Powerful SEO tips for startups with little time and money
Search Engine Optimization (SEO) helps a business to ‘be found’ by customers looking for it on the Internet! Simple, isn’t it? It really is, except that SEO strategies are constantly evolving and competition is massive. This is especially challenging for startups that have little time or money to invest in SEO specifically. In this interview, we speak with Bill Hartzer, an SEO consultant based in Dallas, Texas, who has over 20 years of experience in this space. He shares with us some of the most powerful SEO tips for startups. Read on!
Startups have limited resources to promote themselves. How can startups benefit from having a solid SEO strategy?
I realize that startups definitely have limited resources, and that can be a challenge. But, luckily, the search engines (mainly Google) have made it a lot easier for websites to rank well. Overall, it comes to down to quality content that real people want to read and share with others, and the use of SEO best practices on the website. Having a robust SEO strategy, which includes a good plan for creating quality content on your site, as well as optimizing the important pages on your site, will bring in traffic from organic search.
Could you share some SEO approaches that startups can adopt for long-term, sustainable growth?
There are several approaches when it comes to SEO:
- Optimize the site using SEO best practices, such as:
- Have fast-loading pages that look good on mobile and desktop is a good start.
- Do some keyword research to know which keywords to include in metadata, headings, and in content.
- Use schema markup and rich snippets when appropriate.
- Create a content plan for the website. This should include the main topics you want to cover in blog posts and other content on the site, such as videos and on social media.
- Have a competent technical SEO review of the site before or at launch, as well as every 6 months to make sure there aren’t any technical SEO issues holding your site back from ranking well for your main keywords.
How can a startup effectively bootstrap their keyword strategy?
There are several keyword research tools out there that you can use. For example, Google offers their Keyword Planner Tool and SEMrush offers free access to some data (but may be worth $100 or so per month to get good data). You can also use your own analytics, such as the Search Analytics in Google Search Console to review the keywords that your website is currently being found for, which keywords are driving traffic/clicks to your site, and review keywords for each page to get more content and keyword ideas.
Which tools can startups use for crafting, implementing, and monitoring SEO and keyword strategies?
If you don’t have any budget at all, then using your own Search Analytics in Google Search Console, exporting the data, and saving it in a spreadsheet or Google Sheet can be one way to track the keywords.
I do recommend tools such as SEMrush and Moz’s Keyword Explorer Tool for additional keywords. SEMrush will show you your competitor’s keywords, which can also be quite helpful. These will help you understand which keywords are driving the most traffic to your website.
How can startups make the most of new domains?
Start by evaluating your startup’s existing domain name. If it’s a long domain name, contains a hyphen, and doesn’t pass the radio test, then you might consider a shorter, more descriptive domain name on a new domain extension.
Since many new domains have been around for a few years now and some of the better ones among those are expiring (i.e. they were not renewed). Of these, some domain names would have been good quality websites, so they do have backlinks, and potentially some traffic. So, as a startup, if you’re able to buy an expired domain which does not have a lot of baggage and if it’s a generic keyword, then that can be a really good option from an SEO point of view. When I say ‘without a lot of baggage’, I mean that there aren’t any bad links pointing to the domain name and that it wasn’t a spam domain, and so forth.
As a startup, you should consider leasing a domain name if you can’t afford to purchase one outright. There are several options for leasing domain names through various services such as names.club, which has a great leasing program for premium domain names and is meant specifically to empower startups to get a great domain name.
Does your startup’s domain pass the radio test? Here’s how to find out:
The “radio test” simply asks if someone will know how to spell your domain name if you tell someone the name at a bar or they hear it over the radio. Domains that have cute spellings or are missing letters are difficult for people to remember and type correctly. To see if your domain passes this test, call five friends and tell them the name. Can they spell it?
An episode of NBC’s 30 Rock made fun of website names that mean one thing but sound like another. In a 2011 episode, Jenna Maroney (Jane Krakowski) named a web site JennasSide.com. Liz Lemon (Tina Fey) pointed out that it sounds like a completely different (and unfortunate) word when spoken.
Which are the most effective link building strategies that startups can use for increasing website traffic?
Link building can definitely increase site visibility and traffic and is a crucial part of any SEO strategy. Use tools like Majestic or Ahrefs to analyze your competitors’ links. Find their best backlinks and see if you can get a link from the same website or a similar quality web site. Look to see which websites your competitors are linking out to: and then get a link from those websites.
Essentially, your competitor will then be indirectly linking to your website. Writing articles and content that appear on news and industry trade websites can be good, but I’d stay away from the ‘guest blogging’ fad that seems to be going around. A few guest articles on some websites with traffic can be OK, but I wouldn’t use it as a main link building strategy. In all cases, though, look to get a link on a website because of the traffic that it will send to you, not because it has a certain trust value.
Bill Hartzer is an independent SEO Consultant with more than 20 years of direct search engine optimization experience to provide technical SEO audits of websites, as well as technical link audits and link cleanups of websites. He is globally well-known for his research on the topic of search engine optimization and the new domain names. He provides research and marketing of white papers and case studies related to the new domains, as well as consulting related to domain migrations. Bill is a frequent speaker and expert panellist at various search engine marketing and internet marketing conferences such as the SMX and the PubCon. He maintains a blog on his website, www.BillHartzer.com, and is the co-founder of the Dallas/Fort Worth Search Engine Marketing Association.