SEO for Startups: Demystifying SEO Strategies to Get your Business on Page One

May 6, 2024

When we were a young marketing agency, the last thing on our minds was SEO for startups and businesses we were working with. We were focused on building organic brand awareness through social media and awesome website design, cultivating credibility with topical content strategies, nurturing new client relationships with email marketing, and other strategies along those lines. We figured that we could pay Google to put our clients’ name at the top of the search results page, dust our hands off, and focus on “real” brand marketing.

Oh man, have we sure changed our tune.

Why startups should invest in SEO: Optimized content is the number one way to build brand authority online in the long term

Current research indicates that the top organic search result receives 19x more clicks than the top paid search result. In addition to that, one study found that only 0.63% of searchers clicked on results on the second page of Google search results.

That means that if you’re not on the front page, your business is falling through the cracks of one of the primary ways that people connect to businesses.
We had to learn fast how to integrate this tactic into our own marketing, and we are here to help demystify SEO for startups, focusing on three important areas: Keywords, Backlinks, and SEO Content Strategy.

What are keywords and why do they matter in SEO content?

Keywords are the words and phrases in your content that search engines reference to determine if your content is relevant for a search, and therefore serve it up when someone searches for that keyword.

For example, when you search for your company name (e.g. Psyche Digital), is your website, social media, Google Business+ Profile, etc. showing up in those search results? Hopefully so! That is a very basic example of a keyword that was used multiple times on a given piece of content (e.g. your homepage) and the search engine has decided that is relevant when people type in your business name.

SEO content prioritizes the keywords you want to be ranking for, making your articles and website more likely to show up when people search for them. To put it another way, SEO keywords connect your content to people who are interested in your business.

Tips to choosing your high-value keywords

Choosing keywords for your startup can be tricky, especially at first, but luckily there are many tools available to help!

Google search (yes, just a search) can help you find out how to win

Google is the top dog when it comes to search engines, accounting for over 90% of global searches. If you want to see what content is winning for various searches, you can look up words and phrases that you think your ideal client might use to find you, and see what results come up in Google.

Those results are your competitors for the first page, and you can learn a lot about what they’re doing right just by looking at their content. Afterall, Google has already deemed those pages the most relevant for those searches.

For example, if other business’s homepages are ranking, optimize your homepage with the keywords you used in your search. If a blog article is ranking, whip up long-form content with the keywords.

Google’s free search results tool Google Search Console can allow you to analyze your successes, and play on that success

Install Google Search Console (GSC) on your website so you can track your website’s Click Through Rate (CTR) and Average Position as you make changes. GSC also will show you what search phrases are already being used to reach your website, which can give you lots of insight into how well your content is doing to get you organic traffic.

If you see some keywords that are getting you a click or two, it may be worth doubling down on that, and capitalizing on ways your audience is currently finding you from searches!

SEO software can help you find low-hanging-fruit keywords and competitive opportunities

Subscribe to SEO software that can help you identify low-hanging-fruit keywords. If you have a Google Ads account, you can use Google Keyword Planner at no additional cost.

A more expensive but very robust tool is SEM Rush.

If you’re on a budget, one of the more affordable tools is SpyFu.

When using an SEO tool to analyze keywords, you can use some rules of thumb to make decisions:

  • Any keywords that have between 10-1000 monthly searches could be good candidates for you to tackle when you’re first starting out.
  • Most tools will tell you the difficulty level to rank for a given keyword. Start small, and build up to the more difficult keywords.
  • Try searching your competitors’ websites in your SEO tool to find out what they’re ranking for, and therefore what keywords they are focused on. Let that inspire you!

And of course, you can always work with a freelancer or marketing agency to help you strategize the SEO keywords specifically for your business needs.

When using SEO keywords, make sure to be exact!

Once you have chosen the keywords for the post or page you are creating or optimizing, make sure you use the keyword exactly as you found them. Even just rearranging the words can have a big impact on your SEO rankings.

Search engines are looking for a very specific string of information when they are prioritizing web pages quickly, and you want to make sure you have what they, and their users, are looking for.

Backlinks: the Good, the Bad, and the Toxic

A backlink is a link from one website to another using anchor text (see what we did there?). Backlinks help drive brand awareness and referral traffic, and most importantly, they can tell Google that the destination URL is relevant for certain topics (improving its search ranking).

When you put a backlink in your article, it’s the same as giving another website your stamp of approval, and vice versa. SEO backlinks help boost your performance in search rankings.

Where do you get backlinks, and how to get your SEO content linked in them:

Backlinks can come from lots of sources. Whether you are adding backlinks to your own content, or if quality content from other sites is linking back to you, it’s important to treat them the same way you do all your content: Make sure that it’s organic and relevant for your users.

Good backlinks are a way for websites to recommend each other, and Google sees these recommendations as proof that websites are trustworthy.
When you have backlinks that send users to websites that are relevant, high quality, and appropriate for their needs, search engines give you a boost in your results. It demonstrates your own authority within the market, and helps users access the information they need.

The best backlinks for SEO optimization:

  • Are naturally placed within the content’s messaging
  • Are directly relevant to the content
  • Send users to reputable and high quality content

The best way you can get reputable websites to backlink to your website pages or content content is by producing good content! Write guest blogs, participate in interviews and podcasts, and get yourself on as many relevant platforms as possible. PR strategies for getting your business out there, digitally, can all help other websites use yours in their backlinks.

Bad backlinks are links that disconnect you from your link referrals

There are lots of reasons a website may want to include a link in their article, but don’t want it to be scanned by Google, organically. This may be part of the website’s marketing strategy, or liability requirements – but ultimately, these kinds of backlinks don’t help improve your search rankings.

It’s a good idea to check in with whoever you are partnering with to make sure everyone is on the same page in terms of backlinks. If someone isn’t willing to have your website connected, it’s important to know that ahead of time so that you’re not expecting those backlinks to support your SEO strategy.

Having a few bad backlinks is normal for any website, but you want to minimize them the best you can, including periodically going back to older articles and making sure your links remain relevant and up to date.

Bad backlinks are easy to see because they might include ‘Nofollow’ or ‘sponsored’ rules within their code. To find these links you want to look for things like:

  • rel=”nofollow”, which tells Google that the linking site does not endorse the target site, you see these a lot in news articles.
  • rel=”sponsored”, which shows that the target site paid for the link to show up in the article, and is important for transparency purposes.
  • rel=”ugc”, which shows that the link is located in user generated content, like a comment section in a blog post, so it may be relevant but the website host may not want their approval attached to the comment.

If you’re not a coder, no problem. Some common situations to look out for include:

  • If a news station posts something about you, you can ask if the link to your website is “no follow” or not. You might even be able to request a nofollow tag be removed!
  • If you’re paying for content (getting sponsored content), be sure to have a plan on how to use it to generate interest that is not related to SEO. You can still leverage lead magnets in content like this, but you shouldn’t expect sponsored content to help your rankings in search engines.
  • Be very wary of backlink services, where you can pay to get your website linked in trending articles, regardless of their relevance to your offerings. These services rarely give you the same ROI for your SEO content, because the content often doesn’t match the needs of folks searching for information, and if you have too many of these, it can even yield a reduction in your rankings.

Toxic backlinks are backlinks that go to unreliable, irrelevant, or spam based websites.

Toxic backlinks are important to avoid, because in the worst case scenario these can flag your website for violating Google’s link spam policies. Not only do toxic backlinks send users to websites you don’t want to give your approval to, they can actively harm your SEO ratings. Toxic backlinks are pretty easy to avoid when you’re following standard marketing best practices, but an example of what this might look like, per Google’s policies, is:

“There are many wedding rings on the market. If you want to have a wedding, you will have to pick the best ring. You will also need to buy flowers and a wedding dress.”

A final word on bad practices you want to avoid when using backlinks in your SEO content:

  • Avoid exchanging any money or services for links without marking it as a sponsored link.
  • Don’t use AI to automate links to and from your site. If you want to use AI in your marketing, there are better ways to do it!
  • Do your best to avoid adding backlinks into your website content in unnatural and “spammy” ways. If something doesn’t actually help the reader, don’t backlink it, and don’t ask other services to do the same for your content.

The rule of thumb for backlinks is: Don’t force it! Bad and toxic backlinks are pretty easy to avoid so long as you are following authentic content creation that matches your marketing strategy.

SEO content strategy means looking at the big picture of your online marketing presence

Quality content is the beating heart of SEO for startups and any other business. You want to make sure you are writing posts that are directly relevant to your audience and that also represents your brand and company culture, as much as possible! This can help make sure that the SEO keywords, and the backlinks you choose, flow naturally for your audience.

Effective SEO strategies for startups you can implement today

Building a strong network within your market is key for implementing SEO strategy. This can look like:

  • Checking links that refer back to your website to make sure they are indexed by Google. This means checking that they do not have the “nofollow” markers described in the bad backlinks section. You usually can just ask to find out if this is the case, and sometimes they’ll be happy to remove it if you ask.
  • Creating high-quality lead magnets within your market to generate interest and support the needs of the folks you’re trying to serve. If the lead magnet is great, you can bet other people are going to link to them and boost you up.
  • Becoming a valuable source of information to other businesses through content like podcasts, articles, ultimate guides, and blog posts.
  • Reflecting on the content you have already created, and replace outdated information with new sources. Also, consider where you might be able to combine two shorter content pieces to create a long-form piece, and where you might be able to edit to include keywords that you’re hoping to rank for.

SEO content works to help startups, but like all good things, takes time to grow

Implementing these SEO content strategies can help get you to page one, and once you’re there, they continue to work hard for you. Being consistently on the front page of search engines organically builds trust and credibility with your readership. Sometimes it can take months to see results, even 6-12 months, but with an SEO strategy, you can turn 15% effort into 100% rewards over years without additional capital investment or new content creation.

Yes, really!

Psyche Digital’s Key Takeaways:

  • Research the keywords in your market that will encourage search engines to serve up your website and content in relevant searches.
  • Use good backlinks to drive organic user traffic between your website and others that you trust, and vice versa.
  • Strategize your SEO content so that it grows your credibility and market authority for you.

Psyche Digital specializes in startups and investor-facing organizations, and we are happy to share more of our SEO content expertise with your growing business! Reach out to us and schedule a free consultation to ignite your vision!

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Kelsey Parks
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