Start-Up SEO: The Basics

Search engine optimization has become a must have, and not just for online businesses but basically for anyone, and especially for start-up and small businesses which need to compete on a global market.

Especially for start up companies, you need to make an impact, fast, and get your business off the ground before the limited budget runs out. However, this does not mean startups should avoid important SEO factors, in fact if possible they should focus and utilize all of them.

Cutting corners to mean your website goals earlier may induce long-lasting penalties from search engines, something for which Google is notorious for.

That is the main reason why we want to go over how startups must focus on their SEO with this article, get results, and then a few advanced tips that will take you another step forward.

How is Start-Up SEO different from regular website SEO?

Most notably, the main difference with Start-Up SEO is the sheer challenge that you need to play the catching game and do so much to actually get to a level near the competition that has been there for years or decades.

Luckily, search engines do not care about the size of your company, whether it is a small start-up or a corporate giant, but they are interested in the relevance of the site for a specific question or search.

start-up SEO
Start-Up teams lack the resources of a large corporate website.

Understandably, a small startup does not have near the resources a corporate site can access, but it needs to grow and expand as quickly as possible. What this means is that you will need to provide extra effort and work on an “enterprise level” of SEO with a relatively small budget.

In order to get an understanding of what exactly needs to be done, first we must understand how the search engine works.

What is it that search engines look for when crawling your site?

As previously mentioned, the most important thing for any search engine (Google, Bing … etc.) is to provide relevant content to the search user, not to serve the start-up owner.

What this means is that you as the start-up owner must in turn server Google, with well-rounded site content which is:

  • Accessible: Your content must be available 24/7 and individual pages (especially ones that you want ranked high) must load quickly. Currently any website page that loads slower than 4 seconds will receive search ranking penalties, meaning even if the content is amazing it will not get much organic traffic from Google.
  • Content quality: If your site content is irrelevant, poorly written and in general hard for users to consume then visitors will bounce quickly, and you will not be getting search ranking. On the other side, a well-written content with images or charts that are self-explanatory will have users spend some time on the page and read, which will in turn increase search ranking for that page.
  • User experience: The overall user experience with your site is measured by their attention span with it, as users devote more time to your site as the extension of a search, so will Google reward your site with more organic traffic.
  • Optimization: All of the basic SEO rules apply, as expected, meaning you need a good website hierarchy, page links and sitemap that will help bots crawl your site more efficiently.
Optimize site content for search, having in mind both the target user and search bot.
Optimize site content for search, having in mind both the target user and search bot.

Essentially, the high-quality experience which you must provide to your visitors will work magic for your start-up SEO, boosting your site search ranking.

How to build Start Up site for SEO

Now we must discuss some nitty gritty stuff about how you should approach building your start-up website, what you should do and also what you should avoid.

I am sure you will be tempted to quickly scrap together a website and publish it in a matter of hours, using the absolute cheapest hosting you can find, but hold on a second. As we already mentioned the overall accessibility and speed of your website is an important factor for SEO, which is why we must also discuss web hosting.

Choosing a proper web hosting for a start-up

Keep in mind that the competition has an advantage over your start-up and you want your website to grow fast in order to get a bit closer to them. What this means is you should not try to save money by getting the cheapest (slow) web hosting but instead do the opposite – get a fast hosting that will give you SEO advantage over your competition.

The overall web page loading time is directly impacted by your hosting service servers, while an optional content-delivery-network (CDN) service can help your site reach better loading speeds in different regions, globally.

Primarily because of all this, we would recommend that you get a reliable hosting with SSD storage, good uptime record, while we can note that some hosting plans do come with a free included CDN service which would provide additional benefits.

Optimizing your site speed by limiting code/script and media content per page

Even if you choose the best and fastest hosting provider in the world, if you burden individual pages with hundreds of images and/or script plugins running under them, they are bound to load slow and induce negative effects on your SEO.

Additionally, be mindful that more than 50% of Google search now comes from mobile devices which require lean sites that load quickly. Fast code execution is imperative, while most content-management-systems such as WordPress or Elementor use a lot of chunky scripts to run a website.

What all this means is that you should limit media content to a few images per page and minimise all script usage to a degree where pages are loading lighting-fast, even on low-end smartphones.

Website design is important for user experience

We mentioned previously that the majority of online searches today come from mobile devices. What we did not yet mention is that Google does mobile-first indexing, meaning if your site is not mobile-friendly your SEO will suffer. 

Knowing this, the right thing to do for your start-up website SEO is to build a website with a responsive design that will provide good user experience for both desktop and mobile device users.

Website design must be flexible and responsive for both mobile and desktop users.
Website design must be flexible and responsive for both mobile and desktop users.

Keep in mind that if your bounce rates are sky high, it may be a loading time issue, or you have not optimized your site for viewing with a specific audience that outright leaves your site because they have issues viewing.

Few basics for on-site SEO

Similar to any other type of website, a start-up website needs to be made with all of the on-page SEO factors in mind.

The on-page SEO is a topic which you will find we have discussed more elaborate in another article, though now I would like to mention the important basics:

  • Page URL: The URL for different pages on your site should be human-readable, self-explanatory and include relevant keywords. For example, a blog post URL should be the same as the title of the post, while the contact page should have a readable (www.example.com/contact) URL.
  • Page titles and subtitles (headings): Different pages should have different relevant titles, while pages that discuss a specific topic should have structured content with adequate headings which help both users and search engines find relevant content or answers.
  • Unique content: What you need is unique content. By now there are thousands of websites which provide similar content, and you may be tempted to copy/paste from one of them to your start-up website, but that is a big negative. Never have duplicate content from another site as you will be helping that competing website with domain authority, but instead aim to be unique.
  • Photo and graphic content: Provide content that is illustrated with images, photos and graphics (charts, graphs, infographics … etc.) with aim of user engagement but also SEO optimization (compressed images with titles and alt-description).
  • Internal links: Different pages must be inter-linked by links and menus leading to other pages on your site.
  • Structured content: Aim to provide content that is structured for both human and search engine crawler consumption.

You can look up more in-depth information for all of these factors within our website in their separate articles.

Advanced tips for a step forward

We would agree that, because there are millions of websites it is hard to create unique content, and especially when your resources are limited.

Because of this we want to provide a few advanced tips that will give your start-up website a considerable SEO boost and help it stand out.

Without question, you need to provide new content with your website regularly, but that does not mean you should go for volume over quality. Instead, when creating new content keep this checklist with you:

  • Valuable – The content you are adding to the site needs to provide relevant,  valuable information to your target audience.
  • Linkworthy – The content quality needs to be high so that other sites would consider having a link to your site without any special incentive.
  • Media variety – besides having blog posts, people now enjoy a well-made video or multimedia content so it would be beneficial if your budget allows it or you have resources to make.
  • Visual communication – Work on providing visually and aesthetically pleasing content which users find appealing to keep them engaged for a longer period.
  • Search optimization – Make sure every image, chart or video is adequately optimized for search for maximum crawl speed and better online visibility.

Conclusion: Start-Up SEO

We can conclude that start-up SEO is not that different from any regular website but it requires a higher effort in a shorter period to make the company into a success.

The good news is that if you made it this far into the article, then you are ready. Since the nature of start-up companies is that they usually provide something innovative and new, if you apply all of the advice mentioned we are sure your company will triumph.

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