Alongside all of the other challenges a startup faces, developing an SEO strategy can be an intimidating task. But like it or not, SEO has become a fundamental component of any startup’s business strategy, and for better or worse, it can have a lasting impact on a company’s success. If you want the best for your startup, getting smart about SEO is one of the first things you should be doing. So where do you start the journey and how can you navigate for the long term?
Attitude is everything
When developing an SEO strategy for your startup, it is absolutely vital that you go into it with the right attitude and realistic expectations. Mastering the world of SEO is not an overnight job. It takes time to implement the right tools, and to let them work their magic. Even if your startup had the funds to hire the #1 SEO expert in the world, it could take several months for you to start seeing tangible results.
If you have the right attitude, you will also be less tempted to take advantage of some of the “black hat” SEO tactics that offer short-term success but failure in the long-term. So before you take the next step, make sure you’re in a position to stay positive, patient, and practical.
First Things First: Should you outsource?
You’re probably asking this question about a lot of the items on your startup’s TO DO list and “Develop SEO strategy” is no exception. The short answer here is no. With funds likely at a minimum, and brute survival as the extent of your strategic plan, you probably don’t have the luxury of outsourcing your SEO needs.
But here’s the good news. The elements that comprise an effective, high quality SEO strategy are the same elements that make up a lasting, successful business strategy…the first of which is substance.
Two Birds, One Stone
Unfortunately, a quality product does not automatically equal a thriving business. But you certainly can’t have the latter without the former. So start by taking a look at your website’s content and become a trusted source for your audience. To put this into some real-life context, let’s say your startup is a children’s shoe store. Your target audience is the parents in your local area. So what might they be searching for other than shoes?
By including information about upcoming local children’s events or a blog about tips for new parents, your website will not only improve its ranking in a search but it will become a trusted source of information for potential customers. It’s also pretty safe to assume someone is more likely to repost a link to useful information on an upcoming Children’s Fair versus a link to a pair of shoes they’re looking to buy for their son. Social media has never had a larger stake in determining web traffic and word-of-mouth advertising is no longer just about your specific product or service. So if you want to increase your volume of shares (i.e. user posts to Twitter, Facebook, etc.), start by enhancing your non-brand related content.
Don’t Be Too Cool for School
It is never too early or too late to start educating yourself on the history and future of SEO trends and techniques. And you don’t need a student loan to do it. Google, for example, provides a free SEO starter guide available here. Know your keywords…invest in tools that allow you to track which keywords are attracting the most relevant web traffic to your site. And learn how to integrate those keywords within your site’s URL, headlines, and content.
In Sickness and in Health
SEO trends are anything but static, so if you’re going to truly commit, you’re in it for the long haul. But if you’re ready to take the vow, then the marriage between your startup’s website and the major search engines can be a beautiful thing.
But don’t expect love at first sight. Your startup needs to woo the search engines first.
Angie Picardo is a staff writer for