SEO for Startups – Why, How, and Tips

seo for startups chartThe term SEO for startups is interesting, as it implies that SEO is necessary for startups to succeed. And the truth is, SEO for startups is not necessarily an important factor. And we’ve seen quite a few SEO startup guides which contain old, outdated, and overly basic tips – we’ll even show you here, here, and here.

Due to the lack of a solid SEO guide for startups, we set out to create this page, which we will constantly update with the latest SEO tips for startup companies to employ. (A bit about us: we are SEO experts who launched this awesome interviews with startup founders site, so we’ve got plenty to say on the matter 🙂

SEO for Startups Topics which we discuss in our guide:

  • Does your startup need SEO?
  • What is the timeline for results and how quickly can you expect success?
  • How much should you be spending on SEO?
  • Basic SEO best practices for a startup company which has plans to become a long term brand
  • Serious SEO tips to improve your organic rankings
  • Expanding your web visibility with keyword research and content
  • Top of the funnel lead acquisition and content expansion
  • How to mesh social and paid ads with SEO
  • Beware of shady SEO agencies

Does your startup company really need SEO?

This is the first question which we internally discuss when clients approach us about “getting some SEO” for their fledgling startup companies. The reason we take this question seriously is because there would be nothing worse than taking on a client who doesn’t really need any SEO, and after 3 months the client will angrily ask us why we aren’t bringing them leads. We try to avoid such situations 🙂

If you’re a newcomer to SEO, you’re probably wondering, “Well, what sort of website doesn’t need SEO?”, and the answer is simple. Many startups are flash in the pan and need one or two solid PR campaigns to get the ball rolling. They simply need advertising to get traffic or leads, as well as awareness, and that’s it. If they are pushing an app, then they need App Store Optimization, which is much more fishy than SEO ever was.

Many startup companies don’t really have a keyword they want to rank for. In fact, many startups offer a product or service which didn’t really exist 1 year ago – this means that no one is searching in Google for the very thing they are offering! This makes SEO mostly useless for them (granted, it helps for an SEO to give their website a once over so that in the future when they do need SEO, the inevitable SEO mistakes committed in the interim aren’t too bad and are easily fixable). And because many startups need to educate the masses, this means they need PR and advertising WAYYYY before SEO should enter the equation.

TLDR for Does Your Startup Company Really Need SEO:

  • Most startups don’t need SEO at first, rather a PR burst or paid ads
  • If your ideal user base isn’t using Google to search for you product because your product/service doesn’t exist, then you will need to educate the masses via PR and ads
  • If you have a budget and expect your company to be around for a long time, then it’s worth committing to basic SEO best practices to save your company time and money down the line

What is the timeline for results and how quickly can your startup expect SEO success?

Of course, there is no stock answer to this question. But the short answer is: a long time.

The biggest sign of an SEO fraud or huckster is one who promises you fast results, ESPECIALLY if you are a brand new website. There is a thing in SEO often referred to as the Google Sandbox, which basically says that Google will artificially hold back the organic growth of a website by a few months. Reasons behind this are unclear, but there is speculation that it is due to Google wanting a good user experience for website visitors, and a brand new website will be more unfinished and have less content than your average, aged website.

However, it doesn’t mean that you can’t see results quickly, on a certain scale, for a brand new site. In fact, there are basic elements such as your brand name, which you want to rank for quickly, and ahead of your social accounts, within 2-3 weeks.

Although this is an impossible task, for the sake of a visual we will add a rough, generic timeline for what a basic, brand new, startup website would look like in terms of SEO results:

  • Day 1: Create website, social profiles
  • Day 5-14: Begin to see impressions in Search Console, but no rankings or visitors
  • Day 14-21: Brand name ranks top 5, and visitors begin to trickle in
  • Day 21-30: Website ranks #1 for brand name, and there is at least 1 organic visitor a day
  • Day 30-60: Website ranks top 20 for homepage title tag (more on that below), and website content brings in steady flow of visitors, with 100’s of impressions per week
  • Day 60-180: Assuming links are built, and content is updated 3x a week, a website will begin to see 500-2000 visitors a month, which tens of thousands of impressions. There is now enough data to make serious tweaks in regard to on-site optimization.
  • Day 180-360: Organic traffic can explode beyond 2000 visitors a month, and your homepage and main category pages will rank top 10 across Google (depending on the keyword difficulty, of course).
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