Starting a business is exhilarating. Unfortunately, the “build it and they will come” theory doesn’t hold much weight and those overnight success stories you hear about are often the result of behind the scenes years of hard work.
If you are a startup, SEO or Search Engine Optimization might be the last thing on your mind! After all, why should you worry about things like keyword and backlinks when there are hundred other items on your “to do” list?
If you are on this route, unfortunately this mindset is shortsighted and now it’s time to stop, take a break and think! If people can’t find you online, what good are all the efforts you are putting in? It is going to be really tough to sustain if you are not going to do something about your search engine presence.
Here are few things you could do to get started with SEO (Search Engine Optimization) for your Startup:
1. Identify Target Keywords
“Think about what a user is going to type” — Matt Cutts
The foundation to an SEO strategy is the keywords used within your website. Keywords are relevant words and phrases related to the topic of your website’s content. When strategically placed within website content, search engines index your site based on the keywords to generate search results when user types in a related search query.
Make a list of all products and services you offer. How do you refer to them? How do potential clients and customers refer to them? Come up with as many combinations of phrases as you can manage.
Use Google Keyword Planner tool to get additional keyword ideas. Conduct keyword research to find the most appropriate keywords that have the potential to raise the visibility of your website on search engines.
Once you have a hefty list, integrate these search terms into the content of your website, in the HTML tags as well as the links. This will help search engines understand what your website is about.
2. Create Page Title Tags
Next to content, page titles are the second most important onsite SEO element. Write a unique title tag for each page, using one or more target keywords you’ve assigned to that page. Be sure to include your business name. Keep the entire title tag under 60 characters.
3. Develop Meta Description
Many people forget to include meta descriptions for their pages. Meta descriptions provide a brief summary of the webpage’s content to tell search engines users what your page is about.
Write a unique meta description for each webpage, using one or more target keywords you’ve assigned to that page. Keep the entire meta description under 155 characters.
4. Use Heading Tags
Heading tags used to highlight various headings, sub-headings and important points on web page. Most CMS’s (like WordPress) automatically add the H1 tag to your blog post title. If that’s the case, you’re all set. You don’t need to use any more H1 tags anywhere in the article. One is enough. For section breaks, stick to H2 and H3 tags. Also, don’t use too many H2 or H3 tags as Google’s algorithms won’t like that.
Make sure you write keyword rich headings in the order of priority in H1, H2 and H3 title tags. They are used by many crawlers to differentiate important content.
Listen what Google’s Matt Cutts has to say about repeating heading tags:
5. Optimize Images on Website
Image optimization does help a lot in driving traffic from image searches.
Keywords in the “image title” and the “alt text” help to make your blog post more focused and targeted.
But more important than that:
Images create engagement.
Content that contains images receive as much as 94 percent more views than those without; the more engaged a user is, the more likely they’ll stick around, thus increasing your overall rank.
One very important point to note. Large images will slow down your site, and slow loading site will decrease your Google rank. So, it is important to keep file size small to promote a fast load time as 40 percent of people will leave a website that takes more than 3 seconds to load.
Here’s a nice infographic from Kissmetrics explaining how loading time affects your ranking.
6. Enhance Your Website Structure
The better your site structure, the better your chance for higher rankings in the search engines. Good website structure promotes user experience, resulting in a more reputable site in both the eyes of search engines and internet users.
A good site structure provides your site with sitelinks.
Sitelinks are huge SEO advantage. It is a listing format in the SERPs that show your site’s main page along with several internal links indented below.
Google’s algorithm automatically awards websites with sitelinks. And they do so based on great site structure. If you have a poor site structure, it’s very likely that your site will never receive site links. The absence of sitelinks could be costing your site more targeted traffic, higher CTR, and increased conversions.
7. Improve URL Structure
There are a lot of little things we can tweak to help a site rank better. This includes improving a site’s URL structure by making it more SEO friendly. Create unique, short, and easy to remember URLs for each page to avoid any confusion and to make the URLs more shareable.
Guide to improve URL structure
- Use short and simple URLs
- Shorter the URL, easier to circulate
- Use keywords in URL that are relevant to page content
- Avoid using lengthy URLs with unnecessary parameters and session IDs
- Create a simple directory structure that organizes your content well and is easy for visitors to know where they are at web site
- Avoid having deep nesting of subdirectories like dir1/dir2/…
- Check your site for broken relative links
- Avoid using odd capitalization of URLs
- Use dash instead of underscore to separate the terms
- Don’t mix up www & non-www versions of URLs in internal linking structure
- Set up a 301 redirect from non-preferred URLs to the dominant URL
8. Good Website Navigation
The navigation of your website is critical as search engines take the user experience into consideration when ranking websites, not to mention your bounce rate will increase as users abandon difficult to navigate sites.
Users must be able to navigate from page to page easily, with all webpages accessible from one another in less than 3 clicks from the homepage. The better your site is organized for navigation, the better search engines and users will understand the flow of your site.
9. Produce Quality and Relevant Content
More than anything else, are you producing quality content? Quality and relevant content is king when it comes to building your website’s authority, traffic and ranking.
Few content strategies:
- Ensure that each page of your site has at least 300 words of unique content on it
- Set up a blog on your domain, and publish something on it as often as you can (aim for twice per month to start). Write articles that you would personally find interesting and would want to read.
- Go beyond text: create videos, podcasts, webinars, infographics, illustrations, PDF downloads and more!
- Organize your content using specific categories for quicker navigation.
- Identify 2–3 primary audiences for your product or service, and create unique content for each one.
- Maintain high standards for your content to offer users unique and valuable information that’s based around your keywords.
10. Build and Submit a Sitemap
When it comes to improve your website ranking, an XML sitemap can be a really good partner. This helps Google and other main search engines to easily understand your website structure while crawling it.
It informs search engines about pages on your website that are available for crawling. While having no XML sitemap is not penalized, creating one is highly recommended because it can improve your SEO.
11. A Responsive Design (Mobile-Friendly Design)
Since mobile search surpass desktop, a responsive web design is now established as the best way to create a website mobile visitors love.
12. Build Online Community
Content (blogging, videos, text, photos) is an absolute marketing weapon for startups and entrepreneurs when done correctly. The cost to create, publish and promote is low with the benefits being huge. But this isn’t a case of build it and they will come.
Creating and participating in an online community is one way surefire way to build your business relationships. Creating an online community can not only help strengthen your brand, it will also give you a direct path of communication between you and your potential customers.
Connect and engage communities, businesses, and influencers on social media sites and networking opportunities to become a well recognized voice in your industry.
13. Use Webmaster Tools
Use these tools to monitor and track your website’s performance to make necessary adjustments to increase search ranking and user interactions. Increasing your website’s ranking won’t happen overnight, but if you stick with it and make the necessary adjustments, you’ll steadily increase your search engine visibility.
14. Competitor Analysis
There is no business without competitors! It doesn’t matter what industry you’re in, you should keep track of your main competitors.
To beat the competition, you should spy on your competitors’ every marketing move. Tracking competitors’ search rankings, content, social mentions, emails, and anything else they do to boost business. This is not to copy, but to adjust and make changes to your strategy so that you get a competitive edge!
Now Get Started with SEO for your Startup
SEO can be an effective, low cost way to grow your startup as long as you can execute well. Try these SEO for startup strategies to make sure you get started on right foot!
Tomorrow you will wish you had started today! 🙂