Getting Started with SEO as a Start-Up

If you have a start-up, you probably have a website. If you have a website in 2020, it needs to be optimized for search engines to achieve success. Google and Bing’s algorithms now make it very hard for a completely new site to rank among competitors on the search engine results page (SERP) without first being perceived by them as trusted. This is even harder if your website impacts viewers’ money or life, such as if you’re selling a product or service. So, if you’re a start-up with a website, here is what you need to know about SEO.

Google’s Starter Guide

Google has an SEO guide for websites that need Google Search to survive (i.e., any website that doesn’t specifically reject Google). This guide clearly states that the best way for a website to be featured on their SERP is by clearly benefiting their users. They outline that any SEO you undertake should be with the philosophy of making the user experience better.

The first thing they ask you to check is whether your site is already showing on Google after its launch. At this point, you should double-check that you have a robots.txt page, as if you have just launched, it can help Google’s (and other search engines’) ‘robots’ crawl through the internet and add your page to their directory.

They specify that your website needs to be secure, serve high-quality content to users, and have content optimized to be fast and easy to access on all devices. The 4th paragraph of Google’s guide is effectively a heads-up. It asks you if you need an SEO expert and tells you that doing so can save time and implies that the complex nature of SEO means there is a lot for a newcomer to cover. They recommend that you start off by getting an expert to audit your site, something that leading SEO companies typically include in a package. For example, Click Intelligence offers site auditing available in a custom package alongside content generation, pay per click strategy, PR outreach, and a lot more.

Google’s guide then proceeds to cover a lot of technical information, which can be overwhelming for those new to SEO, but is recommended for anybody looking to get a comprehensive understanding of the processes involved. However, they jump straight into the technicalities of SEO without outlining the importance of something else first. That something else is demographics work.

Proper Demographics Work

If you are significantly down the road of your start-up launch, you have probably conducted demographics analysis of your target market. If not, please understand that this is a vital component in selling products and services to both businesses and direct to consumers. When you start your SEO strategy, you will need to refer to the analysis you have conducted, as everything about your brand should be tailored to those to whom you wish to sell.

When you’re planning your SEO, you need to remember that the whole point of the exercise is to think of who you want to be searching for you and attempt to enhance your visibility to them. It can be worth it, at this stage, to conduct analyses of your competitors’ audiences, too. Really flesh this out – who are the users and how do they think, what do they want from a service, how do they search, on which devices do they search, etc. This analysis will help you understand that your audience will not search for your start-up by name almost all the time when you’re starting out. Instead, they will find your start-up by searching for a need they have that needs to be fulfilled. How do you tailor your SEO for them?

Keywords

Keywords are a foundation of SEO strategy. To successfully implement SEO, you need to understand the key terms that searchers are looking for, and tailor your site to include them in such a way that a search engine determines your site as valuable for those searching with your chosen keywords.

There are several free tools that can help you research keywords that you think might be valuable to your SEO. It’s recommended that you explore keywords as much as you can – expand on possible phrases and analyze where these search terms are active (which sites and which locations). Keywords can be short-tail or long-tail. Short-tail keywords are more general and shorter, e.g., “chocolate,” and long-tail keywords are more specific and tend to be longer, e.g., “best chocolate recipes.” Short-tail keywords are much harder to rank highly on the SERP with, so its recommended when you’re brainstorming keywords to choose a few short-tails but at least five long-tails to expand on each short-tail keyword you choose.

If you’re stuck with building your list of keywords, try a simple process with a complicated name: pattern recognition through stems and qualifiers. Take a short-tail keyword and apply different qualifiers to turn it into a long-tail keyword. Examples of these qualifiers are:

  1. Relevant adjective – best start-up
  2. Location – start-up London
  3. Brand – Nike start-up
  4. Product spec/feature – Student’s start-up
  5. Product Type – SaaS start-up
  6. Intended use – Part-time start-up
  7. Comparison – Start-up vs corporation
  8. Action request – buy start-up

Once you have developed a list of keywords, you can start to think about where you include them on your site. Then, you need to think about your content.

Content Marketing – The King

The importance of content has become a cliché in online marketing and SEO, but it is so for a reason. You need high-quality content that can take the form of a blog page, videos, pictures – anything that your demographics will willingly consume with interest. Content needs to be factual and enticing, and is important in the eyes of Google, as it gives you some authority within your niche. Factual, well-researched posts that are 100% original and inform readers about a specific problem and potential solutions are highly recommended, as they not only position your site as an expert, but can attract backlinks.

When people share your content online in blog posts and other pieces of content, they may choose to link back to your site to demonstrate their point. This establishes your site as helpful for other people, and search engine algorithms observe these backlinks and are more likely to position you higher up on the SERP, as they can see that your site is trustworthy and provides value. Backlinks have to be genuine; they can’t just be hacked by creating a series of blogs and copying and pasting content with the addition of a link to your site. When they work best, backlinks are from high-quality articles themselves. Sites that master content marketing generate 500% more leads, have 434% more pages on the SERP, and 55% more traffic, according to Semrush.

Taking care of your SEO on a regular basis involves a lot of content generation, as your site will need to stay fresh and relevant in order to generate genuine backlinks. That shouldn’t be the only thing you maintain with your SEO efforts, though. The world of SEO is ever-changing and is rife with major revolutions that can see a high-ranking page wiped from the face of the SERP (as was observed in the infamous Google Medic update).

If you feel you have the basics of SEO down, you should regularly audit your site to make sure that everything is working as planned – and stay up to date with SEO news, as any bit of leaked information from Googles’ search engine algorithm department can help to boost your site’s rankings.

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