Written by Deena Douara

Ari Rush is reluctant to share the story behind his first business, and understandably so. It was a huge success in a somewhat embarrassing market. In his teens, he had become the third largest supplier of Facebook likes, bought by politicians, singers and celebrities alike — one even dropping $10,000 in one day for the veneer of popularity. More importantly though, it got Rush out of summer camp.

There is a clear line from that business to today’s wholly respectable Rush Ventures, which specializes in digital marketing and search engine optimization (SEO) to help organizations and professionals appear on Google’s top search results.

Rush explains that his first business had topped Google’s search engine rankings, and then slipped, and both movements fascinated him equally.

“It was No. 1 on Google for anything related to Facebook likes but I hired someone to do that and I didn’t fully understand how it was ranked. Then Google released a new algorithm in 2012 that cleaned up spam and the site got de-indexed.

“I wanted to understand how that happened and as I learned more about it, it made me realize I should learn to do it properly and try to help companies versus trying to game the system.”

It wasn’t long before he launched Rush Ventures, which he runs at just 22 years old. So committed was he that he actually dropped out of Western University’s computer science program in 2012 to build the company and enroll in Enterprise Toronto’s Starter Company Program, which he credits for boosting revenue.

“Our business probably quadrupled or more after the program,” says Rush. “I’m fascinated by business in general, cashflow management, making it all work. It’s a problem that’s very tough to solve and I like solving problems.”

He speaks passionately about things like accounting, projections and hiring practices.

“It’s really actionable stuff that everyone should know but we’re not taught.”

He says Andrew Patricio, the program lead, was more than a teacher to him.

“I think of Andrew as my therapist … I’d bother Andrew so much and he would listen, and still does, a year after the program. Having Andrew there has dramatically changed my success in business and honestly, my life, because I’m infinitely more comfortable and confident with what I’m doing.”

Rush doesn’t have to sell his confidence though, as he posts the metrics directly on the website. And if that fails to convince, he has one Toronto’s lawyer’s enthusiastic recommendation — “every time I’m there he’s trying to sell me to someone.”

SEO was once simpler — use keywords, complete meta descriptions, write direct headlines, add links — so 2009. Now, there are about 400-500 other metrics to pay attention to, and those change, with Google constantly getting smarter and announcing fewer updates, making it harder for techies to “game” the system.

That means what’s required now is authentic content as well as genuine relationships with other businesses. That’s why the company has writers that produce topical content, and why they’re proud to be a boutique firm that meets with and follows up with clients. “It needs a personal touch.”

Aside from having fantastic content, Rush’s five top SEO tips include:

  1. Speed: Load speed should come in over 70 on Google’s speed test.
  2. Responsiveness: Websites should be mobile- and tablet-friendly.
  3. Links: Use Google “operators” to find links to your site (search “link: your domain name”).
  4. Metrics: Install Google Search Console and Google Analytics to your website.
  5. NAP: Make the business name, address and phone number look identical across all citations (e.g. Yelp, Yellow Pages).

In addition to the work they do for clients, the company has also been educating recent grads through Ryerson’s ADaPT program, as well as eager businesspeople.

Rush can be booked for speaking engagements, workshops or business directly through the website.