Startups

The SEO playbook for startup businesses

Charles BrecqueCharles Brecque
Last updated on:
January 31, 2022
Published on:
December 30, 2021

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Most startups usually don’t have a hefty budget for marketing purposes so make use of inexpensive means to promote their business. One such method entrepreneurs should consider is search engine optimization in order to better rank in search engine results without paying for google ads (PPC). However, Startup SEO is a different animal than SEO for an established website which will already be indexed and ranked by the search engines. There are some ways that you should try to optimize your site’s SEO in order to maximise your visibility and rankings as a small business. Here are some cost-effective SEO tips that don't require you to be an SEO expert or SEO agency help your startup SEO campaign.


How do search engines work?

In order to optimise your search engine rankings you need to first understand how they work. Search engines try to offer the best results to searchers depending on their query and search intent whilst offering them a great user experience. This means that if the search engine has understood that the user is looking for a quick answer, they will present the answer or a preview of the answer directly in the search results as a SERP or alternatively point them to pages which offer the answer in a quick and clear way. If the search engine has understood that the user is querying for research purposes and they are more likely to recommend articles and longer form content. Search engines will rank content based on the quality of its content, its structure and the page speed as these all contribute to a great user experience. Search engines also factor in the number of backlinks from other websites pointing to your website and the relevance of those links to establish your domain authority and credibility. Producing content on your website for certain topics consistently will also contribute to your domain's authority for that topic.


How does startup SEO work?

When a website is new like in the case of a startup, the biggest challenge is to prove to the search engines that they should rank you for topics which are relevant to your business because by default your new domain will have no links pointing to it and therefore no domain authority. However, search engines do not like it when they are not able to provide search results (because it offers a poor user experience) which is why startups have a huge opportunity by targeting long tail keywords and building domain authority in time. Startups should therefore prioritize their seo efforts around long tail keywords to obtain some early wins. Startups can also implement other SEO tactics and strategies which are explained in our small business seo guide.


How to leverage long tail keywords?

Long tail keywords are characterised by a low search volume and there are two different types of long tail keywords small businesses should be aware of. The first long tail keyword type is "unusual" queries which can be perceived as random such as "slugs in rentals". The second type consists of queries which are effectively hyper specific keywords for a given product or service and therefore rare such as "Tesla Model 3 black four wheel drive 2020". Developing content and template pages for long tail keywords is an SEO tactic which allows a startup to rank for these keywords because the low volume nature of these keywords will means that there'll be few competitors offering relevant content for those queries. Being relevant for those target keywords will in turn lead to more clicks from your target audience for your website which will then allow you to gain credibility with the search engines and build domain authority.

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How to build domain authority?

Obtaining clicks for long tail keywords will allow your website to gain some credibility with the search engines. Producing relevant content which is connected together via internal links under topic clusters is also a great way for your website to establish credibility. For example, if your startup targets car dealers, you can consistently produce relevant content for the different car dealer buyer and seller personas and the problem you are solving for them in order to prove to the search engines that you understand the domain and can add value to car dealers searching for your solution. You can also reach out to car dealer blogs and website to point to your content via linkbuilding efforts. These website are more likely to link your content if you have linkable content such as a guide, a directory or an infographic which might appeal to their audience. Developing a content strategy which produces high-quality content consistently, which is relevant to your audience and linkable will help you acquire domain authority and in time rank better for the more valuable and higher volume keywords you are targeting. Another strategy is to identify your competitor's broken links and reach out to webmasters to link to your content instead.



How to improve SEO with conversion rates

Now that you are generating traffic to your website and building domain authority, the search engines will be paying closer attention to the quality of your website and how search visitors behave on the landing pages. If visitors drop off soon after landing then it will have a negative impact on your website bounce rates whereas the search engine algorithm will reward you if visitors navigate to a different page via a call to action button. For a SaaS website the call to action might be a sign up button. Search engines are trying to offer the best user experience to searchers so they will ultimately improve your website rank if your startup business solution is adequate for the problem described by your visitors' search terms. You can also develop landing pages based on your keyword research in order to minimise the risk of drop off. You can also iterate on the meta descriptions of your landing pages to increase the likelihood of someone clicking on your link in organic search results. Whilst it might take some time for the search engine algorithms to rank your content when you first start, you can accelerate the time it takes them to notice you by distributing your content with social media.


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Content distribution tips and tricks

Your SEO goals and strategy need to be aligned with your digital marketing strategy as sharing your content on social media will help search engines find your content faster. Moreover, your content marketing on social media can increase your brand awareness and help you acquire potential customers. You can develop templates to make it easier for you to share your posts on the different platforms and you can customise the thumbnails based on the network and audience. You can also distribute your posts via your own newsletter or you can rely on third party newsletters or influencers to promote your content to your target audience. To increase your audience you can also launch your own podcast or become a guest on other shows. The podcast transcripts can help with your SEO as can the links from the podcast platform to your website.


What to do next?

As a startup or small business it is important to experiment and iterate until you succeed. The same philosophy can be applied to SEO and continuous work, no matter how small can lead to an increase in organic traffic. Using a website builder like wordpress or webflow can help you create web pages for SEO purposes quickly without much development effort. Ranking factors can evolve with search algorithm updates so monitor your metrics on a weekly and monthly cadence to determine if your efforts are having an impact. Use free tools like google analytics and the google search console to monitor your traffic channels and determine where you should be sharing your content and which traffic is coming from your search rankings. You can use paid SEO tools like ahrefs, semrush and moz to understand where your competitors are featured and if there are any directories or websites you can also distribute your content. To maximise the impact of your SEO efforts you should also ensure you have nailed the technical SEO of your website such as on page SEO and title tags which will make the indexing of your web pages by search engines faster and more frequent. Updating old content to ensure it stays relevant is also a positive signal for search engines. For example e commerce websites should ensure that out of stock items or products no longer sold redirect to the category pages of those products. For example, articles listing top tools should also be updated when new tools are released to the market. Finally, it is important to follow SEO communities on Twitter or Reddit to anticipate the next SEO defining trends.


This guide has presented an SEO strategy which any startup business can implement to improve their organic search results for their target clients' search queries. Consistent SEO efforts can lead to high traffic and conversions which will compound in time. No matter what SEO tactics or hacks you implement, they can lead to positive results as long as they stick to the fundamentals of offering a great user experience to searchers.


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The opinions on this page are for general information purposes only and do not constitute legal advice on which you should rely.

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