SEO (search engine optimization) is the process of optimizing and improving the quality of your website and content to increase your rankings and drive more traffic from Google and other search engines. When using SEO best practices, you can increase website exposure, and bring more customers through online searches.
Startups have many things to worry about and, let’s be honest, SEO isn’t always going to be at the top of the list. However, having an SEO gameplan that fits into your growth strategy should not be overlooked. It can play a significant role in many startups’ long-term success online. Whether you are working with an SEO consultant or handling SEO internally, here are ten ways for early-stage startups to continuously improve their search presence online.
First things first: What do you want to accomplish with SEO?
Before you dive into SEO, you may want to establish how SEO fits into the bigger picture of your marketing plan.
It’s important to keep in mind that SEO is a long-term play. Many startups will want to grow at a fast but steady pace, which doesn’t always align with SEO. If SEO is done correctly, you’ll likely start seeing results in four to six months, with continued growth after that. Because it can take so long, startups should track progress monthly.
Like any marketing channel, a good SEO strategy requires planning. All company stakeholders should align by scheduling a marketing meeting. A meeting provides the opportunity to discuss a long-term, goal-based plan for SEO and how it should fit your overall marketing strategy. From this strategy meeting, you can come away with clear goals to track and action items (learn more on how you can use marketing meetings to establish clear goals and a next step here).
10 Things Start-Ups Can Do To Improve SEO
Here are ten impactful strategies that will help you turn SEO into a long-term growth channel.
Find Relevant Keywords to Target
Keyword research is a common starting point for a website’s SEO. You’ll want to identify the best keywords to use, including the number of monthly searches and how relevant a keyword is. A lot of keyword research should be fueled by user personas and their online search behavior. A good free keyword research tool to use is Ubersuggest.
Create an Incredible User Experience
For your startup website, be sure to consider UX. User experience is a growing factor in how your website performs in Google and other search engines. Content that is engaging and easily digested can help you with SEO performance. Consider creating interactive tools, like calculators, quizzes, or maps, personalization, and other website features that will increase user engagement. Be sure to set up Google Analytics to see how your website performs on metrics like time on page and bounce rate.
Educate Your Users
SEO provides an excellent opportunity to educate your audience on topics you’re considered an expert in. Educating users can be particularly important for startups selling products or services that are new to the market. Find the topics to target, make sure people are searching for those topics, and using keywords around questions related to your product or industry when you write content. For revolutionary, new-to-market business ideas, keep in mind there will be no searches for what you call your product. Still, instead, users will type informational searches about the problem that your business solves.
Prioritize Product & Services Pages in Your Top Navigation
The top navigation should be for links that are most important for your users. You’ll probably find about and contact pages, among others. Be sure to include your important product and service pages in the top navigation. By including product and services pages in the top navigation, it will help with the SEO performance of those pages specifically.
Don’t Forget About Mobile
Your website has multiple versions that can be viewed on a desktop, tablet, and mobile devices. The mobile version of websites continues to play a big part in organic search as users often feel the need to initiate a quick search on the go. Designing a mobile-friendly website will help, mainly if your user behavior shows that people access your site through mobile devices and tablets. You can test your site’s mobile-friendliness using this tool from Google Search Console, a tool to help site owners have their website appear in Google searches. You’ll get a report on how to improve the mobile version of your website.
Knowing When to Use 301 Redirects
When a URL is moved or updated on a website, 301 redirects help bring users to the updated page. Without 301 redirects, a user may find the old URL and be brought to a 404 error. When a user is brought to a 404 page, it can be bad for SEO and UX. By implementing 301 redirects, 404 errors are avoided.
Create Blog Posts and Educational Guides
Content can be an essential part of both a marketing plan and an SEO plan. In terms of SEO, blogging can help your business target informational searches that your target audience uses in Google searches. Keep in mind that blogs, resource pages, and informative pieces serve as informational searches, which are phrases typed into Google that pose a question. Blogs and guides are considered a top-of-funnel marketing strategy, which is meant to build brand awareness rather than promote a product or service. However, to best leverage top-of-funnel content, it’s encouraged to add the next step for users to take at the end of each content piece, to bring them to your services or products pages online.
Leverage Social Media
Social media and SEO and be used in tandem to help you build a marketing plan. Publishing great content and sharing on your social channels can help drive traffic and increase user engagement through SEO. At this point, it is only speculated that social media metrics directly impact SEO, however, social media can help drive more qualified traffic to a website, which helps SEO performance.
Use Strategic Partnerships for Backlinks
Backlinks, or links from other websites, are an important part of Google’s ranking algorithm, which uses over 100 different factors to appropriately position websites in search rankings. Getting backlinks from other websites will help your startup website perform better, as long as these links are from credible sources. For startups with brand-new websites, backlinks will be a critical part of how quickly the website will start ranking.
Have a PR Strategy that Supports SEO
When a public relations strategy incorporates SEO, a website can greatly benefit. PR is a great way to get backlinks pointed to your website. When PR contacts get links, it’s important to check to see the linking website’s domain authority. Domain authority is a score developed by Moz that measures how authoritative a website is in search engines. The score is on a 1-100 scale, with 1 being least authoritative and 100 being the most. A backlink from a website that has a higher domain authority will help your website more than one with a lower score.
Nate Fishman is a Boston SEO Consultant with over seven years of experience, and founder of Urbnparks, a website that helps people find local city parks in Boston. As a consultant, he helps small business owners, startups, and agencies develop and execute SEO strategies that drive organic search traffic to increase visibility.