I was personally surprised to see RankMath gaining so much traction as a long time Yoast user. I didn't think another "SEO allrounder plugin" for WordPress could gain traction but turns out I was wrong. I first found Rankmath organically when writing about Indexing APIs and saw it's a feature. I then wanted to have a conversation with Bhanu to provide a bit of insight into the entrepreneurial aspect of creating an SEO plugin for WordPress but also highlight the importance of WordPress for SEO because so many companies use the platform. Enjoy!
I want to preface this interview by making it very clear that I asked Bhanu for it. It's by no means solicited, paid, or incentivized.
Kevin: What led you to build RankMath?
Bhanu: We originally started working on what later became Rank Math back in 2015. It didn’t actually start out as an SEO plugin – we actually tried to get one of the most popular SEO plugins to work for us at the time but it was really limiting. Then, on top of that, we would always still end up using a different plugin for additional functionality like Schema markup, a 404 monitoring plugin, something for redirections, something else for image SEO and the list goes on.
One thing quickly led to the next and before we realized, we ended up building what was the most “complete” SEO plugin out there. Over time, we thought many others must be in the same boat as us and that is when we started working on creating a version of Rank Math that we’d eventually share with the world.
How successful is the plugin?
In terms of how the plugin was received, we’re really pleased as the feedback has been absolutely tremendous. A lot of people still can’t believe that we offer so much value for free.
Objectively looking at the actual numbers, we’ve just passed 500,000 active installations just 20 months after the launch and over 1,800 5-star reviews on the WordPress plugin repository – which is a huge milestone for us.
How do you grow RankMath?
It’s all been word of mouth, for the most part. We haven’t spent anything on paid advertising. With all the features we offer, the plugin basically “sells” itself. We’ve seen countless users decide to just “experiment” with Rank Math one day – only to end up migrating 500+ of their client sites from other SEO plugins over to Rank Math.
Did you test early versions of the tool and saw good responses or did you develop the plugin completely on intuition? What did the development process look like?
Yes, we tested the plugin internally on several of our web properties, such as MyThemeShop – and up until the launch of the first version, it was really all driven by the day-to-day issues we came across when running our websites as well as the tools we wanted to have at our fingertips.
What are your goals for the next 5 years? Are you looking to break the 1M active installation mark?
This may sound counterintuitive but our primary focus really isn’t to just chase growth at all costs and obsess over metrics like active installations. Instead, we’re really driven on providing as much value as possible. Especially now that we’re introducing Rank Math Pro in the coming weeks and strive to continually improve both versions of the plugin.
How do you make money and is it a lucrative business?
We are in the process of preparing for the launch of Rank Math Pro which is going to be our primary source of revenue. The version of Rank Math that is now free will always be free, and all of the features that are freely available will continue to be available for free, so we can’t yet comment on how lucrative this business is as we are yet to test the waters.
What do you see in the future of SEO on WordPress? What will change (positive/negative)?
I believe the industry is leaning towards more of a focus on quality content, producing the best resources out there, and bringing what were traditionally difficult technical implementations into the hands of millions of WordPress users, which we’re already seeing happen today and is definitely a positive.
What do you hope for your own personal future?
Personally, I’m just hoping that the situation with Coronavirus comes ends today and I can start traveling again. I’m sure I’m not the only one that misses truly enjoying life with friends and family and properly living instead of being worried and not being able to do much.