Clay Scroggin

Clay Scroggin has over fifteen years of industry experience, five working directly for Sage Abra Software and ten as a value added business partner for numerous HRIS software companies. During that fifteen years Clay has sold, implemented, and supported hundreds of HR Payroll, HRMS, and HRIS products

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Tales of triumphs and pitfalls from a newcomer

Nine months ago I came up with what I believed then, and still believe, is a great web business idea.

Clay Scroggin

June 16, 2008

5.0/5.0 (1 votes total)



Nine months ago I came up with what I believed then, and still believe, is a great web business idea. I created a Human Resource Information System, HRIS, software lead generation web site. This month is the first month we have earned positive cash flow. I have started to reflect on the past nine months to determine what I have done well and where I could have done a better job. I also knew I needed to syndicate articles for my site’s SEO so I decided to write this article to see if I can assist other new .comers with what I have learned. Let me start out saying I knew very little about starting a web business before I jumped into this process. It is frankly amazing how much I have learned in such a short time frame. I hope you benefit from the stories of my success and failures.


What we did right


I have worked in the human resource and payroll software industry for fifteen years. Having industry experience in any business you are planning on entering is important. Having industry experience in the specific type of web business you are going to enter is absolutely mandatory. I will tell you right now without question if I did not have the HRIS experience, I never could have succeeded with this project. The first shocker of becoming a .comer is the astounding amount of writing involved. I am sure you have heard the cliché, keyword rich content is king. From my experience it is and it simply means that it’s now time to utilize those skills you learned in high school or college from writing all those term papers. I now write at least three or more HR software “term papers” a month. I should be writing three a week. If I had gone into a business area I did not know, I could not have come up with this content without the knowledge my experience provided me. If you are thinking of starting an internet based business, you better enjoy writing. I have said a few times that I am surprised that all .comers aren’t English majors or retired school teachers.


When it came time for me to approach vendors to advertise on our HRIS software site, I had a great web site but I did not have the history. I did not have the numbers to support an investment in advertising with my project. My HRIS software industry experience was paramount in getting HR software vendors to believe I could pull off the project before me.


Site Design and Web Developer Selection


I wrote up, what I thought was, an extremely comprehensive site plan. I did not want to leave anything to chance so I wrote down everything. Expect, going forward, that you will have to make a lot of changes. At least I provided enough detail up front that there would not, or should not, have been any surprises with the pricing for the project.


I took this site plan to numerous web development companies in my local area. The quotes for the project varied widely in cost. Let me give you a warning. There are companies that will bottom line a price just to get the job and then hit you with extra cost going forward. “Oh, you want a home page and a navigation bar? That will be five thousand additional. Sorry, it was not in our original scope.” Whatever you think the project is going to cost, you should at least double it. If you end up getting scammed you could be talking three or four times more. We almost went with a scammer. I backed out of the project just before signing the contract. It put my project two months behind but project timelines mean little on your first project anyway. Luckily, the company we actually decided to go with did a good job and we are still pleased with this relationship. Make sure to check references on whatever company you decide to go with and be cautious of going with the cheapest.


The company name


I included a two word valuable keyword combination in my website’s name, While the biggest mistakes we made up front were on SEO and SEM efforts, placing keywords in our site name produced immediate organic search results. At the very least, the site name provided a buffer to some of the other mistakes I made.


So at this point you may be thinking “Where are the mistakes?” or “Is this guy writing the article so arrogant that he just refuses to admit to them?” Oh no, we made mistakes. I am getting to that. I mentioned the positives first because, today, I in a very positive mood and I want to pat myself on the back after I have just had my first month with positive cash flow. Finally, the bleeding is slowing or hopefully over.


What we did Wrong


I think more than any other area where we dropped the ball is our search engine optimization, a.k.a. SEO, and search engine marketing, a.k.a. SEM, work. We published five months ago and while I think we are getting decent traffic results to the web site, I can easily see how we could have two or three times greater traffic at this point, had I done a better job with our SEO work before now. Yep, that’s a pretty big mistake. See I told you I would fess up. This is the important part of the article. I hope that you learn from my mistakes.


Keywords & Content


Any article or book you read is going to tell you to determine what your keywords are. We did this; we identified upfront what the “most popular” HRIS software keywords were for the market we were trying to target…oops. The “most popular” keywords are rarely going to be your best bet. Let me explain; with our content and site navigation, we went after the terms that created the most hits or impressions on websites. If you are a current .comer, you are already realizing the mistake. These keywords also have the greatest competition. Thus, you have the most companies competing for front page space. And as a new guy, you are far less likely, in the short term, to get front page or even second or third page exposure with these words. So after five months of writing and writing and writing….. We are still not showing up in the top hundred for Google with several high traffic keywords we worked oh so hard to achieve success with. Had I attacked other keywords that receive decent traffic but had less competition, I could have had front page space with some of those today and be seeing far more organic traffic to our site. We created tons of keyword rich content; we just attacked the wrong keywords. To correct the problem means writing tons more of keyword content and using the keywords we should have used in the first place. Did I mention that you better enjoy writing?




Again, any article or book you read will tell you about linking strategies. It’s tedious work. Because of that, up to now, I did not put the effort into it that I should have. Not wanting to spend money on that which I could get for free, I submitted my site to hundreds of free directories. Being free, it doesn’t appear that most are in a real hurry to add my site to their directories. We paid for some others but the shocking thing is for whatever reason, Yahoo is showing that we have over 120 back links. Google is showing five and we still have a low page ranking on Google. I am not an SEO expert by any means; as you can see, I am far from it. But what I do know at this point is it is not the number of links you have, but the quality of those links. I will distribute this article on the top five or six article submission sites and will be adding a power point viewer presentation to and will add something on this week. I will see a month down the road if Google likes these. Things I have read online say it will. There does not appear to ever be enough links or enough content.


Here is how obsessed I am with this linking process. My wife wrote a hand written thank you note today to some friends who invited us to their baby shower; I asked her to make sure to include a hyperlink to the site in the text since we need the links. Gee, I would not have gotten that joke 9 months ago.


Pay per click advertising


We initially had the company who created our site also handle our pay per click campaign; bad idea. Let me say it’s not that they did a terrible job, but their motivation with pay per click advertising dollars and mine is completely different. If you have someone else handle your pay per click campaign, they are likely getting paid a percentage of what you spend. They are not paid based on the number of clicks or conversions. Their goal is to make sure the money allotted is spent so they receive their full commission. This is why, if at all possible, you should take over your own pay per click campaign; especially, if you are start up like me. You are going to spend more time on the project and be me much more motivated to look for value and performance, not just the amount spent.




I hope this helps you with your web project. I hope it helps me with providing additional quality inbound links to my site. If you want to see my web project which inspired this article, go to and then let me know what you think, [email protected]. Good luck and remember write, write, write, link, link, link, write, and write and link some more, oh my.


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