Building an effective startup is hard. Often you’re expected to manage business plans and financials, oversee product development, develop and nurture staff, impress investors, oversee and manage daily activities – all on a Monday morning.
The fact is, as a small business owner your time is split in a multitude of ways. And knowing which of those strategies and tasks to prioritize can either make or break a business.
One of the single most important areas critical for startups is building relevant organic search traffic. Something that is often overlooked.
Why Building Traffic Is an Absolute Must for Startups
Most startups are focused on learning and demonstrating market fit for their product and service. Because of this, SEO is often initially overlooked, and is considered a long term strategy. A way of attracting the masses, and not the individual.
Nothing could be further from the truth.
1. Start With Buyer Personas
A buyer persona is a fictitious representation of your ideal buyer. To be effective in targeting customers, you first need to understand your ideal buyer(s). Buyer personas can range from simple to complex and help guide your brand in all of your online marketing efforts including keyword research, content strategy and messaging.
Here are a few buyer persona guides to get you started:
- What is a Buyer Persona?
- Buyer Personas with Hubspot Inbound Marketing
- Forbes: How to Develop Your Buyer Persona
2. Extensively Research And Test Your Keywords
In order to target the right audience you will need to be sure that you are targeting the right keywords, a crucial component in SEO.
As a general rule, the more relevant, high quality and targeted landing pages you have on your website, that are optimized for search and conversion, the more prospects and potential leads you will generate. So it is important to build a great keyword base and that you continue to update your keyword lists monthly.
Here is a list of some popular keyword research tools:
- Google Keyword Planner (Free) – Comes with Google Adwords and provides the most accurate representation of available keyword search traffic. Helps identify available search volume for desired keywords and can provide new keyword suggestions.
- Bing Keyword Research (Free) – Shows you keyword suggestions and historical 6 month traffic history for Bing without averaging. Can be great for finding new keyword options and is free.
- WordStream (Free) – Wordstream can help grade your pay per click keyword decisions and help discover new opportunities to use for your campaigns.
- Keyword Spy (Paid) –You can enter your website or a competitor’s to identify their top keywords being used for the entire website, including organic search and pay per click.
- Moz Keyword Analysis (Paid) – This tool is paid and comes with the Moz subscription. This tool is recommended to discover the keyword difficulty and determine how dense the competition is.
- SEM Rush (Paid) – This tool offers a wealth of keyword knowledge on any website you wish to see, including competitors. If you want to see what keywords your competitors are currently using and how much traffic they are getting, this is the perfect tool.
- Ubersuggest (Free) – Uber Suggest works off of the auto-complete forms for searches that have been done in Google. This helps find longer keywords that are commonly searched that may have less competition and therefore are easier to optimize for.
And here are some useful guides on how to perform keyword research effectively:
3. Build a Great Well-Branded Website
“Design is not just what it looks and feels like. Design is how it works.” – Steve Jobs
People crave usability and attractive design, and tend to shy away from using and/or sharing websites that are difficult to use, poorly built or are unattractive in design.
Because a significant part of SEO and user engagement is about attracting natural inbound links, it is important from an SEO standpoint to build highly usable and attractive websites.
As a rule, you should always strive to build websites that are:
- Highly attractive to your target audience
- Brand-rich, including brand messaging
- Use rich, unique content
- Are responsive (display well on all browsers and devices)
4. Build Remarkable Content Around Your Buyer Personas
Great content strategy is highly dependent on your buyer personas. The process of creating content and mapping the type of content you need for each stage in the buying cycle is known as content mapping. You can learn more about this step here if you want to really take content to a high level:
Even without content mapping in place, you can set some content development goals. Here are some typical content goals most businesses should shoot for:
- 6-8 blog posts per month
- 1 thought leadership piece from an in-house expert (this might be in the form of a guide, eBook or video) per month
- 1 curated content piece per week on the state of your industry
Make sure that your blog and guides sections allow maximum social sharing in the form of social widgets so that you can maximize engagement.
5. Share Your Content on the Social Platforms Your Buyer Personas Frequent
It’s important to consistently share your remarkable content in the right social media channels. Instead of targeting many social media platforms focus on one or two, and fully complete your brand profiles in those channels.
By building a simple strategy and putting pen to paper, you can truly start to generate great traction in organic search and impress your target audience.