We recently sat down with Anton Muravyev, CEO of Alfa:search, to delve into the company’s impressive work, team dynamics, and SEO strategies.

So Anton, tell us about Alfa:search. What’s your area of expertise?

Alfa:search, part of the Alfaleads Group holding company, specializes in generating organic traffic through SEO, ASO, and strategic media buying. We’ve been in the game since 2017, initially focusing on the CIS market and now expanding globally.

How many websites do you manage? 

Currently, we oversee a network of over 5,000 websites, ranging from simple to complex in structure. These sites generate a staggering 50,000 FTD per month, primarily driven by a mix of general and branded keyword traffic. 

You mentioned Alfa:search’s inception in 2017. Why establish Alfa:search as a separate entity within Alfaleads? 

Over the years, advertisers increasingly recognized the value of organic traffic, and the strong ROI it delivers. We saw a tremendous opportunity in this space. Plus, SEO has always been a passion of mine. Before Alfaleads, I had extensive experience with websites and organic traffic growth. Launching Alfa:search allowed me to combine my personal interest in SEO with the potential to build a thriving business in this promising niche.

Where did you kick off your journey, and when did you venture into foreign GEOs? 

Our foray into affiliate marketing began with Yandex. We drove traffic from branded sites and targeted low-frequency keys for brand-specific queries. However, this approach had limitations. The federal supervision service (Roskomnadzor) was already in a crackdown mood, forcing us to constantly change our sites to stay compliant. This experience sparked a strategic shift towards GEO diversification. Within six months, we leveraged our in-house analytics to rebuild and create targeted websites for specific GEOs and campaign flows. This move proved to be a game-changer, bringing Google to the forefront of our traffic sources. 

Was it challenging to onboard specialists?

Attracting specialists wasn’t initially a challenge. We drew in people with a strong desire for professional development, excited about the opportunity to work with organic traffic. We were pioneers in many aspects during that time. 

Our team started small, with just five members handling everything from content creation to writing. Over time, we brought on new specialists — copywriters, layout designers, and SEO experts. As our expertise grew and we expanded into foreign markets, the bar for recruitment naturally rose. To cater to our global audience, we also began recruiting native speakers for specific GEOs. 

How large is your team now? 

Today, Alfa:search boasts a team of over 50 talented individuals, encompassing content editors, webmasters, link builders, and more. We have dedicated technical and sales units, as well as RnD and marketing departments. A specialized ASO unit with developers, farmers, a sales team, and ASO specialists, tackles app store optimization and monetization. And to ensure the security of our sites, we have a dedicated anti-abuse department. Each department thrives under the leadership of a dedicated head who contributes to the C-Level team, where key strategic decisions are made.

As the company scales, our team does too — keep an eye out for exciting new opportunities by reaching out to Eugenia, our HRBP at Alfa:search.

Can you elaborate on R&D and its role? 

Our dedicated RnD department is a powerhouse of creativity and a key driver of our success. They specialize in adding affiliate marketing approaches to classic SEO strategies, giving us a significant competitive edge. Think of them as the pioneers who explore uncharted territory and uncover hidden opportunities that others miss. Their mission is to constantly test and refine hypotheses, develop actionable business knowledge, and identify strategies to stay ahead of the curve. This includes maximizing traffic acquisition, extending ranking longevity, and more. For instance, our early adoption and scaling of Google AMP, thanks to our forward-thinking RnD team, is a prime example of their impact. This strategic move fueled explosive growth for the department, solidifying its position as one of our most profitable units. 

We also leverage the power of streaming to engage a loyal audience, while our marketing team focuses on crafting effective website funnels to optimize user journeys.

Did you need to make any adjustments as the company has expanded?

As Alfa:search has grown, we’ve had to adapt our approach in several key areas. Recruitment is a prime example. In a fast-paced growth stage, finding reliable individuals who can effectively step into leadership roles becomes crucial. Unfortunately, we encountered a challenge — many SEO specialists weren’t accustomed to working within a systematic framework with defined standards. Thankfully, we persevered and built a fantastic team. However, the talent pool for skilled managers remains somewhat limited due to our rapid departmental expansion. 

Another key adaptation is our commitment to continuous learning. The SEO landscape is constantly evolving, so we actively encourage our employees to participate in training courses to stay ahead of the curve. This thirst for knowledge is a core value we highly promote.

We’ve also strategically embraced outsourcing to scale our workforce efficiently. Additionally, our understanding of search engine algorithms has grown significantly. This allows us to create content and design elements that search engines favor.

When someone tells me it takes years to get a website to the top of search results, I confidently disagree — our team is capable of achieving that in a month.

What recent initiatives have you introduced? 

Recently, we launched our “Brand Safety” service, which safeguards our clients’ brands from parasitic practices. This ensures that only the advertiser’s official sites appear for key search terms. Our link-building tool is another area of ongoing development.

Furthermore, we’ve implemented a data-driven approach to traffic monetization. By leveraging cluster audience segmentation, along with in-depth GEO and keyword analytics, we can identify promising players and strategically shift some CPA traffic to the RevShare model. This level of granular analysis is uncommon in the SEO industry, allowing us to unlock significant benefits.

Finally, we’ve developed and implemented our very own domain monitoring system (DMS).

Can you tell us more about it? What lies in its core, and what are the benefits?

As Alfa:search’s portfolio of websites ballooned, manual tracking became a logistical nightmare. Sites were getting blocked, breaking down, or expiring due to certificate issues — the chaos was real. 

We needed a solution, and that’s where DMS, our ingenious Domain Management System, was born. In essence, it’s a digital guardian that monitors the health of our domains. This includes critical checks like domain availability (ensuring they’re not blocked by local GEO regulators, for example). DMS also streamlines several tasks: verifying the accuracy of backlinks, running A/B tests, and monitoring for inclusions in regulatory databases like Roskomnadzor. It even features an alert system to keep managers informed and ensure nothing falls through the cracks. Plus, it automates routine processes like relinking blocked domains, saving us valuable time and resources. 

The potential benefits of DMS extend far beyond our team. That’s why we’re considering offering it as a service to the wider market. 

At Alfa:search, we strive to stay ahead of the curve, not get caught in the game of imitation. That’s why our websites are a unique blend of cutting-edge technologies. We leverage neural networks, strategically design marketing funnels, and integrate social networks, streaming channels, and our very own ASO applications.

Are you concerned about the possibility of someone stealing our work and claiming it as their own? For instance, an employee might attempt it.

Replicating our success isn’t simply a matter of copying a blueprint. SEO is a complex ecosystem that requires a unique blend of the right tools, a talented team, and a deep understanding of how these elements work together. Furthermore, at Alfa:search, we foster a culture of loyalty and trust within our team, minimizing the risk of internal leaks. 

On a personal note, would you consider yourself a strict boss? If so, how does this manifest, and what factors contribute to it? 

I wouldn’t characterize myself as strict per se, but as the business has grown, I’ve become more results-oriented. The fast-paced environment we operate in demands it. If, after a reasonable amount of time, an individual’s contributions aren’t translating into measurable results, we might need to re-evaluate their role within the team.

What if the employee just burned out? It’s not uncommon in SEO circles. 

Burnout is a very real concern in SEO, and we acknowledge that. That’s why we have a dedicated HRBP team specifically equipped to help employees. Often, a lack of visibility into the impact of their work can lead to disengagement. To address this, Alfa:search offers complete transparency by providing access to performance metrics. By seeing clicks, traffic, and their contribution to revenue (both for the company and themselves), employees understand their value within the bigger picture. 

We also actively prevent burnout by promoting task rotation to avoid monotony. Our HR department regularly measures the Employee Net Promoter Score (ENPS). An impressive 12-point increase over the past year reflects a positive work environment. However, if the score dips, we hold open discussions where everyone feels comfortable voicing their concerns. 

Regular performance reviews and retrospective analyses are two more cornerstones of our approach, applicable to all levels, including managers. And for those seeking new challenges, we provide internal mobility opportunities across different departments. Ultimately, the most important factor is an employee’s willingness to learn and grow.

Could you share Alfa:search’s outlook and upcoming plans for this year? What are your main priorities? 

First and foremost, we’re committed to continuous diversification. This includes exploring new traffic sources to capitalize on our reach across different GEOs. We’ll also be focusing on broadening our reach within existing channels, like ASO. Furthermore, we’re keeping a keen eye on emerging trends that have the potential to become major growth drivers for Alfa:search. To support these ambitious goals, we plan to strategically scale our team. And we are looking forward to the upcoming UEFA Championship which presents a significant monetization opportunity.

Anton, thank you for sharing your insights with us, and we wish your team continued success! 

Thanks! If you have any questions about our company processes or collaborating with us, please don’t hesitate to reach out. You can connect with me directly on LinkedIn or send an email to [email protected]. I look forward to hearing from you!