Beginners Guide to DIY SEO For Your Startup
If your business is not yet taking advantage of search engine optimization, you may end up closing shop sooner than expected.
There are countless reasons why you may want to get into SEO, but the most important one is to boost your business, especially after Covid-19 threw a spanner in the brick and mortar sector.
For most businesses to survive the 2020 financial year, they had to adapt digital marketing because it is the most effective way to access customers stuck in their homes due to movement restrictions.
What is SEO, you might be wondering?
In layman’s terms, SEO is formatting your content according to a search engine’s guidelines so that when potential customers’ searches include keywords related to your services, your business will be up there on the first-search-results page.
Appearing among the top results on a search engine leads to more visitors to your website, leading to visitors’ conversion to paying customers. The process sounds straightforward, but it’s anything but easy.
In order to achieve considerable success, you will need to implement digital marketing strategies that suit your particular business.
This article will look at how a technology startup can utilize SEO to achieve success in their endeavor. New startups tend to burn out before their third birthday, and one of the reasons is always poor marketing.
Reasons Why Marketing Is Vital to Your Survival
Gone are the days when you could start a company and wait for customers to come to you. Today you have to think differently, just as Steve Jobs did with his genius marketing strategies. His approach was to offer a customer a product that they never knew they needed.
Steve Jobs achieved that by implementing the principles of SEO marketing. These tactics include:
- Repeating a phrase in the content, similar to a keyword.
- Making the content shareable.
- Creating value for the target audience.
The co-founder of one of the most successful companies in history was using SEO optimization at a time when the internet browsers had not become widespread. He used traditional means of advertising through print, video, merchandise, and word of mouth.
At one point, the company was struggling after being kicked out, but it was clear how vital to survival marketing is for any business when he returned.
Let’s take the example of a movie that makes billions at the box office. Not many people know that production companies spend more resources on marketing the film months and even a year before it is released. The marketing budget will be more than that of the movie’s pre-production stage.
Typically, it is between 40 and 30 percent of the total budget to produce the movie. You should have the same approach with your startup.
Suppose your budget is 100 thousand, then set aside 40k for marketing and distributing your product. Even when you don’t have a product yet, use the resources to market your idea.
The same can be said about successful startups that go on Kickstarter. You will use the crowdfunding platform for marketing your startup in an effort to raise funds that will be vital to your success and survival.
As mentioned above, funds will be required to carry out a decent marketing campaign, but what happens when you don’t have the funds?
Yes, you guessed correctly, that is where SEO comes in. Technology has made it possible for any startup to implement successful marketing campaigns on a shoestring or no budget at all.
Getting Started in SEO As A Startup
There are always two options to approach every situation, and in this case, you can either outsource the services or have an in-house SEO manager.
When outsourcing, you might go with an experienced digital marketing expert such as Suttida Yang. Outsourcing may be expensive upfront unless you are offering equity but let us assume that you don’t have any funds at the moment.
With that in mind, the best option is to settle with an in-house SEO manager, or you might want to do it yourself if the whole startup is just a one-person operation at the moment.
SEO is primarily achieved through the internet where you need to have:
- A website.
- Social media presence.
- Content management application.
The process of creating a website involves researching the perfect name to represent your startup, registering the domain name, and subscribing to a hosting service. This process has been broken down comprehensively in this how to build a website article.
According to the article, it is possible to create a website with zero web design knowledge. WordPress, a robust website development platform, is the right choice unless you prefer other alternatives.
There are two versions of WordPress, but dot org is more robust than dot com. One of the best advantages of choosing WordPress is that you will have unlimited tools to assist you in SEO.
When it comes to SEO, you don’t have to open an account on all the major social media platforms. Having a Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest account are sufficient.
But again, it depends on the target audience of your startup and where they hang out. Initially, these three will do just fine, but it doesn’t hurt to sign up to Twitter and the rest.
You will use social media to interact with your potential customers and reach more people. For instance, Facebook has features to help you convert potential visitors into loyal paying return-customers.
Small startups have been known to conduct their whole business entirely on a social media account without having a website. However, a website comes in handy in terms of scaling and building a lasting brand.
In order to track campaigns effectively and ensure that they are successful, you will need a few applications. The first one is an account with Google Business.
Google Business is a listing service where anyone can upload the details of their company on the platform. This is helpful because your business can be viewed on Google Maps, which means that your firm will show up in recommendations for people looking for keywords related to your niche within your locale.
This service will allow you to create a company email unique to your startup instead of using the generic offerings of Yahoo Mail, AOL Mail, Gmail, among others. Using a custom email
Another feature is the ability to set up a static website to act as a placeholder if you don’t want to commit to paid hosting just yet.
The account allows you to set up a full profile for your startup, where you can post videos, pictures, message clients, and accept orders from clients, but you will need more tools to manage SEO properly.
Google Analytics is another application that will be essential to understand the visitors’ behavior flocking to your startup’s website. Of course, WordPress, Google Business, and other email services such as MailChimp have the capability to see visitor data, but they are not as powerful as Google Analytics. Analytics is free of charge, unlike competitors who may place such features as premium.
Social Media Tools
Next, you will definitely need a social media management tool that will enable you to post content on all your handles from a central portal.
Some of the best tools for social media management include:
Instead of reposting the same post individually in all three social media accounts of your startup, you will save time and money using any of these tools. They have a trial period, but the cost is worth it.
Such tools will enable you to design and schedule posts days and even months in advance, where they can post automatically on the set dates. This feature is excellent for founders who want to take some time off their startup or want the business to run on auto-pilot as they focus on priorities.
Canva has revolutionized the graphics design landscape because now anyone is able to put together a professional render without coughing up a dime to a designer.
Another convenient service for creating animation content for your social media posts is Crello. It is possible to get the most out of free versions of these sites but investing a few dollars could set you apart from other startups.
Email marketing is the most efficient approach to accumulate loyal subscribers, which means that your posts and website has to have a button or form that encourages visitors to subscribe for more informative content.
For email marketing, Mailchimp is the most popular tool, but many other options could suit your startup.
A paid advertisement may not be your go-to for now, assuming you don’t have a budget yet. For anyone with some money to spare, a paid advertisement can yield profitable results. A Facebook advertisement may be cheap, but it offers a great return on your investment, as evidenced in this article.
There are other programs such as Google AdSense, where you can pay for advertisements about your startup to appear on the first page of search engine results and websites all over the internet.
In that case, Google will charge you Pay-Per-View and Pay-Per-Click, which means that you only pay a certain amount whenever someone clicks on the advert about your startup. This can become expensive, especially when visitors click the adverts and don’t stay long on your website.
That is when SEO becomes essential. Since you don’t have any funds, for now, creating compelling content is the best way to reach out to a broader audience without spending a cent.
Ranking higher equals popularity, which means more visitors to your website, and out of a thousand potential customers, say 20 buy your product or download your service. That is already progress, and you never spent a dime.
In order to achieve that kind of success, no matter how small it is, you will have to do the following:
- Research keywords that relate better to your startup.
- Use those in original informative and entertaining content such as blog posts and social media posts.
- Ensure that the website is user-friendly by installing tools such as Yoast, a WordPress plugin that ensures that your content is search engine-friendly.
- Format your content correctly by following the introduction, body, and conclusion structure while using tools such as the header analyzer to craft better titles.
- Link your content to reputable websites and platforms.
- Include multimedia and not just text. For instance, Crello brings out your Instagram posts by animating them.
- Make sure your website integrates smoothly across multiple devices because, in this era, most people are accessing the internet primarily on smartphones more than any other device. Your target audience could be serial smartphone users.
- Network with other businesses who will mention you on their platforms, thus creating a back-link vital for higher ranking and credibility among search engines.
- Your website has to be well designed to be fast and inviting for visitors.
- Regularly update your content because information changes frequently.
- Share your blog post in small chunks as social media posts.
The above is a checklist when it comes to creating content for your website.
Back To SEO
Now, you have set up all the tools mentioned above and even posted a few posts, but you only hear crickets. Nobody is even visiting your website, and your posts reach hundreds of people, but no one interacts with it.
Well, the problem could be that you have not implemented SEO in your posts and your website. Take an example of Red Bull, the drink company, or even Nike, the shoemaker; almost none of their social media posts are about selling their shoes or energy drinks.
Instead, they borrow from Steve Jobs and create excitement among potential customers by offering value and showing what their products are necessary for society.
Similarly, if you are a startup about a new kind of coffee recipe, then post content around work productivity. This is because your target clients are individuals that need coffee to make them improve their career performance.
Implementing SEO will be similar to setting up an ecosystem where your startup makes a customer feel like part of a family or brand.
How To Implement SEO For Your Startup
Before you launch the website, set up a coming soon page to finalize the design and create anticipation among your audience. At this time, you will be posting on social media, engaging in email marketing that will all be directing visitors back to your website.
All that can be done with zero money, and you will be implementing SEO by including proper keywords in your posts. Beforehand you will have done some research to determine the best keywords that people are searching online in your niche.
Next, secure your website by installing SSL on your website. Google’s search algorithm, BERT, has become very accurate at detecting low-quality content, and so your posts have to be original and organic. Post stuff that is focused on the consumer and that actually solves the visitor’s problem.
For example, you can have a post that enlightens someone who thinks they are addicted to coffee and terrible for their health. This is a tricky topic considering that your startup is about a new way to consume coffee.
In a case where your startup is about cigarettes, don’t offer misinformation just for the sake of gaslighting your visitors into buying your product. Offer cold facts and let the consumer decide. In other words, you need to be in the business of trust. Prove to your target audience that they can trust your startup and never break the trust.
Implementing SEO basically translates to the strategy used. Continuing with the coffee idea startup, start by getting a popular keyword that relates to your business. This could be that many people are searching for gourmet coffee, and it happens that your startup is in that niche.
Check what articles that rank on the first page of a search engine is doing. How their content is worded and how they implement their keywords. Now your content has to be fresh and vary from any potential competitors.
Your startup’s website content has to fuse in the keyword on every page and every detail. That, however, does not mean that you go copy-pasting the keyword into every paragraph.
Make sure that all naming is correct, including page addresses. Don’t become lazy and name posts — Post1, Post2, and so on. Please include a detailed description, but luckily, Yoast can do this for you, and all you need to do is feed it information such as well-crafted and worded posts.
Your content is developed based on keywords that people key in on search engines in your niche. In SEO, this is called user intent.
A potential customer may be looking to buy something, which becomes transactional intent. When they want directions to somewhere, it becomes navigational intent. In instances where a browser just wants to know something, it is called informational intent.
SEO works best when you understand what goals you have to achieve. When your ambition is to generate ten sales a month, you will create content that encourages potential consumers to take action that leads them to make a purchase.
The Ultimate Goal
Virtually you will set up your startup website to include a sales landing page that enables your potential customers to make purchases effortlessly.
Once that’s in place, create content that adheres to SEO rules, as pointed out earlier, to attract visitors to that sales page. This content will vary from Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter posts, which entertain and educate browsers to a series of blog articles related to your startup.
The secret is to avoid being salesy and more informative. Write articles that contain solutions to the pains being faced by your ideal customer. If their problem is burning coffee, then write about how your coffee startup has a better product than the typical iced cappuccino.
Another overlooked secret is consistency. This means that you need to post consistently. In terms of social media posts, some companies post a minimum of 10 posts in a day on each of their accounts.
Consistency attracts a following, but when the posts are sharable and original, then the chances of purchase are high.
Your ultimate goal is to make money.
Monetizing With SEO
Apart from selling your services or products on your website, it can also be your income source. The viable ways to make money with your website at the moment include affiliate marketing and running Google Adverts.
Affiliate marketing is the most viable option because then you earn a commission when purchases are made. Another advantage is that affiliate marketing is a passive source of income. It can prove lucrative for niches such as finance, where the commission can be as much as 40 percent per purchase.
To effectively take advantage of this revenue stream, you have to post content that highlights your affiliate program’s products. For example, you will write an article on coffee but within the body include links to merchandise such as hot flasks that readers can buy on Amazon at a discount.
There is so much to SEO, but the fundamentals remain that all you are doing is using tools to understand visitor behavior, which will dictate how you market to them. That behavior will include what type of device they access your site with and what pages they spend the most time on. In case your target clientele is another business, then consulting an SEO expert will save you time and money. This is because you will be learning from their experience, thus avoiding the typical rookie SEO mistakes.