BrightEdge gets $12.6M for search/social optimization

Intel Capital leads round; Battery Ventures, Altos Ventures, Illuminate Ventures join

Financial trends and news by Bambi Francisco Roizen
March 15, 2012
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Despite the fact that people are discovering more information through social or business networks (e.g. I'm constantly discovering market research from people sharing on Vator), billions of people are still going on search engines to find things. 

The question is: What's the best way to be found on both without having to take a megaphone and scream in someone's ear? An effective, but not-so-ideal-and-scalable tactic.

One company helping corporations with optimization for both organic search and social is five-year-old BrightEdge, which announced Thursday that it's raised $12.6 million in a Series C round of funding, led by Intel Capital, and existing investors, Battery Ventures, Altos Venture and Illuminate Ventures participating as well. This brings the total round of funding to $21.8 million.

Since 2007, BrightEdge has focused mainly on search-engine optimization, a much smaller market than search-engine-marketing. Search engine marketing is a $15 billion business, whereas the addressable market for organic search is $2.5 billion, said Jim Yu, founder and CEO of BrightEdge, in an interview with me.

Yet organic results typically yield a lot more click-throughs to companies. "Studies show that roughly 75-80% of the clicks go to the organic side [vs the paid side]," said Yu. Therein lies the opportunity in organic-search marketing, Yu added. Basically, it's a lot more effective, but people don't spend as much on it.  

That's mainly because many companies have focused on the paid search side. Few, like Conductor and BrightEdge, have focused solely on organic search.

But BrightEdge has taken its expertise one step further by broadening its focus to include social, since last year.  

"We see convergence in the channels - both search and social," said Yu. "Now with Google's "Search across your world," the social presence is part of what you're doing in search as well." Google's new feature, announced in January, pulls in what you or your network have shared on Google+.

With the search and social worlds colliding, BrightEdge works with large enterprises to help them become found on organic search results as well as on Facebook and Twitter feeds. Unlike Marin Software, Efficient Frontier and smaller players, like Trada, that focus on helping companies found through paid search and sponsored feeds, BrightEdge specifically focuses on helping companies be found on organic search and organic feeds. 

Basically, the company pitch is: If you're selling a product, you need to optimize it so it can be found through organic search engines, or on social networks. And, we can help you do that. 

So far, so good. The start-up now has 2000 brands it works with, up 400% from last year. Those brands include Facebook, Twitter, Symantec, Microsoft, and Twitter, to name a few. 

Without getting into the nitty-gritty of how BrightEdge works, here's a simple example of what a customer can expect.

Let's say you're selling a new ergonomic mouse, Yu explained. For search engines, you might make sure you have the right meta data, description and headline. For Facebook, you have to make sure you have the right title or image that shows up on a feed. But these titles or headlines shouldn't be the same, said Yu. For example, for search engines, you might make the title: "Ergonomic mouse - Company ABC, Inc." That same page optimized for Facebook, would include a title that is more of a question, like "What would you like in your ergonomic mouse?" 

BrightEdge charges its customers on a subscription basis, based on a number of factors, such as pages, keywords or business units a company has. It measures its success on a number of variables, such as click-throughs, purchases, likes, and overall brand awareness. 

(Image source: officialblog.yelp)

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