Startups require different SEO strategies than well-established companies or well-known brands.
While it’s important startups find their place among their industry’s giants, their environment is very dynamic, and as a result, they need a flexible strategy that can meet their challenging SEO requirements.
In my experience, people who work in startups have a wholly unique and refreshing approach. They are fascinated with their innovative products or services. However, they are really surprised to discover their online visibility does not appear as rapidly and effortlessly as the new ideas in their minds.
I have prepared some useful tips that will help you plan your SEO strategy for your startup. All these recommendations are based on my own experience and observations as the Head of Technical SEO at Onely, and I welcome you to try them.
Your SEO efforts must deliver results.
Therefore, the first step should be setting up a Google Analytics and Google Search Console accounts.
Google Analytics is free and will display detailed information about the traffic on your website. It gives you a clear view of the sources of traffic on your website (organic, PPC, social etc.) and you can easily monitor which channels need improvement or are the most effective.
You should also set up goals to track such as forms sent, newsletter sign-ups, or purchases. With low traffic, you need any hint or idea regarding which keywords or topics are converting best. Gathering this priceless conversion data as soon as possible will help you avoid going in the wrong direction.
Google Search Console collects data and offers vital information on how Googlebots see your website. In the reports, you will find data about indexation, crawling, internal linking, and the website’s appearance in Google search results.
Comparing the data will give you an instant answer about the progress of your business.
Describe your products and services in normal words
I’ve seen many websites that don’t directly say what they offer.
Using metaphors that figuratively describe what you offer is not a good idea. Googlebots (and users too) may have problems with understanding what the content is about.
In their enthusiasm, people involved in startups are often unaware that the message on their website is not clear or easy to understand.
However, there’s a simple test that always works. You should ask yourself this question:
How would I explain to my grandmother what the product does or what my services are?
Not easy, right?
While it may be difficult, effective communication is nonetheless important. You should always describe your offer in as simple words as possible.
Choose proper keywords
Choosing the right keywords is seldom an easy thing to accomplish.
This is especially true for startups, as it’s difficult to predict the exact queries your potential customers will use to search for your product.
At the beginning, your customers won’t even be aware of your product’s existence. This means that people most likely won’t search for the phrases you have in mind while thinking about your product.
How do you solve this problem?
- Try to describe the product or offer with longer phrases. For example, you should be focused on its particular features. Very often, people don’t precisely know what they are looking for, leading them to ask Google about “the best software for creating cartoon drawings,” etc.
- Try to associate your innovative offer with well-known products. It should give potential customers a hint, no matter how small, about what your products are used for. Try to present your offer as an alternative to other services – unsatisfied customers will search for phrases like “Alternatives to…” and there’s a great opportunity to present your offer!
Here are some tools for keyword research:
Find your competitors
I know you may think that your product is so innovative that you won’t have to compete. It may be true that your offer is unique, but you will compete with other websites for the same keywords.
You can find your competitors with tools like Searchmetrics and SimilarWeb.
If your keyword research is done, you can check what appears on these queries. You have to check if you compete with blog articles or landing pages within specific websites.
This should give you an idea of what kind of content you need to create to start ranking for these phrases or similar queries.
Flood the internet with high quality content
You have to keep in mind that, at the beginning, you’ll have to inform the world about your awesome products.
The best way to present all the features, advantages, usability, etc. is through creating high-quality content. Articles, videos, tutorials, infographics — all these things are really welcome.
First of all, you should have all the necessary information about the product on your website. You should create written content and accompany it with additional material.
It’s a great idea to have an official blog with articles about the products, news in the niche, tips and advice, etc. FAQ or Q&A sections are also perfect for answering user’s questions and acquiring long-tail traffic.
Another idea is to create a glossary with the most important phrases in your niche or whitepapers with deep insights into particular issues.
There are numerous examples of websites or applications that look and perform amazingly, yet haven’t appeared in the search results. For example, websites with dynamic content, built with AJAX, do not work well with Google’s search algorithm.
Despite some of the improvements in crawling dynamic content made by Google, we still can’t be sure how much its robots “understand” dynamic-loading content.
We have plenty of evidence that Google may incorrectly index the dynamic content on the website. Yet the reasons themselves can be quite broad and numerous.
If you have the possibility, speak to an SEO agency for the best options. It’s better to ask before developing the whole website, rather than implementing core changes when the website is ready.
Strategy for international startups
One of the biggest dilemmas in international SEO is choosing between one global domain for a website or many regional top level domains (TLDs). You have to know that there are many solutions that you can choose while building language versions of your website:
- Keep it on subdomains: de.example.com, pl.example.com
- Keep it on regional domains: example.de, example.pl
- Keep it on one global domain in local directories: example.com/de/, example.com/pl/
Based on Onely’s experience, keeping all the language versions in one domain makes the website’s whole SEO managing process much easier.
You have to care about ONE domain instead of MANY local domains.
Furthermore, this solution significantly complicates all the analysis made by your competitors — it makes you SEO strategy very difficult to identify. The next advantage is gathering all the authority within one domain, rather than dispersing it between many domains or subdomains.
Whichever solution you choose, though, remember to properly use hreflangs.
Conquer your niche with small steps
At the beginning, you can’t fight a giant for the traffic with extremely competitive keywords. I’m almost sure that any brand new domain won’t appear in TOP3 for phrases like “flat for rent” (no matter how innovative your services or products are).
I recommend conquering the search results with smaller steps, meaning less competitive keywords, which will give you a real chance to appear in Google’s search results.
Most times, this means looking for opportunities in long-tail, complex phrases.
When your website gains stable visibility on less competitive keywords, you can look around for some new, more lucrative keywords.
Most SEO experts say that valuable keywords should have 100 searches per month at least. While long tail traffic is based on the keywords that have fewer searches than that, those keywords drive the most valuable traffic, because long terms are specific and narrow. People know what they are looking for and are about to spend money!
- Small steps are better than fighting for traffic that is too difficult to compete for at the beginning.
- Content plays a key role — it will increase the quality of your website and deliver long-tail traffic as well.
- It’s always better to consult a specialist before developing your website, rather than implementing core changes first and requiring a larger budget to redevelop it after it’s done.