SEO For Startups: Steps To Effectively Grow Your Traffic

Search Engine Optimization

As an entrepreneur, you’ve got a lot on your mind, and it can be overwhelming.

From increasing brand awareness and overseeing your marketing efforts to reaching your yearly goals and boosting sales, you need to make sure you’re using the right tactics for your startup.

Paid ads, SEO, email marketing, social media marketing, and content marketing are just a few strategies with a high return on investment. 

In this article, we’ll touch on what SEO (search engine optimization) is, common SEO objections, and the main steps startups should take to grow their traffic.  

Let’s dive in!

What is SEO and why is it important for startups?

SEO, which stands for search engine optimization, is the process of improving the visibility of your website in search engines. 

That way, when users search for a topic in which you have expertise or products or services you offer, they can find you. 

According to Brightedge, 53.3% of website traffic comes via organic traffic and according to Hubspot, 75% of searchers never go past the first page of Google. 

The more visible your pages are (aka the higher ranked they are), the more likely your target audience is able to see your listing in search results and click on it to be taken to your site.

Ultimately, the main reason why startups should care about SEO is because it attracts new website visitors who will engage with your pages, and possibly turn into leads and then customers.  

Common SEO Objections

Here are some of the most common SEO myths or objections that startup owners have had, but soon realized that it’s not necessarily true.

#1 SEO Takes Too Long To Get Results

Like all things in life, good things take time. 

Unlike paid media which sees immediate results, SEO is a long-term game that requires patience. However, the rewards are bountiful if you take the time to craft a solid strategy. 

Additionally, as a startup, your funds are probably limited and other initiatives like paid media will eat up your budget fast. 

#2 SEO Is Not Worth The Money

“Organic search and referral traffic are the largest and most effective sources of marketing ROI for brands” according to a SEMrush study. 

Another survey found that nearly 40% of respondents said they allocated over 40% of their total marketing budget to organic search. (Searchmetrics)

With these statistics in mind, it’s much easier to see that SEO is indeed worth the time and effort, for both startups and larger businesses.  

In fact, you don’t need to spend millions of dollars or invest in costly tools to see incremental gains with significant payoffs. 

#3 I Don’t Have Anyone Who Can Do SEO

Don’t have anyone on your team who knows how to do SEO? We understand that hiring someone specializing in SEO may be off-limits as a startup company due to your limited budget.

Or maybe you’re worried about trusting a marketing agency? 

While there are undoubtedly some agencies that don’t put your best interests at heart, that isn’t always the case. 

Finding a good marketing agency that aligns with your values and will do everything in its power to help you reach your goals requires a few steps.

These include: coming up with a list of smart questions to ask an SEO agency, researching them ahead of time, and looking at their past work to see what results they created.  

SEO Steps To Complete 

  1. Audit Your Existing Website

Before you can begin the implementation of any SEO tasks, the first step is auditing your existing site. Doing this allows you to get a sense of how optimized your site is and what you need to do to improve it. 

The audit doesn’t have to be super comprehensive but it should cover the following at a minimum:

  • Has your sitemap been submitted to Google Search Console? Are your pages being properly indexed?
  • Do you have missing title tags, meta descriptions, or alt-text?
  • How is your site speed? How about core web vitals?
  • What kind of content do you have on your website? Service pages, infographics, blogs?
  • Is your content readable and readable? Do you use headings and subheadings to break up the text?
  • Is Schema markup on your site?
  • Do CTAs exist and are they being properly tracked in Google tag manager?
  • Do you use geographic keywords to target users locally?
  • Are canonical URLs in place?
  • Are 404 errors or 301 redirects present?
  • Do you have images over 1 MB?
  1. Set SEO Goals

Once you’ve completed your audit, it’s time to set your SEO goals. 

As a startup, growing fast may be one of your main goals; however, it’s important to set reasonable, achievable goals given the amount of resources you have on hand. 

Brainstorm with your team as to what you want to achieve for the quarter and the year. 

Do you want to increase sessions? Do you want to improve the ranking for a specific keyword to the first page of Google?

Or maybe you want to increase conversions for contact form completions on the contact page. 

Whatever it is, make sure to attach a percentage increase to it. For example, if you want to increase organic sessions to drive more new users to your site, consider how much of an increase you want to aim for. It could be: Increase organic traffic by 25% YoY.

  1. Start With A Strong Web Foundation

You will see the best SEO results when you have a strong website from the start. 

57% of users won’t recommend a business with a poorly designed website.

Oftentimes, a poorly performing website design will hinder you from being successful, even if you put in the work and do it correctly. This is because visitors immediately form an impression about a business upon landing on the website. If the website looks like it was built in the 1990s and its hard to navigate, they’re going to have a bad impression and most likely bounce, never coming back. 

The most ideal way to tackle this is by implementing SEO during the website development phase, so the two departments are working together, not separately, saving you time and money. 

Make sure that your website design is aesthetic, clean, modern, and user-friendly so visitors are happy when they navigate around. 

Related: How to Design & Build a Website that Wins

  1. On-Page SEO

On-page SEO is one of the first things you can do on your website, and it’s focused on optimizing your pages and content for both search engines and users.

 Some of the best On-Page SEO practices include updating:

  • Headings and subheadings to improve readability 
  • Title tags and meta descriptions (keep them under the 160 character limit for meta descriptions and 60 characters for title tags, and include the primary keyword)
  • Search intent (service page vs blog)
  • Content quality, readability, and length
  • Keywords (use keyword research tools to target keywords that your target audience is searching for)
  • Internal and external links
  • Visual content such as images (make sure to write alt-text so Google can understand what the image is about), infographics, and videos
  • Schema markup (organization, article, FAQ, and more)
  • User experience (use Hotjar to see user behavior)
  • Site speed and core web vitals

Doing these tasks will help you on your way to getting more organic traffic and higher rankings. 

on page vs off page seo graphic
  1. Utilize Off-Page SEO To Boost Authority

Unlike on-page SEO, off-page SEO is the process of optimizing your page rankings outside of your site. These include link building, local citations, guest blogging, and more. 

Off-page is tremendously valuable it tells search engines that your website is relevant and authoritative. 

Each link you receive from an external site is like a vote that your website is high quality. The more votes you get, the more positive signals it sends to Google and the more likely it will rank your pages higher in SERPs. 

Here are some off-page SEO factors you should include in your strategy:

  • Increasing the number of backlinks (these should be high quality websites and not spammy ones).
  • Increase the number of referring domains (you can have multiple backlinks from one domain).
  • Earning reviews from real customers on Google Business Profile, Yelp, social media profiles, and more.
  • Ensuring your business details are correct and linking to your site on all local citations.
  1. Improve Your Site’s Technical Performance 

Technical SEO is the process of ensuring that your website meets the technical requirements of a strong performing website

When done right, Google bots will be able to effectively crawl, index, and rank your pages. As a startup, your website may be brand-spanking new, so this is a tactic you can’t afford to miss. 

how search engines find, crawl, render, and index pages on a website

Even if Google does crawl your entire website, there’s still more to do. 

Take a look at this list and check these off to ensure your site follows good technical SEO best practices:

  • Secure site
  • Redirects to one version of the site (https://)
  • Canonical URLs are in place to prevent duplicate content
  • Sitemap has been submitted to search console
  • Responsive site design (the site looks good on both mobile and desktop)
  • Website is fast loading and doesn’t have core web vitals issues
  • 404 errors should be fixed with a 301 redirect as quickly as possible
  1. Stand Out With Superior UX & CRO

UX, which stands for user experience, is defined as the overall experience a user has with a website. 

As a major ranking factor, sites with a better user experience will be awarded with higher rankings because Google wants to serve the best possible results. 

Every single interaction your customer has with your website should have user experience in mind. The more positive an interaction someone has, the more likely they are to return, convert, and make a purchase. 

Additionally, they are more likely to refer you to friends, family, and colleagues. 

Boost your UX by following these best practices:

  • Have good Core Web Vitals. These include:
  • Do content and visual elements display well on both desktop and mobile devices?
  • No intrusive popups
  • Easy to navigate around the site 
  • Visual design is clear and aesthetically pleasing with clear headings and call to actions
  1. Attract & Engage Your Target Audience With Content

If you’ve ever heard the phrase “content is king,” there’s a reason why. 

Creating high-quality and well-thought-out content is one of the best ways to bring more organic sessions and provide value to your audience. 

The very first step in content creation is keyword research. Let’s talk more about that!

Keyword Research

Keyword research is defined as finding keywords that your target audience is searching for via search engines like Google and Bing. 

Since startups have 0 to little domain authority, it’ll be hard to compete with bigger companies who have been around for years or even decades. 

Thus, it’s best to target low difficulty or competition keywords so you have a higher chance of ranking for them. 

For example, ranking for “crm” would be nearly impossible initially because it has a level 89 difficulty. Additionally, in order to rank in the top 10, you would need around 681 referring domains. 

ahrefs overview page for the keyword "crm"

However, if you dig deeper and go more niche, you can find low competition keywords such as “crm rental management.” 

ahrefs overview page for the keyword "crm rental management"

As you can see, the keyword difficulty is 3 and it only requires around 4 referring domains to rank in the top 10. 

To find keywords like “crm rental management,” use keyword research tools such as Ahrefs or SEMrush

Create Content

After you’ve decided on what keywords to target, the next step is to create high quality content centered around your business. 

Design your content around search intent, which refers to what the searcher is looking for. If your content doesn’t align with the searcher’s intent, then Google most likely won’t rank your piece of content.

For example, if you target the keyword “crm integration capabilities” you should have a blog that covers the following at a minimum:

  • What is a CRM?
  • Why use CRM Integration? What are the benefits?
  • What are some examples of CRM integrations? 
  • How do you integrate them with your CRM? How long will it take? Is there a cost?
  • Things to know before doing integration with your CRM

When it comes to content, you should know the 3 C’s when analyzing the search results to find the search intent behind a keyword. These are:

  • Content Type: What is the dominant type of content found in SERPs? Are they mostly blogs or service pages?
  • Content Format: What are the most popular formats? Are they guides, numbered lists, or do they have visuals like infographics and videos?
  • Content Angle: Are they targeting beginners who are learning about it for the first time or high level executives with over 10 years of experience under their belt?

Craft A Content Calendar

Once you’ve compiled a list of primary and secondary keywords you want to target, the next step is creating a content calendar. It is an effective method many professionals utilize to organize their content for the next few months or the entire year. 

Google sheets is a great free way to build your content calendar in. Some important things to include in your calendar are:

  • Topic
  • Title tag
  • Meta description
  • URL
  • Primary and secondary keywords
  • Brief summary of the direction you want the blog to go in for your copywriter
  • A list of possible pages you want to link to
  • A list of competitor’s blogs so you can easily reference them 
  • Target due date
  • Target content length (aim for 800+ words)
  • Author
  • Status of the blog (in the prep stage, in progress, written, needs to be edited, ready to be published)
blog content creation process

Content Process Overview

All in all, your content process may look something like this: 

  • Pitch the content topic
  • Get approval to move forward
  • Create the content doc
  • In the content doc, add the following:
    • Title tag
    • Meta description
    • URL
    • Brief overview of what the blog should be about and cover
    • Primary and secondary keywords to target
    • Links to competitor blogs so you can reference back to them and see how to outperform them
  • Get the content outline approved
  • Write the content and include both internal and external links
  • Review the content and make edits
  • Add images, infographics, and any other visual elements to make the blog engaging
  • Schedule the post to be published on the site
  • Publish it and make sure there are no formatting or grammatical errors
  • Share on your social media profiles and publish it on your Google business profile

Ready to accelerate your startup’s growth & success?

As with all things in life, the beginning of any project or stage is always the hardest. And starting a business is no different. 

You don’t need a huge budget or a team of 500 people to see SEO organic traffic success. With hundreds of free resources at your disposal, including the Intuitive Digital blog, you can learn how to get your SEO up and running. 

If you have questions about anything SEO related, we are here to help. Give us a call at 503-206-4988 or send us an email ([email protected]).

About the Author

Jess Chang

Jess is an SEO Digital Strategist who enjoys helping businesses crush their goals by increasing their online presence and boosting total number of conversions. During non-work hours, she enjoys going to the gym, traveling the world, and trying new foods!

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