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Just a day after BrightEdge announced tools to help companies increase their prominence on search engines like Google, another startup called Conductor is launching SearchLight, a “search engine optimization (SEO) operating system” with very similar goals.

New York City-based company was founded in 2005, and it already offers services and tools for improving search rankings, but SearchLight is its big product launch. The company said it has been developing SearchLight for two years, and that 30 large, enterprise-sized customers have been testing it for the past nine months, most notably engineering conglomerate Siemens.

I talked to chief executive Seth Besmertnik about SearchLight yesterday, and his pitch was remarkably similar to BrightEdge’s. Both companies argue that improving a businesses’ ranking in normal search results is much more important for traffic and revenue than buying ads alongside those results, yet companies usually spend much more money on paid search advertising than on SEO, and they have sophisticated tools to manage those ad campaigns. Building tools that give companies the same control over their SEO is “the holy grail of online marketing,” Besmertnik said.

Here is Conductor’s list of SearchLight features:

  • Easy-to-use dashboard for instant visibility into a brand’s SEO status as well as its competitors – Searchlight constantly crawls the web for metrics surrounding customers’ competitive landscapes
  • “SIPE Scores” that continuously measure the success of a brand’s SEO over time, including real-time updates when scores go up or down
  • Scientific analysis around hundreds of data points explaining the causes and effects of a brand’s success in SEO
  • Real-time recommendations for improving natural search rankings – ranging from quick fixes to long-term strategies
  • Prioritization of next steps – recommendations and instructions on how to make the quickest impact
  • Unlimited number of users per account.

When I asked about SearchLight’s advantages over the competition, Besmertnik emphasized the fact that it doesn’t just give companies a big mass of data, but offers specific recommendations about how to improve ranking on certain keywords, backed up by data on how those changes will pay off. He added that every one of SearchLight’s early users is a paying customer, including Siemens — in contrast to BrightEdge, which is providing its services to MySpace for free, Besmertnik said.

(BrightEdge chief executive Jim Yu said that’s “completely false”: “MySpace is a paying customer of BrightEdge and has been a paying customer from day one. In fact, all of BrightEdge’s customers including VMware, MySpace, Symantec, Trulia and Branders are paying customers.”)

So why are the two companies launching within a day of one another? It’s possible that it’s a coincidence. It’s also possible that one company got wind of the competition’s plans and tried to upstage them. Either way, businesses looking to improve their SEO now have two options that they didn’t a few days ago.

Conductor has raised $12.5 million in funding from Matrix Partners and FirstMark Capital.


Conductor Searchlight – Take Control from Conductor on Vimeo.

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