Whether you’re buying a hamster or a new house, the chances are that you turn to Google when you’re looking for something online. And you’re not alone: 93% of online experiences begin with a search engine. That’s why the SEO industry is worth an eye-watering $80 billion around the world: businesses understand their sites need to rank high to reach customers.
As a startup, deciding how best to spend your marketing budget can be challenging. You will ultimately want to find ways to generate sales from day one, and SEO will contradict that: unfortunately, ranking high for relevant search terms takes time, so starting as soon as you can makes sense. Ignore SEO until you’re three years into your business, and you’ll struggle to catch up with newer players who made the decision to focus on search from day one.
The good news is that you don’t need to spend thousands of pounds to rank. Below, we’ve put together some basics on SEO that you should focus on as soon as you start a business.
Don’t underestimate the importance of SEO
Perhaps the most important piece of advice is to understand exactly what SEO is, and why it’s so important for your business. To hammer home our point, here are five statistics:
- 57% of B2B marketers say SEO generates more leads than other marketing activities
- 75% of people never scroll past the first page of search engines
- 61% of internet users do research on a product online before making a purchase
- 78% of location-based mobile searches result in an offline purchase
- Leads from SEO have a 14.6% close rate, while outbound leads have a 1.7% rate
There are lots of guides online that break down SEO into layman’s terms, but this resource from Moz is perhaps the most useful. Speak to an SEO specialist if you need some advice on the right campaign for your business, and don’t feel pressured into signing up for a plan.
We’ve put together a guide with questions you should ask before choosing an SEO agency.
Focus on creating great content
Once you’ve got the basics covered – think products pages, an about us page and a contact page – you should create a blog. So many businesses overlook the value or importance of content marketing, but regularly updating your website with fresh content is the best way to boost your SEO without breaking the bank. You can offer resources to your visitors and be rewarded by Google, which values sites with lots of quality content and information. And you don’t need to be a writer; short-form blogs, explainer guides, infographics, announcements, and day-in-the-life posts will all go down well and increase the number of pages indexed.
Blog posts also offer you a chance to add keywords in your content. Once you have chosen some hard-hitting keywords (like “Dundee bookshop” or “London barbers”) you can add them to your posts and link back to your relevant services pages to increase their ranks.
Identify quality keywords from off
Speaking of keywords, a good SEO campaign needs thorough keyword research from the get-go. Deciding which keywords to target (that is, words and phrases that your potential customers will type into Google to find you) can be tough. Some are incredibly competitive (like “online bookshops”), and as a startup, you should avoid these, as you’re less likely to rank on the first page of search engine results pages (SERPs) for them. Instead, choose shorter keywords and phrases (like “independent bookshops in Dundee”) that may receive fewer monthly searches per month, but will be more qualified and relevant to your business.
- Decide who you want to target – who is your ideal customer?
- Think about goals: what do you want your keywords to do? Drive visitors to your blog? Help you sell products and services? Position your business as an authority?
- Make a list of topics and keywords and take them to Google Keyword Planner.
- Understand search intent – why did someone search for that keyword or phrase?
- See what your competitors are ranking for using a tool like Keyword Tool Pro.
- Select your top 5-10 keywords as a starting ground and go from there.
Think outside of the box
Though most of your SEO work will be conducted on your website, SEO is about much more than that. Sign up for Google Search Console to monitor your visibility in search and Google My Business to “claim” your business on SERPs. In the short-term, you could even look at a managed pay-per-click advertising service to drive traffic and sales before you start ranking.
Next up, think about other websites. One of the best ways to increase your rank is to show search engines that your website is valuable and authoritative. This can be accomplished by blogging on third-party websites, linking back to your domain. Known as guest blogging, this is one of the most common SEO techniques and helps you scale your search engine growth.
Identify websites, blogs, magazines, and community pages where you could contribute and write content that’s relevant to their audience, linking back to your website. Once you’ve done this a few times, you’ll notice that your keywords start to make movements on Google.
Just starting out? At Zudu, we’ve created a unique 12-step search engine optimisation process designed to help you outrank the competition, gain more traffic and ultimately win more business. Give us a call on 01382 690080 today to arrange a free SEO consultation.