My first day at WordStream was three years ago today. A lot has changed since I started this job. For example, this is how our PPC software looked in 2009:
Check out the column headings in that “Keyword Group Segmenter”:
I’d tell you what they mean, but I don’t remember I don’t think I knew what they meant in the first place. o_O
Luckily, at some point we figured out that prospects and customers wouldn’t understand that stuff either. We have completely overhauled our UI in the past year or so, and here’s what the software looks like now:
Much, much better, right? It helps that we have a (stellar) user experience designer on our team! When I started, the design of the product was up to our engineers. We wouldn’t be here without our great engineers (some of whom have been around even longer than me!), but thank God for Tara DiMaggio.
What else is different? Here’s just a smattering of the changes I’ve witnessed:
- We have a real office. We went from a Panera to a sea of empty soda cans to the fancy office space we currently occupy, which we are very quickly outgrowing!
- We have a blog. And you’re looking at it! I’ve written over 300 blog posts here. Guess I average about 100 per year!
- We have a much more robust executive team. More VPs with more experience. An advisory board too!
- We dabble freely in the freemium model. It started with a keyword tool. Now we have several keyword tools as well as the AdWords Performance Grader.
- We provide services. No longer just a product company.
- We’re, well, better. I’m not going to lie, we’ve been through some dark times. I remember a month that we lost more customers than we gained. I don’t have an MBA, but I’m pretty sure that’s bad business. Luckily those times are behind us; we’ve been beating our goals consistently for months.
There’s one thing I do miss – we used to have a weekly company meeting every Monday, and the CEO would bring in lunch. That was possible because with 10 or 15 people in the office, we all fit around a conference table, and we could afford to feed everyone! Now we don't even have enough desks to go around. All this glorious empty space along the window?:
Empty no longer.
When Is a Startup Not a Startup?
The question is, are we still a startup? There are differing opinions on that. Some say you’re not a startup anymore after a year. Others say you’re only a startup until you’re profitable, or until you IPO, or get acquired by Google. I still tell people that I work at a software startup, but many would disagree. What do you think?
Incidentally, I just googled “when are you not a startup anymore” and got a first-page result called “30 Signs You’re a Booty Call” – which appears to rank because Google is interpreting “booty” as a synonym for “startup”:
Google has changed a lot in the past three years too, and not necessarily for the better, but that’s a topic for another post …
Web Marketing Highlights
Google rolled out a new algorithm update this week, in an attempt to address “black hat webspam” (AKA over-optimization). Glenn Gabe wonders if exact-match domains will be punished by the new algorithm update.
Also this week, Google rolled out AdWords for video and Google Drive, a Dropbox competitor.
Bill Slawski reports that Bing might be working on its own version of Search Plus Your World.
Is Google+ dead? Aaron Lee argues that any social network is worthless if you don’t dedicate time to it. (“Some of my post gets better visibility and engagement than Facebook. That is because my network on Google+ is more targeted while my Facebook is more towards friends and acquaintances. Whenever I share something more personal, it has better engagement.")
Avinash Kaushik says you are what you measure, so choose your KPIs wisely.
Internal links: the other links! Former WordStreamer Ken Lyons has nine tips for developing a killer internal linking structure.
Viperchill breaks down the future of blogging in 11,000 words or so.
Also, check out the post I wrote after I'd been here a year: Seven Things I've Learned in a Year at a Search Marketing Startup. All still true, except maybe for #4 (now that I work from home, I'm usually the first one in my office ...)
Have a great weekend!