What started as a DIY platform in 2009 has transformed into a full-service SEO platform catered towards small businesses.
In the past, Search Engine Optimization (SEO) has been treated as magic.
SEO companies — companies that work with clients to maximize the number of visitors to a particular website — worked under a shroud of secrecy, performing work on behalf of clients that was hard to define and even harder to prove. Essentially, SEO boiled down to agencies telling their clients: trust me, it’s working.
Since its inception, Boostability has made waves in the SEO world by emphasizing transparency. Originally started in 2009 as a do-it-yourself (DIY) platform teaching small businesses how to manage their own SEO campaign, the founders of Boostability — Jared Turner, Travis Thorpe, Rick Horsley — realized a shift towards a full-service SEO platform might be more beneficial.
“After a year of trying to sell the DIY platform, we learned it wasn’t something small businesses wanted to do on their own or had the time to do on their own,” said Kelly Shelton, VP of Marketing. “Even though we spelled it out clearly, easily, and beautifully, a big pivot occurred. We took the platform and converted it to a full-service platform, which was brilliant at the time because it allowed us to be transparent with customers, it allowed us to organize task flow and hire specialists that would be really good at one task, and it allowed us to streamline the process, keeping it affordable, efficient, and effective.”
For small businesses, traditional SEO work had been defined by two things: unaffordable, not transparent. Boostability built a platform that directly opposed both of these ideas, designing technology that could provide SEO work at an affordable, transparent cost.
“We were able to meet a niche that wasn’t being filled — small businesses couldn’t afford $1,000-$2,000 per month in SEO, we made it so they could spend a few hundred dollars and get the same results they would with an agency,” said Shelton. “That revolutionized the space at the time and it allowed us to have a platform that could scale easily.”
By 2012, Boostability began experiencing notable growth as a company. Yellow Pages providers had begun to realize the online shift was rendering their services obsolete —for them, it was change or die.
Boostability began forming partnerships with these providers, already equipped with the framework for moving advertising from print to digital, with an emphasis on SEO.
“We found out we had a compelling service for partners and that was a huge thing,” said Shelton. “Once we landed a big Yellow Pages company, we realized this was a model that was going to grow. Back in the day, most SEO companies treated it like magic, they couldn’t tell you how they were doing it. We would say, this is all the work we’ve done for you, click on the link and it will take you to the blog we just wrote, or this profile we just created, or whatever the tactic was. That transparency gave us an edge.”
90% of Boostability’s business now comes from partners, with Boostability providing the white label work — work produced by Boostability and purchased by another, then treated as if the purchaser was the original creator — for clients of these partners. This is done through a streamlined approach: think SEO work, assembly-line style.
Companies in need of SEO come to Boostability, who performs an audit based upon market and budget. A strategy is devised for the best course of action, concentrating on things like on-site optimization (having a user-friendly website that Google can easily find and define what your business does), keyword analysis (what keywords are necessary to your business and how to integrate them), and link development (creating original content like blogs or articles that link back to your site).
After deciding on the most efficient strategy, an account manager at Boostability would then plug this information into the system, which in turn automates the process and sends out each task to the most relevant department. Experts in each area perform their magic (transparently, of course), with each of these tasks feeding into the larger structure of an overarching SEO plan.
“SEO takes time, to do it right typically takes about six months on average,” said Shelton. “We need to constantly be telling our partners and their customers they’re on the right path, hang in there and get to that six month point. So we’re showing them the work we did, why it’s valuable, and how it’s helping them reach their goals. That’s all in the system.”
In the world of SEO, content is obviously valuable. Keeping in line with the idea of a streamlined process, Boostability created a crowd-sourcing platform for writers called writersdomain.net. Thousands of writers are on the website, Boostability defines what content is needed, and writers submit their work to an internal QA team at Boostability who grades the work. Good writers stay on board, bad writers are gonzo, and high quality content can be created in large volume.
Boostability has grown exponentially over the past five years — they now have roughly 400 employees and partners both national and international. Part of their success is credited to a willingness to teach employees the ways of SEO, rather than always hiring people with SEO experience.
“Boostability is a training ground — that’s our model,” said Shelton. “We take someone who is a good student, good person, good employee, and we teach them. We spend a lot of time educating our employees so they can learn the skills needed to be an online marketing expert, a SEO expert.”
Through training modules, programs, and Boost-U, Boostability is able to equip individuals with the skills needed to survive in the SEO world. This broadens the employee base they can pull from — with headquarters located in Lehi, Boostability can attract talented workers from three universities (BYU, UVU, UofU) and teach them whatever is required.
“We would not have made it without the talent in this valley — UVU, BYU, the ability to hire quickly,” said Shelton. “We had some hyper-growth years where if we didn’t have access to awesome talent, we wouldn’t have made it. I think this is a talent hub and that’s not a secret anymore.”
Alongside many things, transparency and affordability have been key to Boostability’s rise. With software tools that easily track and analyze the impact of SEO work, Boostability provides a window into what works and what doesn’t at a cost that small businesses can afford. It’s not magic, it’s SEO defined, tracked, and created to scale. And it’s working — Boostability has been named to the Inc. 5000 list of fastest-growing private companies in America for four consecutive years.
As more and more small businesses make the transition online, that growth curve should continue. Where will that leave Boostability in four more years? I’m no expert, but this is my prediction: still thriving with a platform that’s transparent, affordable, and impactful for the small business community.