Startups and Small Businesses: Don’t Forget to Plan Your SEO Strategy

News flash: running your own business is tough. There are a cagillion things to do and only so many minutes in a day. It’s inevitable that important success factors will get overlooked – especially when the business is just getting started.

One of the most often overlooked aspects of a companies first marketing plan is search engine optimization. For some reason, it slips between the cracks for so many small businesses. I think what happens, especially with a lot of first-time entrepreneurs or young companies, is there’s a natural desire to plow through the startup checklist so that the business can start and hopefully the money will begin rolling in.

You know the checklist, right? You’ve probably done it yourself.  Name for the business? Check. Bank account? Open. Domain? Grabbed it. Logo? Designed it. Website? Launched. Coffee maker? Brewing as we speak.

Eventually the checklist moves to marketing and,  ‘How exactly are we going to get people to pay us for our product or service?’. The key mistake that most startups make is assuming that just having a website is enough. They think, ‘Well, we have something out there for people to check out. It looks really cool and does a good job of selling our product. So, we’re covered there.’

What’s missing from that logic? The business didn’t bother to think through how exactly they are going to get traffic, and better yet qualified traffic, to visit their website. And so what usually happens is a company will look at their analytics after 90 days of being in business and realize traffic and leads from the website is nonexistent.

In a past post I wrote about the importance of launching your first website before you launch your company. This is different. What you need to have is a full SEO plan. I recommend that you generate at least a 6-month SEO strategy when starting a new business.

At a high level, here’s what you need to include:
Keyword research: find out what your industry’s most valued keywords are and start competing for them. Be sure to constantly monitor progress and don’t be afraid to re-evaluate keyword priorities every few months. This is the most important step in an SEO strategy. If you’re not going after the right traffic, or traffic that’s too competitive for a young company, you won’t get the traffic needed to survive.

Content strategy: it doesn’t matter how much you have, the content on your website the day it launches is not enough. Every website needs a vehicle for adding quality content rich in the most valuable keywords on a consistent basis. The easiest, and highest ROI SEO vehicle to add is a blog. Other examples are resource or educational sections. Ideally, there’s new content being added every day. That can be a drain on resources, however. So try to at least add something a couple of times per week.

I can’t emphasize enough how important a content strategy is for your website. Without some kind of plan to add new content, it will fall by the wayside. I see it all the time with my clients. Spend a day or two planning out 50, 100, 200 blog posts and then figure out a plan for getting them done.

Pay-per-click plan: at some point you need to test the pay-per-click waters. Every business should. Set aside the cash you need to at least test buying keywords. One of two things will happen: either it works and you’ve found an additional way to get qualified leads, or it doesn’t work and there are lessons that can be learned. For example, did you get a lot of click-thru’s but low conversions? That’s usually a sign the website needs to be optimized for conversion. Either way, make sure that the person managing the campaign is an SEO professional. Don’t try to do it yourself unless you’re willing to spend through the learning curve…and there is a learning curve.

Do those three things and you’ll be ahead of the game when it comes to having a smart marketing plan for a young company.

What’s been you experience with defining an SEO strategy? Let’s talk about it in the comments section below.

Leave a Comment