SEO for Startups: 12 Impactful Steps to See Real Results

Discover a comprehensive 12-step SEO blueprint for startups seeking rapid ranking improvements. Also, understand why SEO is invaluable for new businesses.

SEO for Startups

SEO for Startups: 12 Impactful Steps to See Real Results

Launching a startup is a high-risk, high-reward endeavor, where it’s crucial that every penny is well spent.

So, how do you implement an SEO strategy that achieves a worthwhile output?
Is SEO even worth the investment for startups? (Spoiler: It is, but timing is key!)

SEO for startups requires a unique approach. We’ll provide 12 essential steps that will help you reach your target audience and create hype around your brand, from planning to monitoring SEO (And everything in between).

Stick around to the end to demystify any unresolved queries you may have.

At Startup Voyager, we’ve worked with companies of all sizes and across many industries, including SaaS, Fintech, B2B, and B2C. 

We believe that your SEO strategy should perfectly fit your product, customers, and market.
Come along, and we’ll be your expert guide. 💁

This Article Contains:

What Makes Startup SEO Unique?
(When) Should You Invest in SEO for Your Startup?
12 Essential SEO Steps for Startups
Startup SEO Clarity: Your Top FAQs Resolved

Let’s start this up!

What Makes Startup SEO Unique?

Startup SEO presents some extra challenges, compared to what established companies face, that you need to consider.

Understanding these difficulties can help you prepare to take them on:

  • Competing with established companies: You’ll need to carefully strategize and innovate to stand out among established brands as a market newbie. They already have much more authority than you do, so this won’t be a level playing field.
  • Creating a niche: Some startup products don’t really fit into an existing market, and it’s up to them to carve out a niche and attract customers. Often, this will involve piggybacking on a similar niche and introducing your product in a “trojan horse” fashion.

    It’s like targeting people looking for zebras when you’re really a unicorn!
  • Budgetary constraints: As you know, starting a business from scratch is expensive, and you need to be careful with how you spend your capital.

    SEO can seem like “just another expense”, but it’s actually a cost-effective way to gain traffic, brand awareness, and conversions.

    The key is being agile enough to recognize when an SEO tactic benefits you. Through expert knowledge and data analysis, you can determine where to lean in, push the envelope, or pivot away from certain SEO strategies.

This begs the question:

(When) Should You Invest in SEO for Your Startup?

There’s really no question that SEO can benefit any and every startup. 

However, timing can be a valid consideration.

In other words, it’s not about if you should implement SEO, but when.
If you resonate with the following points, you’re ready for SEO:

  • You want to use your website to make sales or gain customers, and you’re ready to start selling.
  • You have established clear and realistic long-term goals for your growth and profitability.
  • You would like to grow in a budget-friendly manner and are prepared for growth to take time.

On the other hand, it may make sense to delay the implementation of your SEO strategy if:

  • You’re still in the very early stages of developing your product and testing consumer response. In this case, it may be better to wait until you’ve finalized your ideas and are ready to get the product on the market.
  • You want to prioritize fast results over budgetary concerns. This is a sound course of action. Paid advertising is a lot more expensive than organic SEO, but a very well-conceptualized paid marketing campaign can give your startup an early boost.

    You can always come back to SEO later to keep that momentum going. Alternatively, you can experiment with paid advertising and focus on your organic SEO efforts simultaneously.

Now it’s time to explore what a startup SEO strategy looks like in practice.

12 Essential SEO Steps for Startups

We get it — The process of optimizing your website and creating content can make you feel like this:

But don’t let intimidation slow you down. 
Instead, take it step-by-step as outlined below:

1. Preparation

Marketing for a startup is a high-stakes game, and you can’t go in unprepared.

Starting out with SEO, you should ensure the following five aspects are thought out, documented, and solidified:

  • Buy-in: Educate the entire team, from leadership to developers, about the process and value of SEO. You must have total buy-in and alignment to pursue value without constant doubts and pushback stunting your SEO effort.
  • Goals: Define clear, measurable objectives for your SEO project, whether it’s increasing website traffic, generating leads, or improving online visibility.

    Your SEO goals must be tailored to your company and industry. For example, a reasonable goal for a hyper-niche B2B fintech startup will differ vastly from that of a B2C commercial startup. You’ll have to study your industry, companies in similar positions, and competitors to work out goals that fit.
  • Buyer personas: Think about who your ideal customers are — What are their objectives, fears, values, and decision-making processes?

    It’s a good idea to think beyond the obvious personas that come to mind. You never know if your product will become wildly popular with an unexpected group.

So, consider every type of person who may find your offering useful. 

  • Strategy: Next, you’ll consider the various aspects of SEO and map out your approach. You can always tweak the strategy as you go, but you need a game plan to kick things off.

    You also need clear pipelines, roles, and workflows to manage project execution effectively.
  • Budget: Once you have an idea of what your strategy will entail, you can plan resource allocation.

    Consider all your expenses, like tools, hiring, equipment, and potentially outsourcing. Also, keep an eye on your cash runway, ideal ROI, and when you need to reach profitability or seek more funding.

    We recommend setting aside 20% of your marketing budget for SEO.

2. SEO Tools

Now that you have a plan, you need an SEO toolkit to crunch the numbers, collecting and analyzing data on your behalf.

It’s easy to get overwhelmed looking at lists of niche tools for specific tasks and expensive monthly subscription fees.

Don’t worry. You don’t need much to start.

First, take some time to investigate free tools and find out what they can (and can’t) do.

Some examples include:

  • Google Analytics: Tracks website traffic, user behavior, and conversions and provides insights into audience demographics and popular content.
  • Google Search Console: Offers tools to monitor and improve a website’s performance in Google Search. It provides data on search queries, ranking, indexing status, and site health.
  • Google Keyword Planner: Provides a relevant keyword list for your paid advertising or SEO campaign based on a seed keyword. It provides insights into keyword search volume, competition, and SEO trends.
  • Ubersuggest: Provides keyword ideas, content suggestions, backlink analysis, and insights into competitor strategies.

However, we do recommend investing in a more advanced, all-in-one SEO tool such as Ahrefs, Moz, or SEMrush if you can. These premium tools provide comprehensive features, allowing you to consolidate the benefits you could get from using an assortment of free tools.

If you’re doing SEO in house, you will get tons of mileage out of whichever SEO tool you choose.

3. Technical SEO, UX, and UI

It is of paramount importance that visitors have a positive user experience and can easily navigate through your site from landing to conversion.

Search engines, too, need to be able to crawl and index your content, and understand how the pages on your site relate to each other.

We recommend investing in professional web development that considers technical SEO from the outset. This will minimize the need to spend time and money unpicking and correcting aspects of your website later on.

The following are technical SEO (or off page SEO) essentials:

  • User interface (UI): Prioritize attractive aesthetics, engaging multimedia elements, user-friendly layouts, and clear navigation menus. Also, ensure that there is uniformity across the site. 
  • User experience (UX): Optimize UX by focusing on web design, content relevance, and responsiveness. Ensure a seamless, enjoyable journey for users, promoting longer visits and increased engagement.
  • Page speed: Boost page speed through image optimization, browser caching, and minimizing code. Faster loading times improve bounce rates and positively impact search engine ranking.
  • Mobile optimization: Use responsive web design and test your website on different screen sizes. Optimize content, images, and design to cater to the growing number of mobile users, enhancing search rankings.
  • Site auditing: Run a technical SEO audit to identify and rectify issues affecting SEO performance. Regularly evaluate content quality, fix broken links, and ensure optimal site health for improved visibility.
  • Crawling and indexation: Enable search engine bots to crawl and index your site efficiently. Use tools like robots.txt and meta tags to guide crawlers, ensuring content is properly indexed for search results.
  • Sitemap: Create and submit a comprehensive XML sitemap to search engines (or ensure your CMS has done this for you). This roadmap aids crawlers in understanding your site’s structure, enhancing indexation and improving overall SEO performance.
  • Site security: Secure your site with HTTPS, encryption, and secure protocols. A secure site protects user data and contributes to better search engine ranking by emphasizing trustworthiness.

4. Keyword Research

Now it’s time to start planning your content.

What are people searching for when they’re looking for a solution like yours?
This is a complex question because startups can offer solutions the world isn’t aware of yet. 

You may need to figure out how to reach people who don’t even know they need your solution.

Additionally, sometimes the keywords you want to target are out of reach for a new site. Search engines need time to get to know you and your content as an authority on the topics you cover before you stand a chance of ranking among industry giants.

Here are three crucial aspects of keyword research you’ll need to create a winning strategy:

A. Brainstorming Seed Keywords

Start by thinking about the keywords you would most like to rank for.

Chances are, these will be short-tail keywords (broad and competitive) that you can’t realistically target just yet. However, treat these as seed keywords to come up with long-tail keywords (more specific, less competitive) and questions to target.

But what if it’s difficult to think of seed keywords because your product is so unique?

Take some inspiration from Flare Audio.

With a history in audio equipment and ear protectors, Flare launched a new product, “Calmer”,  that was a first of its kind. It’s an in-ear device designed to improve sound quality, reducing unpleasant noise and protecting the ears without blocking sound.

Now they needed to find a customer base.

Looking at the Ahrefs organic keyword data for the site, Flare now ranks for many branded keywords (a good sign their initial strategy worked!).

But we can find clues about the keywords they targeted before they had brand awareness on their side; keywords like:

  • Earplug alternative
  • Misophonia earplugs
  • Kids earplugs
  • Sensory earplugs
  • Earplugs for anxiety
  • Calming headphones
  • Earphones for tinnitus

Notice how Flare found valuable customer personas (like people struggling with anxiety, overstimulation, and hearing conditions, or people looking for earplug alternatives) by thinking out of the box.

What’s the takeaway?

In this first brainstorming stage, you must get creative to compile a list of seed keywords, long-tail keywords, and keywords that target specific buyer personas.

Next, you’ll narrow down the list by assessing which keywords are attainable and valuable.

B. Keyword Metrics

With your initial list in hand, you now need to eliminate, prioritize, and sort keywords based on how effectively you’ll be able to rank for them and earn traffic and conversions.

You’ll need to run them through your chosen SEO tool and evaluate their keyword metrics.

Here’s a look at the Ahrefs Keyword explorer data for a short-tail keyword, “noise canceling headphones”:

There are three main metrics you should look at:

  • Keyword difficulty (KD): A score measuring how competitive the keyword is and how easy it would be to rank for.

    This specific keyword has a KD of 62 (Hard), meaning you’re unlikely to rank for it as a new site without first building up your brand awareness, domain rating, and backlink profile.
  • Search volume (SV): The number of monthly searches the keyword receives.

    Our example keyword gets 15K global searches and 12K in the US. That’s a significant amount of potential traffic. However, it’s pointless to target it if you can’t rank.
  • Cost per click (CPC): The amount advertisers pay each time a searcher clicks on their sponsored result. CPC can be an indicator of competitiveness and buying intent.

    This keyword has a relatively low CPC ($0.30). If you were producing noise-canceling headphones or an alternative, it might be worth bidding for a paid ad on a keyword like this. You can always stop the campaign if it turns out to have a low ROI down the line.

Note: This keywords has an alternate spelling (“cancelling”), which actually has a lower KD and a massive SV of 241K globally. Interesting!

Ahrefs Keyword explorer also lists keyword ideas and questions related to the seed keyword. You can browse these for long-tail keyword ideas.

A long-tail keyword like “noise canceling headphones vs earbuds” could be a good candidate to target for organic search.

Sure, the SV is lower, but so is the competition. If you target and rank for many attainable keywords like this one, the traffic will start to add up quickly.

Additionally, search engines will start to trust that you know your stuff, and you can eventually start targeting those valuable short-tail keywords.

C. Strategy and Clusters

By now, you should have identified some solid keywords. You may still feel overwhelmed by how much topical ground there is to cover.

It helps to create topic clusters (keyword groups) and address them one by one. Topic clusters can be organized around specific customer personas or certain niches within the topic.

For example, some clusters for this headphone company could include:

  • Reviews of specific headphone brands (compared to your product)
  • Noise-canceling headphone use cases (for different personas)
  • Frequently asked questions

Decide which cluster you want to start with. Plan around 10-20 keywords to create content for. As you publish content, you can study your SEO metrics to assess how your content is being received.

Then you can move on to another cluster, add to the same cluster, or a combination of both.

This clustered approach is beneficial because, as search engines crawl and index your content, they will start to recognize your wide coverage of each topic. This builds your topical authority, which can positively impact your SE ranking.

Additionally, it allows you to provide visitors with further reading related to their searches, improving engagement and time on site and reducing bounce rates.

Tip: It’s tempting to prioritize keyword clusters that indicate higher buying intent (bottom-of-funnel, BoFu keywords). But top and middle-of-funnel (ToFu and MoFu) keywords are necessary to guide searchers to convert.

For example, customers may want to know if noise canceling headphones are right for them, then compare their options before purchasing. You would want to appear prominently on SERPs throughout their research journey to up the chances of them choosing you in the end.

So, don’t underestimate your ToFu and MoFu clusters!

5. Competitor Research

New startups must contend with established companies in the same market space, competing for the attention of a shared pool of potential customers. 

Early on, you don’t have brand awareness on your side. So, a vital part of devising an innovative strategy is to study your competitors to see what’s working for them and what seems to be missing from their strategies.

Competitor analysis can put you on the map and help you outperform your competition when customers weigh their options.

But who are your competitors?
Some obvious names may come to mind. But remember, your competitors don’t have to be doing the exact same things as you. What matters is whether some of their potential customers would also be interested in your offering.

For example, say you were launching a vegan and vegetarian sustainable meal delivery service. You could study a similar service like Purple Carrot, which also has a plant-based focus, as well as Hello Fresh, which doesn’t.

When performing competitor research, look at elements like:

  • Their website UX and UI: Look for ways to make your website more visually appealing, engaging, frictionless, and functional. Take note of their graphics, messaging, calls to action, conversion paths, and anything special they’re doing to create a “wow” factor.
  • Their blogs and content: Consider how competitors structure their blogs, the length of their posts, their tone, their internal and external links, etc.
  • The keywords they’re ranking for: Use a tool like Ubersuggest or Ahrefs to find out what keywords they’re targeting and ranking well for. Also, check content gap reports to see what they’re not ranking for. You can target both lists of keywords to show up on SERPs wherever they are and wherever they aren’t.

Let’s take a closer look at how to check competitor keywords.

On Ubersuggest (a free tool), you can follow these steps:

  • Go to Ubersuggest’s website and click on Add Project in the top left corner.
  • Enter the URL of a competitor website (we’re using Hello Fresh), and click Next.
  • Add a language and location you’d like to assess, click Add, and Next.
  • On the next screen, there’s a box that says “Add keywords you currently rank for”. You can browse that list to see their keywords, current position, and traffic volume.

For a more in-depth analysis, let’s look at the process on Ahrefs:

  • Click on the Site Explorer tab in Ahrefs and enter the competitor’s URL.
  • On the dashboard, you’ll see a whole lot of data, including their domain rating, organic traffic, and number of backlinks.
  • On the left sidebar, click on Organic keywords. Here, you can see all the keywords they rank for and their keyword metrics. We can see Hello Fresh ranks for a lot of branded keywords. If you scroll a bit further, you’ll discover some more generic keywords like “dinner ideas”, “meatloaf recipe”, and “mediterranean food”.

One more thing:

It’s especially valuable for startups to decide when and how to conform to industry conventions or be disruptive. Often, thinking strategically outside the box can drum up a lot of hype and press that can get you noticed as a strong competitor.

Take our plant-based meal delivery service, for instance. Perhaps you’ve noticed that certain ingredients in healthy and sustainable foods are either commonly praised or demonized.

You can make waves with thought leadership content consisting of scientific deep dives digging into the “truth” of these ingredients. With the resulting press and attention, you may gain brand recognition as well as consumer trust.

6. Content Creation

Crafting compelling content in SEO isn’t just about churning out posts. It’s about understanding search intent, delivering quality, and embracing the art of content marketing to captivate and engage your audience.

So, let’s look at those factors individually:

1. Search Intent

Search Intent guides your startup’s SEO strategy by aligning content with users’ search goals. Understanding the intent behind various searches fuels better rankings.

Four primary search intents shape user queries:

  • Informational: Queries seeking specific information, like “how to treat acne scars naturally” or “benefits of using vitamin C serums”.
  • Commercial: Research-based queries comparing different options, such as “best skincare brands for sensitive skin” or “anti-aging cream reviews”.
  • Transactional: Queries indicating a clear commercial intent, like “buy organic sunscreen online” or “where to buy cruelty-free moisturizer”
  • Navigational: Queries seeking specific websites or pages, like “[company] products” or “[company] pricing”

But that’s not all. 
To make content that clicks, you also need to think about:

  • Who’s looking: Think about who’s searching the query — what they like and what they’re after.
  • Why they search: Understand the underlying reasons and motivations for their search
  • How they want to consume it: Figure out if they prefer lists, detailed guides, quick answers, videos, interactive elements, etc.

How do you find all this out?
Check out the search results to see what Google puts up top. Then, make content like that (in terms of format and approach), but better!

Say your company makes skincare that helps with scarring, among other benefits. Let’s look at the keyword “how to treat acne scars naturally”. 

You might be tempted to focus the entire article on your product and how it solves acne scarring. But the SERP disagrees.

We can see the following search result patterns for this specific keyword:

  • Listicles are the dominant format
  • Most posts cater to young women (but your focus will depend on your company’s target audience)
  • Most articles focus on natural (non-medicinal) solutions and home remedies
  • The posts are mostly brief, rather than long and detailed
  • Several posts call attention to remedies that work fast or are effective for long-term results

So, if you want a chance at ranking, follow suit for your own blog post. Google chose the top 10 for a reason, after all. 

But think about how you can add more value than the top posts offer, such as unique insights and expert knowledge. 

To tie in your brand, add a final point about how your product contains beneficial ingredients for reversing scarring.

2. Quality Content

The time has come! 
By this stage, you should be ready to create blog content.

For new blogs and startups, the importance of content quality can’t be overstated. You should scale up your content production only as fast as you can maintain phenomenal quality for every post.

Start by creating a “minimum viable blog” (MVB).

For example, this might mean:

  • Creating five to 10 solid blog posts before launching so you can begin publishing at a regular cadence while you work on content creation behind the scenes.
  • Producing at least one in-depth piece of premium content per cluster, like an e-book, whitepaper, or even a free tool that’s related to your industry.
  • Beginning to build internal links between posts.
  • Sharing your content to social platforms like Linkedin, X (Twitter), and Facebook once you start publishing. 

Essentially, you need to start out on the right foot and maintain good habits throughout your content creation journey.

Here are a few more tips for creating high quality content that visitors and search engines will love:

  • Establish a streamlined workflow for content strategy, writing, quality checking, and uploading content. Well-defined roles, a content calendar, and a project management platform (E.g., ClickUp, Trello, will all help things run smoothly.
  • Ensure you can clearly describe what your offering does and how it will benefit customers. Often, startups have innovative products but struggle to explain them in simple words that anyone can comprehend.
  • Incorporate content that addresses ToFu, MoFu, and BoFu keywords and targets each of the four search intent types.
  • Focus on evergreen content for the most part, rather than time-sensitive topics and news. Some topical or seasonal content can be beneficial, but evergreen content remains useful to searchers for far longer.
    When you do tackle seasonal topics, plan and publish them in advance so visitors discover them at the right time. For topical content, be sure to jump on it early so you’re not behind the trend.
  • Aim to satisfy Google’s EEAT (Experience, Expertise, Authority, and Trustworthiness) guidelines. To do so, incorporate original points and multimedia and ensure your content portrays your company as an industry expert.

3. Content Marketing and Repurposing

In startup SEO, maximizing content value is key. You can increase the reach of your content when you go beyond just uploading it to your blog and leaving it sitting there.

Social media is an obvious first port of call. Share links to your blog content on platforms like Linkedin, Facebook, and X (formerly Twitter) with engaging captions that invite shares and discussion. This can draw new people into your audience.

Here, you can see Seeq (a business analytics startup) created and shared an industry-relevant blog post for Halloween:

Note that while this is seasonal content, it can stand alone without the Halloween context — A+!

You can also share guest post and content contribution links like Seeq did here:

You can further elevate the lifespan and utility of your content by repurposing it — using content you already worked on to create something new with less effort.

For example:

  • You could repurpose blog content to make podcast episodes or videos.
  • Multiple articles can merge to craft an e-book or comprehensive guide, enhancing authority and offering a downloadable resource.
  • Consider webinar transcripts or Q&A sessions evolving into blog posts or short clips for social media.

The key lies in adapting content to various formats and platforms for increased visibility and audience engagement.

7. On-page SEO

On-page SEO involves optimizing individual web pages to enhance their search engine visibility and relevance.

It matters for startups as it ensures every page and piece of content is search engine and user-friendly. It lays the foundation for higher rankings, improved user experience, and increased organic traffic, crucial for gaining traction in competitive online landscapes.

Here are some on-page SEO best practices you should implement (with examples from the rideshare app industry): 

A. Title

Content titles should be engaging enough to draw people in while also addressing the search intent and accurately indicating page content. Ensure you include the primary keyword (as long as it’s grammatically sound), and use the correct title tag.

Also, keep it within the pixel allowance (580px for Google) to prevent it from getting truncated in the SERPs. You can use a free tool like this one to check the length.

For example:

✅ 10 Convenient Ride Sharing Apps to Try in 2023 (Clear and concise)

❌ Uber Alternatives: 10 Rival Ride Sharing Apps That Are Convenient and Affordable (Title is too long, unfocused, and will be truncated) 

❌ The Secret Ride Sharing Revolution You Need to Know About (Vague and clickbaity; doesn’t tell readers what to expect from the contents)

B. Meta Description

Craft concise and relevant meta descriptions for each page, incorporating target keywords naturally. Ensure they accurately summarize page content, enticing users to click through while aligning with search intent.

Looking at the SERP for the query “best ride share service”, you can see that Google has selected new meta descriptions for most search results.

A common thread in these new metas is that they contain a variation of the target keyword and list a few company names. From this, you can gather that your meta should contain these features to have the best chance of displaying as written. 

This also raises the importance of headings.

C. Headings

Structure content with clear and hierarchical headings (H1, H2, H3…) for better readability and SEO. 

Also, ensure your headings are tagged in the html so that search engines can “see” them. Sometimes, search engines scrape your headings to add to your meta description or to create clickable navigation to SERP entries.

You can see an example of this here:

Organize content logically so that users and search engines understand the page’s structure.

For example, you probably wouldn’t tell someone how to bake a cake before you list the ingredients.


Optimize URLs by keeping them concise, descriptive, and incorporating the relevant keyword. 

Avoid unnecessary characters or numbers and use hyphens to separate words for improved readability and search engine comprehension.

For example:

✅ (URL is concise and shows the website structure)

❌ (uses underscores instead of hyphens, missing category information, includes unnecessary words)

❌ (Contains random letters and numbers, doesn’t describe the page content)

E. Images

Optimize images by using descriptive filenames and alt text that include target keywords. This can help search engines register the content of the images and also aids in accessibility for visually impaired visitors.

For example, this image on the Uber website has the image name “Uber_taxi_small.png” and the alt text reads “Illustration of a taxi”.

Additionally, compress images to improve page load times while maintaining quality. Try to keep images under 2MB in size. 

F. Secondary Keywords

Identify relevant keywords and integrate them naturally throughout the content.

These secondary keywords help search engines recognize your content as being more closely related to the topic. Algorithmically speaking, pieces of content that relate to the same topic should also share some vocabulary.

You can search your target keyword on Google Keyword Planner and use the results to guide you. 

Alternatively, there are paid apps that provide a list of secondary keywords along with their suggested distribution. Only use secondary keywords you can include naturally within the search intent.

G. Paragraphs

Include primary keywords in the first and last paragraphs to signal content relevance to search engines.

Break content into short, digestible paragraphs with clear sentences to enhance readability and engagement. You can also use bullet points and tables to break up text.

H. Rich Snippets

Maximize visibility in search results by implementing structured data markup for rich snippets (featured snippets).

Structured data or schema markup is a type of code you add in the backend to tell search engines what type of information a section  of content contains.

Use schema markup to highlight relevant information like reviews, ratings, FAQs, and other data, enhancing the appearance and relevance of search listings.

You can also get featured snippets just by providing clear and concise answers to queries searchers may be looking for.

8. Link Building

Backlinks (hyperlinks leading from other websites to yours) signal credibility and authority to search engines.

Google has fine-tuned its criteria for backlinks to value quality over quantity. A few high-quality, relevant links from authoritative sites will do more for your site than hundreds of links that don’t seem authentic or come from shady sources.

Think of it like this:
How does Google decide which chocolate cake recipe to put in the top position?
It’s subjective and there are thousands of recipes out there.

There are many ways you can signal your credibility — E.g., if you have a lot of recipes on your site, you use recipe schema, you include original images with the right formatting, etc.

But a search engine is highly likely to trust a recipe from a website with a lot of quality backlinks because it indicates many trusted sites find your content helpful.

Now, link building isn’t as important in 2024 as it once was. When you create valuable, shareable, quality content, you’ll naturally attract backlinks. 

However, particularly as a new startup, it can be beneficial to do some active link building outreach to drum up some extra attention for your brand.

Some effective link building tactics include:

  • Guest posting: Identify industry-related blogs or websites accepting guest posts. Offer valuable content in exchange for a relevant backlink.

    You can find guest-posting opportunities by searching on Google or social media with search terms like “[your industry] guest post” or “[your industry] write for us”.
  • Company updates: Publish news about your startup’s funding rounds and product updates to attract attention from news publications and directories in your industry.
  • Industry directories: Submit your company information to reputable business directories like Crunchbase, Startup Tracker, Product Hunt, and any specific to your industry (E.g., Tripadvisor if you’re in the travel industry).
  • Partnerships: Collaborate with complementary businesses for mutually beneficial content or projects, earning backlinks.

    For example, integration partners are a fantastic source of both app functionality and backlinks for software companies.
  • Competitor link analysis: Analyze competitors’ backlink profiles using tools like Ahrefs or Moz to identify potential linking opportunities.
  • Journalist requests: Engage with platforms like Help a Reporter Out (HARO), SourceBottle, or ResponseSource to offer expert insights to journalists, gaining potential media coverage and backlinks.
  • PR from Google News: Leverage recent industry-related research or publications from Google News, creating press releases to attract attention and backlinks.

    For instance, you can start by searching terms like “[industry] new research” or “[industry] report on [topic]” and filtering to show results from the last month. Remember to vet the source before reporting on their findings.

    Alternatively, do your own research and data analysis and pitch your findings to publications, who will link to your website as the source.
  • Requests to be featured: Reach out to companies for inclusion in industry round-ups or listicles relevant to your expertise or products.

Check out how Flyfin contributed quotes to top publications and scored backlinks from sites like Forbes, Aol, and Entrepreneur:

9. Internal Linking

The strategy you employ for linking between pages on your site serves many purposes:

  • It helps visitors navigate your website and find additional content related to their searches.
  • It passes link “juice” or link authority between pages, highlighting important pages and drawing more attention to underperforming pages.
  • It helps search engines find, crawl, and index your pages. They can’t index orphaned pages (those with no links pointing to them) and will be less likely to crawl pages with few links.
  • It improves search engines’ understanding of your site structure, hierarchy, and content clusters.

    They’ll register pages with more links leading to them as more important or high-level.

    When they see a cluster of pages linking between each other, they can recognize a topic cluster, which helps your website’s topical authority. When you link a new page into the cluster, search engines can easily understand the topic that page belongs to.

As you add content to your site, we recommend you follow a consistent internal linking strategy. 

You can use a tool like Ahrefs’ Link opportunities feature in the Webmaster tools to find keywords on your site that could be linked to other pages.

When it comes to your blog, the following tried-and-tested strategy is simple and effective:

  • Link from your blog homepage to your category pages, and visa versa.
  • Link from your category pages to blog posts. Then, link back to the category page at the top of each post for easy navigation.
  • Place links throughout your blog posts to other related posts. These can be in-text links or links in “further reading” boxes on the page.

10. Conversion Optimization

Traffic means very little if you can’t convince prospects to try your offering once they land on your site.

There are hundreds of small site tweaks you can make to get more visitors to take a desired action (like signing up, making a purchase, or providing contact information) — This is called conversion rate optimization (CRO).

Consider the following CRO aspects:

A. Credibility

Your website needs to build trust with visitors, showing them you’re a legitimate company and your offering is worth their time and money. Social proof is a big part of this — Visitors look for the experiences of others to guide their choices.

You can convey credibility by displaying some of these elements on your home page:

  • Contact information like a phone number and email address
  • Real photos and videos of your premises, products, and employees
  • Customer testimonials or reviews from third-party review sites
  • Number of customers or users
  • Noteworthy customers (E.g., recognizable businesses that have used your product or service)
  • Case studies of specific results your users have achieved with your offering

Here’s what personal shopping startup Lookiero did to add social proof and credibility to its site:

First, they include a Trustpilot rating in the hero section:

The website displays quotes from the company’s employees.

They also incorporate user-generated content (UGC) – especially helpful if you operate in the B2C industry.

In the footer, they include links to their socials and disclose their payment options.

B. Incentives

You must also explain why visitors should want to convert.

Your copy has a big role to play. It should clearly and concisely describe the benefits of your offering.

This is especially critical in your hero text, CTAs (calls to action), and feature descriptions. Your visitors want a promised result, something they will get in exchange for converting — E.g., “Do X to achieve Y result”.

Virtual tutoring startup GoStudent nailed the incentive in this hero section:

Bolster your benefit claims with images depicting happy, successful users, like the full-marks student shown above.

Additionally, tangible incentives like signup discounts, timed sales, or referral bonuses can encourage visitors to take the plunge.

C. Minimizing Friction

This is all about removing obstacles in the conversion process and creating a smooth and convenient path for visitors to follow.

One aspect of this is objection handling — identifying factors that may be concerning to prospects and preemptively providing reassurance.

For example, parents considering online tutoring may have concerns about:

  • The price
  • Whether you have support for the subjects their children need help with
  • Whether online tutoring is effective
  • Whether your services will be suitable for their child’s education level

A well-crafted FAQ section is an excellent way to handle objections. You could craft a question and answer to ease each of the above concerns.

Here’s how GoStudent did it:

Other ways to streamline your conversion process include:

  • Reducing the number of form fields
  • Removing unnecessary steps from your sign-up process. E.g., not requiring immediate email validation, allowing guest checkout, offering one-click sign up through email or social media.
  • Simplifying checkout. E.g., incorporating multiple convenient payment options, or minimizing the number of pages in the checkout flow.
  • Using clear, prominent CTA buttons
  • Improving navigation and search features to make it easier for visitors to find what they’re looking for.
  • Employing chatbots to assist with any urgent requests.

11. Local SEO

Local SEO (or national SEO for a country-wide focus) empowers startups to capture local foot traffic (digital or actual).

As the name implies, it’s about optimizing online presence to target specific geographic areas.

For startups, local SEO bridges the gap between online and offline presence, directing nearby customers to physical stores or service areas. With focused efforts, startups can gain prominence in local searches, ensuring their offerings stand out amidst local competitors.

Here’s how you can get started:

A. Claiming Your Google My Business Profile

Google My Business (GMB) listings display essential details about businesses in Google Search and Maps.

They look like this:

To claim one, navigate to, follow the verification process, and input accurate business details like:

  • Company name
  • Address
  • Phone number
  • Website URL
  • Operating hours
  • A company description
  • Images of your premises, staff, and equipment

You can do this for your headquarters, or for each of your locations if you have multiple.

Customers will be able to read and leave reviews on your Google Business profile. Be sure to respond promptly and professionally to both positive and negative feedback to demonstrate attentiveness and credibility.

You can also encourage positive reviews by providing exceptional service and inviting customers to share their experiences.

Aside from GMB, you can also claim and manage listings on other startup or industry directories.

B. Creating Location-Specific Landing Pages 

You can boost your startup’s local (or national) presence by leveraging area-specific landing pages — a potent tactic for appearing in local searches.

Here’s how it’s done:
Craft a streamlined landing page template tailored for optimal user interface, user experience, and conversion elements.

Customize these templates to create multiple pages targeting keywords specific to countries, states, cities, and suburbs.

This strategy ensures swift and effective expansion of localized content.

Let’s look at No-H2O, a mobile and waterless car detailing service, for example. This company created landing pages for keywords like “mobile car wash [location]” and “mobile detailing [location]” for regions they serve across the US.

For each region, they added the following information to the landing page template:

  • A description of the service
  • List of available cleaning services
  • List of cities or suburbs in the area where the service is available
  • Contact details of the branch operators
  • A map of the area 

Want to speed this process up even more?
Then this next tip is for you.

C. Programmatic SEO

Programmatic SEO uses algorithms and code to optimize web pages efficiently. 

For startups aiming to enhance local and national SEO, programmatic SEO can enable you to create hundreds of optimized pages very quickly.

Sticking in the automotive industry, say you wanted to streamline the local landing page process for a set of keywords, “mobile car wash [city]”.

You could program page generation to collect and display the following information:

  • A list of car wash locations in the city based on a database of your locations
  • Location-specific reviews
  • The address and contact details of locations in the city
  • Location-specific pricing and promotions
  • A Google Maps integration displaying locations in the city

All you have to do is set up the plugins, fields, and data sources in your CMS, and it can take care of the rest.

What’s more?
Programmatic SEO isn’t only good for local optimization.

A startup in e-commerce could use programmatic SEO to generate product pages for an extensive catalog. A SaaS startup could use it to create pages for each of its app integrations, or to compare tools against each other at an exponential rate.

There are many enticing use cases for this cutting-edge SEO tactic waiting to be explored.

12. Monitoring Results

For startups, tracking SEO metrics is pivotal to gauge performance and refine strategies. You likely won’t get everything right on the first try. Algorithms and market trends are always changing. So, you need to know what’s working and what isn’t so you can pivot accordingly.

Here are some key metrics and signals you should monitor:

  • Organic traffic: The volume of visitors reaching your website through unpaid (organic) search engine results.

    Monitor overall traffic trends, focusing on growth rates and changes. You can then prioritize your content and SEO effort based on which pages attract the most visitors.

    Tools: Google Analytics, Ahrefs
  • Organic keywords: Keywords your website ranks for in search engine results.

    Track keyword rankings and identify high-performing keywords driving traffic. Optimize content for these keywords and explore opportunities to target new relevant keywords.

    Tools: Ahrefs, SEMrush
  • Backlinks: The quantity and quality of inbound links from other websites.

    Analyze the sources and relevance of backlinks to identify authoritative domains linking to your site. Use this information to strategize outreach efforts, aiming to acquire more high-quality backlinks from reputable sources within your industry.

    Tools: Ahrefs, Moz
  • Website health score: A composite score indicating a site’s overall SEO health based on various factors like performance, technical setup, and content quality.

    Monitor any changes in your score. Regularly check technical aspects like site speed, mobile-friendliness, and security. Address any issues promptly to ensure optimal website performance and user experience.

    Tools: SEMrush, Ahrefs’ Site Audit feature
  • Indexed pages: Web pages that search engines have crawled and stored in their index.

    Monitor how many pages are indexed or not. Try to find out why pages aren’t getting indexed and resolve the issues. Keep your sitemap updated to aid search engines in indexing new content.

    Tools: Google Search Console, SEMrush
  • Core Web Vitals: Key performance metrics (e.g., loading speed, interactivity, visual stability) that assess user experience on a website.

    Optimize website elements to improve user experience and potentially enhance search rankings.

    Tools: Google PageSpeed Insights, Lighthouse (Chrome DevTools)
  • Conversion rates: The percentage of visitors completing desired actions, such as making purchases or signing up, indicating the effectiveness of a website’s SEO goals or campaigns.

    Analyze conversion rates per page or campaign to identify high-performing areas and optimize underperforming ones. Experiment with A/B testing to boost conversion rates and achieve (or reassess) business objectives.

    Tools: Google Analytics, Kissmetrics
  • Bounce rate: The percentage of visitors who navigate away from a website after viewing only one page, indicating a lack of engagement or relevance.

    High bounce rates might indicate issues with content relevance or user experience. Analyze bounce rates to understand user behavior and make improvements.

    Tools: Google Analytics, Hotjar
  • Click-through rate (CTR): The percentage of users who click on a specific search result out of the total who view it.

    For startups, a high CTR signifies strong engagement and relevance. Low CTR indicates disconnect or ineffective messaging. React by optimizing page copy, titles, and meta descriptions to entice clicks and align better with user intent.

    Tools: Google Search Console, Ahrefs
  • Return on investment (ROI): Calculates the profitability of an investment relative to its cost.

    For startups, it reflects the effectiveness of an SEO campaign. Positive ROI signals profitability, while negative ROI suggests inefficiency. Note that positive ROI in SEO may take a few months.

    React to unsatisfactory ROI by analyzing campaigns, reallocating resources to high-yield strategies, or refining customer targeting to enhance overall profitability.

    Tools: Google Analytics, HubSpot Analytics 

By understanding and implementing these 12 strategies, you’re well on your way to your startup boom. 💥

Still have questions?

Great! The more you ask, the more you learn.

Startup SEO Clarity: Your Top FAQs Resolved

As your foray into SEO unfolds, it’s understandable to have questions. It’s a lot to untangle and digest!

Let’s dive into the answers that’ll steer your startup towards SEO success.

1. What Are the Benefits of SEO for Startups?

If you’re newly trying to weigh whether SEO has a place in your startup, here are some benefits you can expect to attain from a well-formulated SEO strategy:

  • Provide valuable content to potential customers: The gold standard in SEO is to create content for people, not search engines. Optimizing for search engines actually helps ensure that people discover your valuable, high quality content.

    Through SEO, you can show your peers and potential customer base that you’re a key source of trustworthy information in the niche.
  • Be visible where people are searching: There are people out there looking for a solution just like yours. And the majority of customer journeys online start with a search engine query.

    You can multiply your visibility and brand awareness by creating content and optimizing your website for your audience’s search queries.
  • Gain traffic and brand awareness: As your SEO profile develops and you appear on more and more SERPs, more people click through to your website and assess your offering.

    Additionally, people start to recognize your brand. And, if your content is good, this makes them even more likely to click. More website views means more conversion potential and more profit.
  • Cost-effectiveness: SEO is a relatively low-cost digital marketing strategy and it has the capacity for excellent ROI.

    Of course, there are costs — hiring a marketing agency or hiring in house, paying for tools, training fees, etc. But, compared to paid marketing methods (like Google ad campaigns, sponsored social media ads, and traditional advertising), it’s very cost-effective.
  • Long-lasting effects: When you produce a powerful piece of content, it can hold space in SERPs for a long time, allowing you to benefit from the traffic for weeks, months, or even years to come.

    You should revisit your older content regularly to ensure it stays true and up-to-date. Some content will require more frequent updates.

    Compare this to paid search advertising. Sure, it can boost your brand awareness, but when you stop paying, you stop gaining directly from the Google ad.
  • Better understand your audience: Through the process of keyword research, content creation, and monitoring metrics, you can uncover valuable insights about your potential customer base. You can learn more about their queries, preferences, goals, and challenges, which you can use to improve your messaging and customer segmentation.

2. Can I Learn SEO Myself?

Yes, definitely! There are tons of free and paid resources online, including articles, courses, videos, and thought leadership from industry influencers. Our blog is a great place to start. 😉

However, when it comes to managing SEO for your startup, it’ll be a heavy burden for just one person to bear. Knowledge of the space can take you far, but it always helps to consult with others and share perspectives and techniques.

3. Should I Hire an SEO Agency or Manage SEO In-House?

Managing SEO in-house versus hiring an SEO service provider for a startup involves a trade-off between control, expertise, and resources.

Doing SEO in-house allows direct oversight and immediate adjustments, leveraging internal knowledge of the brand.

However, it demands substantial time, resources, and expertise to stay updated with SEO intricacies. This may be an obstacle for startups with limited manpower.

To hire and equip just one SEO expert in-house (including salary, software, training, hiring costs, etc.) could run you around $150,000 a year or more. And hiring just one SEO expert likely won’t be enough.

That’s one of the major benefits of hiring an SEO agency — You are not responsible for all the expenses of the SEO service because the agency distributes its expenses across clients.

Costs vary widely depending on the SEO service provider and the services you’re after. But you can expect to get a lot of bang for your buck for around $2,000 to $5,000 a month on the low end. That works out to around $24,000 to $60,000 a year.

But cost efficiency isn’t the only advantage of hiring an marketing agency — You can also benefit in the following ways:

  • Agencies offer specialized expertise, diverse skill sets, and a broader perspective. They should know how to handle all aspects of SEO, beyond just content optimization.
  • Agencies bring in-depth knowledge, access to cutting-edge tools, and experience across various industries.
  • They provide a dedicated team focused solely on SEO, allowing startups to free up internal resources.

4. Why Aren’t People Finding My Startup in Search Results?

There are a few reasons why your content may not be visible on search engines, including:

  • Your site is too new: New websites may not rank initially while Google assesses their authenticity and credibility and monitors them for spam. This “sandbox” period usually lasts 2-4 months. Keep at it, and see if anything changes after the first few months.

    Additionally, you need to take time to build your topical authority and gain quality backlinks. This will fast-track your credibility with search engines.
  • Your website or content isn’t well-optimized: For your content to rank, you need to implement SEO best practices. If you’re not ranking, it could point to issues with the usefulness of your content or the user-experience of your website.
  • You selected unattainable keywords: Even if your website and content are optimized to the max, the trouble could be with the keywords you’re choosing.

    For example, if you started with highly-competitive, high-KD keywords, you’re unlikely to rank amongst more established sources. You may need to go back to the keyword research drawing board and identify some more attainable keywords to target.

5. Where Does Paid Advertising Fit In With Organic SEO?

Doing organic SEO doesn’t mean you can’t implement paid advertising as well. In fact, the two approaches can have a symbiotic relationship.

Through organic SEO, you can gain insight into high-performing keywords, audience demographics, and user behavior. This can also inform paid campaigns, with refined targeting and messaging for better ad performance.

Organic SEO also lays the groundwork for digital marketing success by improving website functionality, visibility, and authority. This can improve your audience’s reaction and engagement when faced with sponsored content.

If you have the funds, integrating both approaches can create a cohesive and effective marketing funnel. However, regular SEO can also bring in fantastic results all on its own.

SEO: A Catalyst for Startup Growth

Navigating search engine optimization as a startup isn’t just about climbing search rankings—it’s about laying a strong groundwork for lasting growth.

SEO can bring visibility, build your brand, and connect you with your audience for the long haul.

Embrace creativity, data, and persistence as your startup makes its mark. Remember, patience is crucial; every optimized step forward speaks volumes about your startup’s resilience on its journey to online success.

Concerned that you don’t have the time or resources to make the most of SEO?
Reach out to Startup Voyager to map out a custom SEO plan for your startup.

We’ve helped grow a startup from 0 website visitors to over 100,000 in under a year. 
You could be our next SEO success story!

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