When launching a startup, you are probably more concerned about planning your business, than how well your website ranks in search engines. And yet, high search engine result page (SERP) position gives your startup a significant competitive edge. You should perform an SEO audit early in the game, to ensure that you rank above your competitors. Search engines, particularly Google often change the rules of the game and you should immediately take action to ensure that the position of the website remains undisturbed.
So, what is an SEO audit, anyway? Let me help you understand in the simplest way. It is a process that determines the search engine friendliness of your website. The process evaluates your website on several criteria. There are both free and subscription-based tools that cover various aspects of SEO audit.
To make sure that your startup’s website continue to perform well in both SERP and SEO audits, follow these eight simple steps:
Make Your Website’s Structure SEO Friendly
Your website’s structure, crawlability and indexability are the foundation of your success in organic search. If your website is not well structured, it is not easy to crawl, and thus the website will get lower rankings in the SERP.
The reverse funnel system is ideal for ensuring that the website remains search engine friendly. You start with the homepage and then move downwards to the main sections and subsections. Always keep in mind that from a passive user to an active customer, a user is going to have different stages in the customer journey. An each step, a visitor has different needs which you have to cover. Therefore, do not place everything in the main menu of the website.
If you already have a live website and you are not sure if your structure is good, sign up for the Google Search Console which will help you to identify crawl errors. OnPage.org, Screaming Frog and Deepcrawl are also great tools for dealing with website structural issues.
Make sure that there are no duplicates, search URLs (pages containing only results of searches performed within the website) or pages with just a bit of content. The latter will drag your whole website down in SERP.
Research Your Keywords Thoroughly
Keyword research is a proven tactic for good SERP positions. Search engines, especially Google, are smart enough to recognise your search intent when you use similar words, related word groups or synonyms.
Start creating a detailed list of keywords in a spreadsheet. You could use several keyword research tools such as KeyCompete, SEMRush, SpyFu, Answer the Public or Moz’s Keyword Explorer. You should also consider the keywords your competition is ranking for. In addition, related and suggested search terms are also important for keyword research.
Once you are done with researching the keywords, you should start focusing on several metrics. First, there’s the search volume which should be your starting point. You can find out search volume through tools such as SEMrush, Keyword Explorer or Google’s AdWords Keyword Tool. Bear one thing in mind that this is not the same as the Competition Score you can find in Google AdWords.
Last, but not least, you should know the Click-Through Rate (CTR) opportunity. Paid ads, knowledge graphs and answer boxes can drive attention away from the organic results.
Next, the metrics are used to prioritize the keywords based by how important they are for your startup. Once done, make a mind map of the site structure and start creating content that targets the searchers using these queries.
Make the Content Accessible
Serving the visitors quality content has a great impact on how well you rank in search engines. While every search engine and platform (including social media) has its own criteria, content matters in all cases.
Google’s Andrey Lipattsev reveals content, backlinks and RankBrain (Google’s machine learning algorithm) as the top three ranking signals in Google’s search algorithm. So, start considering the website’s content as your best salesperson in the company. Think about what your potential customers are interested in, answer their questions and shine a light on every aspect that they are interested in, so that they could effortlessly move through the sales funnel until they are ready to decide.
Have a look at the bounce rate of the pages including the traffic from Google and other traffic sources. If you have a high bounce rate, along with low time on site and pages per visit, it is a very clear sign that you’re not serving your visitors very well. Try to figure out what the visitors would want to do after finding out the answers they’re on your website for.
Optimize Your Content Using Keywords
Make sure that you follow all onpage practices to do SEO for startups. For instance, start using the main keyword in the title, meta-description, page URL, headline, as well as inside the content along with synonyms and related phrases. If you’re using WordPress as your content management system, you could install plugins such as Yoast SEO to keep an eye on these details.
The same strategy works for social media content. Make sure that your Facebook posts feature the keywords you want to be rank upon in the search results. This will build a consistent image and add more relevance to your website’s position in search engine results for the targeted keywords.
Social media management tools, such as swat.io can help you see the complete picture of your brand across social media channels.
Mind Markup And Schema
If you’re looking to step above your competition, ensure that page markup and schema are up to the mark.
Go to Schema.org and check out the types of results that show up for your industry. The Keyword Explorer comes in handy because you can use it to look at the current SERP results. News results, recipe-rich snippets and results containing videos draw more attention, so you should focus on these strategies.
Don’t miss out on “answer box” opportunities, as only 15% of all Google search queries have an answer box. These answer boxes can drive immense traffic to your website.
Links Can Help Amplify Your Content
News, press releases, content marketing, partnerships, and embedded content are all great sources that bring in backlinks. In many cases, you could augment these sources with one-to-one outreach, co-operations and guest blogging. Note that Google’s update Penguin affected many websites that exploited backlinks to artificially boost SERP positions. However, if you build backlinks with care, your website could really benefit from the external mentions of your brand.
Jennifer Slegg of The SEM Post tweeted live from the Pubcon conference where Gary Illyes, Webmaster Trends Analyst at Google said: “Ranking without links is really really hard. Not impossible, but very hard.”
— Jennifer Slegg (@jenstar) October 13, 2016
Remember that Google still consider backlinks as an important ranking factor. Distributing your website’s content on social media and redirecting it to potential link sources can help push things forward. Your content will be accessible to a greater number of people who can engage, share or otherwise link to it on their own websites.
Pay Attention To Social Signals
Customer feedback such as likes, shares, votes, pins or views on social networks can drive you traffic. In fact, these are all positive content related signals that help your website rank higher in SERP. Social signals present readers’ feedback to the website’s content, and help you understand the reach of your content on social media.
Walls.io is a great, affordable choice to run a social wall on your website (or at your event) and understand social signals. It supports 15+ social media platforms, customization, powerful moderation (black/white lists for spam), and bonus features including a social map and a way to post through Facebook Messenger.
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Look Beyond Google and Conventional Formats
As mentioned earlier, Google is not the only search engine you should focus on. In fact, some brands direct their efforts on ranking high in y other, more relevant search engines. YouTube is the second largest search engine in the world and is more important than Baidu, Bing and Yahoo in the US and the European markets.
Check out these 5 video marketing tips for YouTube to learn how to stand out from the pack on this video-sharing platform. Even if video content is not your main thing, you could complement other types of content with videos from industry-specific events.
Images, news and apps are great alternative formats for content distribution and presentation. Furthermore, you should put your business on Google Maps. If your startup is e-commerce centric, you should put your products on Amazon or Etsy to take advantage of these platforms.
Have you considered the option of outsourcing SEO to an agency? Consider this as a service where you’ll get more time work on your business strategy and operations, instead of tackling the struggles of making your website rank.
When performing audit SEO for startups, you need to pay special attention to all of these 8 steps. You could not afford to skip on any single step as all eight combine to ensure that your website attain, and then retain high SERP position.
Make sure carry out SEO audit while launching your startup’s website, so that you can take necessary actions to plug any holes.There are many variables that are relevant in the context of your startup, but the guidelines remain the same.
Blogging for your startup should mainly happen on your single-domain website and on specialist platform such as Medium. If you have developed a product, you just cannot rely on the landing pages to raise awareness. The point is that your website should act as a hub for most of your content.
Facebook, LinkedIn Pulse and Medium are all great platforms on their own, but they should only be used for attracting visitors to your website.
This article is a guest post by: Florian Hieß is the Head of Digital Marketing at Swat.io, a Social Media Management solution that helps companies in improving their content management and customer support on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Instagram and others, as well as for Walls.io, a Social Media Wall to collect and display all interactions using your hashtag on more than 15 platforms.