SEO for Tech Startups: Building Buzz and Acquiring Users

The basic idea behind SEO is to enable search engines to find a particular website easily than the other website. The step to enable the turning of visibility of a website on SERP can be termed as optimization before which a website first needs to be visible to a search engine. So it doesn’t matter how beautiful a website is developed and the useful information it has in it if people are not able to find it. And one of the most common ways to find anything on the Internet is to search it through a search engine. If the website can’t be found in the search engines for their most desired keywords, then it would be the biggest wastage of money as it will fail to attract the targeted customers. This problem can be sorted out with the help of SEO right from the beginning. A nice blend of business sense, marketing, and human psychology, a good SEO service will deliver what the visitors asked that is the information about the product in a well-shown way and making it interesting to the users so overly using technologies and sometimes speculation can be avoided with a requirement to change to a newly built website. Most importantly, the industry ethics and getting a fantastic idea about the user will add a lot to provide to the satisfaction of the client. SEO is very important for the small and big tech startups. As most of them have unyielding competition to grab a stronghold in the different layers of cloud-like computing, SaaS (software as a service) or platform as a service. Most of the technology-based companies are the builders of software and mobile apps and techs to find seeking to automate things and make it user-friendly. They always have a customer in mind and serve the society for a better and easier life. Now these companies build products and services for people and the targeted users will first try to find it on the Internet and test it out. So the website that locates the software or products to the customer needs to be well optimized and should be visible to the search engines. This can be done by employing an SEO professional and providing him a good sum of money in turn for more traffic and clients in the near future. A professional can understand the growing competition in this field and SEO for SaaS startups is possibly the only cost-effective method of marketing.

What is SEO?

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is a process of increasing a website’s ranking for relevant search words (there are millions of possible search words, those most frequently typed into search engines are referred to as keywords) and phrases in the “organic” or “unpaid” search results. Considering the fact that most searchers only click on the first few results, and even fewer people actually purchase something or fill out a form on the first visit to a website, then it should be clear that raising the ranking of a website is the primary goal of SEO. Focusing on the internet as the primary marketing medium, SEO is in contrast to traditional advertising in the sense that the highest ranking website is not the one with the most advertising dollars. Rather, it is the site with the most relevance to the keyword and the most popularity for the keyword, pledged by the site’s link popularity (Quality and Quantity of sites linking to that site). As the cost of PPC advertising rises with more and more competition resulting in less return for cost, SEO is increasingly the superior means of marketing for tech startups. SEO has a direct impact on traffic to a site as higher rankings results in more clicks as the call to action to click on the link is much greater. In this sense, SEO is a very efficient form of marketing, bypassing other means of reaching the same number of visitors within that cost range.

Importance of SEO for Tech Startups

Tech startups are different from traditional small businesses or startups mainly due to the goal of a high growth rate. Tech startups more often than not look towards investors for funding to take them to the next level. Due to this, SEO is a vital step in taking the startup to the next level. Traditional means of marketing often involve costly brand development through paid advertising. This approach is valid, but often not cost-effective for a startup. Paid advertising is still an option with search engines, but it is much more cost-effective when it is part of an overall SEO campaign because it increases the relevancy of the ad, which in turn allows the startup to pay less for a better positioned ad. A well-executed SEO campaign can increase a startup’s chances of investors and venture capitalists stumbling upon it in search for more information. For example, the low-cost investment of sweat equity placed into organic search engine optimization can yield a multitude of investors to the site, whereas the investor-specific article or section might have cost a good deal of capital. SEO is also a great way to bypass competition. Many tech startups have formed around a specific concept or idea. At some point, that concept or idea will emerge into a market, and chances are there will be competition. By starting on SEO early and building a web presence around the concept, the startup will have already created an audience and be ahead of the competition when the market is entered.

Benefits of SEO Service Providers

SEO providers offer a wide range of packages and options for startups and entrepreneurs. In particular, their services can be invaluable in terms of generating brand awareness and increasing visibility in the start-up’s target market. For the vast majority of tech start-ups, consumer acquisition is a difficult and expensive process. In a market that is oversaturated with related products, it can be difficult for potential customers to see the differences between different brands, so SEO service providers step in to relay a clear message for consumers and heighten the profile of the start-up. This, in itself, is integral because a clearer understanding of the start-up’s offering will help the consumer to feel less risk in making a purchase from them. Decreasing perceptions of risk are significant, as purchasing from a new company often involves a greater degree of risk due to uncertainty. An increased profile will also serve to build brand awareness, which is great for any future product launches or when attempting to move into new related markets. Brand awareness is also a generally good thing.

Optimizing Website for Search Engines

Once you have your list of keywords and have evaluated them, it is wise to continually check and evaluate the performance of the keywords using analytics and other software. The performance of keywords is often unpredictable and may change over time.

The first step to keyword research and analysis is brainstorming and generating a list of relevant keywords about your start-up. Think about how people would search for your website using search engines and ask advice from others. Once you have a substantial list, it is time to evaluate the keywords using a variety of methods to determine the best ones to target. The best keywords are ones that have high traffic, low competition, and are highly relevant to your business. A rule of thumb is to initially target keywords that have 3-5 word phrases before expanding to more competitive one or two-word phrases. This will create a steady flow of traffic from users who are more likely interested in your product.

Keyword research and analysis is the foundation to optimizing your website and really the entire SEO process. This is the most important step because it involves understanding the language of your potential users. Attracting the wrong crowd will result in high traffic and low conversions, attracting the right crowd will result in higher conversions and lower the amount of time and money spent on SEO in the future.

Once you have your product team and resources in place, the next step is to build a website that is search engine friendly and will create valuable traffic in the long run. An analogy is often used to describe this process: building a website is like building a house. Before you start the construction of the house, you need to map out a plan. The plan will determine everything from how much money is spent in the process to creating a product that will conserve its value for a long period of time. A website is no different, and mapping out a plan will prevent the need for rework and further optimize the site.

Keyword Research and Analysis

The main goal of this step is to determine what your target market is searching to find products or services that you offer. During this process, you will also find many new ideas for blog topics. Keyword research provides you with a guide to what your target market is looking for. You are essentially listening in on a conversation. People type in questions or problems that they need solved. If you can answer that question or solve that problem, you have a potential customer visiting your site. Using the keyword research, you can segregate the search keywords into categories. This is the beginning of organizing your website’s content into a relevant information architecture. A blog is also a great way to add a constant flow of new content to the site, and target long tail keywords. This is something that I will be touching on in section 2.3.

This is the first and most important step in search engine optimization. In order to make your website rank high, you need to target the right keywords. If you are a new tech company, it will be extremely difficult for you to go after highly competitive keywords such as “email”, “CRM” or “billing”. To start, you should target what is known as the “long tail” keywords. These are 3-5 word key phrases that may not get as much traffic individually, but added together, they make up the majority of search engine traffic. An example of a long tail keyword is “web based email CRM for small business”. The shorter more generic keywords are usually out of reach for new startups. It may take years to rank on the first page for a keyword such as “photo sharing”. Start off with specific descriptive keywords, and then move on to more competitive generic keywords as your website gains authority.

On-Page Optimization Techniques

Heading Tags: Using heading tags for the keyword in the content will make the search engines understand the importance of the keyword in the content. Heading tags range from h1 – h6, with h1 being the most important and h6 being the least important tag. This is a great way of good on-page optimization.

Quality of content: The content of the webpage must be relevant to the target audience. It should focus on the main topic and targeted keyword. It should not be stuffed with keywords. Keyword density is the term used to refer to the number of times a keyword is used in the content of the web page.

Use of Title and Meta tags: A title tag is the main text that describes an online document. Meta tags describe your page but cannot be seen immediately by users when they visit a site. Title tag and meta tags are not displayed on the website but are part of the most important elements of SEO. These tags tell the spiders what is contained on the website. The Title tag is one of the most important attributes of on-page optimization.

On-page optimization involves enhancing the webpage content and improving the quality of HTML code. Techniques involved in on-page optimization include:

Creating Engaging and Relevant Content

Guideline 1: Before writing your content, identify important keywords that are relevant to your product.

Guideline 2: Plan a content schedule to ensure new content is regularly being added to the site.

Guideline 3: When writing blog content, do not stray away from the main topic of the product and service.

Guideline 4: Try to create a mix of different media types to help improve the user experience.

Guideline 5: Make link baiting content only if it is relevant to the brand image and can attract the correct target audience.

Action Plan

To attract people to view and, most importantly, revisit a website, you need to have content that is both engaging and relevant. The best way to increase brand awareness and search engine rankings is by developing content that is not self-serving but informative for the end user. Many people miss out on the fact that search engine rankings are heavily influenced by content clarity and relevance. Remember to always write content for the end user when implementing SEO tactics. Whether it be on-page copy or blogging, writing interesting content can only increase the popularity of the website. With media such as blogging, it is important to establish a loyal readership by writing about topics that are relevant to the product and show a bit of corporate culture. Videos and images are also great as they can help tell a story about your company or product and greatly improve the user experience. Try to avoid creating content that is only for link baiting. Although it is a great method to increase link popularity and traffic, it may only result in short-term success. An example of this would be seeding a controversial topic about an unrelated subject to your website. This will only increase the bounce rate and give your site a bad brand image. Always ask yourself, is this something that will help or inform my readers?

Implementing Technical SEO Strategies

When search engine spiders crawl a website, they need to be able to access all content, which is why it is very important to make sure your entire website is accessible by all methods and able to distinguish these methods from “duplicate content”. One of the most important technical SEO strategies is to create an XML sitemap. This is a list of URLs on your site that tells search engines about the organization of the site content and saves time when it comes to tracking changes on your site and indexing. It is very easy to create and submit an XML sitemap to search engines and can greatly affect the speed and accuracy that your site is indexed. Another very important technical SEO strategy is to reduce the loading time of your webpage. This is a direct factor for search engine ranking. The speed of a web page is not only important to the search engines, but can have a drastic effect on user satisfaction. Even further, studies have shown a correlation between website speed and revenue, showing that a faster website can increase revenue, while a reduced speed can have a negative effect. If loading time is a problem for your website, you can try looking into Google Webmaster Tools Labs Site Performance, or a professional web performance expert. This option is also contingent upon the type of website you have and your site architecture. Do some research and decide the best option for you.

Building Buzz and Increasing Visibility

The SEO benefit of running a social media page or more specifically getting a link from a social media site is debatable. In the Randfish interview in 2010, it was suggested that Google uses traffic and what it calls ‘biological clicks’ as a ranking factor. In this case the term biological basically just means real. It was suggested that because social media sites have non paid users, and that the content is more likely to be shared between users, getting a link on these sites could have a real positive impact on rankings. This is an interesting theory, but where Google is concerned one thing that is definitely true is that they have been placing increasing importance on social media in the SEO world. In 2014 both Google and Bing confirmed that they use social signals to determine rankings. This is important because when your content is shared on social media, it’s effectively being given the thumbs up, and what Google is looking for is content which receives these positive signals. Thus there can be little doubt that social media and SEO are linked, and that using SEO to increase visibility of social media content can greatly benefit your overall chances of ranking with offsite content.

The first thing that can be really useful is to increase the quantity and quality of traffic to your site is to generate a substantial fan base or following. This can be done using relatively cheap Facebook PPC. The reason this is such an effective ways of increasing visibility is that once you have a decent number of fans, you have effectively created your very own traffic source. If these people are interested in your product, they will keep on coming back to your site every time you release a new product or make a new post. This is usually a long term investment that can pay massive dividends. Very popular Facebook pages post is something which in recent times has gained a great deal of traffic. If you can create an interesting or funny post that goes viral, you can see a sudden influx of traffic to your site.

With the rise of social media in recent years, it would be foolish to neglect the massive amount of potential traffic that is lurking at your fingertips. However, there’s a certain element of skill that is needed in order to tap into this traffic. Simply creating a Twitter account or a Facebook Page is not enough. While these things are absolutely vital to an online business, the thing that really increases the level of attention you get is when you know how to use these methods effectively. This can often be a trial and error process, but there are things that can be learnt from other people’s successes (and failures) and implemented to increase the chances of success.

Social Media Marketing for Tech Startups

One of the best examples of using social media to build a community and generate a brand is with the now famous case of Dropbox. When Dropbox launched, they focused on utilizing forums and blogs to share and promote their service. While this was great for enticing tech enthusiasts, Dropbox realized that the real value was in providing a service that is easily sellable by current users to others. With this, Dropbox implemented a two-step referral process that was heavily integrated with Facebook. The integration was so heavy that new users and their referees began flooding forums with requests for Dropbox invites. By simply creating a simple, marketable product and allowing social media to be the catalyst, Dropbox was able to grow 3900% in a year’s time. A success story such as this is what most startups strive for, and this is often all attainable if a product has the right idea and the right amount of visibility in the social space.

Now more than ever, startups coming from the technology space are able to gain a competitive edge and introduce their product or service in a more effective manner. Often times this is due to the increasing reach and necessity of technology in everyday life, but more importantly these tech startups are finding ways to leverage social communities through various online marketing methods. The first, and often most effective method to influence market in the early stages, is to engage in a social media marketing campaign. By taking their products directly to those that would be interested, these startups can begin to build a community around their product and generate a significant branding impact.

Influencer Outreach and Partnerships

You can leverage the audiences of influential bloggers, journalists, and other industry leaders by the implementation of influencer-driven campaigns. This can be an effective way to accelerate Twitter conversations around your brand and to increase the reach and engagement of your content on Facebook. Further, influencers can bring added credibility to your brand and product, which helps to generate more word of mouth referrals. They are also able to participate in media interviews and become an integral part of content, providing quotes and even co-creating content that connects with their audiences. This is helpful for both parties. In some circumstances, a barter or trade of services can be negotiated between cash-strapped startups and influencers with the provision of free services or access to products in exchange for their contribution. This can make influencer outreach an affordable option for even early-stage startups. There are a number of great tools available to help in the identification of key influencers, building of relationships, and ongoing outreach management. GroupHigh is an all-in-one blogger outreach tool that allows startups to find relevant bloggers and manage ongoing relationships. BuzzStream is another great tool for digital PR and link building, providing a host of features including identification of influencers, Twitter and email outreach, and ongoing relationship management. While GroupHigh and Buzzstream are more blog-centric, Onalytica helps to identify and engage with relevant influencers for inward marketing through social media, aiding the amplification of content and increasing share of voice.

Content Marketing and Guest Blogging

You will also need to consider the practices of email and Facebook marketing, which can directly draw users to signing up for your product. However, it should be done with great caution as annoying people with too much publicity will result in them leaving. Another effective method around content is the creation of additional free-to-use tools for the purpose of giving people a taste of what your product delivers. An example of this might be seen with Sensepost’s release on Google hacking specific to a tool they developed, which has now led to heavy traffic.

One of the most effective methods of promoting your startup is the creation of engaging content built around and about your product. The consistent data about you, your product, why you created the startup, and what you are trying to achieve with it will allow you to build a community around your startup and eventually gain more users. This will be your most useful asset in the long run. Practices like blogging will help your company show passion, leadership, and expertise in your field, making it more than likely that people will want to be involved. If your content is compelling and controversial enough, it just might go viral, giving you an extra boost in traffic and users.

Online Advertising and PPC Campaigns

This is a section in the book that is relevant and irrelevant to the audience of the book. This section is relevant to those looking at PPC and advertising, and irrelevant to those focusing more on the SEO aspects of marketing. This section is very high level discussing when paid advertising is appropriate as a marketing channel, and the various forms of online advertising available. This section presumes to know that paid advertising is a good marketing channel for businesses and the reader may disagree with this, however for the purpose of educating the various forms of online advertising it is a reasonable assumption. The section however does not go into a deep enough discussion about the various forms of online advertising and it essentially oversimplifies the various channels into search engine and other types of internet advertising. Paid search advertising could have easily been included in the search engine optimization section of the book and not necessarily have been discussed as a form of online advertising. This is however the most insightful piece of information in this section of the book as it intricately describes the process of paid search advertising and how it can be suitably used to complement SEO. This section may provide useful information if advertising has already been deemed a suitable marketing channel but it does not do enough to explain or justify why paid advertising is suitable marketing channel and it does not provide enough insight into to what kinds of businesses or situations paid advertising is a suitable marketing channel.

Acquiring Users through SEO

There’s no denying how important SEO is when it comes to making yourself known to your potential customers. At a basic level, “search engine optimization” is all about boosting your site’s ranking in popular search engines. The higher up you are, the more traffic your site is likely to get – simple as that. When it comes to acquiring new users, ‘organic’ search traffic is a great way to increase the awareness of your product. In fact, data from a recent study by Outbrain suggests that search engines are the #1 method of content discovery for consumers – beating social media by 300%. Now, whilst high search engine rankings are a good way of exposing your offering to a large number of potential users, it isn’t necessarily the most effective in terms of conversion. However, even when it comes to converting search traffic, there are some specific techniques aimed at informing and persuading users to check out your product, or sign up at a later date. Let’s take a look at CRO. Following on from someone clicking a link to your site, CRO is basically the process of increasing the percentage of visitors who take a desired action. Now, that action could be anything from filling out a form, to downloading a trial of your software. A common method of tuning a website for increased conversions is A/B testing – comparing two versions of a web page to see which performs better. By changing one element and measuring the impact on the conversion rate, you can make detailed changes to your site in order to maximize ROI from traffic. A/B testing can also be used in conjunction with UX analysis on search traffic landing pages, to work out specifically how to optimize the experience for users coming from search engines. This, in turn, leads us to UX itself as a method of SEO targeted user acquisition.

Local SEO Strategies for Tech Startups

The use of local modifiers in keyword targeting is a long-time proven method for businesses of all sizes. Startups can target less competitive long-tail keywords by including local modifiers. For example, a generic keyword like “software company” can be replaced with “Los Angeles software company”. The ground rules for keyword targeting are the same, so startups will not need to learn different theory. Just apply the same keyword targeting methods but add in the local modifier to the keywords. This can include targeting keywords within the meta data, on-page, and off-page optimization. High-quality backlinks with the local modifier in the anchor text will help greatly. For example, an accounting software company in San Francisco would benefit from a backlink with anchor text “San Francisco accounting software”.

Without question, tech startups should leverage local SEO to boost online visibility. With the ability to laser target specific locations, startups can maximize the effectiveness of their limited marketing budget. The following are the most effective ways to implement local SEO.

Conversion Rate Optimization (CRO)

Conversion rate optimization (CRO) is the method of enabling your site visitors to take actions that you want them to take, such as signing up for trials or demos, or making a purchase. In its simplest form, conversion rate is the number of sales you get, or leads you acquire, per number of visitors. In a lot of cases, an increase of conversion rate may mean the same number of sales with fewer visitors – or it may mean more sales. We won’t distinguish between the types of conversions much here, though most content of this section is more concerned with ecommerce. Conversion rate is an important factor to consider for website businesses – if you improve your conversion rate, you will get more out of the resources you are already investing in your website. This can lead to a lower cost per acquisition for customers, and more customers. While some take a broader view, CRO is most often concerned with the visitor taking specific action. This contrasts with efforts to get more traffic, the simpler process of optimizing the value of what the visitor does do, is perhaps the lowest profile activity in a typically high-profile industry.

User Experience (UX) and Website Design

Prior to optimizing your site for search engines, it’s wise to invest time and resources into your website’s design and user experience. A site that is attractive, easy to navigate, and provides valuable information will not only hold visitors’ attention, but it will greatly increase the likelihood of acquiring high-quality inbound links and referrals. If your site is still in development, consider using a content management system (CMS) such as WordPress as your platform. WordPress is great for SEO and allows you to easily install various themes to change the look and feel of your website. There are many tech-related themes available with customizable features. If your website is for a software product, app, or other online service, you may want to consider using a landing page as your home site. A landing page is often a single-page website that is designed to generate leads or sales. This is where you would direct traffic to from online ads or social media sites. By its nature, a landing page should have a clear call to action and method for the user to interact, i.e., sign up for an email list or beta trial. A well-designed site will keep users engaged and lower your bounce rate. This is important as the bounce rate is a measure of the percentage of visitors who enter the site and then leave rather than continuing on to view other pages on your site. In terms of SEO, a low bounce rate is indicative of high visitor satisfaction, which contributes to better search rankings. High-quality content is the backbone of a good website. Ensure that your content is well-written and has proper spelling and grammar. It should also be directly relevant to your target audience. You will want your website to provide solutions to user problems. This can be in the form of explaining how your product can make their lives easier or through providing information and resources related to the product. A blog is a good way to add new content to your site on a consistent basis. This can be information about product updates, industry-related news, or other relevant topics. New content keeps users coming back, and it also provides more opportunities for internal linking. Internal linking is a powerful SEO tactic that can add search value to underdeveloped pages on your site. By providing a link to another page within the anchor text, you can pass link juice and create targeted value for a particular keyword. This is less easily done with a small site but becomes more feasible as the amount of content on your site grows.

Tracking and Analyzing SEO Performance

Web analytics software is a must as it can reveal an abundance of data. However, far too many webmasters will install Google Analytics and then do nothing else. In reality, Google Analytics will only give you insight into traffic data. It’s a valuable tool that is much more powerful when paired with other software. Other web analytics software can provide data on link activity, referring URLs, sales and conversions, demographic information, visitor retention, and more. The more data you can acquire about your website and its visitors, the more valuable you can make Google Analytics.

Simple to use tools include using a spreadsheet to record keyword rankings and information derived from traffic data such as referring URLs. More complex and automated methods involve the use of software that not only tracks keyword rankings and traffic, but cross-references this with other data about your website such as PageRank and indexed pages. This can be very useful in automating reports.

SEO is an ongoing process that is continuously improved by trial and error. Measuring the effectiveness of your SEO is crucial for finding out what strategies and methods are the most fruitful in increasing your website’s value. There are an array of tools and methods that can be used to track your SEO. Some are simple, some are cheap, some may seem complicated, and some are expensive. Regardless of the tools used, effective tracking and analysis is essential in maintaining and improving your SEO results.

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