Whenever I attend start-up conferences, I get to meet many founders of early stage-startups. While almost all of them are focused heavily on their product, marketing it is almost an afterthought. This is understandable for few reasons.
First of all, most early stage start-ups are headed by software engineers or someone with a tech background. It’s hard to find a team that has someone from marketing in a leadership role. Another reason is that you need a robust and working product to secure investments. So naturally the emphasis is on the product and not on marketing.
But things like social media marketing and search engine marketing has made it extremely easy for start-ups to reach potential clients quickly and affordably. Take Creately for example, we rely heavily on traffic coming from search engines. This has enabled us to attract customers like NASA, Amazon, NatGeo and PayPal without having to succumb to sales pitches and calls.
Search engine optimization is a complex area with algorithms and strategies that change frequently. But the basics of SEO haven’t changed much since its beginning. Below are the first few steps to search engine domination. I’m just going over the main points briefly; make sure to check out linked tools and articles to get a thorough understanding of each topic.
This is one of the most important steps in any SEO campaign and should be your first step in the journey to search engine domination.
The goal of SEO is not to get a lot of traffic, but to get the right kind of traffic. This means potential visitors who will convert into leads and traffic. And you need to find out which keywords bring in the right kinds of users. And keyword research helps you do just that.
Google’s very own keyword planner tool, which comes with Adwords, is a good free option. There are also commercially available tools that can be used to get further insight on keywords.
Check out the Moz’s section about keyword research and why it’s important.
You can make use of this research to improve your search engine rankings for the right keywords and get the right kind of customers.
You can add those keywords strategically for on-site optimization of important pages. You can also create blog posts and other articles targeting those keywords. You can even make use of them for Adwords bidding if you’re taking that approach.
This is another important step for any website that’s starting out a SEO campaign. This enables you to find out if your site is inadvertently sending the wrong signal to search engine spiders. Your site might have duplicate content, lots of broken links, multiple pages with the same title and many other common mistakes which will lead to search engines penalizing your site.
Screaming Frog’s SEO spider is an excellent tool which you can use for this purpose. The free version allows you to crawl up to 500 pages with some limitation. But that should be more than enough for a start-up that doesn’t have many pages.
An SEO audit can cover a large area and we have touched upon it briefly in this blog post about doing an SEO audit. There are plenty of articles that go in depth into this, so make sure to do some further reading to get the maximum results.
If SEO is a house, then on-site optimization is its foundation. And we all know what happens to a house with a poor foundation.
As the name implies, this step is all about optimizing your content and site structure for search engines and users. Some of the things done in this step are
- Optimizing titles and meta descriptions using the keyword research data
- Adding alt tags, schema markup and other relevant code snippets
- Fixing broken links, wrong redirects and duplicate content errors
For an in depth read of on-site optimization check this article. It includes a downloadable checklist as well.
The hard part of SEO
Now you have the structure in place, it’s time to start cranking out content and getting links for your site. A blog is a very useful addition to have in this regard. B2B marketers that use a blog, get 67% more leads than those who do not use a blog.
Just pumping out content is not enough. You need to actively promote it and bring more eyeballs to your content. The obvious first step is to get it indexed in search engines so you will start getting search engine traffic. Other than that you can send it via your newsletter, share it on social media channels, send it out to bloggers for back links etc.
Tracking Your Efforts
As I mentioned before, SEO is a complex field with constant changes to algorithms and strategies. And it might be hard for a start-up owner to keep track of these things. But you should always keep track of things that are related to your website. Some of these include,
- Keyword rankings
- Traffic from search engines
- Website errors like crawl errors
There are many different tools, even free ones which you can use to keep track of these things. If you find it cumbersome to log into different website to find these data, you can use a SEO dashboard to view all these data in one place.
Some final thoughts about Start-up SEO
This article provides a good overview of things a start-up can do to improve their search engine rankings and bring more visitors to their website. It’s important that you involve someone with a good SEO background as early as possible, because once the website gets old it might be too late to change some things, especially things related to site structure.