In the startup world, where resources are stretched paper-thin and everyone wears ten hats each, it’s common to hear founders say that they don’t have time to focus on their Search Engine Optimization (SEO) – it’s too expensive, too competitive, and takes too long to generate results. But in such a competitive space, every advantage counts, and focusing a bit of energy on optimizing your online presence is an investment worth making.
Not convinced that you should spend time on your SEO? Here are just a few ways SEO can benefit your startup:
It helps you reach more potential customers
It establishes your voice and authority
It generates conversation about and interest in your startup
It increases traffic to your website
It improves brand awareness
The importance of setting SEO goals for your startup
The first step to finding success in SEO is setting realistic, attainable goals that fit within your business plan and match your startup’s goals. Setting goals is a critical step in the SEO process because without a realistic set of goals, you won’t be able to track your progress and make adjustments over time.
Here are a few examples of good goals you could set for your startup that improving your SEO could dramatically affect:
- Increase sales by 10% over the next quarter
- Double blog traffic in the next 6 months
- Increase website traffic by 30% in the next 3 months
- Increase monthly new leads by 30% by the end of the year
After you’ve defined your goals, the next step is to think through how your digital strategy fits into each goal and what SEO strategies will be useful for reaching those goals. For example, if one of your goals is to double the number of new monthly leads for your sales team, you might decide to focus on increasing organic traffic to your gated content pieces or attempt to improve the keyword ratios of your high-conversion landing pages.
10 SEO strategies for startups on a budget
Once you’ve determined how SEO fits into your startup’s business goals, the next step is to decide which SEO strategies will be the best use of your limited time. Below, I’ll share 10 SEO strategies you could choose to focus on and the potential benefits of each for your startup.
1. Keyword research
Keyword research is one of the most critical pieces of a successful SEO strategy because it allows you to find out exactly what your customers are searching for. The benefit of this is once you know what words and phrases your customers are looking for, you can improve your existing content to rank for those keywords, create better new content, and beat out the competition for those coveted clicks.
First, use a keyword research tool like SEMRush to see which keywords you’re already ranking for. Simply enter your URL in the Domain Overview tool and you’ll get a list of words that are already bringing users 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 want to try ranking for to gain additional business.
Once you’ve made a list of your keywords and those of your competitors, don’t forget to click on your top keywords to see a list of similar keywords you could try ranking for.
Image source: SEMRush
When you’ve finished compiling your keyword list, don’t forget to add your top keywords to your titles, metadata, alt text, URLs, and body copy.
2. 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 the titles of all of your published content, along with the page URL, meta description, page title, word count, what type of content it is (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 or whether it needs an update – or to be deleted altogether. A few examples of categories each piece of content include “new,” “evergreen,” “off-topic,” “out-of-date,” and “reusable.”
When your content audit is complete, you’ll have a great idea of where you should start when it comes to making content improvements.
3. Checking existing content for errors
While you’re completing your content audit, it’s a great idea to check for any errors that may be harming your startup’s SEO. This can include broken pages, 404 errors, broken links, broken images, duplicate content, and spelling and formatting errors. Clean these up as you go and you’ll be that much further ahead in the content game.
4. Optimizing content
The next step is to optimize the content that you’ve identified needs work. 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.
5. Internal Linking
One of the simplest strategies on this list, internal linking is the process of linking to your old content in each new piece of content you create. You’ve spent countless hours creating content, give those old pieces new life by simply dropping in a link at the bottom of that post you’re working on. The benefits of this simple strategy are huge – you’ll see your engagement metrics explode: organic search rankings will improve, your bounce rate will drop, and time on site will increase.
In addition, internal linking increases your backlinking potential on other sites, which will help boost your SEO even more.
6. Link building
Speaking of backlinking, one of the fastest ways to boost your organic ranking is by getting other sites to link to your content, also called “link building.” Getting linked isn’t the only part of SEO you should pay attention to, but 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, and consider utilizing public relations strategies and influencers for even more linking power.
7. Social Media Engagement
Another great way to get people to link back to your startup’s website is by focusing on building your social media clout. If you focus on providing great customer service on your social media, you’ll generate lots of great buzz and your customers will want to follow you, provided you keep producing useful, entertaining, engaging content.
As a general rule, follow the 80/20 rule – post 80 percent external content that relates to your subject matter and audience and 20 percent your own brand-related content. If you overpost your own content, your customers will get irritated and unfollow you. If you focus on posting relevant content that your customers will enjoy, regardless of whether you created the content, your followers will view you as a trustworthy source that’s actually interested in helping them learn, rather than just pushing product on them.
8. Earning Google snippets
If you’re interested in improving your organic search traffic and search rankings, earning Google Snippets is a great way to do that. 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 and the Google algorithm changes all the time, but in general, you’ll increase your chances of earning snippets for your content if your content is in the top 10 on a SERP (which means focusing on SEO), your content is “snippable,” your site is mobile-friendly, and your content is error-free.
9. Mobile optimization
This summer Google began mobile-first indexing, meaning its algorithms now primarily use the mobile version of a website to determine its ranking. This comes as a result of data showing that mobile search is now outpacing desktop, which means 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, but 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. Image SEO
You already know that using high-quality images in your content is critical, but there are probably still a few ways you can improve your images as a part of your overall SEO strategy. In addition to being absolutely sure you have the legal rights to use your intended image, be sure the size of your images are appropriate for your website (most need to be sized down) and will scale correctly on any device. 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, and also include keywords in your captions and alt text.
Get more SEO tips for your startup
Follow these ten suggestions to skyrocket your SEO without an overwhelming amount of legwork. Implemented correctly, these SEO tips for startups will help you increase your search rankings, decrease bounce rates, increase time on page, and keep your visitors coming back. Want even more SEO help from the pros? Schedule your free consultation with a Big Leap SEO expert today. Our SEO services combined with our content marketing services can help you discover and implement the power of these practices.