SEO will never be described as easy. For a startup, it can be even more difficult with the unique challenge of being new to the market, and trying to build a customer base. You want to make sure to establish your niche and look at all forms of marketing before diving straight into your SEO strategy.
SEO campaigns are a great way to elevate your marketing strategy and gain a foothold with your customer base, but you want to make sure you are going about it thoughtfully. There ARE some very simple mistakes that can be made by anyone who is new to SEO. With a little effort and proactiveness, the beginning of your SEO campaign should start off without a hitch.
1. Ignoring SEO Completely
The first one is simple. Not doing any SEO or failing to create any type of online marketing strategy can easily be the first nail in your company’s coffin. As a start-up, most of your competitors have already carved out a space in the market. You can also bet these companies have entire SEO teams working on their website.
Being a startup, you may not need a huge web development team, perhaps just a small team to kick off your campaign. Developing a strategy for linkable assets, content creation, keywords, and link building should be one of your first goals once, perhaps before, your website is launched.. This can be a time consuming endeavor, but always remember, your competitors are doing the same thing.
Another part of a proper SEO strategy is performing maintenance on your own site. Fix broken links as soon as they are discovered, make sure you are not producing duplicate content on your site and be aware of SEO tools that you can incorporate into your strategy and make your job easier. Some great tools include Majestic SEO, Screaming Frog and SEMRush.
2. Not Auditing Citations
For any brick and mortar startup, this is essential. Citations are simply your business listings on the Internet. The company information on sites such as Yelp, Foursquare, Yellow Pages, or even your business information on your Facebook page (your business has a Facebook page, right?) are all considered citations.
Google strives to provide the best customer experience when displaying search results. This means accuracy is a key component when search results pop up. This is why your company’s name, address, and phone number, commonly referred to in the industry as your company’s “NAP,” should be identical across all citation platforms.
Let’s say you have a marketing start-up with a physical location where your potential clients can visit. When a user searches for a marketing company in Google, Google is going to search the web for local marketing company’s NAP information. If your company has two different phone numbers floating around in your citations, Google is going to be unsure of your company’s phone number. Instead, Google will choose another company with identical NAP data across the web to rank higher in search results than you.
There are numerous tools that can help you with your citation auditing, including Moz and Bright Local.
3. Reputation Management
Your company’s reputation can be a deciding factor for potential customers or clients in bringing their business to you. Managing reviews and reputation is arguably more important for startups and smaller businesses than for large conglomerates or well-established company’s. As a start-up you are constantly making first impressions, while solidified companies already have a loyal customer base.
If you get a bad review on Facebook or Yelp, don’t just ignore it. What would be even worse is to hide your reviews. When you are looking at a company and all their reviews are hidden, that can set off an immediate red flag. People assume the worst.
A better tactic is to address the review head-on. Reach out to the person who made the review, and try to mend the situation. You may be surprised at the responses you get. Don’t leave your interaction with customers to bad reviews, if someone leaves you a glowing review be sure to show your appreciation.
Brand reputation is something that can easily be brushed under the rug, and can just as easily sink your startup. Don’t ignore a bad situation, address it. People will appreciate the effort you make to try and rectify a customer’s experience.
Brand Mentions and Google Alerts are great tools to use for monitoring your reputation on the web.
4. Undervaluing Social Media
Social media can be used as a free marketing tool. You can reach a large audience in a fairly short amount of time if you are able to gain a following and provide useful information to your readers and promoters. While there are countless social media sites, Facebook and Twitter have the best outreach and are useable by a majority of businesses regardless of their niche. Can you imagine an SEO startup trying to maintain an engaging and on-topic Pinterest board? Stick to the media platforms that support your niche. In basic terms, if you have a company, the company should also have a Facebook and Twitter page.
It’s not enough to just have a Facebook or Twitter, it’s not even enough if you’re making regular posts. You need to ENGAGE. Respond to people who have commented on your page. If you are active in the community, share it! Interaction is what is going to drive conversions and increase your followers.
Social media is also a great way to get creative in your marketing tactics. As a startup, you’re not going to have 1,000 Facebook followers out of the gate. You need to offer something. Whether that is intriguing content, giveaways, contests or special deals, people only follow pages that they see some kind of value in.
With all the money that is funneled into marketing your start up and getting your company’s name out, never underestimate the value and simplicity offered by Facebook and Twitter.
If you have multiple social media platforms that you want to be able to see on a single platform, Hootsuite comes highly recommended.
Why SEO is Vital for Your Startup
What you should take away from these common mistakes, is that inaction is a death knell for your startup. Being proactive is one of the most efficient ways to maintain a successful SEO campaign. Startups should be extra vigilant in their SEO efforts as creating a successful business is full of roadblocks and pitfalls.
Don’t let your SEO campaign be one of them. You do not need to be an SEO expert to start going in the right direction. Taking simple steps and educating yourself along the way about SEO strategies can be extremely beneficial to your company and it growth.
This is a guest post from Linus Minick.
Linus Minick works for the relevancy-first link building firm Page One Power. He graduated from the College of Idaho, and currently lives in Boise. He specializes in content marketing, local marketing, and e-commerce SEO strategies.