Having a solid Search Engine Optimization (SEO) strategy for any business website is imperative, but it's especially important for brands in the always competitive and fast paced startup mindset. As new technologies and tactics become more advanced in digital marketing, SEO will always remain constant. There are many reasons for this, but a few important ones to consider include:
- Google processes over 2 trillion searches per year (SEL)
- 93% of B2B buyers use search to begin buying process (HubSpot)
- SEO leads have a 14.6% close rate - outbound has a 1.7% close rate (imFORZA)
- Search is the #1 driver of traffic to content sites, beating social media by more than 300% (imFORZA)
While the entrepreneurial spirit often sees us dive into challenges headfirst, it's important to take a step back and look at the big picture of SEO and to understand what you'll need in order to make your campaign successful. Taking the time to set up a firm SEO foundation will not only ensure you are performing well from an organic search standpoint, but it also help you pick keywords and develop content that will help you engage your target audience at a deeper level and inspire them to convert when they browse your website.
Here are our SEO tips for startups and growth focused businesses...
Focus On Your SEO Strategy
With any marketing strategy, you need to have a goal in pursuing that effort. Most of the time, because of general excitement or common lack of knowledge and resources such as time and budget, startups buy a dot com, build a website, push publish, and simply let the website exist as real estate. This approach is somewhat understandable as a lot of startup and business growth relies heavily on networking and word of mouth, but when you neglect a solid SEO strategy, you're literally leaving money and opportunity on the table, both valuable resources which we wish we had more of in growing our businesses.
So to start, you need to decide and understand what you ultimately want to accomplish with your SEO strategy. Is it to:
- Drive more traffic and build brand awareness?
- Drive more leads and opportunities?
- Drive more revenue and boost the bottom line?
Once you decide on what you want to accomplish with your SEO strategy, it's time to get to working on building the target audience you're trying to attract to your website. To do this, go through previous clients or prospects that fit your "ideal" audience and conduct market research. Take the following into consideration:
- Job title
But also ask yourself questions about how you first came into contact with your current clients or prospects:
- What issues were they having?
- Why did they reach out or show interest?
- Why were your conversations successful?
- Why were your conversations unsuccessul?
- What materials were valuable in your conversations?
Going through this exercise will help you better understand your prospective customers and also understand what marketing materials and content you'll need to create to attract them from search.
Focus On Keyword & Query Strategy
In order to attract your prospective clients and target audience from search, you'll need to know what keywords and queries they are using when they conduct their searches. First, again, consider your conversations with your clients and the language they are using. When they describe their problems or reasons for contacting you, what words or phrases do they use? What specific things are they saying that indicate how they would be searching?
Take these notes and compile a list of keywords, queries, and phrases your users might be using to search for your products or services. Consider various related phrases to the brainstorm list you just created and begin looking at how much search volume and competition those keywords and queries have. To do this, you'll need to have access to a keyword research tool such as:
Most of these offer free plans, but in order to get the most out of their features and capabilities, you'll want to sign up for a premium account to get access to more data.
Another step you'll want to take in your keyword research is to review what keywords and queries your competitors are ranking for. To do this, pick a list of 3 to 5 competitors and take a look at what keywords are driving the most traffic to their website. To do this, you'll want to have access to a ranking tool like SpyFu or SEMRush. Not only will these tools show you the keywords are estimated to drive the most traffic to your competitor's website, but they will also show you the search volume, competition for that term, as well as what URL on their site is ranking for that term, helping you better understand the content needed to rank.
Once you have a list of prioritized keywords and queries (pro tip - go for high volume, low competition), you'll want to know what kind of content is ranking for those keywords and queries. To help you understand what I mean, I have broken this down into three search categories.
- Transactional: This is where a user is trying to take an action. In this case, they could be making a purchase, downloading information, or more.
- Informational: This is where a user is looking for a specific piece of information. In this case, this could be looking for information on products, services, or a topic.
- Navigational: This is where a user is looking for a particular brand or website. In this case, it would be a user searching for a particular business to possibly learn more about it.
When users are searching they usually fall into one of these 3 categories. Take the time to put your prioritized keywords and queries into these three categories based on your research and review of the content types that are ranking for these keywords. From there, you can begin creating a content strategy to attract researchers and buyers alike.
Focus On Your Content Strategy
By now you've probably heard more times than you count that you need to be developing content on your website. In fact, you've probably heard it so much that you don't even know what it means anymore, right? What is "content"? What does it do? Why do I need to develop so much of it? How does it help grow my business?
To start, content is anything that communicates with and informs your end user or target audience. Content can come in many forms, for instance content can be (but of course isn't limited to):
- Blog posts
Creating and strategically distributing content is essential to any SEO strategy, but it's important that you do it all with a clear purpose and do it consistently. A lot of startups and businesses create massive amounts of content simply because they feel the more content they have, the more people will land on their site. This isn't always true and what it actually does is creates a massive volume of content that may actually serve no purpose - i.e., convincing your prospects to convert or keep moving through the site.
When you create a content marketing strategy, look at the content you create like a funnel...