Startups have a lot going on. Staffing, outreach, overhead, paperwork, development, testing, financing — and that’s just before lunch. Regardless of the industry, startups are by their nature volatile businesses that are stuck bootstrapping much of the heavy lifting early on in their lifecycle.

Focus Your SEO on Revenue and Profit

Image via Shutterstock

While entrepreneurs are experts in their given fields and may even know quite a bit about conducting business online, it’s unlikely that they are worried about SEO considerations. However, you don’t need dedicated SEO resources or even a marketing team to optimize a website. Putting SEO best practices in place early on can pay dividends down the line as a business grows.

For new websites (and businesses), proper SEO ensures that people searching for your business’s name are able to find your website. After fuller implementation, SEO will also help users searching for your products and services to find your site instead of a competitor’s. Since the most significant SEO results take months of optimization to achieve, starting sooner rather than later is recommended — even if it’s just the bare minimum.

Below is a checklist of essential SEO tips and tasks for any new startup website. Some only take a few minutes, while others will require some development assistance — but each provides a distinct benefit to your site.

General Setup

Keyword Research

  • Make a list of all products and services you offer. How do you refer to them? How do potential clients and customers refer to them? Come up with as many combinations of phrases as you can manage.
  • Get additional keyword ideas by using the Google Keyword Planner to “Search for keyword and ad group ideas.”

Google Keyword Planner

Google Keyword Planner

  • Once you have a hefty list, input all keywords into the Keyword Planner to “See how they perform.”

Google Keyword Planner

Google Keyword Planner

  • Narrow down your list by looking for target phrases that have relatively large volume (meaning lots of people look for them) while having relatively low cost per click (meaning there might be less competition). These are your target keywords.
  • Break up your target keywords into small groups of semantically similar phrases, and assign each group to an applicable page on your website. No pages that fit a group? Plan to use those keywords in an upcoming blog post.

Onsite Optimization

  • Write a unique title tag for each webpage, using one or more of the target keywords you’ve assigned to that page. Be sure to include your business name. Keep the entire title tag under 60 characters.
  • Write a unique meta description for each webpage, using one or more of the target keywords you’ve assigned to that page. Keep the entire meta description under 155 characters.
  • Include a target keyword in each page’s URL.
  • Check that each page has one (and only one) h1 tag, preferably including a target keyword. Additional headers (h2 – h6), if applicable, should appear in order, lower on the page.
  • Make sure all page on your website can be accessed in less than 3 clicks from the homepage. If you have pages (or whole sections) buried deeper than that, consider linking to them from your main navigation, or an applicable category page.
  • When you link to a given webpage from elsewhere on the site, use one of the target keywords associated with the page you are linking to as (part of) the anchor text.
  • If your website is image-heavy, add ALT tags to the images to let search engines understand what visuals users are seeing.

Content

  • Ensure that each page of your site has at least 300 words of unique content on it that can’t be found elsewhere on your site (or anywhere else on the Web).
  • Set up a blog on your domain, and publish something on it as often as you can (aim for twice per month to start). Write articles that you would personally find interesting and would want to read.
  • Go beyond text: create videos, podcasts, webinars, infographics, illustrations, PDF downloads and more!
  • Identify 2-3 primary audiences for your product or service, and create unique content for each one. What are the pain points or salient features that relate best to their individual needs?
  • Break away from the hard product pitch all the time, and talk about other related topics that will interest your audience. Keeping them coming back to your site increases the likelihood that they will convert at some point.

Link Building

  • Take your top competitors, plug them into Moz’s Open Site Explorer, and view their “Inbound Links” from “Only External” sources to see who has mentioned them online. Find authoritative citations in their list, and reach out to those sources to pitch your industry-leading products or services.

Moz Open Site Explorer

Moz Open Site Explorer

  • Identify industry “influencers” with large existing followings on their blog or social profiles. Closely follow their online musings until an opportunity to reach out and pitch your content presents itself.
  • Leverage your PR efforts and ensure that all press mentions include a link back to your website. Aim for branded anchor text in the link.
  • Take easy wins with listings on websites from affiliations, community boards, and industry associations you belong to.

Get Through All These Without Breaking A Sweat?

Here’s a bonus round for you overachievers.

Google Authorship Markup

Google Authorship Markup

Now that your site is well on its way to generating organic leads, stay tuned for your next assignment in an upcoming Social Media Checklist for Startup Websites post next month on Marketing Land.

Have additional SEO tasks you’d add to this list? Leave them in the comments below or tweet them to @theashleykemper.

Opinions expressed in the article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Search Engine Land.

Related Topics: All Things SEO Column | Beginner | Channel: SEO | How To | How To: SEO | SEO - Search Engine Optimization | SEO: General

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About The Author: is a Marketing Manager at Blue Fountain Media, a digital agency based in Manhattan. Ashley's expertise in digital marketing and online campaign execution has benefitted clients ranging from fledgling startups to Fortune 500s looking to establish actionable brand strategies.

Connect with the author via: Email | Twitter | Google+ | LinkedIn



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  • http://itsabouthockey.com/ Frank

    nice article even after starting a bunch of websites it’s always good to have a check list like that because there’s always something that I forget to do. Thanks

  • http://www.niyati.com/ Ramesh Nair

    Linking the website URL from all social profiles can give easy visibility to the new website and also get some valuable dofollow links – especially on channels like Google+.

  • Russell Hayes

    Great article Ashley, I’d like to suggest that instead of pages for a possible myriad number of keywords why not use the ad group phrase for main pages and then sub pages for keywords in that ad group? What are your thoughts?

  • http://www.brickmarketing.com/ Nick Stamoulis

    The thing to remember about new businesses and websites is that sometimes they shift gears in the middle of everything. I worked with a startup that completely repositioned their product about a year after they went live. That meant changing the way their SEO program was going 100% to align with the new strategy. Change is bound to happen so be ready to roll with it!

  • http://www.ematters.nl/ Arjan Bakker

    Adding all the structured data is important, open graph protocol, twittercard, localbusiness etcetc. Setting canonicals and choose the domain with or without www and redirect the urls to prevent duplicate content.

  • http://www.LeadDiscovery.com/ Jerry Nordstrom

    Great run-down with linked resources on many of the nuts and boltz of effective internet marketing. There of course is little chance you could cover every detail in one concise article. I would humbly deviate from one central tactic you suggest.

    Yes, brand names, product, service and company specific names are all important to cover in your keyword research. But the underlying goal driving your keyword creation is to pull-in an audience with the desired INTENT. Many tools such as Google’s planner lead new marketers down the path of chasing numbers – impressions, clicks, competition etc.

    So in addition to your advice I would suggest companies define their target audience, then create the ideal profile of a person seeking their services. What are the specific types of search goals would they have? What is the ideal motivation they would have to visit your site or purchase your product? Generate keywords that target those intents, create landing pages that satisfy their mission of discovery. Your keyword set will likely become shorter, more refined and spot on with your dream shopper. There will certainly be overlap with Google’s KWP, however you will find that you will exclude a great deal that have the wrong intent, or the intent is too general in nature.

    Defining intent behind each keyword and matching them to your campaigns and goal funnels will undoubtedly result in great returns.

  • http://www.LeadDiscovery.com/ Jerry Nordstrom

    Great run-down with linked resources on many of the nuts and boltz of effective internet marketing. There of course is little chance you could cover every detail in one concise article. I would humbly deviate from one central tactic you suggest.

    Yes, brand names, product, service and company specific names are all important to cover in your keyword research. But the underlying goal driving your keyword creation is to pull-in an audience with the desired INTENT. Many tools such as Google’s planner lead new marketers down the path of chasing numbers – impressions, clicks, competition etc.

    So in addition to your advice I would suggest companies define their target audience, then create the ideal profile of a person seeking their services. What are the specific types of search goals would they have? What is the ideal motivation they would have to visit your site or purchase your product? Generate keywords that target those intents, create landing pages that satisfy their mission of discovery. Your keyword set will likely become shorter, more refined and spot on with your dream shopper. There will certainly be overlap with Google’s KWP, however you will find that you will exclude a great deal that have the wrong intent, or the intent is too general in nature.

    Defining intent behind each keyword and matching them to your campaigns and goal funnels will undoubtedly result in great returns.

  • Abhinav Narry

    Saying frankly.. You have kept the the things simple and better. Thanks for the post

  • kimberly537

    My Uncle Levi just got an almost new white Cadillac CTS Sedan just by
    some parttime working online with a computer… hop over to these guys w­w­w.J­A­M­20.c­o­m

  • Guest

    as Christina implied I’m taken by surprise that some people can make $7600 in 4 weeks on the internet. see this w­w­w.J­A­M­20.c­o­m

  • http://www.impactintegration.com/ Aiden Ruse

    Thanks Ashley for sharing excellent article. This is exactly what i was looking for. Nicely explained and helped me lot.

  • http://www.theinkblog.net/ Brian Loebig

    Great SEO 101 advice Ms. Kemper. I would recommend my recent tech blog article for setting up the Google Authorship process: http://theinkblog.net/2013/04/17/how-to-setup-google-plus-authorship-for-better-seo/

  • Brian Pasch

    Ashley, why would you want the business name in the TITLE tag of every page? With the limits of the TITLE tag, inside pages should be using that space to optimize the content opportunity that the page presents.

  • http://chuckreynolds.us/ Chuck Reynolds

    Alt is an attribute not a tag.

  • http://www.afixi.com/ Jyoti Nayak

    Liked the way you briefed on “Keyword Research” boz Google Keyword Planner is still new for many.
    Nice & Precised post cover almost all steps of a SEO Process.

  • http://www.afixi.com/ Jyoti Nayak

    Liked the way you briefed on “Keyword Research” boz Google Keyword Planner is still new for many.
    Nice & Precised post cover almost all steps of a SEO Process.

  • Sonsoles Zuazo

    Add your address at the bottom of your pages for better localization. Do not always link back with keywords since it is not natural. Add quality, security and membership seals to improve authority and credibility. Well you know, this is endless…

  • Bryce Johnson

    Awesome. Thanks for this. I’m about to launch a new blog, and this called my attention to several seriously important things I’d forgotten.

  • nicky manix

    This is a brilliant article, it has helped me out so much, as I am slipping into a more SEO role within my company, it helped me have more confidence and tie the bits I thought I knew together

  • dailyearner

    perfect article, not only good to seo beginner, but also useful for many webmasters

  • Rakesh Singh

    nothing new I got here as there are so many things google use to do nowadays ! all these are very common, if you really want ranking plus traffic then just promote your website using natural way or it is better to say that there is no difference between seo algo and real life, so only go with google basic webmaster guidelines and I am damn sure you will get a good response because there is no place for black hat seo technique…

  • Josh Devon

    Awesome checklist. Very useful. Thankyou so much :)

  • http://www.offshorent.com/ Offshorent

    A to Z SEM guide, thanks for sharing

  • Stella Maris

    Its amazing article. Its explaining
    fully about the SEO check list. The checklist is the important part of the SEO.
    Thanks for remembering the basics.

  • Ed

    Great useful article. I will add this to my growing list of simple tactics!
    Ed
    http://www.succeed-digital.com

 

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