SEO Grades for Business Week’s Top 25 Young Entrepreneurs

MIHMORANDUM NO. 128 | September 24th, 2008Reader Comments (8)

Librarian Avenger by Librarian Avenger

Last week, Business Week announced its Top 25 Young Entrepreneurs for 2008. The “youngsters” (they’re all younger than I by at least a year) featured by Business Week have started some pretty neat companies, from a Muslim fashion company to a flavored plastic manufacturer.

Somewhat surprisingly, despite growing up in the online generation, they don’t seem to have much more knowledge of the importance of search engine optimization than older start-up moguls do. Here’s a quick look at all 25 companies with my “grades” of their SEO knowledge.

Note: TBPR stands for “ToolBar PageRank.” Thanks to Todd Mintz for encouraging me to clear that up.

The Grades

ABP Software – TBPR 4. Weak, non-keyword Title Tags, serious duplicate content issues created by URL parameters. They have started a blog, but it’s pretty empty. SEO Grade: D.

Academic Earth – TBPR 0. Two-page website. No keywords in Title Tags. SEO Grade: Incomplete.

PolyFlav – TBPR 0. Title Tags all say “PolyFlav,” which in this case is actually somewhat important since they don’t own the matching URL (it’s ‘addtheflavor.com’ instead). Decent keyword saturation in body copy, however. SEO Grade: D.

Affiliate Classroom – TBPR 5. Unsurprisingly, an affiliate marketing website is one of the better SEO’d examples in this group. Blog lives on the same domain and has some solid content. More deep links to it from the main part of the website might help traffic. SEO Grade: B.

Beverly Hills Mint – TBPR 4. Nice job with internal anchor text; some pages have excellent Title Tags, others are missing them altogether. There are also some site architecture issues but overall this site does a better job than most. SEO Grade: B+.

Big Sky Outdoor Advertising – Weak title tags, but more importantly the site is entirely reliant on images. SEO Grade: D-.

Bleacher ReportTBPR 6. The clear SEO winner of the set. They’re trying to do some nice things with internal anchor text, and their site architecture is pretty excellent. Adding some tag clouds would absolutely help with search traffic, but they’re partnered with CBS Sports and Fox Sports, so their referrals are probably awfully high. SEO Grade: A-.

Campus Live – TBPR 4. Their site architecture is remarkably solid, but their navigation and cookie strategy leaves much to be desired. SEO Grade: C-.

Career ExplorationsTBPR 4. Javascript navigation, identical site-wide Title Tags, header text actually contained in images. SEO Grade: D+.

CML StudiosTBPR 2. Homepage Title Tag really got my hopes up but the rest of the site was a let-down. Do not view this site if you’ve had any caffeine or taurine…your eyes jumping around the page may give you a seizure. SEO Grade: C-.

CoolTronics – TBPR 4. Site uses a splash page and identical site-wide Title Tags. Content is very shallow. SEO Grade: D+.

EDEN Bodyworks – TBPR 3. Blog is a step in the right direction but is hosted on a different domain, and on a sub-domain at that. Overall, decent Title Tags, internal anchor text, and site architecture. If I were grading on a curve, this site would be much higher. SEO Grade: B.

Esoterik EnterpriseTBPR 0. Splash page leading to entirely Flash-contained website. With music. On Autoplay. Yuck. SEO Grade: F-.

Grooveshark – TBPR 6. Solid blog contained in subfolder. Lots of nice video tours which would probably get some decent search traffic if they were transcribed. In general, I’m not sure how much search this site really needs since it’s an audio-focused site. But it’s not bad. SEO Grade: B-.

Intern Bridge – TBPR 5. Javascript navigation and identical site-wide Title Tags. Tons of great content = lots of unrealized potential for this website. SEO Grade: B-.

Johnny CupcakesTBPR 5. Splash page BUT it leads directly to their blog. So it’s not entirely a bad thing. Blog titles are not keyword-focused, though, and Title Tags are lacking throughout the site. SEO Grade: C-.

Knetwit – TBPR 1. Title tags are lacking, especially on the homepage, but they do use tag clouds. Unfortunately all other navigation seems to be search-driven. It’s not entirely clear to me at first glance what this site’s value proposition is… SEO Grade: C-.

Savid Technologies – TBPR 5. Pretty good job with site architecture but Title Tags and internal anchor text leave a lot to be desired. This site could probably do quite well with additional business through search. Lots of opportunity for inbound links from tech-focused websites with a decent blog. SEO Grade: C+.

SchoolRack - TBPR 5. Nice job with telling me exactly what you do right off the bat. Site doesn’t have much opportunity for SEO right now, that I could see. Creating a “Resources for Teachers” section and incorporating a blog could lead to a TON of high-quality incoming links. SEO Grade: B-.

Spanish VinesTBPR 4. Flash website with autoplay music. As much as I enjoy Spanish music, it is a Flash website with autoplay music. SEO Grade: F+.

Studio 28 Couture – TBPR 4. Reasonably unique Title Tags, image-based navigation, and blog is hosted at Blogger currently. BUT, there are only three posts to-date, so now is the time to switch to a WordPress blog hosted on your own domain! Really a neat idea, with a lot of potential for links, traffic, AND customers. SEO Grade: C.

TUV College MarketingTotally image-based, with very poor, identical Title Tags. SEO Grade: D-.

Vesta Mobile - TBPR 4. Site architecture is so-so, but identical Title Tags really cripple this site’s chances to rank well. Homepage Title Tag seems oddly geo-targeted as well. No blog. SEO Grade: C-.

Yodle – TBPR 5. Wow! A Local-Search-related company is featured! Despite a great-looking website with no obvious issues, their missed opporunities in Title Tags and internal anchor text leave a lot to be desired. Also, no obvious blog, which I’m sure would be the focus of numerous incoming links as new features are announced. SEO Grade: B.

Note: Business #25, Ippy’s Islamic Fashions does not yet have a website. SEO Grade: Incomplete.

Conclusion

Only EIGHT of 24 websites made the honor roll, with a B- grade or better, and only ONE of the 24 websites (Bleacher Report) had performed SEO that I was even remotely impressed with. An equal number (eight) sites to those on the honor roll received grades of D or worse! So much for grade inflation in this day and age. :)

EDEN Bodyworks, SchoolRack, Intern Bridge, and Studio28 all have a TON of potential for search traffic and would be fairly easy to market to bloggers and linkerati, in my opinion.

But overall, it is truly remarkable how many of these brilliant entrepreneurs have failed to consider SEO as part of their main business model.

You can vote on who you think should win Business Week’s contest here.

8 Responses to “SEO Grades for Business Week’s Top 25 Young Entrepreneurs”

  1. MiriamEllis says at

    What a neat idea for a post, David. Very cool. Now, take this home and get it signed by your parent or guardian…

    The Muslim fashion site is a neat idea. The flavored plastic…sheesh…soon they’ll be telling us to just eat food-flavored plastic instead of food. I don’t think I want that company to raise their grade.

    Fun post.
    Miriam

  2. Hayden Dell says at

    Very creative post… plan on Sphinning it. Keep up the good work.

  3. Stumble Cult says at

    Muslim fashion site.. huh… for pardhas or what ?

  4. john andrews says at

    Um.. so you are showing evidence that SEO doesn’t matter and isn’t needed?

  5. David Mihm says at

    John, not at all. I am showing this as evidence that quote-unquote “top entrepreneurs” are still largely unaware of the need for SEO. Hence this line in my conclusion:

    “But overall, it is truly remarkable how many of these brilliant entrepreneurs have failed to consider SEO as part of their main business model.”

    My point is that there are still plenty of tech-savvy people, even in my generation, who still don’t “get it.” Imagine how much faster these folks could grow their business if they DID include SEO in their marketing plan…

  6. Allan says at

    How long did it take you to run through this audit? It’s amazing that there is still so much opportunity for SEO as few people and companies have yet optimized it. Most are still unaware of its importance.

  7. David Mihm says at

    Allan, thanks for stopping by. It probably took me a couple of hours to do. I really didn’t spend more than about 5-10 minutes per website; it was pretty obvious in most cases what the major roadblocks for SEO were.

  8. Miami says at

    Great report David I love your site and this is a very interesting post. So far out of the ones I have read on your site this one has really caught my attention. would have taken me alot longer then 5 minutes a site to have evaluated them. but great observations and you have given me a great idea with this post ;)

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