The Hamilton Spectator
By Lisa Grace Marr
RankHigher.ca happened by accident. Scott and Cameron Wilson, brothers and partners who own eMotion Picture Studios in Burlington, wanted to boost their Google search results a few years ago. They hired a search-engine optimization consultant, paid $15,000 and got zip. So they did it themselves.
They had received some federalprovincial grant money through the SHRED program (scientific research with expanded development), studied video streaming on the Internet and then attacked the problem of getting Google to market businesses better.
They worked on their own website and immediately got results. About 41?2 years ago, a supplier to HD Supply (a spinoff supplying Home Depot contractors) wanted to order 11 videos from eMotion. But there was a catch. The company noticed eMotion’s search engine optimization worked well and they wanted the same thing.“We were so small. That wasn’t part of our business model, we were just doing it for ourselves,” said Scott Wilson. “That order meant a lot to us. He said, ‘I will only give you this order if you do search optimization for our website.’”
An order’s an order. So the team went to work. “We knocked his socks off,” said Wilson. That led to a contract with HD Supply and several large U.S. Firms. “It’s really easy to measure return on investment, that’s why it’s so popular,” Wilson said.
Now, RankHigher.ca is actually a bit bigger than eMotion and the two complement each other. The company grew fast, “maybe too fast,” to 30 people. The recession hit hard late last year, particularly for RankHigher’s big U.S. clients forced into a sudden “austerity program.” Eleven staff were laid off.
The recession also forced a rethinking of the need for marketing. “Smaller business is generally doing better than big business,” Wilson said. He hit the mark with Mike Thorne, head of Just Junk, based in St. Catharines. Thorne saw Wilson give a talk on search-engine optimization at a meeting in Toronto last year and used some of his tips, finding instant success. Thorne wanted to boost his presence on Google to the front page. He hired RankHigher.ca in November and has already seen results.
Wilson is also taking his own advice, revamping the company’s website, reworking search-engine optimization and marketing. “It works, so we’re doing it on ourselves,” he said. “I’m spending more on marketing than ever before because we need to. Not only are we fighting to keep going but, even in a recession, we think we can grow. We need to get our message out that (our clients) can also grow. If they do well, so do we.”