a lot of folks on our team and have already jumped into a ton of projects. For example, Tim is working on visiting our rankings data & how we'll build reports for rankings going forward, and reviewing a big secret project that I'm not allowed to talk about on the blog. Meanwhile, Matt's working with Erica to head up our search for great Mozcon speakers, co-piloting the 2013 ranking factors work with Dr. Matt Peters (as an aside, doesn't Matt & Dr. Matt sound like a good sitcom title?), helping with the new version of the Mozbar, working with the product and engineering teams on the web classification system, and much more. 

I particularly loved the email Matt sent on the allstaff thread welcoming him and Tim:

Matt's email to team

Some notes on the acquisition:

  • The total acquisition price (including salary, stock, and deferred payments) is in the low seven figures.
  • SEOmoz is acquiring AudienceWise's process & products (including some research work and software Matt & Tim have built), the team itself, but NOT the consulting business. Matt & Tim will continue to do a small amount of consulting outside of SEOmoz, and our business will continue to remain free from services revenue.
  • The AudienceWise Portland offices only hold three people, so we're getting some new space (more on that below).
  • Technically, the deal closed in mid-December, but we wanted to wait to announce until Matt & Tim had wrapped up their other obligations and started at Moz full time (which happened last Monday, Jan. 14).
  • Matt will be reporting to me with the title "Head of Special Projects," while Tim will be on Adam Feldstein's product team as "Principal Product Strategist." We're doing more with titles in the next couple months at Moz, so these may change. Neither will have any direct reports, but both will be contributing as consultants/advisors/project leads on a number of teams.

I'm sure that Matt & Tim would love to hear from you and are happy to take questions in the comments of this post, so feel free to leave them, and please join me in welcoming them to the Moz team!

The Opening of Our Portland Office (aka Mozlandia)

We Mozzers have long loved Portland from our perch in the Emerald city. We visit on weekends to sample their insanely weird and tasty food carts and restaurants. We stay extra nights after conferences to tour their far-too-cool-for-Seattle clothing stores. We rant jealously about their much lower cost-of-living and their lack of a state sales tax (which adds to the retail goodness). And, of course, we poke fun at their hipsterdom.

Portlandia on IFC

In fact, after watching three seasons of Portlandia, and experiencing the magic that city has to offer, we could no longer resist its pull. Starting in April of this year (probably, maybe May or June depending on lease details), SEOmoz will be opening only its second office ever in Portland, Oregon, nicknamed "Mozlandia."

We've already created a poster of our own:

Mozlandia

Pictured from left to right: Peter Bray (FollowerWonk), Matthew Brown and Tim Resnik (AudienceWise), Galen Huntington (FollowerWonk), and David Mihm (GetListed).

I'm pretty sure this picture alone means our Portland office is going to be an amazing place to work (honestly, Galen looks WAY more "Portland" than his counterpart in the IFC photo). We'll start recruiting more formally soon, but in the meantime, feel free to check out any of the open positions at Moz, many of which teams may be open to staffing in Portland. We will continue to offer our $ 12,000 referral and signing bonus for software engineering positions in both cities.

2012 Moz Financials

It was a good year for the company financially, despite our focus being on a lot of other issues. We ended the year at $ 21.9mm in revenue – nearly doubling from 2011's $ 11.4mm.

I think 2012 and 2013 are going to go down in our history as "investments in the foundation" years. After our funding round closed in April, we spent the vast majority of the year building products that have yet to launch (stay tuned), building up recruiting and onboarding processes, bolstering our product and team with acquisitions, experimenting with how to handle a much larger big data product (Mozscape – sadly most of our efforts to dramatically grow size & increase freshness in 2012 failed, but we believe we now know enough to have success in 2013), and managing culture at a mid-size company (which went pretty well and led to some nice kudos like Seattle's Best Place to Work).

Below is a look at overall product revenue growth from 2007-2012:

SEOmoz Revenue 2007-2012

More than 90% of total revenue comes from SEOmoz PRO subscriptions, with additional contributions from the SEOmoz API (these are combined in the "product revenue" chart above). Mozcon tickets sales and DVD sales are not included in this graph, nor is consulting revenue, which ended in 2009.

I did, however, want to show our expenses for 2012, compare them to 2011, and break them down by category so you can get a better sense of what's in our costs (and see how we're spending that fancy VC money!). I didn't have a great way to show this as a visual graph (pie charts over time are funky – I guess I could have done the stacked graph, but they're also funky), yet the chart conveys the data pretty well:

SEOmoz Company Expenses 2011-2012

There are a few interesting takeaways from the above:

  • Personnel as a percentage remains the same, and I'd guess it will go up a small amount in 2013.
  • Hosting is where most of our COGS (Cost of Goods Sold) and pain comes from. It should be going down as we reach larger scales, but in 2012, we chose to invest in building faster rather than going slow and finding solutions to our declining margins. That will change in 2013, and while this year as a whole will probably still be high, we're predicting that our total hosting costs will be ~50% of what they are today (~650K/month) by Q4.
  • Contractors are a resource we've leaned on heavily in the past, particularly on the development front. That number will probably remain similar in 2013, though eventually we plan to bring the vast majority of production in-house, and rely on contractors only for specialized needs.
  • Facilities is one that will, hopefully, take a huge leap up in 2013. We need a new office here in Seattle, and while we've been a bit stymied on our first six months exploring spaces (we've had two offices we wanted fall through on us), we want to be moving to a much larger headquarters as soon as possible. In the meantime, Mozlandia will help us grow a bit in Portland.
  • Not a believer in inbound marketing? If this data doesn't convince you, nothing will. The incredibly low percent of costs that go to attracting traffic and acquiring customers (on the "marketing" line – remember that SEOmoz has no sales team or costs) are a testament to SEOmoz drinking our own Kool-Aid, and investing in sources like content, organic search, social media, email, CRO, and word-of-mouth to spread our brand. It means we can invest much more in research, product, and data. Check out traffic from the last 6 quarters:

SEOmoz & OSE traffic 2011-2012

Some spikiness from viral content skews the trendline a bit, but in general, we're seeing healthy growth from every channel.

If you have questions about this stuff, feel free to ask in the comments and myself or Sarah Bird (our COO) can answer.

2012 Employee & Customer Growth Data

The financials tell part of the story, but a few other data points felt interesting to me and may be to you as well. First up is our growth in employee count from our first year as a software company to today:

SEOmoz Employee Headcount 2007-2012

The chart shows headcount of full time employees at the end of each year. We've obviously had a ton of growth here in 2012, and we're budgeting to add another 66 team members in 2013 (though a lack of new office space may slow that down). What amazes me the most is how well our culture has managed to handle this growth. I feel better about the persistence of TAGFEE and the other cultural aspects at SEOmoz today than I did when we were at 50 people, 25, or 5. To be honest, that's not what I expected. I thought things would get invariably harder and worse at this scale, but given the trend, I'm incredibly optimistic about 150, 250, even 500! Though, I know all of those will take incredible effort to succeed.

Next is our customer growth:

SEOmoz PRO Subscribers

18,731 was the final count of paid PRO subscribers on Jan. 1st, 2013 (our historical numbers for prior years were less precise, hence the rounding).

It's pretty remarkable and truly humbling to have nearly 20,000 paid customers using our product. But we know that we've got a long way to go. In 2012, we had four pretty severe incidents and several smaller ones where critical customer data like rankings, crawl info, or Mozscape index updates were missing or late. We launched a few cool features at the end of 2011 and very beginning of 2012 (social analytics, historical link analysis, universal SERPs tracking, and custom reports) but with the exception of Followerwonk (which is a huge addition to PRO, and continues to develop new features itself), it was a very quiet year for features.

2013 is going to be very different. Our first major launch since Wonk is only a few weeks away, and spring should see the start of many more. We also have an entire team of five engineers, under the leadership of Shawn Edwards, focused on uptime and reliability. The levels of unreliability we've had in the past are unacceptable, and the speed of product improvement is, too. In our reviews for each other this month, Sarah and I were chatting about a large release we've been working on since late 2011, and Sarah told me, "If we haven't launched by June, we should both fire each other." I couldn't put it better myself. This year, we need to kick ass for our customers and be more deserving of the incredible support and growth you've enabled for our team.


January 2013 marks my 11th anniversary working in this job (prior to 2004, I worked with my Mom, Gillian, at the web design/marketing company that would become SEOmoz). I've never been more amazed by what the company's accomplished than I am today, but I know every day from now forward presents the challenge to all of us at Moz – to prove we're worthy of the fantastic things we have (customers, revenue, investors, supporters) and to not be trapped by the mistakes of the past, nor fall prey to the pitfalls of the future.

Matt & Tim will be a huge help, as the teams from FollowerWonk and Getlisted have been already. Mozlandia is going to be an exciting new experiment for us. And 2012 was a great year, but honestly, I can't wait for 2013 to get going, and for us Mozzers to be able to show all of you what the remarkable team we've built can do.

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How’d He Do? Score Bruce’s Predictions for SEO and Internet Marketing in 2012

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How’d He Do? Score Bruce’s Predictions for SEO and Internet Marketing in 2012 was originally published on BruceClay.com, home of expert search engine optimization tips.

Calling all online marketers! We need your input to get a good picture of what happened in the Internet marketing industry last year. We’re hoping you have a minute to grade Bruce’s predictions from last year.

SEO fortune cookie

The SEO Fortune Cookie says: “You will predict the year ahead with 68.725% accuracy.”

Every year Bruce reads trends and past events to forecast the Internet marketing industry in the year ahead. Predicting major happenings in the search marketing industry for the year to come is a fun tradition we do every year.

But now it’s time to get critical and see how accurate he was. Will you score Bruce? Did you see these predictions play out, or were they in the ballpark or total misses?

We’ll be publishing Bruce’s final scorecard for his 2012 predictions in the SEO Newsletter next week and can use all the graders we can get. We’d be grateful if you could share this survey with your networks, too. :)

Check out all of Bruce’s 2012 Internet marketing industry predictions published in the January 2012 SEO Newsletter.

Select all the answers you agree with for each of the 6 questions below.

Create your free online surveys with SurveyMonkey, the world’s leading questionnaire tool.

Bruce Clay Blog

2012 Search Marketing Year in Review

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2012 Search Marketing Year in Review was originally published on BruceClay.com, home of expert search engine optimization tips.

2012 was an eventful year in search marketing — we laughed, we cried (some of us more than others when Penguin hit). But we made it. And we even survived an apocalypse. Each month here at Bruce Clay, Inc., we bring to you an industry newsletter that dives into the issues that matter to marketers  (Did you know that? Have you signed up?). Looking back on newsletter editions in 2012, we can see some of the events that shaped the year in search marketing. The following is a culmination of some of our most popular reading in the SEO Newsletter this year, starting with some big Google-focused events.

Google Algorithm Issues 2012

Woman Pruning a Tree

Did you have to take up link pruning as a new hobby after Google’s Penguin hit?

In April 2012, Google made some big changes to its algorithm, and sites with if-y link practices were hit the hardest. That sent site owners into a tailspin — many not knowing how to recover from the penalties and loss of rankings. Bruce Clay, Inc. knew that cleaning up a site’s link profile, including “pruning” the inbound links was the way to help sites get back on the right path. In this step-by-step guide to link pruning back in May 2012, we showed you how to understand your link profile, identify the links you should be removing and how to handle removal requests. Since the article was written, Google gave webmasters some help getting rid of links as a last resort with the Link Disavow tool.

Related Topics – The Google Saga Continues

Back in April, Bruce Clay weighed in on the whole Google over-optimization issue (more on that to the right), including:

  • What to watch out for when evaluating the long-term security of your SEO strategy.
  • Possible technologies Google is using to detect over-optimization.
  • Potential motivation for Google’s reinvigorated offense, including the future face of search results.
Warning Symbol
It was a lively time for search back towards the beginning of 2012. Google Webmaster Tools was sending warning messages left and right to webmasters. Matt Cutts *mentioned” something about an algo update to target aggressive SEO at SXSW in February. And what happened next was a panic over what many were calling an “over-optimization penalty.” In this article by  Bruce Clay Australia, we looked at over-optimization and unnatural linking.
Woman Standing Next to ChalkboardIs your site worthy of rankings? This is the question many site owners and marketers ask every day — especially in the light of Google’s crackdown in 2012. In this article on algorithm-proof SEO, we explored an approach to SEO that can help you avoid disastrous consequences of algorithm updates and keep your site healthy. Letter Grade Drawn on a ChalkboardIt’s been known for some time that Google has a method for rating the quality of a site, but just how they do it has been somewhat of a mystery. Enter Google’s leaked quality rating manual for its human raters. The good news? It confirms what many marketers already suspected about what Google believes is quality.

 

Data and Tools in 2012

Caveman with a White Board

Did you practice “caveman analytics” in 2012? We learned tips from author and speaker Matt Bailey on how to get the most from the data available.

What were people talking about in the way of data and tools to help add context to our decisions in search marketing in 2012? Here we look at some of our more popular reads on reporting, including the launch of Google’s social reports in analytics; an interview with author and speaker Matt Bailey on context in data and asking the right questions; and how to mine data for SEO with BCI’s SEOToolSet.
Typewriter Report

Earlier in the year, Google released social reporting in its analytics tool. In this article, we explored how to find and read social reports.

Laptop and Magnifying Glass

Do you know how to get the most out of your data? This article about our SEOToolSet aimed to help marketers understand data that’s available for wiser decisions within SEO strategy.

 

Ecommerce, Mobile and Social

In 2012, Google’s Search Plus Your World (and the rise of Google Plus) was all the buzz. People wondered once again if it “killed SEO” (the running joke amongst search marketers who’ve heard this question one too many times). There was also a continued emphasis on the need for responsive design for mobile as Google announced official guidelines for mobile optimization. And an evergreen topic that’s always interesting to readers: how site navigation and information architecture work together to create a great ecommerce and shopping experience. These are just some of the more popular articles on the topics of mobile, social and ecommerce in 2012.
Baby and Cell Phone

Back in June, Google announced guidelines for optimizing mobile-ready sites. Bruce Clay Australia dives into this topic.

Magnet with Money

What’s the best way to design navigation for ecommerce sites? Bruce Clay India looked into sites that hit the mark.

Mouse Icon Over a Button with a Questions Mark

What is Google’s “Search, plus Your World”? And how does Google+ factor into it? In this article, we explored how the new search functionality works.

 

SEO Factors and Trends Report

Bruce Clay Australia put out a report at the head of the new year that talked trends over 2011 and predictions for SEO and other search marketing disciplines in 2012. You can download the report to see what transpired over 2011, and how different or the same it was to this year. And check out some highlights below …

Search Engine Optimization on a Chalkboard

Just some of the highlights from the report on search marketing in 2011 included:

  • A smarter Web, tailoring content to individual users.
  • The rise of Google+ and big changes to Facebook.
  • The continued importance of White Hat SEO.

2012 predictions included a focus on the user:

  • Serve them awesome content regularly.
  • Increase the number of touch points with them by integrating with social platforms.
  • Spend time creating advanced, cross-platform user-engagement strategies.
  • Allow them access to your information wherever they are through mobile sites and apps.
  • Make their lives easier by facilitating their access to your information, products and services.
  • Reinforce your local presence and geo-location services.

Hope you enjoyed this 2012 recap of search marketing hot topics. See you in 2013 for another lively year. My prediction? There won’t ever be a dull moment.

And if you’re interested in Bruce Clay’s predictions for the state of search, stay tuned for the January edition of the SEO Newsletter, set to hit mid-January.

Bruce Clay Blog