Easy SEO tips for startups
The startup life is a struggle at first. You are constantly faced with difficult dilemmas such as: ‘should I spend money on an external consultant to help with SEO?’ and ‘do I really need sleep?’. If you want to save some money somewhere during the initial couple of months, then doing what you can to improve your SEO without hiring another person is not as difficult as it seems.
Recap on SEO basics
Search engine optimisation (SEO) is the term for a multitude of different practices that result in improving your website’s ranking on search engines. This includes all search engines from Safari to Bing, but the majority of people usually talk about SEO with specific reference to Google, which has a market share of 87% of the global search market.
Google’s algorithm works by ranking websites according to how well they answer the searcher’s query. It is common practice for searchers to stick to the first page of results (some studies even indicate that as much as 95% of all search traffic is enjoyed by the first page). Essentially, your goal is to be up there near the top for any queries that relate to your business.
The algorithm constantly measures the quality of information on your website, decides how useful it is to others, and compares it to other sites already in the same space. With over 200 factors considered when Google ranks content, it can feel overwhelming trying to decide what to prioritise. We have picked out a few things to try that will have a clear effect on your SEO rankings.
1. Start immediately
SEO is a test of stamina. You have to be in it for the long game, so start early. Do your research thoroughly and launch your website as soon as reasonably possible. Just get something up there in the digital space with your brand name on it and it will give you a kick-start into visibility.
As soon as your website is up, ensure it is as user-friendly as possible. This part is crucial and often overlooked as a viable SEO tactic. The longer you can keep a user on your website, the more likely they are to turn into a customer, so it follows that you ought to make your site easy to navigate. The search engine algorithm takes user engagement into account, meaning the time taken to read each page and how many times they revisit your site is important.
Keep your customer on your website for as long as possible through clear and visible internal links, fast-loading pages, and easy-to-read fonts. It’s worth compressing images to reduce the page size and adding breadcrumbs to reduce bounce rate and improve page navigation.
Get feedback as soon as you can on how easy your website is to navigate and never stop trying to improve it. Don’t give your visitors any reason to give up and go elsewhere.
2. Mobile optimise your website
Following on from the last point, you need to make sure you aren’t solely focused on those using a laptop. In the US alone, searches performed on mobile devices account for 63% of all Google searches, meaning that you need to be on top of how your website works on mobile. You don’t want a large number of potential customers to be deterred by a confusing or frustrating experience when attempting to scroll through a blog article or client deck on their phone – and Google even penalises websites that aren’t well optimised.
3. Decide on some target keywords
Use Google’s keyword planner to figure out some relevant phrases that will allow you to target your industry without competing with the big dogs. The best way to carve your own unique position is by going after long-tailed keywords of more specific searches happening in your area of expertise (check out Moz's great blog on this). The main premise here is to identify longer, more niche search terms that may not get the same amount of traffic as shorter, more general phrases (e.g. ‘bedroom furniture’ versus ‘second-hand oak bed London’) but have less competition. This way you can rank higher more easily AND get more targeted traffic.
Once you have your keywords don’t aimlessly strew them on every page of your website, or you are likely to have the opposite effect to what you want – Google recognises tactics such as these as Black Hat SEO and penalises them. Essentially, you just need to ask yourself throughout the process whether you are doing something that adds value to the user, and reads naturally, or simply stuffing keyword-heavy text everywhere in an attempt to bump your ratings.
4. Blog your heart out
Get someone producing content around the clock. The most effective way to improve your SEO is by ensuring that your site is full of meaningful and valuable information that makes consumers want to come back for more. Any flags to the algorithm that there is something on your website that appears useful to people is great for SEO. Therefore, you must create a reason for users to spend longer than average reading your content, sharing it on social media, linking to it in their own articles, and visiting pages more than once.
Basically, if your blog is serving up insightful, innovative content, then (with some hard work and time) traffic will be directed straight to your front door.
5. Be a social butterfly
Get your social media accounts up and running - in this day and age, no company can operate without having some form of social presence. This is the easiest way to improve your SEO, as promoting your services and content offerings on social media will divert people to your site. Try building a base as an authority figure in your space by offering advice and insights on a range of topics that will draw in followers and gain a positive reputation. This will mean that in the long run, your social content is more likely to be assumed useful and gain a higher click-through rate. Back on your website, make every blog post easily shareable on social media by placing social sharing icons at the end of each post (or have prompts to share throughout) to give your content a good chance of spreading far and wide.
Overall, be active and engaging with your following and you will boost the number of people coming to your brand for information in no time.
BrighterBox connects bright grads with startups in London. Get in contact for a chat with our team about how we can make your hiring process easier.
*Editor's note: This blog was originally published in 2016 and has since been updated.