10 SEO Techniques All Startups Should Be Using

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If you’re a startup entrepreneur, chances are good that search engine optimization (SEO) is the last thing on your mind. After all, why should you worry about things like keyword phrases and backlinks when there are a hundred other items on your “to do” list, all clamoring for your attention?

Unfortunately, this mindset is extremely shortsighted. It doesn’t matter how innovative your products or services are. If people can’t find you online, you’re going to have a seriously tough time sustaining the momentum you need to propel a growing business to success.

So instead of dismissing the tremendous potential involved with SEO, consider implementing any or all of the following techniques into your startup’s marketing plan:

Technique #1 – Identify Target Keywords

In my opinion, a startup’s #1 marketing goal should be to identify at least a handful of potential SEO keywords to target within the natural search results and then optimize the site accordingly. This list should include keyword phrases that your potential customers are actually entering into the engines (as determined by search volume figures found in keyword research tools) and that aren’t too competitive to rank for your site (based on the presence of established websites in Google’s Top 10 results).

Once identified, these keywords should be integrated into your site in key areas, including your page titles, your heading tags, and your body content. Don’t force it through excessive inclusions, but do take advantage of the SEO value these positions hold to inform the search engines about the subject of your web content.

Technique #2 – Implement Branding Efforts

However, while it’s important to identify and target SEO keywords for use in your startup marketing plan, it’s also vital that you begin the branding process as early as possible in your company’s tenure. There’s no arguing with the fact that Google loves brands. Considering that the search engine must rely on quantifiable metrics (rather than subjective assessments) in order to evaluate website quality for display in the natural search results, branded elements remain one reliable bellwether that can be used to indicate viewer valuation.

To get started capturing these benefits for your startup’s website, decide on a set logo, color scheme, tagline, and promotional phrasing as early as possible, and use these elements consistently across your web presence.  Consider working with a graphic designer or marketing consultant if you don’t feel capable of coming up with a cohesive brand on your own.

Technique #3 – Focus on Content Creation

Running a company blog on which you post product updates, industry news reactions, or other personal interest pieces is a vital part of SEO for two reasons.

First, publishing content to your site regularly increases the number of different keywords present on your site. By improving keyword exposure, you may find yourself earning free SEO traffic via natural search phrases you never even targeted on your site!

Second, filling your site with valuable content is a great way to build up the relationships you share with your prospects and customers. Because bounce rate and time on site are both believed to be playing roles in search ranking algorithms, the quality of these relationships could actually improve how well you rank in the SERPs.

Technique #4 – Commit to Social Networking

Truth be told, for many startup entrepreneurs, participating on popular social networking sites can seem like yet another chore to be added to the “to do” list. Don’t let yourself fall into this trap!

Both Google and Bing have acknowledged that social signals, including link shares and brand mentions on some social network status updates, are currently playing a role in natural SERPs rankings, which means that maintaining a presence on these sites is vitally important for your startup’s SEO. If at all possible, make it a priority to invest at least 10-20 minutes each day posting to social networking sites and interacting with the people who follow your company’s profiles on these sites.

Technique #5 – Connect with Social Networking Power Users

While you’re spending time on popular social media sites, it’s also a good idea to take the time to connect with the power users on these platforms. Not only is the relative authority of these social networking participants taken into account when weighting the social signals Google and the other search engines detect for your brand, a single link share from one of these “influencers” could result in a significant influx of traffic and customers to your website.

To do this effectively, identify the people you’d like to connect with based on their numbers of followers and their general authority within your industry, and then let your relationships with them build up naturally. Sharing their content or offering to help them in some way will go a long way towards ensuring the success of your eventual share request.

Technique #6 – Install Google Analytics

Another foundation to web success that all startups should consider is the ability to measure and test different metrics. For example, if you’ve recently added a new sign-up form to your startup’s website, you’ll want to be sure it’s as effective as possible, and you can’t know that if you aren’t measuring the results you achieve through A/B or multivariate split testing.

To gather the data needed to do this effectively, you’ll want to install a program like Google Analytics. It’s free and easy to use, and it provides an incredible wealth of information that can be used to improve your website’s conversion rates.

Technique #7 – Set up Google Analytics Goals

Speaking of conversion rates, once you’ve got Google Analytics installed, you’ll want to take the time to establish website goals and set up the necessary event tracking features to determine how well your website is performing. Because Google Analytics goals allow you to identify whether or not website visitors are engaging with your site the way you envisioned, they’re a vital part of making your site as effective as possible.

For complete details on how to use Google Analytics’s built-in features to start generating this data, take a look at any of the following articles:

Technique #8 – Invest in Link Building Campaigns

While optimizing your website for your chosen SEO and branded keyword phrases is important, it’s only half of the optimization battle. The second primary SEO aim you’ll want to pay attention to is link building, as in the process of getting other websites to point links to your content.

The number, quality, and relevance of the links pointing at your website are all used as quality signals in the search engine ranking algorithms. Because your site’s link profile is estimated to account for as much as 50-80% of your overall “SEO Score,” you’ll find that it’s well worth your while to invest in link building campaigns as soon as your startup’s website is online.

The easiest way to carry out a link building campaign is to take a look at where your competitors are getting their backlinks by using tools like Majestic SEO or the Open Site Explorer. Although you won’t want to copy their link profiles link-for-link, you can use the data generated by these programs to identify potential linking sources and uncover missed link opportunities that could allow you to outrank your opponents in the SERPs.

Technique #9 – Try Guest Posting

One link building technique that deserves special mention here is guest posting. As a guest author, you connect with other websites in your industry to provide guest blog posts in exchange for a link back to your site. When done well (that is, by partnering with top influencers within your industry), you will receive a high-quality, highly-relevant backlink and you also stand to receive additional traffic due to the transfer of perceived “recommendation” of your content by the referring site’s author.

With just a few good guest post spots, it’s possible to substantially increase both your rankings in the natural search results and the amount of traffic flowing to your website.

Technique #10 – Launch Press Releases

Finally, one link building technique that’s especially effective for startup entrepreneurs is the use of press releases. Whenever your company has something newsworthy to report, write up a provocative press release and send it out through a distribution service like PRWeb. As you might expect by now, promoting your site in this way has the potential to both increase traffic and backlinks through the sites that eventually carry your release.

If you’re part of a current or former startup, have you made use of any of these techniques?  Share your thoughts and recommendations for other new business owners in the comments section below!

Sujan Patel
Sujan Patel has over 12 years of digital marketing experience and has helped hundreds of clients increase web traffic, boost user acquisition, and grow their... Read Full Bio
Sujan Patel
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  • A lot of startups might use terminology that doesn’t really have any search volume yet, especially if they have created their own niche. The key is to use a mix of their “new” keywords with related keywords that will still drive traffic. Then they use the content piece to educate people about their new lingo and get it recognized in the industry as new terminology.

    • And building on Nick’s comment, focus on the terms that customers and prospects use to research and purchase our offerings as primary keywords, especially when the objective is revenue.

      B2B marketers often struggle with this aspect and wish to use branded or internal terminologies vs natural search language. If that is the case, data speaks louder than words in demonstrating how search strategy differs from brand positioning and platform development.

    • I think there’s room for both. While a new startup might not have search volume for branded or specific action-oriented keywords yet, odds are there will still be some potential keywords to target that resolve around the problems the startup solves.

      Obviously, any startup will need to carefully evaluate which types of phrases result in the best ROI, but I wouldn’t recommend dismissing broad phrase types right off the bat.

  • Hi Sujan,

    I was browsing the news for SEO and came across your post. Thanks for taking the time to create this checklist, I’m sure it will be handy for many just getting started. I posted a link to this checklist on my blog so I can find you again later. I look forward to reading additional material from you.

  • damian

    if you don’t think that start ups are aware of SEO and these basic techniques, then I might suggest that you’ve not talked to many recently.

    also, what Nick says above is true as well

    • Not all startups are tech-savvy. People bring different skill sets to the table when forming companies and products – and these particular abilities may or may not include SEO. I’d rather have an easy-to-reference guide out there that helps a few people than to wrongly assume that nobody will need it.

  • Most important has to be figuring out what keywords they want to target and creating great content that includes these keywords.

    • Definitely agree. Keywords are incredibly important – if you choose to target the wrong keywords from the start, it will be difficult to gain traction in the natural search results down the road.

  • Commit to Social Networking – What many newbies to social networking do is join the most popular social networking sites (because someone told them to) instead of observing which social networking sites their target audience is on. They then find they are wasting their time, hence a poor ROI.

    Just because Facebook, Twitter or Pinterest works for some people doesn’t mean it works for everyone. (wink)

    • Very good point. Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest do offer good universal appeal (meaning that you’ll probably catch at least part of your target audience there), but it’s possible that your audience may be even more active elsewhere. If that’s the case, you’ll absolutely get the best ROI on social media marketing by going where your people are.

  • Nice Breakdown

    Please keep us update with new stuffs

  • ….and don’t forget Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest specifically as these add weight to a new website. All this SEO is practically a full-time job!

    • Haha – you’re right! SEO can be a full-time job, although there’s still plenty that you can do well if you don’t have that much time to invest.

      And yes, the big three social networks right now generally represent a great way to build social influence, although it’s important to look for other opportunities to connect with your audience on separate, industry-specific sites as well.

  • I think Social Media these days plays a big part in seo and it’s only going to get stronger!

    • Absolutely. The influence of social signals on SEO is definitely growing, and there’s no reason to believe that that’ll slow down in the future as the web becomes even more interactive.

  • Surely installing analytics should be no 1. there’s no way to measure the other steps if you haven’t done this first – it should always be the first step – track, measure – respond..

    • Good point – installing Google Analytics or another similar program should definitely be a top priority for any business.

  • Thank you for a really great post Sujan.
    It is a really good checklist and I know that I have missed some critical steps as have been too focused on the building of the start up.
    Will go over your list step by step.
    Thanks again.

  • Good point, the following SEO techniques are good in increasing traffic and ranking of one site. And both social signals and links work effectively in promotion..

  • Very interesting point you make with technique 2 regarding branding. This is not something I expected and so as a marketer and graphic designer it’s very useful for me to know about when having these conversations with clients. Thanks.

  • White hat technique works but it will take some days, but many don’t understand and they use blackhat and ruined their site/blog.

  • I actually found this very useful.Glad you have focused on branding as well.

  • Agree with all points but other techniques such as “alt image attributes” , “how much title is important for seo” and few more like these are also important for Search engine optimization, However I found this article very useful and like it much.

  • I read this awesome article and applied on my own blog and guess what I saw a boost in my alexa ranking and Traffic stats… A Big Thanx from me ! 🙂 … I have also written an article to a similar topic and I appreciate if you will read and share your views …

  • Hi Sujan, Thanks for information.
    As Google is refining search algorithm day by day so webmasters needs to be very care full while optimizing sites. Getting backlinks is good tactics but again its depend how you working on it. Don’t participate in any link exchange campaign, try to built nice and innovative content which can put some value add to subject.
    Sitemap to Google is very powerful specially we you are new to web and your site is dynamic in nature.
    Hope i am making sense.

  • These are some very practical suggestions, yet I still see start ups focus on the wrong things and then try brute force interruption marketing to get sales. Branding, visibility and attracting those first followers and subscribers is very important and should not be overlooked. Thank you for your useful bullet points and suggestions.