Manick Bhan is the Founder and CEO of LinkGraph, a full-service digital marketing agency that provides SEO services and growth marketing to hundreds of brands. He is also the Founder and CTO of SearchAtlas, the most comprehensive SEO software suite for site owners, digital marketers, and SEO professionals.
With over a decade of experience in Search Engine Optimization (SEO) for in-house and agency projects, Manick has taught startups and Fortune 500 companies how to scale with a data-driven SEO strategy to penetrate any market effortlessly and create sustainable growth. He was also the Founder, CTO, and CEO of Rukkus (TickPick acquired the brand).
Here’s a glimpse of what you’ll learn:
- [03:22] Manick Bhan talks about LinkGraph and its major offerings
- [04:36] LinkGraph’s ideal client profile
- [06:56] How SearchAtlas benefits the users?
- [10:47] Why did Manick decide to create custom SEO software?
- [15:48] How did Manick get into the tech industry?
- [17:58] The challenges faced during the early days of Rukkus
- [25:51] Tips for creating good business partnerships
- [27:14] The acquisition of Rukkus and life after exit
- [31:22] Manick’s thoughts about fundraising and bootstrapping
- [32:48] Customer success stories
- [37:08] What tools and software Manick prefers?
In this episode…
Do you wish to become a successful entrepreneur in the technology industry? What can you learn from a flourishing leader who has successfully built more than one SEO firm in the space?
Thriving in the tech industry can be a challenging but rewarding experience. According to Manick Bhan, you need a clear understanding of the market, an innovative approach, and a willingness to continuously learn and adapt to changes in the industry. He shares his journey building multiple tech-focused businesses and the challenges he had to overcome to establish a strong reputation in the industry.
Listen to this episode of the Inspired Insider Podcast with Dr. Jeremy Weisz featuring Manick Bhan, Founder and CEO of LinkGraph. Manick talks about his journey building LinkGraph and SearchAtlas, their ideal client profiles, building Rukkus to its acquisition point, and thoughts about fundraising and bootstrapping.
Resources mentioned in this episode:
- “[Top Agency Series] Growth Through Acquisitions – What is Your KPI and Northstar? With Jason Swenk” on Inspired Insider
- “[Top Agency Series] Navigating a Merger and Becoming an End-to-End Digital Partner With Kevin Hourigan of Spinutech” on Inspired Insider
- “Building a Great Team and More Helpful Insights with Jason Swenk Host of The Smart Agency Master Class Podcast” on Inspired Insider
- “[Top Agency Series] Most Valuable Advice When Selling Your Agency With Todd Taskey of Potomac Business Capital” on Inspired Insider
Sponsor for this episode
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Rise25 Cofounders, Dr. Jeremy Weisz and John Corcoran, have been podcasting and advising about podcasting since 2008.
Insider Stories from Top Leaders & Entrepreneurs…
You are listening to Inspired Insider with your host, Dr. Jeremy Weisz.
Jeremy Weisz 0:22
Dr. Jeremy Weisz here founder of inspiredinsider.com where I talk with inspirational entrepreneurs and leaders today is no different. I’ve Manick Bhan of LinkGraph and SearchAtlas. And Manick, before I formally introduce you, I always like to point out other episodes, people like to check out that they should check out of the podcast. We were actually talking for a second about Jason Swenk. Jason Swenk. I did two episodes with him actually. One is I built his agency up to eight figures and sold it and the second is kind of his next stage of life, which is he’s buying up agencies and he’s also has a great mastermind group for agencies as well. I had a see. Kevin Hourigan was a good one. He’s been an agency owner, Manick since 1995. And so it was interesting to hear the evolution of his services, his company and the industry in general. He runs Spinutech, and Todd Taskey is another good one, or he kind of pairs agency with private equity, and help sell agencies and he has a Second Bite Podcast. So he’s found that some of these agencies make more on the second bite than they do on the first we will talk about Manick’s journey of selling one of his companies too. So this will be interesting conversation so that many more on inspiredinsider.com This episode is brought to you by Rise25. At Rise25. We help businesses give to and connect to their dream 100 relationships and partnerships. And how do we do that we actually help you run your podcast we’re an easy button for a company to launch and run a podcast we do strategy accountability and the full execution and production around a podcast. Manick, we call ourselves kind of magic elves that run around in the background to make sure that the host looks great, and it’s easy and they could have great conversations and run their business. For me, the number one thing in my life is relationships. And I’m always looking at ways to give to my best relationships. I found no better way over the past decade to profile that people and companies I most admire and share with the world, what they’re working on. So if you’ve thought about podcasting, you should if you have questions, you can go to rise25.com and I am excited to introduce Manick Bhan. He’s the founder and CEO of LinkGraph. LinkGraph is a digital marketing firm that helps agencies and enterprise brands scale through data-driven SEO. And Manick has been a member of the Inc 5000. He’s winner of Trump’s search awards. He’s also the creator of SearchAtlas, which is an SEO automation platform used by 1000s of brands and agencies. He’s also been a keynote speaker in DC conferences, Affiliate Summit traffic and conversion and many more. And Manick, thanks for joining me.
Manick Bhan 3:10
Great to be with you.
Jeremy Weisz 3:11
So just start off with LinkGraph and what you do. And then we’ll kind of talk about SearchAtlas and the differences there.
Manick Bhan 3:22
Sure, so LinkGraph, we are a full-service digital marketing firm with a heavy focus on SEO. And today we power over 500 agencies and brands globally. We do that with our own proprietary software that our team has been developing over the last five years called SearchAtlas, we now have over 10,000 active users using the platform and growing. And that technology includes everything from link-building outreach tools to keyword research tools to content optimization software, competitor gap analysis tools, and much, much, much more. And LinkGraph is the firm that actually helps brands and agencies implement the technology and brings to bear our know-how in the space and our playbooks for firms that are just looking for the technology and access to it itself. That’s you can find on searchatlas.com. And if you’re looking for help, and you’re not sure exactly where to go, I would recommend going to LinkGraph first and reach out to someone on the team. And we can help you guys get set up.
Jeremy Weisz 4:29
So who’s a good fit for LinkGraph? And who’s a good fit for SearchAtlas?
Manick Bhan 4:36
Yeah, LinkGraph, I would say brands that are looking to figure out how to scale their SEO, especially in really competitive niches where they’re just getting their start or maybe they’ve got their seed round or their Series A round and they’re trying to figure out how to take on the glides in their space. Or they’re having challenges figuring out how do they actually see their SEO in a really concrete data-driven specific way and actually get those hockey stick charts. We work with a ton of enterprise brands, companies such as the Olympics, Shutterfly, Procter and Gamble e-commerce brands like Serena and Lily, and many others. So brands like that are a great fit for us. We also work with a ton of agencies. So agencies that offer SEO to their clients and are looking for a scalable way to get more links, build more authority builds more results for their clients. And also just help them with building good reporting tools to show clients the ROI from the SEO work that they’re doing. And we will set up search Allison use it and ultimately train the agencies and the brands and how to use the technology so that they can get the most out of it as well. So that’s what I’d say about LinkGraph. We do offer managed SEO campaigns, for brands and agencies, we offer pure-play link building packages, we offer technical SEO Services, we offer reputation management, and also really scalable and cost-effective local SEO campaigns. And with any managed campaign, we actually guarantee you will get results because we’ve just been doing this for such a long time now that we feel really confident in our ability to guarantee that our customers will actually see results as a result of just the approach that we take in our playbooks and the technology that we use.
Jeremy Weisz 6:37
Yeah, and you can see here, if you’re watching the video piece, if you’re just listening to the audio, there is a video out there. And you can see we’re actually on LinkGraph and there’s managed SEL, there’s link building as local SEO is technically SEO, all those options on the SearchAtlas side, who’s ideal?
Manick Bhan 6:56
On the SearchAtlas side. Yeah, so SearchAtlas is a great tool, if you’re an agency and you already have your own approaches to link building and a lot of the other services that I described and you feel confident that your team has it under wraps. Or if you’re a brand and you’re doing those activities in-house and you feel really confident about your approaches. SearchAtlas can still be a great help and benefit to you. The platform includes backlink analysis software, content optimization technology, the ability to track every keyword your site ranks for on a daily basis, which is still much more powerful than other tools like SEMrush and Ahrefs. Which track rankings on a periodic basis between every, let’s say 14 days to 60 days. And I think what a lot of people really love about the toolkit is our new auto SEO AI recommendation engine, which actually puts together all the tools in the platform and just tells you, these are the things you need to do. So if you’re a team and you’re kind of struggling to figure out like let’s say you’re the head of like a digital marketing team. And you’ve got a team underneath you have content strategists of web developers that work on the website of PR and outreach professionals that actually try to go and get your brand. LinkedIn mentioned on the internet, this toolkit will actually give that team recommendations and tasks that they can implement every single week, and benchmarks your performance as you use the tools. And as you follow the recommendations, they’ll actually track and show you the momentum and the SEO crescendo, if you will, that you’ll get out of using it, it works really well. We use it on all of our clients. And it really helps with some of those really nuanced, nitty gritty, SEO, very technical things that you would need someone to kind of go through your data with a fine tooth comb, the AI does a great job of finding that information and filtering out all the information that’s not relevant and just servicing key actionable recommendations. A lot of people really love that tool. But if you’d like a walkthrough, you’d like to get a more kind of comprehensive look at the toolkit, feel free to schedule a demo, you can hit that button right there in our nav. And we’re happy to walk you through the toolkit and help you figure out how your team or your agency can make best use of it.
Jeremy Weisz 9:25
Like, creating a software is a big undertaking, right. I mean, you started off an agency you sold it. Then you started another and you started create software. So I’m curious of why. Because you could have been like, listen, this is a pain. We have to create a whole team around it. We have to it’s a lot of work. Let’s just cobbled together let’s just use what’s out there. And why did you make the decision to create your own and you can see if you’re looking at this I love how you kind of visually display this so of anyone who’s for their company, how they do their pricing, table or whoever it is, it’s kind of take a look at SearchAtlas and what they do. And because it shows, it’s cool how you just show and build the value of one tool and replacing it. So I love the psychology and everything that you do on this page. So you could check it out, because he has replaces what tools or replaces the features. And then what the cost is, obviously, when you add that up what other tools are using, because we know that Monica, but we don’t tools, but we don’t mentally in our head, kind of add them all up in our head. So I kind of liked how you display this, but why go out and create your own software.
Manick Bhan 10:47
Now, why did I lose my hair building all this? For sure. Yeah. So well, the simple answer is when we started this project, it actually began as a research project. It began by studying Google’s patterns going through the scientific literature on how search engines work, so that we could really started thinking like Google thinking like a search engine, and thinking about the problems that they have to solve in a way that’s sort of empathetic to what it means to be Google, not a lot of people think about Google and think, Oh, hey, let’s empathize with them. But that was sort of our hat that we put on is like, let’s think about the issues they’re trying to solve. And from that place, figure out what do we need to do as practitioners to give them what they’re looking for. And that resource journey led us to understand their ranking factors in a really, really meaningful way. And the way that I would just summarize that those years of research is Google really breaks down the ranking factors into four quadrants, the ranking factors that are in until authority, authority is basically like the backlink profile of the website, the brand signals, the historical data that they have on the domain to see how long people spend on the site, what their engagement patterns are, that is all relevant to building the authority profile of the domain in Google’s eyes. That is a huge ranking factor, probably the most important one. The second one that’s really important, is content. That would include the blog posts you have on your website, the landing pages, the services you offer, the way you describe those services, the facts you have on your website, the information that you’re presenting to readers, your topical relevance, which is how wide your content is able to appeal to what a searcher may be looking for the depth, which is in how great of a depth, are you actually discussing the topics that you want to rank for Google studying all of that now. And that’s become a really significant way that they ascribe what was sort of termed as knowledge-based trust of a domain, the content signals are really important. And we’ve got software that really addresses that for Google, and helps you boost that for pages. Then we’ve got technicals, which would be like your on site, you’re crawling the links on the website, all the little more technical nuances to how the server set up and things like that. And then also the signals that the page experience signals. So how long people stay on the page? What are they doing on the site? How often are they clicking through from page to page. And so all of those confluence of factors is really the full dimension of SEO, when we started, we realized that the toolkit that we were using, we were using all these competitor tools that you see on there, including SEMrush, Ahrefs, Moz, our bill was like three $4,000 a month and just software to get all these tools under one umbrella. But what we discovered is those tools didn’t do what the patent was really talking about, there were aspects of what the pattern was referring to that we realized, these tools were incomprehensible. And so we had to build new tools. And they’re also not always tools that could help us study things like content depth, and, and topical relevance and topical authority. There are no tools that currently do that on the market, as far as I’m aware, besides what we’ve developed, or tools that help do outreach for link-building purposes at massive scale. So it was just a big gap that we saw. And we started building them one by one, based on what was taking our firm the most time. So we basically were able to offer our services to our clients at a cheaper and cheaper and cheaper price point and at a higher scale and take on much larger engagements. So for context, my first startup Rukkus, which I sold six years ago, the entire authority profile that we built to that domain over the course of five years of hard work, we can now build in one month. That’s the kind of acceleration that the technology has enabled us to get to. So yeah, and we just kind of kept going and going with the platform to really service our clients and our agency’s clients, or partner agencies, clients, I mean, in the best way possible.
Jeremy Weisz 15:23
I want to talk about why you started Rukkus. Because when I look at your journey, you have an unconventional path, right? I look at your journey, right? Duke, your neuroscience and chemistry, I look at them like, oh, he’s good prepping to be a doctor, or something. I don’t know. As that time, what were you thinking you wanted to do?
Manick Bhan 15:48
Back in college, yeah, in college, you hit the nail on the head at the time, I sort of envision my path going into medicine. And I think actually, like, starting to pursue that path, I realized it wasn’t the right one for me. And I’m really glad that I didn’t end up going down that in that direction, it would not have been the right fit for me, I’m terrible with blood by sea blood, I start to faint. So would have been a really bad fit for that.