Search Engine Optimization
A Beginner’s Guide to SEO for Startups
When it comes to marketing strategies for startups, most entrepreneurs want fast and cheap! After all, you’ve got limited seed money and you’re fighting against the clock to wow your investors. But with SEO, thinking short-term WILL come back to bite you. Make time for these must-do SEO tasks and give your startup what it needs to go the distance.
Don’t Overlook the SEO Foundations
Choose a Reliable, Fast Hosting Provider
Most people associate SEO with keywords and creating content, but the quality of your hosting provider can also have a big impact on your SEO. Google is less likely to present your website in the search results if it loads slowly, goes down frequently, or has been hacked.These are all red flags that your site won’t provide a good user experience. To avoid these problems, choose a host that has:
- High average uptime
- Fast loading speed
- Regular back-ups
- Excellent security
- Top rate customer service
- Options to scale up as you grow
Create a Responsive Website
Responsive design has become standard for new websites, but it’s worth reinforcing. With more than two-thirds of Americans accessing websites on their phone, Google recently switched to a mobile-first indexing process. This means a site with a better mobile experience will likely receive a rankings boost. If you think most of your audience will access your site on their phone, you might consider a mobile-first design.
Connect your website to Google Analytics and Google Search Console
The last part of your technical SEO foundation is connecting your website to two free Google tools. You can make smart adjustments to your SEO plan and stay on top of issues that might affect user experience.
- Google Analytics - This tool gives you an objective snapshot of traffic statistics, such as total site visits, bounce rate, average time on site, and demographic information. You can interpret website usage data and identify trends to increase traffic. Choose the metrics that have the most impact and add them to a dashboard of key performance indicators.
- Google Search Console - This tool helps website owners improve their search ranking. You can find and fix website errors, submit a sitemap, and give Google information on how to crawl your site. It also includes Google Page Speed Insights, which helps you identify reasons your site might be slow. If hosting isn’t a problem, your loading delays might be related to unnecessary code, redirects, or large images. Google Search Console will help you pinpoint the issues.
Moz.com offers excellent step-by-step guides for both Google Analytics and Google Search Console. However, if you don’t have the time or inclination to tackle these kinds of tasks, you may want to hire a digital marketing agency. Pacific54 can set these up and use the insights to improve your SEO.
Understand What Your Audience is Searching For
You’ve already done a ton of market research to make sure your startup is viable. You might be tempted to skip over keyword research. After all, you know your target market. But sometimes you’re so close to your business that you don’t really think or talk like a customer. And that’s exactly what you have to do to succeed with SEO. Here are a few ways you can generate keywords and phrases they’re likely to use.
- Talk to potential customers - If you have access to your target audience, send an online survey or facilitate a focus group to see if the keywords you’ve gathered are ones they’d use. Ask them to offer suggestions.
- Listen to online conversations - Whether it’s a comment on social media, question on Quora, or a conversation in a forum, monitor what your clients are saying and pluck out terms that come up frequently. Facebook and LinkedIn groups are a great way to gather real user language.
- Expand on keyword seeds - If you have a list of possible keywords (or seeds), you can use Google to identify related terms or longer phrases. Just begin typing your keyword and you’ll see automated prompts before you hit submit. After you search, you can also scroll to the bottom for related searches.
Identify Target Keywords and Phrases
Once you have a list of keywords, it’s time to evaluate which ones you’ll target. To help you make this decision, you can use free tools like Google Keyword Planner,Ubersuggest, or Keywords Everywhere to see the monthly search volume and keyword competition (how difficult it is to rank for a particular search term).
There’s no set rule for choosing keywords, but it’s best for startups to use long-tail keywords (those with two or more words) because they’re less competitive. For example, “Choosing a CRM” might be a better choice than simply “CRM.” SEO for startups can be tough because websites that have been around longer will have the advantage. However, by using longer search terms, you’re often getting more relevant traffic.
Plan Your Website Structure
Now it’s time to apply your keyword research to create a great user experience. Think about your website’s page structure as if you were the customer. Navigation is never a place to get cute. Keep it straightforward so they can find what they need. Don’t use your branded terms. Use terms they know. For example, instead of a page called “Health System Growth Tools” try “Healthcare CRM Software.” You can save the creativity for other areas of your site. Having clear page names that match your keywords will help your SEO and your website visitor.
Maximize Every SEO Opportunity
Use this checklist to make sure you’re maximizing SEO potential on every new page or blog. If you do this consistently, the benefits will grow exponentially over time.
- Page Title - This is what appears on the search engine results. Make it descriptive, relevant to what’s on the page, and include your primary keyword. It’s also helpful to include your company name. Keep it under 60 characters. For example: Healthcare CRM Software - Must-Have Features | ABC Software
- Meta Description - This is the description that also appears on the search results page, just under the page title. It’s what will entice searchers to click on your page, so make it compelling. Include your primary keyword. Keep it under 160 characters. For example: Learn more about the features of ABC Software’s new and improved healthcare CRM software, designed for today’s busy professional.
- Page URL - Make this the same as your page title with stop words removed and dashes between words. For example: /healthcare-crm-software-must-have-features
- Headings - Make your content easy to scan quickly by including headings. Use language in your headings that your customer will quickly grasp. If it sounds natural, you can use your primary keyword for that page or another related keyword. Just reserve the H1 heading for the page title.
- Image Description - When you include images, this is another opportunity to add keywords. Just don’t go crazy because Google doesn’t like keyword stuffing. Use the keyword if it makes sense in the image description and alt text. The important thing is to be accurate in your description.
- Internal and External Links - Add both kinds of links to provide the best experience to your website visitor. Internal links keep your reader engaged and on the site longer. SEO experts believe external links also help search rankings by associating with other relevant websites, especially if they’re high authority.
- Content - When writing your content, don’t go overboard with keywords, especially if they sound awkward. Google is way more sophisticated than it was even five years ago. While this was a strategy in the past, adding too many keywords can now hurt your chances of ranking. Focus on creating high-quality content that provides value. Go back after you’ve written something to see if you can incorporate your keywords naturally.
SEO for startups is really no different than any other business. However, startups that embrace SEO early on will have the momentum to grow into a profitable business. Contact us at Pacific54 to get your business off to a strong start.