SEO for Startups: Essential Guide

The longer you wait, the more you’re risking the future of your startup. Like it or not, SEO is an essential part of almost every startup’s ability to thrive.

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Hey, I'm Tom Desmond. I'm determined to help you grow your startup business.

Last updated on February 14, 2024

Your startup is dynamic — a fast-paced hotbed of ideas and motivation. But your website is a dud.

Sure, it looks nice. But Google hasn’t so much as raised an eyebrow at it.

That’s because your SEO sucks.

You either haven’t done SEO at all, or you’ve done it wrong. And, whether you know it or not, it’s putting your startup’s entire future at risk.

SEO for startups is no joke. Here’s how to do it and how UppercutSEO can help.

Benefits of SEO Services for Startups

I don’t care if you’re seed stage or series A, B, or C — SEO HAS to be a part of your marketing strategy. And the earlier in the startup lifecycle you start, the better.
Don’t believe me? Here’s what SEO does for startups like yours.

Builds Business Longevity

SO many startups end up like a match — a big bright start until the matchstick quickly shrivels and the flame goes out.

SEO keeps the flame going for your startup.

How? By building a pipeline of new customers, whether they’re consumers (B2C) or other businesses (B2B).

That’s because:

  • SEO reduces customer acquisition cost (CAC) by more than 87 percent.
  • 53 percent of consumers research a product or service before buying on search engines.
  • And 75 percent of searchers never go past the first page of search engine results to find what they’re looking for (your product).

Absorb those stats. Now imagine that your startup is ranking on page one of Google results for all the keywords that are relevant to your business.

You’d be going public in no time — or, at least, you’d have the option to. That’s where you want to be.

Boosts Brand Recognition

Before I get into this next point, I want to make sure we’re on the same page about some key SEO metrics:

  • Rankings are where your site ranks for particular keywords. If yours is the first result, you rank No. 1.
  • Impressions are when your site shows up in search results when someone sees something.
  • And organic traffic is when someone clicks your listing in search results.

I want to talk about that second one — impressions — and how it impacts your brand recognition.

An impression means someone has seen your website and what your startup offers. They’re now aware of you, your brand, and your product or service.

And startup SEO can start racking up MILLIONS of impressions in fairly short order.

That’s millions of people who wouldn’t have known about your startup otherwise — regardless of whether they click on your site.

Benefits the Bottom Line

You’re trying to prove something: Your startup is viable, it has longevity, the investors made a wise decision, etc.

SEO will help with that. Because it will get you more customers, clients, users — whatever you call them.

Nearly everyone uses Google. And, in the early days, nearly no one knows about your startup.

If you put your startup’s website in a prominent place in Google search engine results pages (SERPs), you get the word out.

And when you get the word out, you attract customers.

And when you attract customers, you get reviews and referrals.

Hear that? That’s the sound of the startup engine revving to life.

The Many Moving Parts of Startup SEO

SEO isn’t just one thing. It’s dozens of separate tasks and skill sets that fall into some general categories.

To do SEO for startups, you have to engage with all of these tasks (or pay someone to).

Here are the basics to get you started:

Technical SEO

In my nearly 15 years of doing SEO, I’ve worked with all kinds of clients — many startups included. One nice thing about startups that many other types of clients — such as plumbers and lawyers — don’t have is technical knowledge.

In other words, when I tell you about “technical” SEO, you’re not likely to feel intimidated. That gives you a head start. Because while technical SEO can be quite complex, the basics are really simple.

It’s just fear that keeps so many people from actually taking care of technical SEO essentials.

So, for your startup’s website, you’ll need to ensure a few basic technical considerations:

  • Google’s bots are able to find, crawl, and index your website
  • Your website loads quickly
  • You aren’t sending users or Google to broken links or otherwise broken pages

I’ll give you a few basic tasks to look into to get started:

First, make sure your robots.txt file hasn’t blocked important pages from Google’s crawlers. In other words, make sure the word “disallow” is nowhere near the word “Googlebot” in your file, which you can find at https://yoursite.com/robots.txt.

Second, make sure you’ve submitted your XML sitemap to Google Search Console (and that you have Google Search Console properly set up).

And third, test a few key pages in Google’s page speed testing tool: PageSpeed Insights.

(If you aren’t happy with the numbers you get or are struggling to understand them, reach out to me and I’ll help you.)

Keyword Research

Keyword research is a critical part of startup SEO. And it’s actually great for your market research activities, too.

First, the SEO part:

Keywords are the words and phrases you want your website to show up for in Google results. Keyword research is the process of identifying what people are actually searching for that’s relevant to your startup.

And that brings me to the market research part:

Many startups provide fundamentally new services or products. Or at least they are different in some way.

So, if you can identify what real people are typing into Google that would suggest that they could benefit from your product or service, you’re getting KEY insight into your addressable market.

How? Search volume. That’s an estimate of how many times per month a particular keyword is entered into Google.

Basically, if you identify a keyword that’s relevant to your business and has at least some search volume, you may want to try to rank for it.

And to rank for it, you’ll need to create content around it …

Content Creation

In SEO, content creation is all about getting those juicy keywords you want to rank for onto your website.

In other words, you need to create quality content to target each keyword you would like to rank for in Google.

Say your startup sells a healthcare data interoperability solution. And you want to rank No. 1 when anyone Googles “improve healthcare data interoperability.”

Here’s the way you do that: Create a comprehensive, high-quality piece of content titled something like “How to Improve Healthcare Interoperability.”

Lather, rinse, and repeat for every keyword you’d like to rank for.

On-Page SEO

Everything you can adjust ON your visible website to improve your SEO is an on-page SEO task. That’s a lot of stuff.

For startups, some key on-page SEO tasks include the following:

  • Creating click-worthy title tags and meta descriptions for Google to display in the SERPs
  • Ensuring that your webpages are properly internally linked with one another
  • Using proper header tag markup for section headings within your content (H1, H2, H3, etc.)
  • Properly optimizing content for target keywords (using it in appropriate places without keyword stuffing)
    Implementing schema markup to help Google better understand your website and its contents

And much more.

This is an ongoing set of tasks, and it can get pretty complicated as your site grows.

But trust me when I tell you this is a level you don’t want to leave unpulled. On-page SEO is fully within your control, so ignoring it is a missed opportunity.

Link Building (Off-Page SEO)

This is the part where a lot of startup marketers fall off. They hear “backlinks” or “link building” and immediately think “scam” or “impossible.”

If you’re still here, you’re already pulling ahead of a lot of your competitors.

See, since Google’s earliest days, backlinks — that is, links on OTHER websites that point to YOUR website — have been a key ranking factor. If not the most important ranking factor.

Google sees them as votes for your site. They help Google believe that your site is worth ranking and ranking well for valuable, relevant keywords.

Here are some of the objections that are probably rattling around in your head as you read this:

  • Google can see that my content is good, so why should I care about backlinks?
  • I can’t control what other websites do, so why waste time trying to get backlinks?
  • I have gotten 100 scammy emails from shady so-called link builders THIS WEEK. Why should I believe this is worth doing?

I’ll address those points one by one:

  • Google can’t read or assess the quality of content. It pretends to do so by blending hundreds of factors — and chief among those factors is backlinks.
  • With smart link building tactics and some paid opportunities, you absolutely CAN control what other websites do in terms of linking. I’ve done it literally thousands of times.
  • Yeah, I get those emails, too. They’re the underbelly of this profession. But they’re the bad apples, not the bunch.

Hopefully, you’re now convinced that link building should be a key part of your startup SEO strategy.

What’s next? You try some basic link building tactics, like the following:

  • Guest posting. You submit an article to a website. They publish it. And it contains a link to your website.
  • Link insertions. You ask or pay a website to insert into an existing piece of content a link to a helpful resource on your site.
  • Media outreach. You use services like Help a Reporter Out (HARO) to respond to journalists’ requests for sources. You offer your expertise and, in exchange, get a backlink in the published article.

Start with those and see where you get. There are DOZENS of other approaches, but those are the most effective, in my experience.

How to Put It All Together

Now that you know the basics of SEO for startups, you have to choose a course of action to put everything into play. Here are your options:

Do It Yourself

You could try to do it yourself. If you’re a one-man shop or just starting your website, this may be viable for a short time.

But eventually, you’ll run out of time, resources, expertise, or a combination of those things. And you’ll need to bring in additional help.

Hire an In-House Team

If you’ve already been funded, you may be tempted to hire in-house SEO people. This CAN work, but it’s not likely to work

Here’s why:

There’s no credential for SEO expertise. Everyone and their cousin’s brother is claiming to be an SEO “expert” with nothing real to show for it. And SEO achievements are easy to fake.

So you might hire poorly. Or you might hire someone who could learn the stuff you need them to, but then YOU have to teach them.

If you were capable of that, you wouldn’t be here reading this article.

I won’t get into the expense of it all right now. You already know that multiple salaries will be necessary for this, and that’s going to add up fast. And the ROI may or may not come in six months to a year.

And that’s IF you do it right.

Find a Freelancer

That may bring your mind to hiring freelance help. And like hiring an in-house SEO team, this CAN work. But it fails more often than it works.

That’s because freelancers are notoriously flaky. And they often want to churn and burn — get in, rack up a few big monthly retainer fees, and get out either by being fired by or ghosting you.

Of course, not all freelancers are like that. I’ve known many who can actually do the job right.

But I’ve also seen their pricing. Hire a top SEO freelancer and you’ll burn through your marketing budget faster than you can say “additional seed funding round.”

Work with a Reputable SEO Agency

That leaves the agency route. And if you haven’t already caught on, that’s the route I’m advocating for.

Why? A few reasons:

  • UppercutSEO is an SEO agency, and I KNOW we can help you grow your startup through SEO.
  • I believe the agency model is the most appropriate for startups at virtually any stage.
  • Agencies have something to lose — their reputation — so they work harder.

I’m not saying all agencies are perfect. And I know they can be expensive. But I’m telling you:

An SEO agency will move the needle if you take your time choosing the right one. And I’m about to save you that time by showing you why UppercutSEO is the right one.

Why Work with UppercutSEO?

I’ll keep this simple:

I built UppercutSEO to help startups like yours. I built it because there’s a problem in the SEO industry. Actually, three problems:

  1. Lack of transparency. SEO providers like to keep clients in the dark so they aren’t accountable for their failures.
  2. Lack of flexibility. SEO providers like to charge massive monthly retainer fees so they can get rich off your dwindling startup funding. They don’t want a la carte options or lower-cost plans that scale when clients get results.
  3. Lack of results. SEO has gotten a terrible reputation because so many SEO providers can’t actually do SEO, which is all about getting results for clients.

I fixed the lack of transparency by building a custom SEO dashboard you can use for free. There, you’ll be able to order backlinks, content, and more. And see the results our team gets for you.

I fixed the lack of flexibility by allowing clients to order backlinks and content as they need them. No wasted monthly budget.

I fixed the lack of results by bringing together what I believe is the absolute best SEO team in the industry.

Everyone working on your account can boast unbelievable SEO results for clients. Like this:

You can get those millions of clicks and impressions, too. You can grow your startup with SEO. All you have to do is contact UppercutSEO.

Startup SEO Can’t Wait. The Time Is NOW.

The longer you wait, the more you’re risking the future of your startup. Like it or not, SEO is an essential part of almost every startup’s ability to thrive.

So you have to invest in it. And you have to invest the RIGHT way.

I contend that UppercutSEO is the right way. And I’m willing to put my money where my mouth is. I’ll stake my reputation on it, too.

Contact me to talk about your startup SEO strategy, claim your 100 percent free SEO dashboard, and start growing your startup organically RIGHT now.

No monthly retainer. No smoke and mirrors or lame excuses. Just (real) results. That’s the power of SEO for startups.

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