By now we have all heard the term “SEO”. You may even know what it stands for, or be able to explain to your parents what it is. However, for a lot of people that’s as far as their knowledge on the subject goes. The reality is, if your business is online, SEO should be along for the ride if not driving the car.
Many people see this as a daunting task; thinking it can only be done through intense coding and immersive knowledge of the subject. While that is true, there are also some easy steps that any company or start-up can begin doing to up their SEO game. Our founders Ben and Tyler are here to walk you through just that.
- What SEO is and why it’s important for your business’ bottom line
- How SEO is applicable to the start-up world
- Specific examples of how a start-up can leverage SEO in their marketing strategy
To help guide us through each of these sections, we are going to take commonly asked questions and give you our best answers. Chances are, if you’ve thought it, others have too! Let’s start.
First off, what IS SEO. Like, really what is it?
Well, hate to break it to ya, but SEO is actually a little harder to crack than that.
Simply put, SEO (or search engine optimization) is the way we get traffic from organic search results on search engines. Simply put, optimizing your page so that it is more likely to pop up when people are searching. A lot of people associate SEO strictly with Google and while Google is one the major players, SEO is not exactly tied to it.
SEO is within a specific search engine, whether that’s Google, Trip Advisor, iTunes, Bing, it’s getting visibility when people are searching broad key phrases or searching for your brand. What’s tricky about it is the fact there is no manual for SEO. There isn’t a 3-step approach to doing it, because it varies so much, and is constantly changing. It’s based on how these online search engines are ranking you, and you don’t always know how they are doing that. It’s mysterious because it is a lengthy process and you don’t always know the right answer. The search engines simply aren’t giving away their secret sauce. So, there is often an element of hypothesizing and testing to figure out how to manipulate the algorithm so that your brand can better be in the public eye.
And why do I need it? What’s it really going to do for me?
The Internet is like, really, REALLY huge. Every day more and more business is conducted online. And why? Because your consumer is online. So you do the math. If your consumer is online, and your business is online, and you want your consumer to see your business, you’ve got to get in front of them.
Now, SEO is certainly not the only way to do this, BUT, with over 3.5 million Google searches a day alone, it’s pretty good place to start.
Ok, but I am a start-up company. Does this pertain to me as well?
SEO is the most relevant for start-ups! When your brand is unknown, and you are looking to establish within a specific market, it is crucial to have a solid SEO strategy in place. The most important place to start is keyword research. I know, I know, you’ve heard it a million times. “Keyword” is one of the industries biggest buzzwords – but believe me when we say, it carries its weight. Keywords are the bread and butter of SEO. They have the power to target users by varying levels of intent.
What does it mean to use keywords to target by intent?
This is everything. When you think of how people use the internet and the various searches they perform, every search has a specific level of intent to what they are looking for. For example, a search for “best brunch in Toronto” can tell us that this user has intent towards making a reservation for brunch in Toronto. A high volume of monthly searches for this term tells us that it’s a term we may want to try and rank for (if applicable, of course).
How can this information be leveraged?
First and foremost, a brand must decide which keywords best reflect their own business offering paired with a high enough level of intent to be worth competing for. Upon deciding which keywords to target, there are various ways to incorporate the specific search terms into their SEO strategy. For one, if the restaurant focuses heavily on brunch, the labelling of their website should reflect that. This will be the first indication to the search engines of the high relevancy. Secondly, link building through outreach.
What is link building through outreach?
This is big. Links are very important to a robust SEO strategy.
Links are essentially websites that refer back to yours in a way that validates what you are saying about yourself. For example, if you are a brunch restaurant in Toronto, and you ask a local blogger to write a piece about you linking back to your website, the search engine will read that as a way to validate that you are in fact a brunch restaurant. Going one step deeper, a link on a Toronto bloggers website will have more clout than a blogger located in the United States. This means that a link from a blogger outside of the country will not have as much relevancy within the algorithm than someone who is local. This doesn’t mean it won’t contribute to your ranking, it just won’t move the needle as quickly. And yes, it gets that intricate.
Are there any quick fixes a start-up can do themselves to help get their brand in front of the consumer?
To launch a new brand, here are three quick things to implement yourself.
- Add website URL to all social accounts: if you don’t have any, make them. Social accounts contribute to the credibility of a brand, so ensure you have accounts for each and every platform that applies.
- Update your title & meta description: this is where you make use of your target keyword. If you focus on brunch, include that in your title & meta. It should clearly state who you are and include your main target service keyword & brand name. Your meta should have a CTA if possible, and also include the keyword.
- Add site to webmaster tools & analytics: this may seem obvious for any start-up, however it is important to note that by doing this, you are formally submitting your website to the index. So, regardless of when you intend to start monitoring your site, this should be step one.
Any final thoughts? What is the most important first step?
Keywords. By far. Well researched keywords can often rank with very little off page SEO, you just have to put in the time to dig up some gems. How? Take a step back and think about who you want to be and from there, delve into the wonderful world of keywords. Put yourself in the shoes of your target market – locate publications they’re reading, forums they’re talking in and dig up the exact terminology they use in their daily lives. Carefully consider the intent, search volume and competition to really carve out those fruitful audiences that are a match to your business.