About the client
Surfer is a platform that makes it possible to analyze the content published online – either on one’s own website or on competitors’ websites – and receive guidelines on how to design content that would rank higher in Google’s search results.
Apart from the platform, the company offers also a free browser extension – Keyword Surfer. The tool works with the search engine, shows the number of searches for a given keyword, and suggests related phrases.
Surfer is able to analyze content in any language, and the tool is used by SEO specialists and marketers worldwide. The platform is developed in Poland and the person in charge of the selection of the right technology is Lucjan Suski – Chief Technology Officer.
The main challenge
The idea behind Surfer was to save the time of SEO specialists – it was to carry out analyses that would take hours if performed manually within seconds.
The founders knew right from the start that the traffic the platform would need to handle would not stay the same. The tool was to process huge amounts of data, carry out analyses, and return results to its users “on demand” – that’s why one of the main factors considered was scalability of the environment.
While milliseconds did not play that much part in the case of the platform, the speed of returning the results was crucial in the case of the Keyword Surfer add-on. The platform and the extension were intended to be available globally so it was necessary to ensure high availability and high performance thereof to their users worldwide.
Surfer’s creators wanted to compete with the most popular SEO apps based not only on the features but also on the price – that’s why it was important to choose an infrastructure that would help keep the costs in check and develop the tool at the same time.
The solution to the problem
Lucjan Suski, Surfer’s CTO, keeping the technical requirements and the development plans for the platform in mind, deployed the earliest code lines in 2016 already in a cloud-based environment. As a software developer with well over ten years of experience in the industry, he decided to go for Google Cloud Platform – a solution that offered the necessary services at the best price-to-quality ratio.
At present, the team of specialists engaged to develop Surfer makes use of such GCP features as e.g.:
- Preemptible VM instances in Compute Engine, which makes it possible to us GCP’s computing power at optimal costs,
- BigQuery, used to carry out quick analyses of data sets (e.g. indications of which domain from a given category has the biggest number of visits – obtained within seconds),
- Cloud SQL, meaning databases in the cloud,
- Cloud Storage to store certain types of files (e.g. website screenshots taken by the app),
- geographic Load Balancing between three servers – one in Europe and two in North America – in order to ensure high availability and performance of the Keyword Surfer add-on.
What are the benefits of using GCP as reported by Lucjan and the team of specialists maintaining and developing Surfer?
- scalability, easy creation of new instances and launching on-demand instances, which streamlines the team’s operations and makes it possible to maintain the app’s availability at a high level and keep the costs optimal at the same time,
- convenient management of the infrastructure from the code level – the combination of GCP with the skills and good practices of DevOps makes it possible to make even better use of the solution, e.g. create new environments even faster,
- automation potential – many services and processes can be automated and thus improve infrastructure management and minimize the risk of occurrence of errors,
- GCP’s analytical potential with BigQuery at the forefront – the service translates into smart, extensive, and quick analytics, which may give a tool like Surfer a significant competitive advantage,
- possibility to work with a local Google Cloud Partner, which translates into lower costs of using the GCP infrastructure and a stronger position in the possible negotiation with the service provider.
95% of our infrastructure is Google Cloud Platform. We also have two dedicated servers in Hetzner, we use Cloudflare and Webflow, and all critical elements of the app have been moved to GCP.
The decisions made by the creators of Surfer at the very beginning of the business path – those concerning the choice of technology and the strategy of development of the app – have so far translated into:
- a global reach of the tool; 85-90% of subscribers are from outside Poland – from other European countries, but also from e.g. the United States, Canada, or Australia,
- almost 3 thousand subscriptions to the tool,
- a constant monthly increase in the number of subscriptions by 10-15%.
Google Cloud Platform lets Surfer maintain its high pace of development, plan, and make changes to the tool; sit back and relax when thousands of users from the other part of the world use the platform, and not worry about the budget when these users are sound asleep and the platform is used by a bunch of night owls.