This is a guest post by Mike Khorev.
Contrary to popular belief, search engine optimization (SEO) is not obsolete. Anyone who does a quick Google search on the effectiveness of SEO will usually come up with at least a few posts asking whether or not the practice is “dead” or lamenting that it already is.
Like most things in the world of Internet marketing, SEO has simply changed to accommodate the changing business landscape (not to mention the various changes to its algorithm that Google rolls out every now and then).
In this post, we’ll be looking specifically at whether or not SEO can help your startup business and what techniques can be used to further your goal of driving customers to your new company’s website.
First of all, is putting effort into SEO worthwhile for your startup? The answer is a resounding “yes.” When it comes to startups, the major goal is to increase the visibility of your brand and make sure it sticks in the minds of potential customers and patrons.
The Internet is an incredibly powerful tool for doing just that, and SEO is still the “king” of Internet marketing. While it’s true it has decreased in importance somewhat vis-a-vis social media marketing (which refers to using platforms like Facebook or Instagram to promote your business), it’s still going to be the foundation of your online marketing strategy.
In the most basic of terms, SEO is about bringing your web page to the top of a search engine results page for a specific keywords. It’s obvious that not many people are going to scroll all the way down the page when searching for something – in fact, according to the online ad network Chitika, the first result on Google receives a whopping 33 % of all clicks.
The number gets smaller and smaller the further down the page you go. Therefore it’s vital to bring your page to the top of the results (if not the top spot, at least as close to it as possible). Since search engines are the primary way people get information on the Internet, SEO for startups is still important.
Is SEO A Legitimate Strategy?
First, let’s get any preconceived notions you may have about SEO out of the way. For instance, many people believe that SEO is “scammy,” full of cheap techniques such as spamming keywords into the page or stuffing a ridiculous amount of backlinks onto various, unrelated sites around the web.
Techniques like these may have worked in the past, but as pointed out earlier the landscape of SEO has changed – the engineers at Google made the search engine’s algorithm more intelligent, able to penalize “scammy” and “spammy” tactics such as these. Nowadays SEO is closer to what is was always intended to be – bringing relevant, high quality websites to the top of the search engines.
Of course, some people still try these outdated, unscrupulous techniques and even try to sell them to unwitting customers, but you’ll know better and therefore have an advantage when it comes to competing for the limited space at the top of a search engine results page.
The most fundamental part of search engine optimization is finding keywords to target. Keywords are the words or phrases people who are interested in your product or service will be typing into search engines. A startup company can come up with some of these by doing some simple brainstorming (just ask yourself “what would I be typing in if I were in the shoes of one of these potential customers?”).
Beyond that, you should use Google’s Keyword Tool. This is a completely free service and will give you an idea of how many people are searching for a specific keyword each month – that way, you can target the ones that are driving the most traffic.
Google those keyword phrases yourself and see what comes up in the first five results. This will help you gauge how much competition there is for the “prime real estate” of these top results.
Unless you have unlimited resources (and, realistically, what startup company does?), you are going to want to try and make inroads using less competitive keywords as it can be difficult to compete with established authority websites which have been around for many years.
A great way to find valuable keywords is to talk directly to your customers. Alex Turnbull from Groovehq.com notes that his company did just that, performing customer development surveys to find out more about the people who would be buying their services. This is an ideal way to get keywords outside of the standard Keyword Tool.
Keywords should be used in headers, as well as in title tags and meta descriptions. You will want to work in primary keywords, secondary keywords, and long-tail keywords, but never resort to keyword stuffing (as pointed out, Google actually penalizes this nowadays).
Your website should not be a single-page site, as this will not allow you the room to include the many keywords you should be targeting: many SEO experts advise building each page around a particular set of related keywords. When creating content try to fit your keywords in naturally – don’t build the content around the keywords, but around the concept so that it flows well and is quality content.
Besides keyword targeting, the other most common phrase you will see when researching SEO is link building. Basically, Google rewards incoming links (links from other sites) by boosting the position of the site being linked to in the search engine results. The more authoritative and highly-regarded the site is, the more “valuable” that link will be.
One way to do this is with guest posting, a sometimes overlooked form of link building singled out by Sujan Patel writing for the Search Engine Journal. The idea is to write guest posts on more influential sites related to your niche in exchange for a link to your site. The higher quality that site is, the better it will be your position in Google.
Optimizing The Structure Of Your Site
As pointed out before, your website should be a multi-page website. This means you will have to make sure the site is easy to navigate, specifically that each page links to the other pages of your site.
This is important not just so that people won’t have a hard time getting around your website, but so that Google’s “crawlers” will be able to index the entire site and determine what, exactly, it’s about. Consider building a data dictionary, which can automatically link pages of your website together whenever relevant keywords appear on a certain page.
There are innumerable success stories all over the web from people who doubted the efficacy of SEO or felt it was outdated or “dead” but then realized how wrong they were.
With some hard work, they were able to increase the amount of conversions being driven by organic search results, increasing the visibility of their brand and the confidence of their customers. As R.L. Adams, writing for Forbes, points out, consistency and tenacity are important when it comes to establishing a foothold in the SEO world.
This has the knock-on effect of increasing the reliability of your site in the eyes of Google (via backlinks from high-quality sites and other indicators) and your SEO efforts become a positive feedback loop, securing your place on top of the results page with less and less effort to maintain it. Only good things can happen for your startup if you put in the time and effort necessary – don’t be like others who ignore the significance of this very powerful method.
Content is still king, and SEO is the means for people to access this content. SEO for startups is not only important, it’s absolutely necessary to help your startup flourish.
Author Bio: Mike helps small and mid-size businesses drive leads, increase sales and grow revenue online. He designs, develops and executes integrated digital marketing campaigns across paid, social, organic and digital channels. You can contact him on this website https://mikekhorev.com and on LinkedIn.