Founder Spotlight: Dan Clarke of disruptient

The disruptient in the Search Engine Optimization industry.

By Vincent Pacheco

Let’s face it. Search engines like Google, Yahoo and Bing compose god-like machines with people on the internet serving as its gears of expansion. In this digitalized age, billions and billions of people religiously adorn search engines with questions believing that it can answer everything. Maybe it can. In the digital age we live in, more and more people find it as an answer to pressing economic needs as the internet provides lucrative sources of livelihood though blogging, writing, website management and the like. One overlooked source of funds is the ever growing Search Engine Optimization industry worth $65 billion.

And riding this wave of opportunity is Dan Clarke, the CEO and founder of disruptient – a Search Marketing SEO Consultancy Company.


The genesis of disruptient

Dan Clarke founded disruptient in 2015 in Singapore with the goal to bring accountability and integrity to the relatively unmonitored industry. The company strives to provide innovative ways for clients to compete in the market. Dan recounts that the company name comes from the infusion of two words: disruption and orient. He started off as a police officer in England but found life uninteresting and so he went to Germany, then to Dubai, then to Kuala Lumpur. He learned about the SEO industry through colleagues he met in his travel. Also, he also co-founded a company (in Dubai) until finally he decided to settle in Singapore because “that’s where the money is”. To sum it all, he simply states that he “founded his own company and started consulting clients and eventually gaining a reputable clientele, namely Zalora and HSBC.


Intricacies of the Industry

In a nutshell, Search Engine Optimization is a process done by businesses and individuals to increase the rank of their websites. The ideal result of this process is that the website will appear on the first page of any search engine. This leads to increased web traffic and the marketing potential is exponentially increased if the website is ranked higher. Visits to websites automatically equates to money through ad exposure.

Dan elaborates on certain aspects of how the SEO process works as he stresses on the common practice of “link building” and “link buying”. Link building is when a website places its link on other websites as Google takes into account the number of times a website is referenced. This is then factored into a website’s ranking. Naturally, more links equate to higher rankings. Dan also says that link buying occurs when website owners pay other websites to include their link in their website.

He further explains that Google discourages link building and instead believes that with good content, website owners are bound to get more traffic. Google penalizes those who engage in these link schemes by making website lose all their rankings.

Dan says that the implications of these link schemes is that “rankings can now be bought” making web content meaningless. He says that “for now you can get away with it as long as you do it in a smart way, but I will never encourage this as it builds you up for potential penalties”.


Search Engine Optimization in the Philippines.

The practice of link building and buying occurs more in the Philippines due to poor online monitoring and policing by search engines compared to the western countries. Dan Clarke gives an example of how things work here as he says “In the Philippines, what happens is that sponsors pay bloggers a certain amount to post their article about their product with a link back to their sponsor’s website”. Again, Dan discourages this practice here even if this region is unmonitored because Google will eventually notice that you can just buy your rankings and they will be stricter in the future. “It’s a matter of when, not if” according to Dan, and to stop this practice it would take a big south-east Asian company to get penalized”.

The SEO industry is lucrative in the Philippines because of high social media usage, a growing population of self-employed writers and bloggers. With the widespread practice of link building and buying, this makes the Philippines a hotspot for companies seeking to promote their companies through sponsorships of bloggers and writers.

To avoid penalties for bloggers, Dan advises bloggers to tag the external links of the sponsors as “nofollow” so that Google will not count the link to the sponsor’s rankings. This saves the blogger and the sponsor from any issues of breaking Google’s paid linking guidelines.


No Labels Required

Dan stresses that “I am not an Entrepreneur” despite having all the characteristics of one. He paradoxically explains that entrepreneurs are like heroes in that “if you call yourself one, you aren’t one”. He further stresses that people get sucked in the idea of labels when it should not be the case. He never calls himself an SEO expert. Self-promotion through labels as Dan says “destroy the sanctity of the label if he/she cannot live up to it”.

Dan gives his words of advice for those who want to follow his path is “If you have an idea, do it, don’t be afraid to fail, just do it” and that the “best way to learn something is to be wrong about it on the internet”. He stresses that his “advice is to not be afraid to ask people for advice”. Dan learned a lot about the SEO industry this way and that “people will tend to help people who ask for help”. People should not be afraid of asking others for insights and all of these things definitely contributes to one’s development.

Dan Clarke hopes to continue to disrupt the orient with legal innovations in an industry rife with shady practices in link building when companies and individuals should be focusing on making good web content instead of attempting to buying your way up in Google.