The Silicon Review
Business owners trying to gain the upper hand in this highly competitive market usually find themselves facing a dilemma with their digital marketing campaigns, particularly on deciding which particular tool will help them become front-runners in their industries.
All the online businesses need to be prepared to dedicate a lot of time to SEO optimization. With all the websites competing to be high ranked, one of the smartest solutions in this situation seems to be the analysis of the competitors’ strategy.
Reckoning the interest of SEO for a business, SEMrush came into existence in 2008. Ten or fifteen years ago Dmitriy Melnikov (Founder and COO) and Oleg Shchegolev (Founder and CEO) were two IT geeks doing SEO; they did some large-scale experiments, trying to figure out if there’s a need for a tool that will help SEO specialists make their work easier and productive. SEMrush wasn’t set up because the duo had an american dream to create a successful startup. They were simply interested in computing and geeks stuff and thought it would be a nice challenge to find the algorithm to monitor how SEO was changing and how they could apply their efforts in this dynamiс market. Nobody except for them believed that project would be a success, yet it turned out to be that.
In dialogue with: Oleg Shchegolev, Founder and CEO
What was your first product release and how triumphant was it?
We first released a SEOquake tool, which was one of the most popular SEO tools at the time. It was designed to check any webpage for a huge selection of SEO parameters on the fly and has now been transformed into a free powerful browser SEO toolbox, that is used by thousands of people every day. Then we proceeded to work on a more comprehensive digital marketing software that would encompass more than SEO-related instruments. As we kept adding tools and features, our product soon turned into something bigger, that is, SEMrush toolkit.
How distinctive is your firm?
Two years after its start, SEMrush absorbed all the other projects and we started to dedicate all our time to it. Hense we’ve added a number of high-quality features and tools that have made SEMrush the industry-leading marketing software. While other companies prefer to concentrate on a certain digital marketing aspect (SEO, social media etc), we have created single-solution software, something we ourselves use to explore online markets.
What setbacks you had to combat?
We had to deal with a pretty unstable market — no one knew how the global web would evolve and in which direction it was going to head in. It’s not that we had to blunder about in the dark, but in the beginning we had to rely on our intuition and market forecasts. For me it was of a great importance to find people who would support our ideas, help us implement them and would trust in the product we were working on. I hate working with people who think only about money, instead I prefer to work with those who want to get expertise and knowledge. And all that was way more difficult at the height of the financial crisis of 2007-2008.
How are you ground breaking?
We just make a product that we ourselves as digital marketing specialists would use, simple as that. Many people were saying to us that the company wouldn’t survive without investments or that the sales needed to be managed by the American office etc. ‘Experts’ kept telling us what to do but we didn’t buy any of that. SEMrush is basically the only single-solution online software that includes such a large number of various marketing tools. We’ve made it that far only because we were not afraid to experiment and ignored rumors that were around back then.
How is your syndicate structured?
We really value freedom and we try to delegate this freedom to our colleagues. I definitely say “no” to work under the yoke and under the pressure. There are more than 400 employees at our company working in four countries, but we keep growing daily and expand our business. And all those circumstances don’t complicate the working process as many can think, those are new challenges for us, as we have loved challenges and experiments from the first day of SEMrush existence. We are the company that’s totally based on agile with all the teams being independent, self-organized and all the responsibility being placed on team. People are what we value the most, that’s why corporate culture and communication within SEMrush are of primary importance for us.
What learnings helped you establish the firm and to outclass others?
Surely, our IT background did help us along with our SEO skills and expertise. We were quite qualified in IT and enthusiastic about running SEMrush product. We were also pretty self-confident and we knew we would succeed. So, we just started to work and the results we got really inspired us to keep up the good work. It’s also very motivating to see how agile helps us boost our performance as well as create really close-knit teams.
What is your next step towards innovation?
We’ve always got 10-15 new projects that we are working on, but we keep changing their priority. We’ve got in mind some more tools to make online marketing with SEMrush even more convenient, and we’ll keep releasing beta versions of some new products to be tested by our users. Stay tuned, because we don’t normally announce new products beforehand. We’ll make sure our customers are informed when something new is rolled out.
What is your conjecture of the company’s success in the forthcoming years?
We want SEMrush to become an essential tool for every marketer, the number one bookmark in every digital marketing specialist’s browser. Hopefully as a company we’ll keep growing, experimenting, evolving and hosting even more specialists that are passionate about online marketing from all over the world.
Welcome the supremo: Oleg Shchegolev, Founder & CEO
Oleg devotion to experiments, horizontal management structures, and agile philosophy laid the foundation of the company’s success. Many companies struggle facing such a rapid growth, but these principles help SEMrush stay on top in such a volatile and highly competitive area as digital marketing.
“We’ve been putting all our knowledge and experience in the field into making the most efficient and enjoyable service for online marketing specialists out there.”