StartUps and SEO
Starting a company is difficult. In addition to creating a product or service that others will want to buy and finding a way to finance the creation and distribution of that product, you have to figure out a way to tell consumers that you exist. There is a reason why marketing has traditionally been one of the largest expenses taken on by companies large and small; it is the most effective way to reach your target audience, build brand recognition, and generate sales. In the past, this meant spending large sums of money on television, radio, newspaper, and other largely untargeted marketing campaigns.
Fortunately, the internet has made it possible to target your audience with far more accurately, and internet marketing strategies tend to be significantly more cost-effective as a result. One of the key elements to any successful internet marketing campaign is proficient use of Search Engine Optimization. For a startup looking to effectively build awareness without quickly burning through all of their capital, SEO content is one of the best ways to do exactly that.
Why Startups need SEO?
Unless you are flush with cash (and if you are a startup, this is highly unlikely), it is difficult to commit the types of resources necessary to advertise with companies like Facebook and Google at a level and duration that would be effective at getting your company’s name out there. While paid search advertising has its merits, it is far from the most cost-effective way to build your company’s presence on the internet.
On the other hand, SEO techniques typically aggregate over time, meaning that the time and money invested in it early on in your company’s lifetime will pay dividends more or less in perpetuity. In addition, most SEO strategies involve providing something of legitimate value for your audience and potential customers, as well as creating something that they will want to share with their friends and family legitimately. There is no doubt that a genuine recommendation from a trusted friend or family member is far more effective at converting into a new customer than a paid advertisement at the top of a Google SERP.
Why SEO is Effective for StartUps
SEO is by its very nature effective. The concept of SEO, and the industry built around it, is almost entirely based on creating measurable results for the customer. If you hire me to do SEO for your company, I will be able to point to specific metrics that prove specifically how I am helping you. Statistics such as number of visitors, level of engagement, social media sharing, and conversion to sales or contact pages are just a few of the metrics with which an SEO strategy’s effectiveness can be measured. There is a reason why SEO is such a large business, and much of that has to do with the fact that it has proven to be successful over time.
The other major advantage a startup has over a large corporation (or even a 2 year old company) is the ability to quickly create a concept and write about it. This allows a startup to create SEO content on a wide range of topics far more quickly than most companies that must go through bureaucratic processes before approving any new content topics.
SEO Techniques and Best Practices
The great thing about SEO is that there is more than one way to accomplish your goals. Also, the SEO goals of one company might be different than the goals of someone else. For example, if you run a company that targets college students and want to get them to sign up for a service, it really doesn’t matter how many 30-45 year olds get your website showing up on their SERPs. On the other hand, if you are trying to sell luxury items to individuals who have disposable income, SEO content that is seen by that same group of 30-45 year old will be far more useful and effective.
As a general rule, the best SEO techniques are the ones that will work in the long-term. This means that many of the “black-hat” strategies, many of which involve lots of low-quality content, won’t work in the long-term. SEO techniques that involve strategic but high-quality content will tend to work over many years, even as the search engine algorithms change. This is a win-win for everyone involved (except for black-hat SEO companies).
One of the best ways to quickly build awareness for your website is by finding other bloggers or websites in your industry and asking them to write guest blogs on your website. This serves two purposes: you will get the benefit of an established author in your industry and many of their followers reading your website, and you will get content from someone that has already proven they are skilled at building an audience.
You should also build an email newsletter list as quickly as possible. Have at least a couple of easily-visible places on your website that ask visitors to sign up for a weekly or monthly newsletter. Creating a newsletter that links to your SEO content will help drive regular engaged traffic.
Technical Elements Important to Effective SEO
There are a lot of technical elements that go into the most effective SEO strategies. The most important, and most basic, elements of technically-sound SEO involve the platform on which the SEO content is posted. This means that the first step in any successful SEO strategy is construction and maintenance of a modern, responsive, well-designed website that is hosted on a server that can easily handle your web traffic. Fortunately, there are more ways to create a website than ever before, and most of the major platforms (such as WordPress) have many of the technical SEO strategies already in place.
Perhaps the single most important technical factor when creating effective SEO is the number of legitimate backlinks you can get to your website. This is not something that can be done overnight, and the best backlinking strategies typically involve some good old-fashioned networking with websites and bloggers in your industry. Creating a blogroll, and, more importantly, getting your website on other websites’ blogrolls is one way to get backlinks. In conjunction with commenting (and linking) to your website from websites you’re blogrolled on (and other relevant websites as well) is another actionable way to quickly drive up your backlink statistics.
What Type of Content Works Best for SEO?
As I stated above, the best SEO content will be genuinely high-quality content that is relevant to your customers or audience. Typically, this means blogs or articles that are more than 400 or 500 words, which answer specific questions or solve specific problems that your target audience might have.
The best way to choose the type of content you plan to use for your website is to put yourself in the mind of your target audience. Ask yourself what types of queries your target audience is searching for in Google or another search engine. Remember, you don’t have to limit yourself to topics that are directly connected to your industry. For example, if you are an alarm company that primarily installs fire and burglar alarms in residential homes and small business, you will obviously want to have content about the virtues of alarm systems, crime statistics, etc. However, you could also have articles about general safety and security, staying safe while traveling, home automation technologies, etc.
Expanding the range of topics you write about on your company’s website benefits both you and your audience. Your audience benefits from having a wealth of knowledge on topics they probably care about (since the topics are tangentially connected to your company already), and you benefit by being able to cast a wider net on search engines and their SERPs.
The other type of content that works particularly well is content that is easily shared on social media platforms such as Facebook or Twitter. Increasingly, search engines like Google are tracking how much a particular website or web page is shared on social media. Google believes that social media sharing is a reliable way to gauge the quality of content, as people tend to only share useful and high-quality content with their friends and family. In addition, it is useful to make at least some of your content emotionally engaging. Numerous studies have shown that emotionally-charged content tends to be shared more often.
Be careful about balancing legitimately emotional topics so that you don’t come across as simply creating “click-bait”, a derogatory term used to describe content that is specifically created to be clicked or shared. While you are in fact creating content for that purpose, you are always better off creating content that organically causes clicks and shares instead of blatantly pandering to an audience.
How to Create an SEO Strategy for Your Company
SEO strategy will be different for every company. However, for startups, the first step should be the creation of a high-quality website that is registered on the major search engines. Also make sure to create social media profiles for your business on all of the relevant platforms. Use these social media platforms as a place to share the SEO content from your website, and eventually as a way to drive traffic to the website itself.
Beyond these basic steps, you should simply make a habit of keeping a regularly-updated blog, and, when possible, medium to long-form articles that benefit your target audience. Remember that even the best SEO strategies can take time to be effective. Google and other search engines value websites that have been around for a while and have a large number of high-quality pages, so don’t get discouraged if you don’t see results for a few months. Eventually, your SEO efforts will reach critical mass and you’ll see a snowballing effect on your website’s traffic.