How SEOMoz Forced Us To Innovate

By Dixon Jones May 19, 2011

Hats off to SEOMoz. They have loads of great content and loads of links. Majestic SEO competes with their Open Site Explorer product and whilst we honestly believe that our root data is now stronger and more nimble since we launched our fresh index, they have always been a worthy and noble competitor. This is the story of how Majestic Million came about, thanks to our competitor pushing us into action.

The story starts with link generation tactics. SEOmoz has a great community who are very loyal. It makes immense sense for  SEOmoz to use “I Love SEOMoz” badges as a part of its branding and we at Majestic SEO certainly see people using them. (In fact, all we need to do is to filter image links going to SEOmoz and we have most of them right there).

But what to do when you are competing with a tactic where you are behind? We could not simply replicate this with our own badge, because we are a technology, not a community, and whilst @MajesticSEO is now near 10,000 followers, we doubt that an “I Love Majestic SEO” badge would really add value or stack up. We had to innovate if we wanted a widget based way to expose our brand. This led to a discussion internally about what might be useful to website owners. We wanted a badge – but we had to have one that did something different. Something useful.

The idea of a badge that showed users where your website ranks in the world was born. What if we used all our immense crawl data to give website owners a new tool that they could use to demonstrate their place in the world? One that showed where they ranked in the eyes of all those other websites out there? What if we changed the badge motif so that links become a measure of reputation in their own right?

Such a badge would:

  • Instil trust for people using a site with a badge
  • Create a simple new way to see a website’s reach and importance
  • Give website owners a badge that meant something
  • Was something we were ready to give away for free.

We hope it will be something that SEOmoz users  and other webmasters alike might happily use alongside the SEOmoz badge and add something useful to the world wide web.

Now having an idea is one thing. Implementing it was quite another! What started out as a simple idea rapidly turned into a massive exercise – such is the way when you deal with data at scale. Do the maths on adding a single byte of data to each record in a 3.5 trillion record database. I can say you don’t have enough memory at home and for most of us not in the office either. We had not ranked the billions of websites that we have before. It was not just a case of doing a quick API call on the fly. We had to create a new data set to do this.

To keep it all running at lightening speed, and also to give the badge an air of exclusivity, we limited the list to the top 1 million websites. It is a goal that we can all strive to achieve, but it is not a badge without meaning. If you don’t have enough gravitas on the web, your site won’t get in to the list. You can go and check if your domain (or any one else’s) is in the list here.

Once we had the list, we could work on creating a simple widget that let you put a badge on your own site (if it qualified for the Majestic Million) and we have now created a simple widget that gives you the code to do so. Since the data is updated all the time, your rankings will go down as well as up, so the win for us is that we hope it will encourage users to check the numbers regularly.

But now we had found a way to build a badge widget that might actually be useful, we also found ourselves with a database of 1 million of the best websites, ranked in order.  We found that this had other uses and before we launched the badge, we decided to build an entire interface to support the badge idea, so that the data had a commercial application too, allowing people to easily compare sites within a vertical and see how there backlinks profile is changing day by day – and with it their rankings. These Buzz Tables are like a stock market ticker for links.

So thank you SEOmoz for providing us with some competition. It may have been harder to produce than we initially envisaged when we decided to make it free – but that’s living proof that competition inspires innovation.

Get our shiny new badge here.

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