If your in the SEO world, you are bound to know the name "Digital Point". Digital Point, the company, has built several tools that have helped revolutionize the SEO World. All of these tools are free and available at Digital Point's SEO Tools page. The founder of Digital Point is Shawn Hogan, an honest, good and giving person. I am pretty sure his first SEO tool was his Keyword Tracker tool that is used by almost every SEO I know. Shawn has also set up a forum based on supporting these tools.
Shawn was kind enough to allow me to ask him a few questions about his tools, his forum and himself. We hope to be interviewing more well known forum leaders, tool builders and SEO specialists in the near future. Continue reading to see the interview...[Roundtable:] Hi Shawn, its a pleasure to have you with us today. Let me first introduce you and your tools/forums to the readers and then ask you a few questions. Sound good?
[Shawn Hogan:] Sounds good to me
[Roundtable:] Shawn is the owner of Digital Point, which is well known for several of its tools built by its owner. The Digital Point flagship product is named Optigold ISP, which currently boasts the largest market-share of products in its market. In the SEO World, Digital Point is know for his various tools that are all available for free and give SEOs the ability to streamline the daily business activities associated with the SEO profession.
[Roundtable:] Shawn, can you give us a little introduction about yourself and how you got into the Web development and application development field?
[Shawn Hogan:] Well, application development has always just been "what I do". It's like asking someone how they got into breathing. My first programming language was assembly on the Commodore 64 when I was 9, and I've simply been coding ever since. Web-based application development is a little more recent (the first thing I did was build a web interface for our Optigold ISP product), but web technologies really have only gotten to the point in the last year or two to make it realistic to build apps that are exclusively web based (at least in my opinion).
[Roundtable:] Lets talk a little bit about your Web based applications, specifically the ones you built for SEOs. I have a list of them in front of me at http://www.digitalpoint.com/tools/, would you like to pick some of your favorite and most popular tools and tell me what urged you to build them and why are they so great?
[Shawn Hogan:] The keyword tracker is my favorite one, mainly because it's the one I use myself the most. All the tools I build are done because I want to use them myself. I wouldn't say any of them are "great", but what makes them "good" would be the fact that they are primarily made for my own use.
[Roundtable:] Let's discuss the keyword tracker tool, can you give us some statistics on that tool? How many current registered members? How many keywords? Any metrics you think would be cool to mention...
[Shawn Hogan:] 12,772 registered users (from 115 countries) tracking 282,780 keywords and back links/PageRank for 36,472 sites. The number of tracked keywords increased by 1,000-1,500 per day. 15% of the users use it in something other than English (the GUI works in 23 languages)
[Shawn Hogan:] I don't know for certain, but I would guess it's one of the biggest applications to utilize the Google API.
[Roundtable:] I am sure lots of people are confused about how some of your applications utilize the Google API, I see you have a forum set up. Do many people ask questions about the API and how it interacts with your tools? If so, what is the question that gets repeated every time?
[Shawn Hogan:] I don't get many questions about the API itself (most users think it's just some voodoo magic). But the big question is always, "Doesn't automated querying violate the Google terms and conditions?" The simple answer of course is that the Google API is bound by it's own terms and conditions that are different than the normal terms for Google.
[Roundtable:] Right, so the Google API allows for 1,000 automated queries per day. Otherwise, running automated screen scraping tools on Google.com is not in accordance with Google's terms of service.
[Roundtable:] You recently started the Digital Point Forums at http://forums.digitalpoint.com/. At that time there were already an influx of SEO/SEM related forums, what influenced you to start an other forum?
[Shawn Hogan:] Primarily for support of our existing tools and products. Everything else was just "extra". But it's worked out well and got off to a quick start because of the existing user base as pretty large to start with.
[Roundtable:] So you would say that most of your forum members are also users of your tools?
[Shawn Hogan:] Yep, defnitely.
[Roundtable:] Well, I would guess most of any the members at any SEO forum are also users of your tools. :)
[Shawn Hogan:] Yeah, I would guess so. :)
[Roundtable:] Do you know, off the top of your head, how many optigold users are registered members at the forum? I would think the ratio differs greatly compared to your seo tool users and forum members.
[Shawn Hogan:] I don't know for certain, but I would guess it's about 10-15% Optigold users. But generally the Optigold users generate less posts per user, because they usually have a single question about something.
[Roundtable:] interesting... Let me ask you, are you working on any new tools at this moment that you would like to talk about?
[Shawn Hogan:] No, I don't spend a lot of time making new tools. They are done within 24 hours of me having the idea. Right now my "big" project is rewriting Optigold ISP from scratch. I like to torture myself.
[Roundtable:] That seems like a big project. Will you be porting over the Optigold ISP application to a Web based alternative?
[Shawn Hogan:] Yep, switching platforms and redeveloping everything from scratch. It's a huge app, so it's going to keep me busy for a year or so.
[Roundtable:] Sounds like fun.
[Roundtable:] Before I let you go, is there anything that you would like to tell the people about your company or about yourself?
[Shawn Hogan:] Not really actually. Talking about yourself sucks. :)
[Roundtable:] Sounds good, well - thank you again for your time and good luck with the OptiGold ISP rewrite.
[Shawn Hogan:] Thanks