Whether you are a complete startup or an established company looking at breaking into a new local or export market, SEO should be part of your thinking right from the beginning. Far too many businesses leave their SEO and online strategies until they’ve already developed a business plan and product offering and are now going to market.
Here are our Top 10 tips for every startup and exporter:
KEYWORD RESEARCH (BY LOCATION): SEO research starts with identifying your target keywords. You are looking for the search queries likely to be used by your intended audience (specifically, those you expect might become customers) and, in particular, relatively popular search terms with limited competition. Our tip? Look at adding location-related terms — you’ll probably find that some are less competitive, providing you with a great way to test and develop winning content.
INCORPORATE YOUR RESEARCH INTO YOUR BUSINESS PLANNING STAGE If keyword research and location-based data can help you win more customers at a lower acquisition cost, wouldn’t it make sense to get an early start on this? Tailoring your plan to meet the market, rather than having a “build it and they will come” attitude will have big payoffs. And you may be surprised where the biggest opportunities lie.
SEO STARTS BEFORE YOU BUILD YOUR WEBSITE Think of your website as a supermarket. Like a supermarket, your website is a vehicle for selling things — it isn’t the business. The business is selling consumer goods to the public and the supermarket is the vehicle the FMCG company uses. Before a supermarket is built, not only does a lot of time go into determining the best location but the design, layout and function of the store is set up to make it easier for customers to get in, find their way around and make their purchases.At a minimum, make sure your developer has solid SEO experience (talk to other clients for references, if you’re at all uncertain). You should invest in getting a professional SEO company to work with your developer to ensure the fundamentals of the site and build are there from the beginning. That way, you’ll save yourself the huge amount of pain and expense of fixing things later that could more easily have been incorporated from the outset.
MOBILE FRIENDLY IS A NECESSITY While it varies from industry to industry, more and more website traffic is now coming from people using mobile devices. And, as of April 2015, Google has started boosting the rankings of mobile friendly sites on mobile devices. Create a site that offers mobile users a good experience and your mobile traffic should grow — don’t and competing sites will be shown ahead of yours, no matter how good your product is.
KEEP YOUR CONTENT RELEVANT You need to create and add new content if you’re to attract new users and make your site one they want to keep coming back to. Develop a high-level content creation plan for your target market, providing relevant information for prospective customers at each stage of the buying funnel. Concentrate too, on the content you need for your target keywords — get it right and you’ll attract backlinks from other sites, helping ensure your pages rank well in search engines.
LINK BUILDING Not all links are equal. A link to your website is a vote of confidence that should be naturally cultivated — not a magical pill you take that will boost your site’s strength. So don’t buy links (just don’t). Like drugs in sport, there are people always trying to cheat the system and, yes, they can sometimes get some great results. But if (or, as we often see, when) they get caught, it is all over in an instant. Recovery can be next to impossible, and will often take a long time (as the Google Analytics chart below shows for one company that learnt this the hard way).
KNOW YOUR NUMBERS Analytics should be your best friend. If you’re using Google Analytics ensure you’re using the most current form (Universal Analytics), and link your Search Console account. Understand what you need to track and report on. Make sure the information you provide your board and/or executive team is delivered in a language they understand and is aligned with your company’s goals. They probably don’t care about (or understand) bounce rate, clickthrough rate, and time on page but will be interested in the critical numbers (Key Performance Indicators or KPIs) that align with the company goals.
MAKE SURE YOUR ON-PAGE ELEMENTS ARE FLAWLESS Web pages, images, PDFs, videos, social profiles and brand pages, local listings, and off-site (review) pages need to be readily understood and interpreted by people and search engines alike. Use schema markup where appropriate, and make sure that your target keywords (and semantically-related terms) are present in titles and headings of important pages — but don’t overdo it. Above all your pages need to be easily read by your intended audience, and should read naturally.
Why should you care?
Most businesses can save a lot of time and money by putting SEO at the forefront of their business planning. Done well, it will help identify market opportunities and can significantly reduce cost of sale.
Book a free 20 min consultation with me here: calendly.com/glenn-marvin
Glenn is a Partner and Senior Consultant who has had a very successful career building growth companies in the private equity arena. He has a wealth of experience in both the digital space and strategy development. Prior to becoming a partner in SureFire Glenn built one of the largest digital teams in New Zealand for a NASDAQ listed global online marketing company & Google's largest premium partner.