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Dos and Don’ts of SEO (Startup Edition)


Tricks to Keep Search Simple and Still Get Results

The process of marketing your emerging brand can be fraught with uncertainty, especially without an effective search engine optimization (SEO) strategy in place.

The importance of an SEO strategy, and ranking well in organic search results, can’t be overstated. For instance, roughly half of all online website visits stem from organic searches, half of which were earned by achieving a #1 ranking.

To get you started, we’ve come up with a few dead-simple SEO dos and don’ts to take the guesswork out of your search strategy.


DO: Make your content friendly
One of the major challenges when implementing an SEO strategy is creating content that's both user and search engine friendly. Placing keywords within well-written and engaging content, however, helps bridge the gap.

While textual content is vital to the success of your website, images, videos and infographics can enhance that content, as well. In particular, videos can attract nearly 300% more traffic to your website than simply text focused content.

Maintaining a blog on your website is also a simple way to gain, and maintain, an engaged audience. For instance, developing weekly blog entries focusing on keywords relevant to your brand is a good way to keep your content fresh for viewers and search engines.

DO: Maintain your site health
Content might be king when it comes to SEO, but a healthy website is needed to make that content accessible. Ensuring your site loads quickly and doesn’t have major issues, like broken links, will increase your credibility with search engines and visitors.

By paying close attention to your website’s search health and on-going maintenance, your efforts (and investment) in content creation won’t go unnoticed.

DON’T: Get too graphic
Developing a website laden with complex graphics, videos and Flash, might be tempting, but it should be avoided.

It's important to keep in mind that search engines regularly crawl webpages and easily understand text copy, so while viewers may find your site attractive search engines may have trouble understanding it. For example, images are difficult for crawlers to read, so the proper formatting and inclusion of alt text to describe images is necessary to draw more viewers to your page.

Without significant text on the site, search engines may not rank your site well, decreasing the number of viewers your page or site might receive.


DO: Think like a customer
The success of your SEO strategy largely depends on identifying keywords to target in search results. While it might not be the most exciting part of building your brand, taking the time to research keywords will pay long-term dividends.

You can begin your search by thinking like a potential customer. Asking yourself what terms you’d look up related to your business and what motivates your search for those terms.

Once you have keywords in mind, use tools like Google’s Keyword Planner tool to pinpoint the ideal keywords searched most frequently that will yield the best results for your page. Ensuring that your keywords aren’t too general means that your website will rank well in organic search results relevant to your target audiences instead of struggling against much larger sites.

Additionally, make sure to regularly publish fresh content to pages, in order to increase the number of keywords available and help drive more visits to your site.

DON'T: Stuff your site
After your keywords are identified, you can incorporate them into your website’s content. However, be weary of keyword stuffing.

As it turns out, search sites aren’t big fans of this practice and your website can be penalized for using the same keywords repeatedly in a way that appears to be cheating the system.

Instead of stuffing your page, simply use keywords in page titles, heading tags and strategically within page content to reap the benefits of your earlier research.


DO: Meet prospects on their own terms
Taking the time to develop a strong social media presence can bolster credibility and engagement with your growing brand. It is not, however, a magic bullet.

As a startup without much of a following, the best way to gain an audience is to seek out your customers who are most active online. By posting on Twitter, LinkedIn groups and/or relevant trade blogs, you can promote interesting discussions and internal thought leadership, while driving awareness of, and interest in, your startup. It's subtle and can help build authentic relationships with prospective customers and partners.

DON'T: Neglect your networks
While developing a strong social media plan requires considerable investment, it’s an important step that shouldn’t be ignored. Bing and Google have acknowledged that social signals play a growing role in search rankings and a recent study has shown that consumers who are active on a company’s social media site contribute 5.6 percent more revenue than inactive consumers.

By using free management tools such as Hootsuite and carving out about 30 minutes to an hour a day, you can make regular engagement more of a routine and start to see quality growth on your channels.


DO: Plan well and give it time
Investing in an SEO strategy is more important now than ever before. With more than 10.3 billion Google searches every month and businesses spending nearly 80 percent of their time researching solutions to problems online, your website could miss the eyes of potential customers if it isn’t optimized.

Fortunately, even small changes can have dramatic results and help drive better ROI. For example, a recent report shared by Yahoo! showed blogging alone can increase brands' site leads by up to 67 percent.

Yes, initial implementation may take a few iterations, but if executed properly and given time to germinate, effective search planning can be a serious boon to your growing brand.

Produced by: Nick Bristol