Being a startup is not an easy endeavor nowadays. Most startups fall well short of the marketing budget that traditional and established companies have. Not to mention that being new in the business means you have little to no recognition. And if that weren’t enough it seems that everyone is an entrepreneur now. Entrepreneurship has taken the lead as a way to make a living. People want to be their own boss instead of answering to someone else. Just look at the top crowdfunding sites and you’ll notice that they are full of startups that want to be the next big thing. So how does a startup gain a leg up on the competition, whether they be other startups or multinational conglomerates? Three words come to mind. Search engine optimization. SEO is an amazing way to level the playing field. There are a lot of tools out there that are accessible to companies of all sizes.
Here’s a little 411 on SEO. It’s basically a set of tools and strategies that a company or an individual use to boost ranking on search engines such as Google, Bling, or Yahoo. SEO firms have become increasingly important in helping a business gain reputation and authority. That’s why there are a plethora of tools and services that businesses hire to monitor and increase their positioning. That doesn’t mean startups and small business have to mortgage their properties to keep up. Having a website is not enough anymore. Let’s look at some simple SEO tips that can help the little man play with the big boys.
1 . Go all in on handheld devices or get out.
We live in smartphone obsessed world. There’s no point in denying it. Go to your local mall and sit on a bench for a while. Chances are you are going to see the majority with their heads down and looking at a screen. SEO has evolved to make mobile devices a priority and it should not be taken lightly. A site that is not optimized for mobile compatibility will surely take a hit in search engine rankings. Users and potential clients who don’t have a friendly experience on your website through their mobile phones are likely more difficult to return. Keep that in mind.
2. Have a blog and let people know what you think.
Another key element of successful SEO is having an outlet for people to read what you think. This is important for two reasons. First off, when you post something and it is written well, you will start to create credibility and gain return traffic as well as the possibility for your followers to share your posts. Blog posts normally link to other influential sites to support an idea or to suggest readers go somewhere else for more detail. This is where the second reason to blog comes into play. Linking to another’s site is not a bad thing. It’s quite the contrary actually. It’s a great way to establish a network of industry leaders who can check out what you write about and if the content is great they will probably keep you in mind as a source for great insight.
Referrals play a huge role in SEO. Make sure as much as possible that the sites you are linking to have pretty good to decent reputation. Finally, try to post at least once a week.
3. Take advantage of social media
As Reputation Defender has stated before, social media is a must in SEO. Even though Facebook has changed their policies to give preferences to content your friends share, posting on social media is not going anywhere. People search social media directly for the content that they are interested in and this should not be ignored. Furthermore, it’s another way to get traffic to your site. Finally, it’s a cost effective. Starting an account cost how much? Zero. Once you gain a following you can consider the paid options of the most recognized social networks that can help you with marketing your site.
Search Engine Optimization is obviously much more than these three tips. However, startups and small businesses rarely have the capital to fund a digital marketing department to take care of this much less hire an outside consultant. That doesn’t mean they can’t climb up to page one. The fundamentals of SEO are giving visitors a great user experience and for that you don’t need much more than a user friendly web page with a blog that is up to date on the most relevant industry topics. Along with the site, some dedication to social media can go a long way. And finally, a little patience. Getting to the top of the rankings takes time. The ones you see on top did not get there overnight. It took them years to establish credibility and become an authority. SEO is a marathon, and not a sprint no matter how new or small your company is.