SyCara founder Fionn Downhill believes one of the barriers to adoption of search engine optimization (SEO) is the fact that the industry still needs to remove the sense of mystery about how it works. The people making the decisions to deploy the marketing strategy aren't interested in the technical side. They just want to hear about the return on investment and how to bring in more sales. "It's real complicated stuff that goes on behind the scenes," she says.
About 11% of online budget goes toward SEO, Downhill says, and raises doubt that in 2011 the market share will even tip 15%. She doesn't believe SEO will hit higher adoption rates until folks find a way to remove the geekiness.
Downhill points to social media adoption rates and insists the ROI pales in comparison with SEO. Marketers don't want a list of what needs to be done. They want an expert to tell them how to solve the problem. So, the former Search Engine Marketing Professional Organization (SEMPO) board member hired some SEO specialist who understand the process to code a suite of features for an SEO tool she calls SyCara (pronounced si-car-a).
Downhill and her team at Elixir Interactive began developing SyCara's suite of SEO tools two years ago when they saw SEO professionals were reticent about using SEO because they perceived it too difficult to implement, given the current tools available.
The tool features site analysis, ranking, traffic analysis, site auditing, and workflow and process management. An email alert provides a warning if someone makes a change that has an adverse influence on the SEO strategy. The tool also integrates into an analytics platform. In fact, it's Downhill's dream SEO tool she tells me. Built and coded by SEO professionals for SEO professionals.
Although complexities exist, companies expect to spend 43% more on SEO in 2010 than they did in 2009, according to SEMPO.
SyCara, in beta development, has early stage funding from private investors, including Tallwave, and Stuart Larkins, Managing Partner of Twin Capital and former SVP of search at Performics and DoubleClick.