The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Start up firm and search no further
- Presidency boy teaches US companies to boost Web visibility for Net gains

With more than one billion pages on the Web vying for your eyes only, it’s a mad numbers game on the Net. And topping a ‘search’ often makes the difference between swim and sink for a site. And cashing in on the craze of small and medium companies to make it to the top of search results on the Net is a city-based start-up.

Sumantra Roy, 24, set out with an investment of Rs 1,500, 30 months ago. His Search Engine Ranking Systems Pvt Ltd is now closing in on the Rs 1 crore mark this fiscal. For the economics graduate from Presidency College, setting up the company in June 2000 was nothing but an “experiment”. Within a week of hosting his site on the web and registering the domain name, Roy got his first client.

Till date, the company has handled over 450 clients — most of them from the US — dealing in a wide variety of products and services, ranging from selling “goats” to “grow-taller” dreams.

“Our clients are primarily small home-based companies, who want higher visibility on the Web. We help them improve their rankings in the search engine results,” explains Roy. The Purna Das Road-based company determines the exact needs of a client by reviewing its business and competitive environment. Research is conducted to select the most effective keywords, with which the HTML source code is modified. “We optimise the client’s site by creating pages that take the client to the top of search results. It enhances their link popularity, resulting in higher traffic and, hence, bigger business volumes,” says Roy.

The aim is to improve rankings of the company sites in 11 search engines, including AltaVista, AOL, MSN, Netscape, Google, Lycos and Yahoo! The charges range between $ 1,499 and $ 3,999, depending on the packages. Search Engine Ranking Systems has also introduced a ‘pay per click’ package to link fee structure to the number of “unique visitors”. Placing a company at the top of the search results is not the end, as the company also takes on the responsibility of “retaining the rank advantage” for clients.

The Search Engine office now has 18 people, with Roy busy chalking out expansion plans, while keeping things simple. “I learnt computers by fiddling around with the machine, which my father gifted me when I was in school. I was always hooked to the Net and while reading Bill Gates’ The Road Ahead, the idea of facilitating companies’ promotion on the Web struck me,” recounts Roy, who did the one-year MBA programme from Indian School of Business (ISB), Hyderabad.

And this is one start-up that is here to stay. “We plan to have a representative in the US to generate more business from there. We are also kicking off our telemarketing initiative,” says the boy from Behala.

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