Search engines are now firmly placed in our daily routines, with Google alone used over 360 billion times so far this year, with the most common searches pulling up Youtube, searching for the closest supermarket and checking the weather.
It’s unlikely you’ll be surprised at the basic concept of SEO because of this, with everyone from your 15-year-old brother-in-law to your grandparents using them throughout the day. So, if you’re a start-up business and have a clearly established target audience, you can definitely benefit from having your name on the search engine results page.
We’d recommend that you start with a good understanding of basic SEO and for new starters suggest checking out this blog before going any further – we’ll be building our own guide in the near future but Neil Patel offers some really good pointers to get started with.
1. Start by doing some keyword research
If this isn’t the first article you’ve read on the benefits of SEO or how to create an effective SEO strategy, you’re probably going to be sick of reading about keyword research. But, you should never underestimate the importance of undertaking extensive keyword research and how much of an impact this can have on the results of your SEO campaign. So, if you’re a start-up and you’re looking to improve your ranking, you need to start identifying which keywords you can rank with.
Fortunately, for those just starting out, you can begin conducting keyword research without much SEO experience. All you need to do is go onto Google, then start looking at words and phrases that bring up your competitors.
However, to start developing more in-depth research and acquire quantitative data, we highly recommend that you subscribe to either SEMrush or Ahrefs.
This will enable you to:
- Track keywords
- Check for keyword difficulty and search volume
- Monitor your competitors
- Search for backlinks
- Receive tips on how to improve your SEO strategy
2. Look at your competitors
Whether you’re starting an accountancy firm or offering Bulgarian language lessons it’s likely you’re reading this blog because you have competitors who currently hold the much-coveted top spot on Google.
To start moving up the ranks you need to know what you’re going to be up against and assess the reality of your situation. If, for example, your startup is an accountancy firm based in London, you might struggle to make it onto the front page simply because there are so many other firms in the area battling for the top spots. It’s also likely that this field will have businesses that invest thousands of pounds into their SEO strategy in the hopes of pushing out the competition.
Currently, the key phrase “Accountants in London” has a search volume of 3,600, which means that a fair amount of people are searching for it. In this scenario, a start-up looking to adapt and move up the ranking will likely need to hire an experienced SEO agency to help them or utilise keywords with a lower search volume. If they pay close attention to the competition, a business will be in a significantly better position to form an ordered strategy that helps achieve their SEO goals.
One important thing to remember is that SEO is a marathon and not a sprint, while there are some exceptions to the rule you shouldn’t expect to start ranking on the front page overnight.
However, don’t be disheartened, results can take upwards of 6-12 months to materialise fully, but if you’ve invested the time and effort into your work your business will secure its place among the top search results.
3. Make sure that your website is mobile-friendly
Making sure that your website is mobile-friendly is incredibly important in 2021, not only will it improve UX (user experience), it also helps your chance of ranking higher on the SERPs (search engine results pages).
Search engines like Google are taking mobile-friendliness seriously when determining their rankings. So make sure that you take advantage of this by ensuring your website runs seamlessly on all devices.
If you don’t, there are consequences for poor mobile-friendliness that will affect your CWV (core web vital) score – this is a new method Google has implemented to determine their rankings.
Another thing to remember is that more and more commerce shoppers are purchasing using either mobile or tablet devices, so you must ensure that the conversion process is seamless – otherwise, you could end up losing out to your competitors.
4. Create high-quality content and be careful not to cram keywords.
Content is king, so it’s vital that every piece of content you produce is well written and edited. However, the most important benchmark is ensuring that your content leaves readers feeling rewarded for investing time into your material – they should feel more informed and benefited from reading it.
It’s no good regurgitating content that you can find elsewhere on the internet, especially for a startup looking to make a name for themselves within a specific industry. If you can establish yourself as a good source of information early on, search engines like Google will recognise this work and improve your ranking.
However, businesses of all sizes regularly make a common mistake – cramming their content with keywords to improve their rankings. This just doesn’t help and not only does it irritate readers who come across your content, but you will also be penalised and ranked lower. As the famous SEO saying goes: “write for people, not robots.” While you need to meet certain SEO requirements, it’s important to remember that your audience is human and it’s them you need to be writing for.
5. Combine your SEO strategy with PPC ads
By incorporating PPC (pay-per-click) ads into your SEO strategy you can start to get your business listed at the top of the SERPs. It’s an invaluable way of learning more about your customer’s online behaviour and building up your research. You may be thinking that paid ads are a waste of money and that people will scroll past them to find organic listings. However, this is simply not true.
PPC is fast becoming one of the most cost-effective marketing tools that a start-up can invest in. Not only do they position your brand name amongst some of the top competitors in your industry, but they also save you money on your CPL (cost-per-lead).
The drastic improvement PPC can have on your site traffic, along with providing you with the option to target clicks while moving high-performing keywords over into your SEO strategy is hard to pass up.
The bottom line is that PPC and SEO are a match made in heaven for those looking to break into the industry. It’s something we can’t encourage you enough to develop strategies around and we’ll be aiming to write more about them in the future.
A few final comments
If you’re looking to break into a new market you should be taking your SEO strategy seriously, as it can be one of the most cost-effective and high ROI marketing strategies you can invest in.
SEO fundamentals are pretty basic and you don’t always have to spend a considerable chunk of your marketing budget to see quality results.
The most important thing to do is make sure you’re carefully planning your approach and of course have a little patience – the best results come with time.
Joe Robertshaw is the founder and lead content strategist of Jubilee Copy, an SEO and content marketing agency. Drawing from a wealth of experience working with some of the UK’s most prominent digital marketing agencies, Joe now leads one of the UK’s fastest-growing agencies alongside a team of SEO and content experts.