Guest post by Ron Dod, Cofounder and CEO, Visiture.com
Most startup business owners know they need a strong online presence. For products to be seen, they need to reach the top of search engines. Otherwise, they might as well not exist. It’s as simple as that. And, to do this, you need to have a strong search engine optimization and pay-per-click strategy.
But knowing your products need SEO is a far cry from knowing exactly what SEO they need. No two businesses are exactly alike, and every search marketing agency worth their salt knows that you can apply the same rules to each one, seeing different results in each case.
We might not know your business, but we can give you a way to approach SEO and PPC, so that you will start on the right track.
Tip #1: SEO Is Needed in Your Startup’s Early Stages
There is a lot of debate on which is better for a startup to invest their money in— SEO or PPC? It’s true that PPC is incredibly effective at getting immediate traffic to your website, but it doesn’t do much good if your website offers users a terrible experience once they get there.
Before you get into PPC, it’s essential that your website is SEO-friendly so that you can get visitors to stay on your site. You don’t have to be some SEO expert to make your website user-friendly and optimized for search engines. For true beginners, Moz’s guide to SEO is a great place to start.
If you already have an understanding of SEO basics, then you certainly know the importance of publishing awesome content, link building, optimizing for keywords, and making your website easy to navigate. Make sure that your website isn’t scaring off potential customers before you spend all that money on paid traffic that doesn’t convert!
Tip #2: Thoroughly Screen Any Digital Marketing Agency Before Hiring Them
If you have done the research on what it takes to dominate search result pages, then you have probably realized that it takes a ton of work. If it were easy, then everyone would be doing it, right? SEO — while completely worth the effort — takes months to see results. PPC can get you results fast, but building and managing campaigns is difficult, and there are plenty of horror stories of startups wasting their precious budget on PPC campaigns that go nowhere.
The solution for many serious startups is to hire a digital marketing agency. This process involves a decent amount of research; thorough screening is key for any company to become comfortable with making an investment.
It’s essential for business owners to vet potential agencies by looking at their experience and ensuring that they have a history of getting results.
Additionally, it’s important that you ask them a few key questions to get further insight. How will this agency measure success? How involved will you be in the process? What is their experience like working with startups similar to yours?
Tip #3: Put Serious Thought into Your Keyword Strategy
If you are tired of hearing how much time and effort you need to spend on keyword research — well, that’s too bad … because it’s true. The digital landscape may be constantly changing, but the necessity for keyword research has remained.
In the case of PPC, it’s especially important for new startups to spend time on keyword research. When you are working with a limited budget, every PPC dollar counts. You don’t want to waste your PPC budget on keywords that don’t convert.
It’s also crucial for SEO. To acquire relevant traffic to your website, you need to target the keywords and terms that they are searching for. Keep in mind that what people search for and how they search for it are constantly changing. Keyword research isn’t something that you do once. It is an ongoing process that will help you stay relevant and increase online visibility.
Tip #4: Get an Early Start on Brand Building
Brand recognition is necessary precursor to consumer trust. Any business owner knows this, but did you know that it can help boost your SEO?
Brands rank easier than unbranded competitors and are more likely to withstand Google updates. This doesn’t mean that your small startup doesn’t stand a chance in search results. It just means that you need to work on building brand signals immediately.
Some important brand signals include a strong social media presence, branded keywords, branded links, and on-page branding (consistent logo, color scheme, an About Us page, etc.).
Tip #5: Learn from the Competition
There is nothing wrong with watching your competitors and using the same tips and tricks that they do. In fact, those who aren’t doing this are making a huge mistake. Keeping tabs on your competitors can help both your SEO and PPC strategies.
For instance, you can use SpyFu to identify what keywords your competitors are ranking for in both organic search and AdWords. You can then use this information to boost your own SEO and PPC campaigns.
Another great competitor analysis tool is SEMrush, which gives you insight into your competitor’s organic, paid search, and link building strategies. This tool also makes it easy to visualize the data that you gather on your competitors so that you can conduct a competitive analysis with only a few clicks.