Let’s set the record straight. SEO should be a priority focus for startups in 2019. In this article, I’m going to breakdown why and how startups should build an SEO road map that is deeply integrated with the rest of their marketing, sales and product strategy. This is a no fluff zone! I’m going to leave you with 10 actionable steps to follow for SEO success within your startup.
DEBUNKING COMMON SEO EXCUSES YOU’LL HEAR FROM STARTUP FOUNDERS
Read any article lending SEO advice to startup founders and you’ll likely encounter three major sources of friction.
- SEO is too expensive – I don’t have enough money to hire someone or buy tools.
- SEO is too competitive – The “big” competitors are already dominating the market.
- SEO takes too long to get results – SEO isn’t worth it because I need leads, FAST.
EXCUSE #1: SEO IS TOO EXPENSIVE
According to HubSpot’s research (see chart below) – SEO is the lowest risk, highest ROI B2B marketing channel. If you invest time and sweat equity into SEO, you will see incremental gains with big payoffs. You don’t need expensive consultants, agencies, or software tools to get results. In fact, be wary of SEO companies who talk a big game. Whenever an SEO agency or consultant sounds too good to be true, it’s because they usually are! All you need at this stage is focus, measurement, execution and patience.
EXCUSE #2: SEO IS TOO COMPETITIVE
This is actually true, it’s very competitive. But so is everything else! According to the 2017 state of Inbound, growing SEO / organic presence is the top marketing priority for companies across 5 major world regions. The longer you wait to get started, the further ahead your competition will rise.
EXCUSE #3: SEO TAKES TOO LONG TO GET RESULTS
Remember, you’re a startup with limited budget. Do you want to pay to acquire leads via channels like PPC and increase your CAC, or do you want free leads that won’t disappear as soon as you stop spending money?
Sure, you can pay for leads and get them faster, but paid channels are very costly for startups, especially if you make mistakes. With SEO, you can afford to make some early mistakes and all it will cost you is time. That said, Forbes estimates it will take an average of 4 to 6 months before you start seeing SEO results.
BONUS: LEARN HOW I 3X’D SALES HACKER’S TRAFFIC IN 11 MONTHS!
We’ve been aggressively ramping up SEO at Sales Hacker in 2018 – look what we’ve accomplished after 1 year of hard work!
Check out my podcast interview on B2B growth that explains how I did it.
SEO PREREQUISITE CHECKLIST FOR YOUR STARTUP
Okay now that we’ve got that out of the way, it’s time to make sure your startup has accomplished some basic building block essentials before you start unleashing your SEO wrath on the world.
- You’ve identified which stage your company is at within the startup lifecycle framework.
- You’ve identified your ideal customer profile and you understand your customer pains.
- You’ve validated that you’ve grown past the product / market fit stage.
- You’ve used the bullseye framework for identifying the best traction channels.
- Your startup is ready to begin testing channel / product fit, and SEO will be a priority.
- Your startup has an internal champion who will commit and take ownership of SEO.
- You’ve established a growth experimentation process to help track your experiments.
- You know where you stand with regard to classic startup metrics. Think: CAC, LTV, ARPU, Churn Rate, Burn Rate, etc.
- You’ve established a baseline against your core marketing metrics like traffic, landing page conversion rates, leads by source, MQL to SQL conversion rate, etc.
10 STEPS FOR SEO SUCCESS WITHIN YOUR STARTUP
- Set and define your goals and desired outcomes.
- Develop a measurement strategy: determine what, how, and why to measure.
- Crawl your website and review technical SEO.
- Audit your website UX, taxonomy & navigation and mobile friendliness.
- Review opportunities for on-page optimization.
- Evaluate branded search opportunities and reputation protection.
- Perform non-branded keyword research to find long tail opportunities.
- Prioritize content opportunities.
- Link building and influencer amplification.
- Stay updated on SEO news, trends, and Google updates.