In the startup world, where resources are stretched paper-thin and everyone wears ten hats, it’s common to hear founders say they don’t have time to focus on SEO (Search Engine Optimization). It’s too expensive, too competitive, and takes too long to generate results. But in such a competitive space, every advantage counts. Focusing a bit of energy on optimizing your online presence is an investment worth making.
Not convinced yet? These 5 reasons might change your mind:
SEO broadens your reach and audience.
SEO establishes your voice and authority.
SEO generates conversation about and interest in your startup.
SEO increases traffic to your website.
SEO improves brand awareness.
10 SEO Strategies for Startups on a Budget
Now that you’re slightly intrigued, here are 10 simple strategies to start implementing right away. With a bit of effort and a careful watch, SEO has the potential to take your business to the next level.
1. Conduct Keyword Research
Keyword research is one of the most critical pieces of a successful SEO strategy. It allows you to discover exactly what potential customers are searching for. Once you know what words and phrases they’re using, you can create new content or improve existing content to rank for those keywords and beat out the competition.
First, use a research tool like SEMRush to see which keywords you’re already ranking for. Simply enter your URL in the Domain Overview tool to get a list of words that are already bringing traffic to your site.
Image source: SEMRush
Next, enter your competitors’ URLs into the Domain Overview tool to see what keywords they’re ranking for. This will give you a list of new words you may consider going after to gain additional business. Further, don’t forget to click on the top keywords to see a list of similar words you could try ranking for.
Image source: SEMRush
Now that you’ve finished compiling your list, it’s time to start incorporating keywords into your content, titles, metadata, alt text, and URLs. Just make sure you don’t overdo it, or you could be penalized for keyword stuffing!
2. Complete a Content Audit
A content audit is a comprehensive look at all of the content that already exists on your website and a list of improvements that need to be made. Don’t be intimidated by the word “audit.” This can be as simple as a spreadsheet with what you’ve published, along with the page URL, meta description, page title, word count, type of content (a blog post, ebook, whitepaper, etc), and the current condition of the content.
The “condition of the content” field is where you’ll decide whether each piece of content is still usable. Does it need an update or should it be deleted altogether? A few examples of conditions include “new,” “evergreen,” “off-topic,” “out-of-date,” and “reusable.”
When your content audit is complete, you’ll have a great idea of how and where to start making improvements.
While completing your content audit, check for any errors that may be harming your SEO. Look for broken pages, 404 errors, broken links, broken images, duplicate content, and spelling and formatting errors. Clean these up as you go to get even further ahead in the content game.
4. Update Content
Now that you’ve decided what needs work, it’s time to optimize. In addition to rewriting, this includes cleaning up URL structures, meta tags, formatting, titles, and making any other adjustments needed to ensure that all of the content on your site is up-to-date, fresh, and useful to your audience. Quality is key.
5. Add Internal Links
One of the simplest strategies on this list is internal linking.You’ve spent countless hours creating new content, now give those old pieces new attention by dropping in a link at the bottom of that post you’re working on. The benefits of this strategy are huge. You’ll see your engagement metrics explode, organic search rankings improve, your bounce rate drop, and time on site increase.
In addition, internal linking increases your backlinking potential on other sites, which helps boost SEO even more.
6. Start Link Building
Speaking of linking, one of the fastest ways to boost your organic ranking is by getting other sites to link to your content, also called “link building.” Studies have shown that sites with more backlinks have higher clout, higher search engine rankings and increase the likelihood of earning clicks and Google snippets. You can build backlinks by focusing on creating great content other sites will want to link back to. Consider utilizing public relations strategies and influencers for even more link power.
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Building your social media clout is essential. Focus on providing useful, entertaining, engaging content, along with great customer service, to generate buzz and attract new customers.
As a general guide, follow the 80/20 rule. Post 80 percent external content that relates, engages, excites your audience relevant to your brand. The idea is to build quality relationships by providing content your audience will love, regardless of where it originates. Only post 20 percent of your own brand-related content. This ensures you’re not overloading your followers with endless sales pitches. By following this rule, you’ll be viewed as a trustworthy source more interested in bringing value than just pushing product.
8. Earn Google Snippets
Earning Google Snippets is a great way to improve organic search traffic and rankings. Google Snippets are the “answer boxes” at the top of a Search Engine Results Page (SERP) when a user asks a question. Snippets show up in nearly 30 percent of Google searches and are nearly twice as likely to be clicked on by a user over the top search result. There’s no exact science for earning snippets, especially since the Google algorithm changes all the time. But, in general, you’ll increase your chances of earning snippets if your content is in the top 10 of a SERP, is “snippable,” mobile-friendly, and error-free.
9. Optimize for Mobile
This summer Google began mobile-first indexing, meaning its algorithms now primarily use the mobile version of a website to determine its ranking. Data shows that mobile search is now outpacing desktop. All the more reason your mobile site should be top-of-mind when it comes to improving your SEO.
In general, responsive design is the best choice when it comes to designing for mobile. This type of web design shows every user exactly the same website regardless of what type of device they’re using. It automatically resizes images, text, menus, and buttons to be more functional for finger-swiping and mobile browsing. The performance of your mobile site will affect your search rankings, so it’s important to ensure that you’re up-to-speed on all devices.
10. Improve Image Quality
Using high-quality images in your content is critical, but there are a few more ways to improve images as a part of your overall SEO strategy. First, be absolutely sure you have the legal rights to use your intended image. Next, ensure the size of your images are appropriate for your website. Most need to be sized down. Third, check that images will scale correctly on any device. Last, when uploading image files to your website, be sure to use appropriate keywords in the filename, rather than the default string of letters and numbers. Along that same line, include keywords in your captions and alt text.
All things combined, these ten strategies have the potential to skyrocket your SEO, increase your search rankings, decrease bounce rates, increase time on site, and keep visitors coming back.
Meg Monk is a freelance writer and content strategist based in Salt Lake City. When she's not writing about marketing strategy, she's camping in Utah's mountains in her 1976 Airstream or planning her next international trip - 29 countries and counting! You can find more of her work at megmonk.com.