‘Dying Industry’ Raises Over $100 Million in 2012 – SEO is Not Dying

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People love doom and gloom, and this is perhaps why so many blog posts and articles this year have pronounced the end of SEO at some point or another. It seems to be all the rage to point out how SEO is somehow no longer reliable or valid, or to whine about how Google is purposefully destabilizing the industry.

In fact, an article on this very site (Do You Believe in These 10 SEO Myths?) recognized the ‘SEO is Dead’ myth as being the #1 rumor around town—and my own reading has more than backed this up. As the author of that article points out though, industry analysts have said this many times before (usually around the same time a new algorithm change is rolled out) and will probably continue to say it for years to come, too.

But in case you’re still worried that SEO is ‘no more’ (perhaps the Mayan’s calendar referred to the end of SEO rather than mankind?), here’s a bit of good news to help put your mind at rest … Read on and you’ll see why I’m confident that SEO has never been stronger.

SEO Companies Raised Over $100 Million in Funding During 2012

While some of the people who work in the SEO industry might have lost faith in the very service they provide, it seems that investors and big businesses haven’t—at least if the impressive amount of funding that SEO companies have managed to raise over this past year is anything to go by. Oh you want some examples? Read on…

Let’s start with the 500 Startups company Ginzametrics which runs an SEO management/analytics platform for enterprises and has raised $1.7 million in seed funding from a number of sources including YC, 500 Startups, Venture51 and various angel investors.

Then there’s BrightEdge, a startup offering similar tools that raised $12.6 million during a round of Series C funding with investments coming from Intel Capital as well as Battery Ventures, Altos Ventures, and more. Conductor, too, again offering a range of tools for measuring SEO ROI and search market share, raised $10 million earlier in 2009, followed by an impressive $20 million during their Series C funding from such backers as Investor Growth Capital, FirstMark Capital, and Matrix Partners.

In other news, SEOmoz in fact even managed to raise $18 million in venture capital this year despite failed attempts at funding during 2009 and 2011, suggesting if anything that things are hotting up rather than cooling down. Not enough for you? Then perhaps the $35 million that Hubspot raised last year from Atlimeter Capital and others will be enough to convince you that SEO isn’t facing any crisis (in fact since 2006 Hubspot managed to raise $100 million on its own).

Meanwhile, although the announcement slightly missed the 2012 cut off point, InfusionSoft (who provide email marketing, e-commerce and social marketing, as well as SEO) made it public on the 7th January of this year that they managed to raise a whopping $54 million in in growth capital funding lead by Goldman Sachs.

Of course, it’s fair to say that this is probably really only the tip of the ice berg. I could go on forever listing success stories…

More Good News

In other good news, according to the 2012 Tech 200—a list compiled by Lead411 to show the startups in technology with the highest revenue percentage growth between 2009-2011—SEO companies were some of the most successful in the industry over that time frame. Included on the list of the most profitable tech companies for that time frame were Marketo, SEOMoz, InfusionSoft, Yodle, and Hubspot.

What All This Means

In other words then, although many bloggers would have you believe that SEO is going through some kind of midlife crisis, the numbers just don’t back up the claim. In fact, looking at the figures the industry is in pretty darn good shape, and even if some ‘SEO Gurus’ are worried about it it looks like the big investors and companies aren’t in the slightest. If these big venture capital firms, angel investors and companies are willing to invest such huge amounts into SEO then I’m willing to bet on it too.

In fact, if anything could threaten the position of the SEO as an industry then it’s probably that very hysteria. Any industry can be considered as a microcosm for an economy and if history has taught us anything it’s that a crisis of confidence is not good for financial stability.

So in other words, stop worrying, stop heralding the apocalypse, and start celebrating. SEO is alive and well. Here’s to another great year!

Jeet Agrawal
Jeet Agrawal is the co-founder of GetLinksPro, a small SEO company working with several top internet marketers and SEO companies. You can follow Jeet on Twitter.
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  • http://www.limekitchenandbathroom.co.uk Lime

    As long as Google and the other search engines offer natural searches, there will be SEO!
    Maybe what we’re seeing is a shakeout of the good from the bad.

    • http://www.GetLinksPro.com/ Jeet

      @Lime: Good point. Optimization is a basic instinct (specially for Engineers) and everyone wants to get the maximum out of given opportunities. No matter how the algorithms change, people will try to “optimize” to get favored by the new versions of the algorithms.

  • http://www.conductor.com Jen Marie Robustelli

    Hi. Thanks for the Conductor mention! Our $10M round was actually much earlier in 2009, not earlier last year. Our record-breaking $20M Series C was announced in October 2012.

    SEO is definitely not dead… 🙂

    • http://www.GetLinksPro.com/ Jeet

      @Jen: Thanks for your comment. I mentioned both funding (I stand corrected that first funding came early on). Your brand’s Google alerts are serving you right 🙂

  • Larry Kim

    The golden age of seo is over. Seo will never be as easy and profitable as it was 5 years ago.

    • http://www.GetLinksPro.com/ Jeet

      @Larry: On the contrary, this is the golden age for SEO where more and more businessmen understand the ‘need for SEO’. A lot of my clients have started understanding that spammy methods may work in short term but they need to do something better to get long term benefits. Things may not be perfect but I am sure they are improving slowly.

  • Richard Barrington

    I believe in the usefulness of SEO, but $100 million in venture capital raised is not an impressive figure – it represents less than four-tenths of one percent of the total US venture capital investment for 2012, according to data from the National Venture Capital Association.

    • http://www.GetLinksPro.com/ Jeet

      @Richard: Good point, this does give a new perspective to numbers I have presented here. But, if you look at the numbers again, you would realize that SEO is ‘basically’ a service industry with no ‘HUGE’ players. There are a LOT of small and medium size service providers. We don’t raise external funding (my business was bootstrapped). Most of this funding is raised by a minority called SEO tool / SEO software companies. If you keep that in mind these numbers start looking awesome again.

  • Jeff Glackin

    I’ve noticed at least in the Automotive industry the ones pronouncing it dead aren’t very good at SEO to begin with, use automated SEO, or don’t offer it at all and use the doom and gloom as a way to promote their own offerings. Great post. Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

  • http://www.johnok.co.uk John OK

    Here in the UK SEO seems to be growing more and more and businesses are recognizing their need of SEO which can be seen in job postings and general demand from businesses. SEO has changed over the last couple of years but it’s definitely not dead, it’s alive and kicking.

    • http://www.GetLinksPro.com/ Jeet

      @John: I agree that more businesses (in general) are waking up to the power of internet (thanks partially to Facebook for creating the hype). Once they get hooked they do realize importance of organic traffic and that benefits SEO industry.

      Job postings – that could be a new angle for a post 🙂

  • http://blog.hubspot.com Mike Volpe – CMO @ HubSpot

    SEO is not dying at all. It is changing and evolving to become more holistic and IMHO becoming more about social, more about content… more about inbound marketing. Obviously the days of keyword stuffing are long gone, as are the days of making some on-page technical tweaks and getting huge results. The importance of content and social and conversion cannot be underestimated, and will only increase in their impact on SEO going forward. The best SEOs know this and are adapting to the trend. Let’s take SEOMoz as an example. They have acquired a social media company (FollowerWonk) and Rand routinely talks about inbound marketing at conferences and even has a side project working on the Inbound.org community website. I welcome with open arms the SEO community as part of the inbound marketing community, because too many inbound marketers are not analytical enough or data driven enough, and the SEO folks are typically strong on those attributes. Having more SEOs think about inbound marketing will help everyone.

    • Jeet

      @Mike: Thanks for your response. I don’t agree to your comment about inbound marketing community not being data driven. If there is an industry that does a lot data analysis, it’s inbound marketing industry. You HAVE to go through a lot of data to generate sensible (and sensational) reports. I hope soon we won’t be talking about inbound marketing and SEO as two different industries 😉