Firm Makes SEO Easy

November 22, 2006
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NUNICA — Local startup Web Marketing Concepts LLC has high hopes for its Web-based search engine optimization system.

Three years in the making, the four-employee firm spun off of 10-year-old software development company 3rd Coast Technologies officially launched in September, introducing a unique combination of SEO technology and multilevel marketing to the World Wide Web.

“It’s a very, very powerful system,” said Steven Fortnam, WMC partner and ThirdCoast founder. “We’re expecting this to get into the mainstream very quickly.”

WMC promises users a boost in ranking on search engines such as Google, Yahoo! and MSN and an accompanying Alexa ratings spike — an elevation in stature that many small sites have incredible difficulty attaining.

The system, housed at web-marketing-concepts.com, is powered by an automated link exchange system. Users can select up to 15 content-relevant categories in which to include their Web sites. Within each category group, reciprocal links are traded out between all participating sites, updated each morning. Members can opt out of trading links with sites they do not approve of, and all links are exhaustingly policed for content relevance.

Links are a sometimes overlooked factor in site optimization, Fortnam said. Search engine algorithms read links as an endorsement of the site by its peers. Content is the most powerful factor in determining relevancy, but that can only be altered so much toward optimization without warping the appearance and functionality of the site. Forced optimization of this sort will also set off alarms with search engines, and can easily backfire, causing a site to be blacklisted from the index.

A link exchange is immune to these concerns. Provided that the links are content-relevant, the practice meets all search engine standards.

“If you optimize it even halfway decent, and then spread it over thousands of sites, the search engines will notice you,” said WMC partner James Mackinlay.

A South Carolina resident, Mackinlay has been working as a Web marketer and search engine specialist since 1997, when he left an engineering role at Time Warner. During his first few years in the industry, Mackinlay had some bad experiences with the Web, as many entrepreneurs did during the late 1990s.

Most of all, he discovered that many of the people who started Web businesses weren’t making money, so he developed a plan to use those shortfalls to power a viral marketing machine. By creating an affiliate network that would reward partners for each new member they bring in, the network could quickly grow large enough to boost even the smallest of sites into the upper tiers of search results.

After a lengthy search, Mackinlay enlisted 3rd Coast as his software partner, and this past summer the new company conducted a 1,000-member beta test.

Here’s how it works: For a $29.95 monthly fee, WMC provides full-access hosting and tools to build a Web site, if needed, along with templates, guides and other resources to instruct members on how to better optimize and manage their Web sites. The link exchange installs an updated link page onto member sites each morning. Those wishing to participate in the affiliate program will receive a $10 monthly commission on the dues of referrals. For every member that second tier signs up, the first-tier affiliate receives an additional $2 commission.

In the two months since its full launch, WMC has nearly doubled its network to 1,800 members. None are obligated to participate in the affiliate program, Mackinlay stressed, as the primary goal of the service is to increase search engine visibility.    

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