TECH TALK: A startup to help you ace digital marketing

Updated 06 Sep 2020

Email

Brand Overflow CEO Ahmed Qureshi.
Brand Overflow CEO Ahmed Qureshi.

Digital marketing is part art, part science. No matter how refined the product or how engaging the content is, if your page doesn’t appear among the top search results, it becomes a moo point. But that’s not so easy. Making sure the key words are good, the backlinks are in the right place and tags are properly used, and on top of that, tracking it all. To make the process easier, a local startup has ventured into this business.

BrandOverflow.com is a startup operating out of Karachi that offers tools to up your search engine optimisation (SEO) game. It’s quite intuitive to use. From checking your website’s page ranking by specific keywords to tracking all the places your domain has been backlinked, you can do it all. Maybe you want to get a better sense of what keywords to use, learn more about a domain (based on authority, citation flow etc) or just do a simple Search Engine Results Page lookup, there are solutions for that too.

All you have to do is sign up, create a new project, add the website domain along with keywords and get going. The results will show the page rank for each keyword, total search volume and how many of the results lie in top three, five, ten and so on of the searches. The process is similar for other features.

The startup is the brainchild of Ahmed Qureshi, a software architect and growth hacking consultant by profession. “I wanted to do something that merged those two skills — product and marketing — and began to write the code in July 2019,” says the founder. By September, the beta version was ready.

Anyone even remotely familiar with SEO has probably heard of SEMRush and Ahrefs, the two biggest players in the industry making tens (or even hundreds) of millions of dollars annually. Together, they have captured a sizable chunk of the pie, with wide acceptance among marketing professionals and all in all, a great resource for anyone looking to learn more about the field.

That obviously begs the question: how does a newer player fit into this equation? “Their pricing plans begin from $100 a month [and go up to even $1,000 in one’s case] so for someone — like a small e-commerce owner or blogger — just starting out, the cost is steep. On the other hand, our most basic solution is as cheap as $9,” says Qureshi.

But it can’t just possibly be about that alone, right? I mean SEMrush and Ahrefs both have been in business for over a decade now with very refined products and insightful content, and that’s where the competition really pans out. According to the CEO, his toolkit is also better. “Rank and link tracking are common suites for all solutions in the market but we have tried to expand that, with features like our keyword generator, which otherwise requires marketing professionals to undertake a lot of research manually.”

Being a software-as-a-service, Brand Overflow has a subscription plan in place with the basic package worth $9 a month and comes with 50 and 500 tracked keywords and backlinks, respectively. The cost goes up to $39 and $69 for increased usage.

Qureshi quit his job and started out with just around 3-4 months of budget, setting a target to generate at least enough revenue to keep it running. And so far he has shied away from the funding route. “We do need external capital but it has to come from someone that is aligned with our vision.”

Until that happens, the plan is to generate an extra bit of cash by offering limited lifetime subscription deals, which obviously come without diluting ownership and add new users to the list as well. In addition to this, Qureshi has relied on social media websites, such Reddit’s SEO threads, to find more testers for his product and refine it further based on their feedback.

Brand Overflow reportedly has onboarded more than 4,000 users so far, with around two per cent of those as paying customers. But the founder wants to take the latter up to 800 by the end of the year.

On that note, you might be wondering what the opportunity holds? There is absolutely no doubt about the fact that this is a massive industry, with annual size well into hundreds of billions of dollars. Obviously bulk of that comes from the developed countries, so what’s the potential in this part of the country?

“It’s hard to put a number to it but you see most of the SEO work is actually outsourced to agencies and people in countries like Pakistan and India, even if most of the investments are made by players in the US, UK etc. So there obviously is a sizable market for the solution,” Qureshi says.

The writer is member of staff:

m.mutaherkhan@gmail.com

Twitter: @MutaherKhan

Published in Dawn, September 6th, 2020