Ian Hopkinson was frustrated with the music industry when he pivoted to start Mad Scientist Digital.
In its 12 years, the digital agency has built more than 500 websites and been involved in countless social media and content campaigns. These days, they specialise in understanding how the internet works. Some people know it as SEO, but it's much more than that.
Mad Scientist has a consultative approach to onboarding a client. In some ways, Hopkinson saw this as a rescue service for a client's website. Many new clients have had trouble understanding what their last agency was doing and had significant problems measuring their previous campaign and website effectiveness.
With measurement and effectiveness in mind, they had ten or so tools that would provide analysis on a client's website. Then the Mad Scientists weaved together this data into constructive feedback for the client. Some would call this an advanced website audit.
They reached a point where Hopkinson and his team had so much experience auditing clients' websites that the external tools on their own weren't cutting the mustard.
At that stage, 4-5 years ago, Hopkinson started working on a tool to replace all of the auditing tools they had been using. It took a few years, some creative brains, and a lot of trial and error, but now his new business Terminology has arrived.
Hopkinson believes it's a big deal and that their tool is unique. Instead of seeing it as a search engine optimisation (SEO) auditing tool, they see it as pioneering the search engine influence (SEI) space.
"This isn't just an SEO tool; we see it as a tool to help you to not only build trust with customers but with Google," says Hopkinson.
The word 'trust' is used a lot in their tool. This is because they also see that Google is moving in that direction.
"People asking for SEO get all these technical things from their agency but they don't realise Google is moving to a more trusted storytelling experience."
The tool consolidates more than 30 signals on your site/s and your competitor's sites. These signals come together into a simple seven key areas presented in an impressive dashboard. Most importantly, the dashboard links to practical steps you can tackle to improve things.
These data points are also tracked over time in historical graphs.
Many of his competitors blame Google and their algorithm updates for campaign failures. Google has been known to update its algorithm up to 600 times per annum, which has driven Hopkinson to ensure that his tool is updated at a predictable interval of twice a year. These updates cover new technologies, strategies and algorithm updates from search engines.
Terminology has seen over 10,500 websites audited so far. Anybody can have their site audited at no cost with the free forever plan, but you need to pay $10 monthly to compare your site/s to your competitors.
He said the tool is able to provide feedback on a site in under a minute, no matter whether the site has a few pages and is starting out or sites that have hundreds of pages.
Hopkinson said no site would reach 100% perfection. Tech giant Apple is 89, for example.
Of the thousands of sites the tool had already evaluated, the average overall score was 26, but as Hopkinson said “that doesn't mean a lot until you look at the industry average or compare it to your closest competitors.
Some industries are quite close – Myer is on 48% and David Jones 47%. But in a sector such as supermarkets, IGA is at 42%, well behind Coles at 61%, Woolworths at 55% and Aldi at 51%.
At 58%, ANZ lags in the banking sector compared to Westpac at 68%, CommBank at 66% and NAB at 65%.
The big four consultancy firms were also close with EY at 77%, PwC and Deloitte both at 76% and KPMG at 70%.
Hopkinson said that while benchmarking is critical, it is more important to drill down to the specific actions that you need to take to improve your online position and the tool does this with actionable advice for your unique situation.
While most of Mad Scientist Digital's clients are Australian, the Terminology tool has clients across Asia Pacific and beyond. Many of these clients are web developers and other agencies wanting to audit their client's sites.
Hopkinson sees all of this as a way to democratise digital marketing and simplify the digital economy for business.
He and the Terminology team intend to create other simple tools in the future; stay tuned, he has said.
The tool can be investigated here.