October 30, 2012, 10:50 AM

SEO software provider Conductor raises $20 million

The vendor’s revenue is up 300% over last year and its staff has nearly doubled.

Lead Photo

Conductor's dashboard.

Conductor Inc., whose software is designed to help retailers improve their rankings in natural search engine results, has raised $20 million in Series C funding, the vendor announced today. That brings the company’s total financing to $35 million, says CEO Seth Besmertnik.

“We’re going to use this capital to expand globally, make our product more local and mobile for retailers and expand our workforce by about another 50% over the next 12 months,” he says. Conductor currently employs 85 staffers, 40 of whom joined this year, he says. The company’s revenue is up more than 300% over last year and Besmertnik says he anticipates similar growth in 2012. The company would not disclose its revenue.

Conductor’s technology and acceptance in the market  “embody what we look for in our portfolio companies as they move from an early stage company into the expansion stage, ready to scale operations and enter new markets,” says Noah Walley, managing director at Investor Growth Capital, which led the funding round.

Conductor’s web-based SEO technology lets marketers track where their companies appear in natural search results for key terms and how often their companies appear in  in global search results, Besmertnik says. Conductor also provides comparative data about the natural search results of competitors. Users may set up custom dashboards—for instance, one to monitor keywords in a single product category—and get reports that track particular campaign metrics, such as the amount of traffic or revenue that certain keywords drive, he says.

The Conductor SEO platform also allows retailers to run predictive modeling before making changes to their e-commerce sites to improve natural search rankings. For example, a retailer could simulate the traffic, revenue and search rankings it would generate from adding new content or links on its web site before doing the work, Besmertnik says.

The price of the company’s SEO technology starts at $2,500 monthly and rises according to the number of URLs and keywords monitored and reports delivered, he says. Users may also pay annually. Conductor releases updates to its platform each week, he says.

Roughly 2,700 brands use Conductor’s software, with about two-thirds getting it directly from Conductor and the rest via several marketing services agencies Besmertnik says. 48 new customers signed last quarter, a record for the company, he adds. Retailer clients include Staples Inc., No. 2 in the Internet Retailer Top 500 Guide; Best Buy Co., No. 11; Deckers Outdoor Corp., No. 161; and Under Armour Inc., No. 143. 

Conductor works with clients to increase conversion rates and profits through natural search. “SEO is not just about showing up high, but showing up high for the right kinds of keywords and the right kinds of pages,” Besmertnik says.

For example, he says he’s noticed that many retailers might show up high in search results for a particular search term, like “digital camera,” but the result links to the retailer’s home page rather than a product or category page—which hurts conversions. “A lot of retailers are just behind the curve in general,” he says. “So there’s a lot of room to improve when they start to see this information rise to the surface.”

Conductor began building its SEO platform in mid-2008, Besmertnik says, in response to a growing demand for SEO software that coincided with a noticeable increase in demand for staffers with expertise in search engine optimization. Conductor found that job listings for “SEO” positions on classifieds web site Indeed.com increased by 1,900% between 2006 and 2012.  In one year, between July 2011 and July 2012, the number of Linkedin members who listed “SEO” in their job title or description grew from 249,595 to 528,642.

“You’d be hard pressed to find a successful Internet retailer without a full-time SEO person,” Besmertnik says. “36 months ago, it wasn’t like that.” The demand for search marketing professionals creates demand for SEO tools and knowledge, he says.  “That was why we started.”

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