AMA: Oleg Shchegolev

AMA: Neil Patel
May 11, 2016
AMA: Micha Hershman
May 12, 2016
The Oleg Shchegolev AMA is happening on Wednesday 22nd of June 2016 at 10AM PST (1PM EST)
Oleg Shchegolev is CEO and mastermind at SEMrush. Before founding SEMrush, Oleg had an extensive experience in the field of marketing on the Russian market. Based on that experience, Oleg and his co-Founder Dmitry founded  SEMrush to create useful tools for online marketers all around the world. Oleg believes that strong values and company culture are the key to success.

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Oleg Shchegolev – CEO and Founder at SEMrush and SEOquake – Transcript


Oleg Shchegolev is the CEO and Founder at SEMrush and SEOquake, two of the industry’s leading online marketing tools.

The AMA with Oleg was held on June 22nd, 2016. This transcript has been edited for punctuation, grammar, etc.


I am Oleg Shchegolev, the CEO at SEMrush and in the next hour I’ll be answering your questions, even the most tricky ones!Let’s have a great time.

What’s on the roadmap for SEMRush this coming quarter?

We keep expanding the range of tools, and on top of increasing existing databases, we have just launched Backlink Audit, and traffic analytics tool is coming up next!

With AI growing so much – does SEO (as a job) exist in 15 years?

Hard to say! I’m not sure what happens to the Internet in 15 years, as even in the last five years, there were a bunch of changes.

What is on the roadmap for Display Ads Analytics? This is a great tool to check competitors, and it’s still in beta stage.

We’re currently rebuilding this tool, and we hope within the Q4 we can launch the brand new tool with better functionality within the same niche.

What’s one event where you realized that SEMrush was a powerhouse tool and it was getting noticed?

The one event that definitely comes to my mind is Pubcon Vegas in 2015. We were featured in every third presentation and most of the experts knew what SEMrush was.

What was the biggest roadblock for SEMrush (as a company), and how SEMrush overcame it?

My answer might not be unique. The biggest roadblock we’ve had so far is growth. When we grew from 50 to 100, we had to change the culture, the ways teams communicate with each other. Now we’re a team of 300 and have to adjust to the new size again.

Is there anyone who has signed up that surprised you? Like, ohh hey it’s the guys from xyz…

We often find some large investment companies using SEMrush and are always like “Wow, these guys have nothing to do with marketing, but they are really using the tool!”

What language do you use for your crawlers?

 We have a unique approach to this. We give developers freedom to choose the language themselves. There are teams that use C++, erlang, python, java, go… The most important thing is the outcome, I prefer to give people freedom to decide how they want to achieve the result.

What’s a feature of SEMrush that you don’t think is utilized enough and/or taken to its full potential?

One of the underutilized and super powerful tools we have is Domain vs. Domain, that reveals keywords that your competitors rank for and you don’t. With the right filters, you’ll get insanely valuable insights to use in your marketing efforts.

What (if any) blackhat techniques still work?

A surprising number of websites promote themselves using links on hacked or hijacked resources, but it is certainly illegal and unethical, and we don’t recommend that.

When did the office in Cyprus open up? I’ve heard it’s primarily developers there. My family all lives in Nicosia, you hiring?

We opened the Cyprus office this year and we are surely hiring! I’ll send you a link with a direct message.

How did you get your first 100 customers?

 We started asking for feedback long before the official launch, and we got the first 100 clients as a result of our contact with bloggers. The post published on the SEObook website had a huge impact.

Were your original programmers eastern European? Можетепомочьмне с найтехорошепрограмист)?

Yes, original programmers were from eastern Europe. The key to finding the right people, in my opinion, is offering them freedom. The ability to decide for themselves and interesting projects motivates people a lot. On top of a good salary.

Don’t you think giving too much freedom on your programmers (I’m talking about programming languages) is too much? Just asking from a programmer’s perspective and those languages you listed… well some of them might not be the best.

The key thing for us is the result, not the language. If you force developers to use a language you believe is good, they lose their motivation to create and experiment.

So the post published on SEObook had a huge impact – any parts of SEO that you guys struggled with in the beginning (or even later)?

We were not thinking about SEO in the beginning. We only focused on building a great product. It looks like the efforts paid off.

Do you pronounce it S-E-M-Rush or semm-rush?

Adorable question! I personally pronounce it like “semm-rush.” US guys say “S-E-M-Rush,” in the UK everyone uses “semm-rush” and you can’t even imagine how creative are the French guys! “ZEMROOSH”

Do you have any plans to combat group buys like Majestic is deploying?

Could you clarify the question a bit? Do you mean fighting against situations when many people use one account and sell the access for a few dollars?

Any plans or current offerings to focus on optimization for marketplaces such as Bbay, Amazon?

We see that as an important niche, and we do get requests for developing such tools. We don’t have these plans in the upcoming few quarters, but might consider it for the next year or two.

Compared to your main competitors (Spyfu, etc.), what have you found to be your biggest strength/differentiator?

I teach all my teams to say good or nothing about our competitors. We know a lot of SEMrush strengths, but in the public debate, we try not to speak bad about any of our competitors.

What was the best question from today?

About a way to pronounce “SEMrush” for sure! +1

Would you rather fight 100 duck sized horses or 1 horse sized duck?

LOL! Never been friends with horses, so would first fight the duck.

Where can someone get coupon/discounts on SEMrush?

There are plenty online if you Google it but feel free to nudge our team on Twitter at @semrush.

Just use the code FREE4LIFE

The code is PeasantSpotted

What about code ZEMROOSH?

Thanks for having me! It’s been a blast!