You raised your initial pot, may even have raised some investment, possibly quit your day job. You want to get your product or service on the market as soon as possible. SEO can wait, right? Wrong!
In a rare moment of serendipity, while I was checking Twitter prior to putting pixel to screen on the blog, there was a tweet which perfectly illustrates the dangers of being without SEO sat at the top of my feed. Combining two of my favourite things – charts and schadenfreude – it makes a great point, so I’m going to begin with it.
This is what happens when you put a complete website overhaul live without any SEO considerations… no redirects, no sitemaps, no title & meta description optimisation.
— Barry Adams 📈 (@badams) March 9, 2018
Now, I know this isn’t a start-up, in fact, we can assume from the ‘M’ in the clicks and impressions boxes that it’s a reasonably well established company. What it exemplifies, however, is the common belief that SEO is simply a ‘nice to have’ – something that can be implemented later on, once the important stuff is out of the way.
Search marketing is an industry experiencing massive growth for a reason. While it may not have begun in the most ethical manner, two decades of refinement, research and growing expertise have made it an industry vital to the success of any brand looking to succeed online.
The brand in the above tweet achieved more than 9 million impressions in between January and March, yet only around 100K of those in March itself. There were doubtless teams across the business that were convinced that their previous traffic was due entirely to the relationships they have with their consumers, the inherent greatness of their product – and they may have both of these things, but without visibility in SERPs, their traffic fell as though through a trapdoor.
While no start-up faces the possibility of losing 90% of its traffic through a lack of SEO at the outset, what it does is it ties one arm behind the back of the business – making it much harder for the brand to succeed at an already difficult time in its inception. With this in mind, here are 5 things that no start-up should be without when it comes to SEO.
A sitemap, or sitemaps, are important for a number of reasons. Not only do you need to ensure your sitemap is uploaded to Google Search Console as a matter of urgency if you have not already done so, your sitemap will also help you to organise your consumer journey and plays a large part in the flow of domain authority from inbound links (which, even if inbound links are hard to come by at first, is important to have).
Title & meta descriptions
Whatever your on page content, no matter how good, not only will you have greater trouble ranking without your title and meta descriptions in place, it can also cause issues with getting your consumers to click through. While Google will pull a description through, you want to ensure it’s the right description to attract your consumers to click through to your site.
Especially useful if your site’s ccTLDs (country code top level domains) all redirect to a .com or .co.uk URL, the rel=”canonical” tag ensures that the URL you want to rank is receiving the benefit of all inbound links as well as sending the right signals to various search engine spiders as to the importance of the canonical URL.
More on all four of the above can be found in our SEO Guide series.
As with the other points, structured data serves a number of different uses, but primarily – for a start-up – the correct use of structured data (or mark-up, see schema.org) is that it ensures that search engines are able to more easily parse the content of your site. Whether you’re a restaurant (menu mark-up), a brand with a physical store (location mark-up) or a host of other scenarios, correctly implementing structured data on your site will ensure search engines read your site properly and can also open up specialist SERPs features where they are available (local packs etcetera).
You can find more about structured data for local SEO here.
Keyword targeting allows you to reach your consumers through SERPs and at the right point of their journey. While the vocabulary of search engines is improving, it is still beneficial to target the right keywords even if it no longer requires considerations around keyword density. While progress has liberated writers of web content, it has not freed strategists. It is still important to ensure that your brand is pitching for the right keywords.
You can find more on keyword targeting for SEO by downloading the free eBook below.
There we have it, the five absolute must haves. That’s not the end, though. These five are the absolute minimum you need to implement before you launch, or if you have already done so, that you need to implement as a priority.
So, if you haven’t already, make sure you start to set aside budget and time for your SEO activity, and give your start-up the best chance possible to succeed.