With so many in depth SEO resources available, it can be easy to lose sight of the core elements that lead to tangible results for newer companies. These are our top 12 SEO tips for startups, useful particularly for sites with main content under 50 pages and those hoping to rank for a smaller amount of related terms.
1. 301 Redirect
The first key aspect of SEO is deciding whether you want visitors to see a www version or non-www version. When visitors come to your website a 301 redirect (a permanent redirect) will steer people to your preferred option. This redirect signals to applications like search engines that indexing properties should be transferred from the source to target.
2. Verify ownership
Next, you should verify your ownership in Google Webmaster Tools and enable email forwarding. Email forwarding provides alerts straight to your inbox on vital information like hacking, malware or crawling difficulties with your website.
3. Research your domain’s history
It’s also useful to carry out a background check on your domain. If a website was previously owned by spammers, this will mean a lower ranking now. In order to check this, you should first review the keywords in Webmaster Tools to see if there are any unwanted words. Another useful indicator is whether you’re indexed, something you can check by carrying out a [site:thecontentworks.uk] search with your domain. Take a look at other factors that impact site ranking.
4. Use Fetch as Googlebot
Fetch as Googlebot is a feature of Webmaster tools which allows you to tell Google to not only crawl, but submit content to index. This means that when you update pages or create new ones, the entire indexing process is prompted to happen by Google and so new content is available to searchers faster.
5. Include an analytics code
Decide on an analytics provider like Google Analytics and begin to collect data, even if you’re not ready to analyse and use it yet. This will ensure you have information on your history that new employees can refer to.
6. Consider site design
You need to consider three main groups: your customers, investors and and press. In order to provide a high quality site experience for each of these groups, you must consider the personas within each. Site design must cater to the needs of each group, be easily navigable and have unique pages that are specific to one topic. It’s best to avoid generalised, lengthy pages which will require visitors to scroll.
7. Define your conversion
Create a website where a relevant conversion is possible on every page in order to decrease the number of clicks a visitor has to make. A relevant conversion can be anything from signing up for a newsletter, buying a product, promoting your service via social media, or contacting your team for a quote.
8. Focus on site copy
The actual copy of a site should have keywords naturally embedded into text, bearing in mind query terms that people are likely to search for. For example, instead of ‘athletic garments’, ‘running clothes’ is a more common term.
Secondly, copy should answer any questions that visitors may have. This can be done through showing reviews, allowing users to review or by making a customer satisfaction policy easily accessible. In addressing questions before they arise, you encourage confidence in your product or service and eliminate any doubt a visitor may have.
Each page should include:
- A unique topic
- Unique title (in search results)
- Unique meta description
- Keywords in file name (lowercase and hyphen separated)
- Descriptive anchor text for every link
Sitelinks are determined by Google, however can be influenced by having unique titles, meta descriptions and relevant anchor text, so it’s important that content takes each of these factors into consideration. Check out some ideas of how to produce high quality content for your site.
For example, anchor text should be placed upon valuable information. Instead of ‘For more information on our hoovers, click here’, try ‘To find out more, refer to our hoover catalogue’. The anchoring should be placed on the relevant phrase.
9. Don’t fall for common SEO mistakes
- Don’t hire any SEO that guarantee specific results, each project is different.
- Don’t buy links, this will harm your site’s ranking long term. Google factors in a website’s authority, meaning high density but low quality links will not improve your site’s ranking.
- Don’t place anything above how searchable your site is. Having indexable text will raise your ranking more than a complicated and elaborate site will.
10. Reduce your page load time
Two seconds is the threshold for e-commerce sites. To ensure people don’t lose interest in your site, compress images and unminified resources where you can to reduce load time.
11. Check your ranking
Check how you rank for your company name. This should ideally be #1 and have site links. It also helps to establish how well you rank for other terms, which can be done through Webmaster Tools.
Next, assess how you can increase your site’s ranking for different searches. If your service isn’t one you necessarily search for, look into identifying a potential audience by researching existing forums, blogs and social media sites.
12. Look into social media marketing
In addition to the users coming to you via search, social media marketing expands and diversifies your reach. Remember that you want to connect your users to an entry point of conversion on your site. To do so, figure out what platforms your audience use and establish an identity on those sites.
As a start up, it’s inevitable that you have limited resources. It’s therefore especially important that you play to the strengths of your employees, be that someone in the marketing department who uses Twitter regularly, or a developer already on more specific sites like Stack Overflow.