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Rankd SEO: How to Build and Validate a Backlink Database in Less than a Month

Martins Sulcs
Martins Sulcs
May 1, 2019
Category of startup
Country of startup
Revenue of startups
Interview with a Failed Startup Founder

Rankd SEO: How to Build and Validate a Backlink Database in Less than a Month

Martins Sulcs
Martins Sulcs
May 1, 2019
Category of startup
Country of startup
Cause of failure of the startup

Martin's always been passionate about online marketing. Because he envisioned a huge market opportunity in the field, he decided to build Rankd SEO, an innovative service that provides a unique approach to link building. Let's dive in and see how he managed to validate the idea's potential in 37 days!



Hi Martins! What's your background and what are you currently working on?

Hey! I’m a 30-year old entrepreneur from Latvia (Europe).As my day job, I work as the CEO of a large retail chain that sells alcoholic beverages. But my passion is online marketing.

Exactly one month ago, I launched my newest service called the Rankd SEO backlink database.

Rankd SEO is a unique approach to link-building. I don’t sell links and I don’t offer link-building services. What I do is that I offer step-by-step guides with images on how to create backlinks on hundreds of high-authority websites.

I’ve always liked the idea of a recurring revenue model and that’s why I made Rankd SEO in such a way. You must subscribe to our website to be able to access the database.

Even with our backlink guides, it would take days of non-stop work to build all backlinks in our database. And that’s only if you got one website. That’s why I think the model fits this website.

I’m working on regularly expanding the database in order to have it so large that it wouldn’t be possible to build the links in a month.

What's your backstory and how did you come up with the idea?

The idea was born because I own several websites myself but I hate buying backlinks because you can never know what you’ll get and the links may penalize your site. Also, they cost a lot, and who wants to spend money, right?

Building links on your own is a pain in the ass because it takes a lot of time and effort to build them. The publicly available backlink lists are outdated, broken, and most of the links don't work. What's most important - you don't get the instructions on what to do to build the link.

I’ve never seen anyone doing it, that’s why I thought if I’m building the links myself, I might as well document the process and maybe make some money in the process.

Before I launched Rankd SEO, I already was earning from affiliate marketing and my own info-product sales. In 2018, I launched several info products which have been very successful. I’ve made more than $40,000 with two of my ebooks.

I launched the first book in March 2018. It’s been selling now for a year, and while the sales are not as strong as in the beginning, they are still 4-figures a month.

Since the sales are starting to decline, I was looking for a new income source. That’s when an idea about Rankd SEO was born.

How did you build Rankd SEO?

Over the years, I had already compiled a list of websites where to build backlinks from but it was hard to remember how to build the links on each site since each site is different.

Since I launch new websites every now and then, I have to build new backlinks on a regular basis. Each time I struggle to remember how to build the link on a specific website.

So when the idea of the backlink database was born, I started documenting the process. First of all, I did it for myself in order to build backlinks faster for my future sites.

Even on the day of the public launch of the database, I had no idea whether people would seem to like the idea and would they pay for it.

I priced the service $34.99 a month, $59.99 for three months or $99.99 a year, all of which is subscription-based recurring revenue model.

On the first day of launch, I already received a lot of questions about the database and I even had my first orders.

Here are the results after exactly one month after launching the service:

Rankd SEO Revenue Launch
Rankd SEO Sales and Revenues Stats: 1 month after launch

I’ve earned $2,364 in the first month.

And here are the results after 37 days since launch (at the moment of this interview):

Rankd SEO Revenue 1-month Since Launch
Rankd SEO Sales & Revenues Stats: 37 days after launch

Now, the largest question I have is how many % of the subscribers will use the service for more than a month (recurring revenue). If I’ll be able to keep the customers to use my service for more than a month, then this service has a great future ahead.

That’s why I’m adding new guides on a regular basis to keep the interest high from new and current customers.

Which were your marketing strategies to grow your business?

I already had a good experience with some SEO forums so I made sales threads on a few forums.

One, in particular, is responsible for 70% of all sales.

From the first day, I already received plenty of traffic and sales.

Another source is Reddit. I LOVE Reddit. I’ve been using it since 2016 to promote products & services. I’ve even written an eBook about getting traffic from Reddit.

What are your goals for the future?

With Rankd SEO I’d love to hit $5,000 revenue a month in the next 3 months. After that, my goal is to hit $10,000 mark a month.

After that, the sky’s the limit.

Another goal is to be the largest backlink database on the internet. I want the database to consist of thousands of links with guides. In the next 6 months, I want my database to consist of 500+ guides (there are 240+ at the moment).

I want Rankd SEO to be a long-term business that will bring money for years to come.

Maybe someday in the future, I will be able to sell the business for millions. Who knows?

I want Rankd SEO to be one of many online income streams I have. In the following years, I want to leave my 9-5 in order to be able to travel the world and be a real digital nomad.

While my income right now is alright for some, I have high standards of living and I don’t feel ready yet to depend only on income from the internet.

What were the biggest challenges you faced and the obstacles you overcame?

The first month went by testing the link-building process. I tested to see how would the guides look and how long it takes to create each guide. I built more than a hundred backlinks before I felt sure that I could create a website and sell it as a service.

Also, I had to make sure that I have proof that the backlinks from my database give results. So, when I started building the database, I built the links for two of my newest sites.

It usually takes several months for backlinks to take an effect. At the moment of the launch, I had no real results to show. But lately, both of my sites saw a huge spike in traffic and reach.

Here you can see the impact of the links to my sites. Stats are from Google Search Console. The first site was made in October 2018. The second one was made in August 2018.

1st site:

Links impact over site
Rankd SEO: how links impacted the first website

2nd site:

Links impact over site
Rankd SEO: how links impacted the second website

Based on these results, I hope they’ll have a positive impact on sales.

Another challenge was building the website since there aren’t that many WordPress themes that support subscription-based model.

I didn’t want to spend too much on a website which I wasn’t sure was going to pay off. So, I bought a theme and had to work with it. Since I’m not a coder or a designer, I had a hard time adjusting the theme for my needs. I really don’t like building websites. It took me two weeks to make it decent. I’m sure for others it would take a day.

I’m not 100% satisfied with how the website looks now but it’s the best I can do with my skill set at the moment.

Which are your greatest disadvantages? What were your worst mistakes?

To be honest, I haven’t made any real mistakes yet as the service is only a bit more than a month old.

I’m trying to find a way on how to build the database larger as fast as I can. I’m thinking of finding a freelancer who could help me since I have lists of hundreds of sites to be made into guides. But they all take a lot of time to create.

Finding a reliable and smart assistant is my biggest concern now.

If you had the chance to do things differently, what would you do?

The business is too fresh to tell. I could’ve made the database larger for the launch but it seems that people are ready to pay for the number of guides I have already.

I launched the service with 200 guides. Would it pay off more if there would be 300 or 500 guides? I don’t know. What if the service wouldn’t sell at all? Then I would have wasted my valuable time.

With 200 guides I felt confident to start selling the service at the price point it is now.

What are some sources for learning you would recommend for entrepreneurs who are just starting?

My two favorite blogs are Backlinko by Brian Dean and Matthew Woodward’s blog.

I believe both sites have the most comprehensive articles about SEO and online marketing in general.

Also, I highly recommend watching anything from the motivational speaker Jim Rohn. Once I stumbled upon one of his videos on YouTube, and the way he talks and his advice changed my view on life.

Also, forums are a great place to learn new techniques and maybe some less known tips or cool case studies. My favorite forum is Black Hat World. While it may sound shady, it actually isn’t and is full of very smart people, successful online entrepreneurs and experts in SEO, social media, etc.

Where can we go to learn more?

I own a personal online marketing blog called Mr. Web Capitalist. Some of the case studies are very unique as I talk about my success and failures in online marketing.


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