Two Cats, A Frog and A Software…
I would like to share a software’s story and predictions for 2016 about SEO. I made an interview with Screaming Frog’s co-founder and director Dan Sharp.
Thanks for the interview… Here we are!
Hello there Dan!,
Thanks for inviting me to take part in your interview series.
-Who is Dan Sharp?
I’m the founder and Director of Screaming Frog, a search marketing agency in the UK who develop the Screaming Frog SEO Spider software.
We love to develop software which solves problems for SEO. But we are also an agency, so we work with a variety of brands worldwide on their digital marketing.
Away from the office, I have a 10-month old daughter who keeps me busy, and I rather like football, as a gooner (an Arsenal fan).
-How can you tell and describe Screaming Frog’s history? Do you have memorable times, notes?
Screaming Frog was founded back in 2010, although myself and my fellow Directors have all been in the industry for a lot longer.
At the time, I was working as a freelance SEO Consultant (after years at an agency) and started working under the (slightly weird) name ‘Screaming Frog’, which was inspired by a frog that stood up for itself after being cornered by a couple of cats in my garden. Yes, they really do scream, and it scared the cats off!
At the time development had began on a crawling tool dubbed the ‘SEO Spider’, to help with various internal SEO projects. The idea was to develop an SEO focused crawler, which would gather data to allow us as SEOs to make better decisions when performing a technical audit or onsite review. Not too long after, I met up with a couple of old colleagues and friends (the former owner and Director) of my previous agency, and we decided to work together again turning Screaming Frog into a unique search agency.
By the end of the year, we decided to release the Screaming Frog SEO Spider publically, to see if SEOs liked it as much as us interally. The response and support we received from the SEO community was, and continues to be amazing.
Fast forward five years, we have an awesome team of around thirty, a mixture of marketers, developers and creatives, all based in Henley-on-Thames in the UK. We get to work with some very cool clients developing their search strategies, and building software for the industry.
-Screaming Frog is one of the most know SEO Tools. SaaS products, online tools are very popular but Screaming Frog is desktop software. How can you describe Screaming Frog’s success?
I just think we built software that solved common problems we were experiencing internally as SEOs, and many others were in the industry.
I think what’s made the Screaming Frog SEO Spider popular is that we understand our users needs, as we internally are SEOs as well. We also really listen to our users, not many businesses actually do that, despite all saying they do.
SaaS web apps are all the rage and have distinct advantages over desktop software, but equally they have disavantages as well. In the same way there are pros and cons of desktop applications as well.
The advantage of the SEO Spider is that it’s lite, fast and extremely flexible. It updates in realtime, allows to to view, sort and search data instantly. I also don’t think you can beat the value for money, while we’ve improved the tool significantly over 5 years, we’ve not once increased the price.
We love to update regularly with cool new features, in particular our web scraping functionality with xPath (or CSS Path / Regex) has been popular, as well as Google Analytics and Search Console integration to provide more insight.
-What should we think and understand about last algorithm updates (Quality and Core Update) and handle with Screaming Frog?
Google are obviously improving their algorithms significantly to get a better understanding about what brands users expect to see, and which they like and dislike in the search results.
User experience and user signals have always been important, but even more so now as you can’t have a really poor experience and sustain organic visibility.
The SEO Spider can help understand user signals, as it’s now integrated with Google Analytics and Search Console. This means you can map on-page elements with user data, such as sessions, bounce rates, or goal conversions, transactions, revenue and page value when performing technical or content audits.
We and our users have found this particularly useful for Panda and content quality cases in particular. You can read more about this in our release notes for version 4.0, although we are now on version 5.1 with lots of other new features.
-What are your predictions for digital marketing and SEO in 2016?
Like always, we’ll just see an evolution of current trends, I don’t see anything ground breaking that will change. User and search experience and standing out from the crowd will be more important than ever. If you just want to do the same as everyone else, you’ll struggle to survive.
App indexing will be important over the next year, while there’s no doubt Google will push speed (AMP) and security (HTTPS) heavily with plenty of PR.
What’s also going to be very interesting this year is the development of two key algorithms over the past five years, Panda and Penguin. Both have been very successful (particularly Panda), but it’s obvious Google had been having big problems internally with them both growing into 800-pound gorillas. We keep hearing Panda is now ‘baked into the core algo’, and from what we’ve seen over the past 6-months, it’s changed. The wait between updates of Penguin has been frankly embarrassing over the past couple of years, so the impact of this moving to ‘real time’ (which I doubt really will be that real time) should be pretty significant.
-Do you have plans for Screaming Frog in suprising way? Coming soon?
We do. We should have something to announce within the next month.
Unfortunately I can’t say more than that, but it’s an idea we’ve had internally for years, and I can’t wait to share it, as it should make SEOs lives easier.
-Who to follow?
There’s lots of smart SEOs, but less that share really valuable insights. A couple I recommend following are Glenn Gabe (https://twitter.com/glenngabe) who shares lots of valuable data around algorithm updates (particularly Panda, ‘Phanton’ and quality content related updates) and Bill Slawski for all things on patents and semantic web (https://twitter.com/bill_slawski).
You can follow me on Twitter @screamingfrog, too.
You said you’re Arsenal fan. So you know Mesut Özil :) What do you think about him? Do you know any Turkish football clubs?
Of course, Özil is the best player in England right now and in my opinion should be a contender for player of the year. He’s been on another level.
It took him a little time to adapt to the league, but over the last year he has been absolutely world class. He’s a unique, incredible skill, but his vision and weight of the final ball is probably the best I have seen. I think he has more assists than anyone in Europe and he’s starting to score goals more now, too J. Arsenal fans love him.
I don’t know a huge amount about Turkish football, but I know Fenerbache, Galatasaray, Besiktas from seeing some of them in Europe over the years. Gala obviously have Podolski who played for Arsenal for a couple of years! I know Özyakup as well, as he came through our academy.
Thanks for having me Metehan!