A Thought Leader Guest Post from Jason Khoo of Anaheim-based Zupo:
When new startups are entering the business landscape, they are eager to utilize the marketing channels that will bring the biggest return on investment.
SEO is often one of the more popular considerations.
However, SEO is a complex and competitive game where many businesses today allocate a considerable amount of resources. This is because most businesses today recognize SEO as a primary marketing channel. It is no longer a "hidden gem" in the marketing world.
When developing the SEO strategy for your startup it is critical to do so in a manner that focuses on your strengths and advantages to increase your likelihood of success against the more entrenched, resource-rich companies.
Link Building, Content & Technical SEO – The Pillars of SEO
As you develop a strategy for your company it is important to do so in a manner that will give you the best chance at ranking quickly, since most startups do not have long runways.
To craft a successful SEO strategy, we need to understand the foundation of SEO.
There are 3 pillars of SEO:
- Link Building & Referring Domains
- Content Development & Marketing
- Technical SEO
When a competitor's site ranks above yours this is usually because they have optimized one or multiple SEO pillars better than you have. While you should be engaging in all three SEO pillars, as a startup your resources are limited and you must choose a plan that will be effective and successful as quickly as possible for your company.
Media, Industry, or Community Connections? Link Building
If you are a startup with a strong network and reputation within your local community, the media, or your industry then a focus on the link building pillar may be the most successful strategy for you. Link building can be one of the most difficult aspects of SEO because it relies on your ability to successfully acquire links from 3rd party sites. This strategy cannot be done overnight. Link building requires you to build meaningful relationships, provide value, and grow as a resource of thought leadership in your industry.
If your startup has a team comprised of individuals that are well connected and respected within your industry or community then you are already a portion of the way there in your link building strategy. These startups must seize these valuable connections and double down on their link building capabilities to outrank their competitors quickly by winning with links and referring domains.
Time and Sweat Equity? Content
Many startups have fantastic ideas and an eagerness to put in the work but lack in the connections department. These companies have a sweat equity advantage; where they are willing to put in the work to make their dreams come true even if it means taking a short term reduction in pay. This type of startup has the advantage of time, time that can be used to build their brand.
Startups like these should utilize the content pillar of SEO. In order to achieve the best rankings, sites must grow organically, improve their content library and keep it up to date and relevant. Startups that have the advantage of time, can spend extra effort focusing and building their content since they know their competitors just don't have that same time to grow their own content.
Unlike link building, content is actually one of the easiest of the SEO pillars to address. Content is 100% in your control. You do not need to wait for any other website or party to build your content library. Your startup can add more pages and content to your own site. There's no need for approvals from anyone else. So even if your startup lacks the network or connections, you can make up for it with a commitment to content.
Network Effects? Technical SEO is Your Friend
If your startup necessitates a large site because maybe your site shows a wide variety of products or services or you have a site that is a social network of many users and topics, technical SEO optimizations will be your best friend.
If your site will grow quickly due to the number of people signing on and interacting with the site, you can use this crowdsourced asset you have to win at SEO. Instead of having your small startup team have to tackle content, you will have thousands of users who will be contributing content.
Your startup can use this to your advantage by utilizing the content that is published by users to optimize your site. The more content that is added, the larger your site will become and the more chance that links will be driven. Really your site will grow organically and properly using technical SEO will leverage it into SEO success. Technical SEO will ensure that Google can properly crawl all these new pages, understand what these pages are trying to rank for and then indexing them.
Though this sounds like a no brainer SEO strategy, there are of course many drawbacks. For example, you need to ensure that Google is indexing areas of the site that you actually want to. Users will post content that can be seen as against policy guidelines, spammy or just not appropriate. If this is found in too high of a volume your site can actually be penalized.
There are many considerations in the technical SEO area and to win here, it requires careful planning on a macro level, but when done well, your SEO will greatly benefit.
Focus on Your Strengths and Get it Working For You
Understanding the foundations of SEO and the competitive playing field will help you build your SEO strategy. When you try to do everything, in an SEO sense, you risk a resource investment that is too high. As a startup, you need to identify your advantage and double down on your strengths and competitive advantages, rather than trying to beat your competitors on all SEO fronts.
About Jason Khoo and Zupo
Jason started freelancing in SEO back when he attended Cal State Fullerton, sold his first agency and now is founder of Zupo, which is an Orange County-based SEO consulting agency helping construct powerful long term SEO strategies for clients. Jason is an OC native, enjoys multiple cups of tea a day, hiding away on weekends catching up on reading and rewatching The Simpsons for the 20th time.
Thanks for this Guest Post and its graphics to Jason Khoo, the Founder and CEO of Zupo.
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