Few things can make or break a new startup business as effectively as SEO. The latest research about online behavior found that 53% of website traffic starts with an organic search result.
If you want customers to find your new business, you must engage with SEO.
SEO for startups might sound complicated, but with the right SEO plan and following SEO best practices, it doesn’t have to be. We’ve assembled this easy step-by-step guide to explain what you need to do to rank your new website on Google.
Create Essential Accounts and Profiles
Since you are a startup, you’ll need to set up all the accounts for your SEO efforts. Of course, you’ll need your domain, hosting, and content management system.
After that, you must register for a Google Analytics account and Google Search Central. Don’t forget to create accounts for the second-largest search engine, Bing.
And don’t forget your social media accounts. Ideally,you want your marketing strategy to align with your SEO strategy, so choose your social account names wisely.
Choose Your On-Site SEO Tool
If you use a popular content management system like WordPress, you’ll want to install a plugin to support your SEO efforts.
These tools act as a quality monitor for your on-page SEO.
On-page SEO includes all of the actions you take on your website to help you rank on Google, such as whether you’ve used good keywords in your page titles, descriptions, and alt text. This helps Google understand what your website is all about.
Yoast is the most popular WordPress plugin, with over 20 million installations. Yoast does many things for your SEO strategy including monitoring for free how well you used your keywords or overused your keywords.
Don’t forget to add plugins to entice visitors to share your content on social media. Though social media doesn’t technically help rank your website, it does help bring high-quality traffic, which will help you rank on Google.
Choose Your Keyword Ranking SEO Tool
Having a tool like Yoast to monitor what you do on your website is only half the story.
You also need to make sure you choose the most relevant keywords and get high-quality backlinks to your site, as well as other actions we’ll discuss later in this guide. The best way to do this methodically is to use a keyword research tool.
There are a variety of paid-for SEO tools on the market, so look for the best one you can afford on your marketing budget. We use Semrush and when we work with clients, we shoulder the cost of this service so you don’t have to.
This is one of the many considerations to explore as you decide to either manage your SEO efforts yourself or hire a company like Crownsville Media to manage your SEO for you.
Submit Your Sitemap
Next is a quick, but essential, task you’ll need to do for the best SEO results and that is to create an XML sitemap and submit it via the Google Console. Yoast offers this as part of their tool, but there are still manual submissions that have to happen via Google Console as a new business.
You’ll also need to create a text file known as robots.txt, which stops search engines from crawling pages you don’t want to rank. If you are unsure how to do either of these tasks, speak to our team for help.
Make Your Website Secure
In 2017, Google released a significant update to its search engine, distinguishing between sites with SSL (HTTPS) and sites without SSL (HTTP). You must own a valid and up-to-date SSL certificate for your website.
You can obtain your SSL from your hosting company and in many cases, it’s included as part of your hosting agreement. Check the fine print so you don’t pay twice for something that’s already included in your plan.
Once you have your SEO tools in place, it’s time to begin your research. You will start with your keyword tool to find the best keywords for your website.
The best keywords have low competition, high traffic, and are relevant to your site.
Unfortunately, these are rare, so you’ll need to research dozens of keywords and phrases before creating a shortlist of the best ones for your website.
Remember to check the search intent for each keyword on your shortlist (search intent refers to what website visitors expect when searching a term on Google, you can read more about search and keyword intent here).
Some tools will do this for you, others do not and it’s a vastly important piece of the puzzle especially for startups. You want to make sure you’re spending time blogging on topics that are going to push your website ahead not get you stuck in a sea of competitors.
As you look for keywords, you want to consider what the reader is looking for honestly when they type a keyword into Google.
For example, if someone is searching for what type of mattress is best for a bad back, they are looking for information.
If they are searching for the best prices for a specific brand of hybrid mattress, they are looking to make a purchase. The first is an “information” search intent, and the latter is a “buy” one.
Ideally, your SEO strategy should match your pages and blogs with keywords that have a search intent that aligns with your copy. This piece of the business puzzle is one of the variables that makes a difference between writing and blogging for years and then getting a click vs writing for months and then getting a click.
Remember it takes time to be discovered. Morning Star interviewed 75 SEO experts in early 2022 and shared this from their research:
According to 82% of experts surveyed, SEO takes 6 months to show an increase in traffic on average, while the full results of good SEO strategies are visible after 12 – 24 months. As the top 3 pages in Google receive 75.1% of traffic, expect your SEO results to grow over time as your rankings improve.https://morningscore.io/how-long-does-seo-take/
This can be longer for new websites and startups because they lack reputation on Google. SEO support can help move this along faster for you, but it’s never a guarantee.
Plan Your Website Content
The data above makes having an SEO strategy as a startup even more critical. Before you start writing content for your website, it helps to build a high-level SEO structure. There are two reasons for doing this.
First, creating a structure will ensure you build a website with easy-to-follow navigation and makes sense to your users. That will support your SEO efforts as search engines value usable websites.
Second, planning the content will help you prioritize your keyword-targeted pages. In other words, if you have found an excellent keyword, you can write that article first, publish it, and start the long task of ranking on page one.
Targeting page one is essential because nine out of ten website users say they are more likely to click on a result if Google lists it on the first results page.
If you have a set of equally relevant keywords to your website, go for the low-hanging fruit first (the high traffic, low competition ones).
Write Your Content
This is the “meat and potatoes” of your SEO efforts. Once your website’s navigation and landing pages are identified, you have to get down to writing. Ideally, you want to create content on a regular basis so Google knows your site is contemporary and important in the online discussion/research for your particular business.
Review your competitors’ pages and see how they lay content on the page. Is it Q&A style? FAQ style? Essay or short paragraphs? Do they have content blurbs that lead to other pages that offer more details?
Once you have a style down, you want to apply the keywords from your research. Yoast and other SEO tools can be very helpful here in making sure you don’t over or under-use your keywords.
It will also remind you of critical SEO best practices including:
- Your keyword in the page title
- Your keywords in the page description
- Keywords and secondary keywords in the body of your article
- Alt text on your images
- Link building both internal and external
- Readability so you’re sure that your high-quality content is well-structured and easy to read
Always take time to read your blog post or landing page from your audience’s point of view before publishing it. It should be interesting, unique, and engaging. You should also include videos, graphics, diagrams, and pictures to help you communicate your message as needed.
Remember that consumers have different learning styles and want information offered in various ways to support their preferences. And if writing is challenging for you, review these 9 writing tips to help improve your skills so your blogs appear more polished to your readers.
Test Your Site Speed
It’s easy to assume as a startup business with a fresh website that things will be lightning fast. Not true. When you first publish your website, running a speed check is essential. Sometimes content and features on your website can slow down the page loading time (large images are a common cause).
Use a site speed checker or get a free SEO audit from our team to ensure your site performance is up to scratch. Google wants to rank websites that are modern, fast, and error-free.
Google will also want to ensure your pages work correctly on mobile, as mobile makes up around 63% of searches. When testing, always check your website on desktop, tablet, and mobile screens.
SEO For Startups: Next Steps
Getting ranked on Google might seem like a daunting task, but when you take a systematic approach to SEO and follow the steps in this guide, you might surprise yourself with a successful page one rank for your top keywords!
If you’re considering testing the waters by doing your own SEO, here are 5 SEO resources we use daily with client’s sites.
SEO for startups is fundamental to your business success, but it does take time and expertise, and that’s where our team can help. Get in touch with us today to find out how Crownsville Media and our team of experts can help with your digital marketing and traffic goals for your new business.