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SEO for Startups: A Beginner’s Guide

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Startups are always on the lookout for scalable growth tactics that can be done with little or no money. Search engine optimization, or simply SEO, is one of them.

SEO doesn’t require a big budget and, if done correctly, brings free traffic that grows almost on autopilot. What’s more, it can boost other marketing tactics and influence every phase of the marketing funnel. So if you want to start doing SEO for your startup, you’re in the right place.

1. Identify SEO Goals

The first step of developing a comprehensive and effective SEO strategy is defining your SEO goals. What are you trying to achieve? Are you planning to generate sales or leads? Are you planning to increase your web visibility on search results in order to attract clients? Your goals determine what kind of digital marketing strategy is best for you. For example, if you want to gain new clients in the next few weeks or months, launching a Google Ads campaign is the way to go. If you are planning to improve your organic search ranking and gain more clients via organic search, SEO is your ideal choice.

2. Set Up Your On-Site Technical

A major part of SEO is on-site technical implementations. Technical elements on a website include a website’s title tags, page speed, alternative text, schema markup, and broken links.

Title Tags

Keywords in title tags are a major component of SEO. Google uses keywords in title tags to gain textual understanding of a webpage. It will then display that webpage on relevant searches. For example, if a webpage’s title tag says “Men Winter Coat Red”, Google will understand that the webpage should be displayed in searches related to “men winter coat red”.

Website Page Speed

Website page speed refers to the time it takes a website to load on a browser. How fast your website loads on a browser affects your search ranking because the page speed influences the user experience (UX), which Google takes into consideration when ranking a website. To improve a website’s page speed, there are a few technical on-page SEO implementations you can do, such as compressing image sizes, minifying CSS and HTML files, and browser caching.

Schema Markup

Schema is a semantic vocabulary of tags or microdata that you can add to your HTML to improve the way search engines read and represent your page in Search Engine Result Pages (SERPs).

Schema markup adds an extra layer of data to your content. It tells search engines whether this is about an organization, a person, a place, or even a movie. For example, if you are a movie theatre and you are displaying movies on your website, you can add schema markup to let Google know that your listings are about movies. Example:

<div itemscope itemtype ="">
  <h2 itemprop="name">Avatar</h2>
  <span>Director: <span itemprop="director">James Cameron</span> (born August 16, 1954)</span>
  <span itemprop="genre">Science fiction</span>
  <a href="../movies/avatar-movie" itemprop="Movie">Trailer</a>

In this schema markup, the markup specifies that this listing is about a movie called Avatar, and it includes information about the movie. Adding schema markup to your website HTML helps Google to understand your content better, increasing the chance of your webpage being displayed in relevant searches.

Page URLs

Keywords in page URLs also play an imperative role in SEO. Google uses keywords in page URLs to gain textual understanding of a webpage. For example, if a webpage’s URL parameter includes keywords “sales-crm-software”, Google will display the webpage for search terms related to “sales CRM software”.

3. Develop Buyer Personas

Before you start writing content for your website, develop buyer personas and profiles of your current or prospective customers. Define their needs, wants, challenges, financial situations, demographics, and lifestyles so you can gain a better understanding of your audience, then come up with content that is most relevant to them.

4. Perform Short-Tail and Long-Tail Keyword Research

After you have developed a buyer persona, perform short-tail and long-tail keyword research to find keywords that your audience uses to find your products or services.

Short-tail search queries are generally referred to as search terms under 3 keywords. Long-tail search queries are keywords over three keywords, are more focused, and show more of a user’s intent. An example of a short-tail search phrase is “running shoes”.This search phrase is generic and doesn’t specify any brand. An example of a long-tail search query is “Women Nike running shoes size 8.5 red”; this search query shows more of the searcher’s intent and specifically what the searcher is looking for.

As a brand, you should optimize your website for both short-tail and long-tail search queries by crafting landing pages and optimizing your webpages’ title tags for both long-tail and short-tail search terms. For example, you can create a landing page with a generic title such as “Vegan Yoga Pants” to rank for generic search terms related to “vegan yoga pants”. Then, you can create and optimize your product or service pages for long-tail keyword phrases too by including detailed product names such as “Super High-Rise Vegan Yoga Pants for Women” and “Wide Leg Crop Vegan Yoga”. Engaging in both a long-tail and a short-tail strategy helps your company rank higher in all search queries.

5. Perform Internal Linking

An internal link refers to a link from a webpage from your website to another webpage from your website. For example, if you write a blog post and include a link to a product or service page in the blog post, the link is an internal link. Internal linking is effective for improving a website’s search ranking because Google uses the text that’s hyperlinked to gain a better textual understanding of the page that’s being linked to. For example, if Page A links to Page B using the text “HR Recruitment Software”, Google will understand that Page B is related to “HR Recruitment Software” and display Page B in related search queries. Perform internal linking by writing blog posts and including internal links to high-value pages (such as product pages) to boost the pages’ search rankings.

SEO remains an integral component of a startup’s digital marketing strategy. By developing and implementing a comprehensive SEO program, a startup can boost its website’s search ranking,  increase its online visibility and boost its chance of converting more customers. By using the five steps above, your startup will craft keyword-rich content that aligns with your audience’s needs, appear in relevant SERPs, and optimize your ranking in the Google search results.

About the author


Ray Wang

Ray Wang is the owner of RW Digital, a Vancouver-based digital marketing agency. Ray specializes in data analytics, digital advertising, SEO, WordPress website development for consumer brands and hospitality, real estate, self storage, and social-impact industries and startups.