SEO mistake

The Biggest Mistake Startups Make Regarding SEO

The CEO of a new startup in a very competitive B2C space recently asked me for SEO advice. He wanted to know how he could use SEO to drive traffic to his new site. I knew he wouldn’t like my answer.

Relying on SEO as a significant traffic driver for a new startup is a huge mistake.

Sure, no one can argue with the importance of getting found in Google. The stats are impossible to ignore. If there are a million daily searches for your primary keywords, and you can drive even of a fraction of those searchers to your site — bingo, you’re in business! Sounds pretty awesome and it looks even better in the marketing plans of many startups who factor in organic search as a major source of traffic and leads.

Unfortunately for these startups, expecting organic search to drive traffic to a new site is a huge mistake.

1. It takes time to rank

Google uses over 250 factors in their ranking algorithm. Domain age is an important one. Basically, the older the domain the more authority points it accumulates and the better its chances are of ranking higher. That puts new domains at a big disadvantage, no matter how great they are. Inbound links from other authoritative sites are also a major ranking factor, and getting those types of links usually doesn’t happen over night.

2. Competition

Even if you’ve got the best SEO strategy in place and do everything right, you’re still competing against a lot of other companies who are doing the same. If you’re in a competitive field that has big players fighting for the top spots then you’re chances of ranking highly if your new is pretty bleak. Your competitors and have been investing resources into their SEO strategies for a lot longer than you, so they’ve got the upper hand — and probably the bulk of the organic search traffic.

Relying on SEO as a significant traffic driver for a new startup is a huge mistake.

But that doesn’t mean that SEO isn’t important for a startup. Here’s what my startup CEO buddy should be doing:

1. Make sure your website is structured and coded correctly. Using WordPress is an easy way to do that.

2. Install the Yoast SEO plugin for your wordpress site. It will help you cover all of the technical SEO stuff you need and it integrates with Google Search Console (the new name for Webmaster Tools) as well as with Bing and Yahoo.

3. Make sure all of your website pages and posts have unique titles and descriptions that incorporate the keywords you’re targeting. The Yoast plugin makes doing that a piece of cake.

That’s the easy stuff. Now comes the most important part of your SEO strategy  — CONTENT.

Creating valuable, informative and engaging content is the primary pillar of SEO strategy. It’s what will get you links and gain you the authority to rise in the search ranking. It doesn’t happen overnight, but a steady content creation plan will produce results over the long run.

So my answer to the CEO (who already had a wordpress site with the Yoast plugin) was this: Don’t worry too much about SEO at this point. Focus your energy on creating great content. That’ll move you up in the rankings over time. More importantly, it will provide your target users with value and get them to become customers.

Of course you need to share that content through social media, email and paid formats … but that’s for another post.

So Mr. Startup CEO, here’s your SEO strategy: set up your website blog and start creating awesome content!