Common SEO Mistakes Startups Make and How to Avoid Them
Many business professionals today associate SEO with shady ploys to raise rankings, such as keyword stuffing. However, SEO serves as an integral part of every digital marketing plan. If you’ve avoided it so far, now is the time to invest in SEO and the digital health of your startup.
The Importance of SEO for Startups
SEO can be a cutthroat, shady way for businesses to scramble to the top of Google, Bing, and Yahoo! search pages. Yet every year, search engine algorithms get a little smarter and tougher to fool. Modern SEO specialists focus more on holistic online practices designed to improve search rankings and conversion rates.
The right SEO strategy is key to online visibility in an increasingly saturated online space. To build a competitive edge, you must go beyond the basics and master SEO tactics. Otherwise, the best and most relevant content will go unnoticed.
The Most Common Startup Mistakes
Here are some of the most common mistakes that startups make:
- You fear, don’t understand, or ignore SEO. Many business owners have never dealt with SEO. You may have preconceived notions about the practice or believe in the efficacy of “what worked in the past.” If you’re uncertain about jumping aboard the SEO bandwagon, take a close look at your website traffic.
Are you really getting the conversions you should from your online activities? Remember: your blog, landing pages, and other content assets may go largely unnoticed without SEO. Running an Austin-based SEO agency, I see this kind of marketing myopia from startups regularly.
- Your website and homepage are barren. Consider your website and homepage, in particular, as your digital marketing foundation. Before optimizing any other online activities, optimize your website. Your homepage should serve as a simple but relevant source of strategically written information. Each landing page should support your mission and create a network of pages that a search engine can easily scan and process.
- You blog because marketers convinced you that quantity is more important than quality. In the early days of SEO, quantity could give you a temporary boost in rankings. Today, you must deliver more to search engine crawlers and your audience. Focus first on creating valuable content for your target market. Then, optimize your content with keywords, metadata, and tags when you upload it. Never leave the metadata fields blank in your content management system.
- You allow search engines to index all pages, including tag, category, date, archived, and author pages. Like content, you may assume more is better for SEO. However, certain pages that don’t provide relevant content can actually hurt your search engine rankings. Make an effort to keep duplicate and non-relevant content from indexing activities (i.e., use a “noindex” metatag or use a robots.txt file on your site).
- You only use common sense keywords. Keyword research provides valuable insight into your strategy. You may assume a broad phrase will drive more traffic to your site. In reality, a more targeted, long-tail keyword may have more impact. Use Google’s keyword planner to gain insight into keywords, blog topics, and overall SEO strategy.
Actionable Tips for Getting the Most From Your Early SEO Days
When you know what to avoid, you can focus on productive SEO activities that will give more bang for your buck. Whether you’ve just launched a company website or you have an existing loyal customer base, use these tips to get more from your search engine results over time:
- SEO is a long-term goal, not a short campaign. SEO tactics are designed to provide sustainable results. SEO takes time to build and maintain, but the wait is worth it.
- The right tools will make your journey much easier. Positionly offers SEO tools targeted for the startup market. Use its ranking tracker, competitor analyzer, and more to build your SEO foundation. The company allows startups to use its services for free for six months.
- Understanding the basics of SEO will improve your strategy. Take SEO tutorials to better understand the principles of SEO—and to avoid third-party SEO scams. Many SEO agencies offer value-driven services, but a few will take advantage of unsuspecting startups.
If you’re interested in maintaining an online presence, SEO isn’t optional. Invest in a strong SEO foundation to give your digital marketing campaign the boost needed to attract visitors, inspire conversions, and build a long-term customer base.
Mark Rattner is a content marketing manager at Complete Web Resources, an Austin-based firm.