In today’s economy, having a strong presence online matters.
The World Wide Web has become the arena where businesses compete to capture a bigger market share and command a greater brand presence.
As a startup, this can be particularly challenging especially since not many are still aware of your brand.
The right online marketing strategy, however, can change all that. This is where search engine optimization or SEO comes in.
SEO is a unique online marketing process that allows your business to capture web traffic for free from search results that are relevant to your brand, product or service.
At a time where 93 percent of all online experiences begin with a search, SEO can certainly help you break into your target market successfully by helping you get found on search engines.
Why SEO is Important to a Startup Like Yours
The daily volume of searches conducted across search engines like Google, Yahoo and Bing are astounding.
On Google alone, more than 40,000 searches are conducted every second.
This translates to more than 3.5 billion searches every single day. And with the right SEO strategy, it can help make sure your own website captures a part of it, where searchers are actively typing in keywords related to your business.
That said, here are some more important reasons why startup businesses should pay more attention to SEO:
Reason #1: SEO Gives You an Edge Against Competition
As a startup, you are faced with one particular challenge: getting your brand noticed.
Especially if you happen to be in an industry where the market is saturated with competition, it is important to make sure your brand stands out.
It is important to make sure prospective customers will take notice of you before anyone else. Fortunately, the right SEO campaign can help you with this.
With continuous and the right SEO efforts, you can be sure that your website will appear in the first pages of each search result that is relevant to your brand or business.
This matters a lot because users typically go over the first few pages of the search results only.
To give you an idea, 75 percent of internet users would never even go past the first page of search results.
In addition, potential customers who have seen your offline marketing ads or who remembered your brand may not know your website address.
They would then google up your brand to find your site.
This is where you need to make sure that your site appears on the first result for your brand on Google’s search results page.Otherwise, you may be losing customers without even knowing.
Hence, it would really benefit you a great deal if you can secure a position on the first page. Better still, on the first spot of the first page.
Reason #2: SEO Gives Your Brand Credibility
With continuous effective SEO campaigns, you can expect your website’s ranking to keep going up across search results.
The higher you go, the more credible you become in the eyes of your market.
In time, they may even see you as the leading brand industry, helping you capture a bigger market share.
Reason #3: SEO can Help You Capture More Offline Demand
What you must remember is that whatever users do online also affects their offline behavior.
Hence, when you have successfully managed to get your target customer’s attention, you can expect more people to be walking into your physical store.
One survey found that as many as 85 percent of consumers would conduct a search on the internet to locate a local business.
The better your SEO performance, the easier it would be for people to locate you. More people would be encouraged to stop by and check you out too.
Reason #4: SEO Delivers Targeted Traffic to Your Website
By utilizing the right set of keywords, you can look forward to having more targeted traffic coming into your website.
That is, a volume of visitors that are more likely intent on availing your product or service.
While these visitors may not immediately purchase the first time they visit your website, there is a strong likelihood that they will do so during their next visit.
Not only that, they may even talk about your business with their equally interested friends, thereby giving you referral traffic as well.
Get Your First SEO Campaign Started
Now that you know what SEO can do for your startup business, it’s time to give get started.
But here’s some of the more important steps you need to go through first to kickstart your SEO efforts:
1. Optimize The Pages on your Website First.
You need to make sure your website is optimized for the searchengines, in particular, Google. This entails checking a number of website elements.
First, check on your website’s loading time. Ideally, you want your website to load in two seconds or less.
Surveys have found that nearly half of internet users would leave a website if it fails to load within three seconds.
The faster it can load, the greater the chance that you can sustain a user’s interest and attention.
There are a number of tools that you can use to improve your website’s loading speed. Even better, some of these tools are web-based so that they are easier to access.
Aside from your website’s loading time, you also need to check the content. I’ve written an extensive guide here.
Second, it should already incorporate the keywords you will be targeting in your SEO campaigns. These keywords must be included in your website content, on the webpage you intend to rank for those keywords.
Third, you need to also look at coming up with your title tags and description tags as an art.
You have to make sure that the text you come up with is unique, descriptive and compelling. Otherwise, you may not achieve the click-through rate that you are aiming to achieve.
Since Google has increased the width space of its main search results area, title tags now have 50 to 60 characters allowed while description tags have 160 to 200 characters. You may want to maximize this by making sure that your keywords are included properly.
At the same time, you also need to make sure that you absolutely do not go over the character limit.
Should you have an extra word or character in your title, it would just get cut off and all the user would see are ellipses. Clearly, this does not have the impact that a complete set of text would have.
2. Create Cornerstone Content
Having a blog as part of your website allow you to have a venue wherein you can keep publishing articles related to your product or service.
It’s a smart marketing move that helps keep customers interested in what you have to offer.
Create cornerstone articles, articles that provide advice, tips and guides to your blog readers and customers. These articles do very well when it comes to ranking on search engines.
Once your blog is up, also be sure to update it regularly.
For this, you can ask help from your staff by giving them writing assignments in a variety of relevant topics. You can also consider hiring freelancers from platforms such as Upwork.com or scripted.com.
Set a content publish schedule and have them write articles regularly according to the schedule. Hire someone to do the upload and formatting of these articles on to your site.
Once you get a process and momentum going, it’ll be easy.
3. Establish Good Social Media Presence.
As a business, you should it make a point to be present on social media.
Platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, just to name a few, are good sources of targeted traffic for your website.
The more visits that you receive from these social media channels, the higher your ranking would be across search engines.
Go over these platforms and set up verified accounts for your business.This verification assures social media browsers that they are indeed browsing one of your business’ official social media accounts.
Once your accounts are ready, be sure to make regular posts to help generate interest for your business. If this is impossible to do all by yourself, you may want to enlist the help of one of your staff.
You can also assign a social media account to each of your staff and they can be responsible for updating and monitoring it regularly.
We have a podcast for you to give you a taste how you can be successful on social media.
4. List Your Business on Local Directories And Get Found Online
Especially when you are a local business, you need to take advantage of various local directories available and get listed. One of the best directories to start with is Google’s very own Google My Business.
It’s a free listing that allows interested users to immediately view the exact location of your business. It even assists users in locating using a map that is mobile friendly. This way, you are sure users can locate you effectively whether they are browsing from a desktop or their smart gadgets.
Aside from Google My Business, be sure to list your company on other popular local directories too. These include Bing Places for Business, Yahoo Local Listing, Yelp, MerchantCircle, Yellow Pages, Superpages.com, Yellowbook, Manta, Citysearch, MapQuest, Local.com and more.
5. Consider Guest Blogging To Get Referral Traffic.
Guest blogging provides you with perfect opportunity to further introduce your business to the industry.
You would be amazed at how much traffic you can secure from industry-related sites for your own website. Not only that, guest blogging also helps establish your credibility as a brand and business.
Follow these steps and you should be able to get your SEO campaigns started successfully.
If you feel like you can use some professional help, however, you can also enlist the help of digital marketing or SEO companies.
Spending on SEO: What You Can Expect
The price that you can expect to spend for SEO may vary due to several factors.
For starters, the cost may be influenced by whether you are a business catering to the entire country or a small business who is looking to promote in a local area.
The size of the market you are trying to capture will certainly affect the cost of the SEO campaigns that you will run.
Similarly, you can also expect to spend more if you happen to be in an industry where the market is saturated and competition is tight.
If that is the case, you may have to be more aggressive with your SEO campaigns to secure a good spot among relevant search results.
That said, there are also several ways that you can be billed for SEO services.
First is by the hour. According to asurvey done on more than 600 agencies and consultants, SEO fees typically costs around $80 to $130 per hour.
On the other hand, you also have a choice of making the relationship long-term and paying your SEO specialist a monthly retainer. In this case, the fee is typically around $750 to $1,500 per month.
If you think these fees are too high for your budget, you may also want to consider bringing in an in-house SEO or overall digital marketing expert.
This way, you can be assured that there is someone able to effectively take charge of your SEO campaigns.
At the same time, this also makes sure that you have someone you can consult with for online business performance.
Without a doubt, every business today need SEO to succeed in digital marketing.
Launch your startup online right by incorporating SEO from the beginning. SEO can be exactly what you need to generate interest and capture your more customers online.
And once you get your pages ranking on the first pages of the search engines, and maintain these rankings with continued SEO efforts, you will be looking at perpetual organic traffic to your site.
Jinghong “Pika” Chiu is a resident instructor for SEO at Derek Gehl’s Ignited Academy on ProjectIgnite.com. He is a specialist on online startups, SEO, and outsourcing. He also provides SEO services to startups and businesses.