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Start Up Businesses: How To Plan Your SEO Strategy

February 5, 2012 · 9 comments

in Business, SEO

Plan a SEO StrategyWhen starting a business you have so many different things to consider, from finding suppliers, financing, managing customers and maybe even staff. Whatever your business though one thing is for sure; you will need to find customers & the obvious place to start is online.

Unfortunately, there are so many ways to market yourself online, you might not know where to start. So here is a simple guide to help you figure it out and plan a simple SEO strategy to get free traffic – because let’s face it, paying for traffic is expensive.

Step 1: Pick Keywords

If you know anything about your business (and I hope you do) you should be able to pick some obvious keywords pretty easily. Use the Google keyword tool to make sure you target keywords which actually get volume and use common sense to make sure you pick keywords which imply the intent to buy.

For instance, if you target phrases like “buy widgets online” you will attract people looking to buy. If you target phrases like “repairing a widget” you won’t; simple.

As a small business I would also recommend you pick just a handful of phrases to work on, don’t bury yourself. Be quite specific too – unless you have budget to spend on SEO you are better off focussing on low volume easy to rank for phrases.

Step 2: Do On Page Stuff

There are dozens of articles online that tell you how to optimize meta tags and stuff – just stick to the basics and don’t get bogged down, avoiding doing anything dodgy and use your time elsewhere. My only really tip here is to use common sense – if you want to rank for “blue widgets” use that phrase in your page – but not in every sentence.

Step 3: To Be Social?

Many businesses feel like they should be using social media at the moment, but most don’t really know what to do with it to actually make money. So here are some suggestions:

If your customers aren’t using it, you shouldn’t:
Social media is a great sharing tool, so if you are a dynamic new tech start up you need to be on it. If on the other hand you specialise in soil sampling I would venture to suggest that your efforts might be better spent elsewhere.

Do it well or don’t do it:
If you don’t have the time to invest, it’s not worth doing it by halves. Social media is a whole other strategy on its own and it is better to do one thing well than 2 things badly.

Don’t worry about it:
Social media is notoriously hard to monetize and right now the evidence suggests that it is at best a very small factor in SEO terms even though this might change with the introduction of Search Plus Your World of Google; so unless your business is a good fit, don’t force it.

Step 4: Outrun Your Competition

If you want to rank for “buy widgets online” try Googling that phrase and see what comes up. Those top 10 results have done what you want to do, so try to emulate them. If their sites look better than yours, have features you are missing or have better content then you need to work on your own site.

You can also look at who is linking to them (use SEOMoz’s Open Site Explorer), get a feel for which sorts of links are helping them and to give you ideas for your own link building.

Don’t be put off if your competitors are miles ahead, Google takes into account currentness of content and if a new start up is showing a lot of ‘buzz’ they can often outrank older more established sites – it’s not easy, but it’s doable.

Step 5: Build Links

There’s no way round it, building links is the trump card of SEO, you have to get everything else right too, but without a consistent income of new links you won’t rank. Don’t try to find shortcuts, they don’t work – if you don’t have the time to invest into doing it the right way find a good SEO agency who do.

Summary

The tips above are an outline – SEO is a speciality in it’s own right, but if you are starting a business you need to stick to the basics and do what you can, so hopefully this has given you an idea and what you need to do, or at the very least an idea of what to look for when hiring someone to do it for you.

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Mark is a link builder and SEO obsessive, he is currently working for HigherClick - The International SEO agency and all round search marketing guys. Thanks for reading.

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{ 9 comments… read them below or add one }

Rebecca Reddy February 6, 2012 at 2:49 pm

Mark,
Your line: “It’s better to do one thing well than two things badly.”really hits the nail on the head. Our best market strategy is to do what we do well. That way our reputation will be our marketer. Granted this takes time to build, but if we are patient we will be setting ourselves up for lasting gain. It’s like building a house. It doesn’t happen very quickly, but it will give you years and years of return.
It is a pleasure to be running this marathon with you!
~Becca
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Lou Barba@informationhighwaycardandgiftshop.com February 6, 2012 at 6:03 pm

Hi Mark,

A nice list of SEO tips for getting free traffic. I especially appreciate the one about the Google Keyword tool, because most of my search engine traffic comes from keywords that have little to do with what I thought I was talking about. Thanks for reminding me about this tool.

Lou
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Alan February 7, 2012 at 7:42 am

Nice tips Marks. That was a very good outline for people trying to understand what SEO is really about.

Actually it’s not that hard. If someone really follows the steps which you outlined, they will see results. Although it may take some time.

It’s people who want instant search engine rankings which make SEO look like rocket science.
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Catarina February 7, 2012 at 5:27 pm

Great tips and suggestions for people trying to understand what SEO is an how it works.

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David Merrill February 7, 2012 at 9:34 pm

As you point out, SEO is not a casual thing.

And if you can’t do it right, either abandon it as a strategy and do something you are more acclimated to; or consign a pro to do the heavy SEO lifting for you. This frees you up to focus on great content.
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Stacy February 8, 2012 at 1:38 am

This is a good list of SEO tactics. It can seem very intimidating to be an SEO beginner but the way that you outline it makes it very manageable.
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Lilach Bullock February 8, 2012 at 5:47 pm

Great post Mark. SEO can be overwhelming to many people particularly newbies and this is a great article that provides lots of tips and helps you plan out your SEO strategy.

Thanks for sharing:)
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Tosin February 9, 2012 at 12:12 am

Hi Mark,

SEO is such a huge topic but you have done a pretty good job summarising it.

I assure anyone that if they take note of what you have written that they will rank well in the search engines.

Thanks
Tosin
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Ragnar Crowley February 9, 2012 at 1:10 am

Thanks Mark,
This is a great summary of an SEO outline. You have simplified what can become a complex subject. These tips are essential to anyone building a site online and will pay dividends the more time passes. Without implementing these simple tips, much effort can be wasted. Thanks for putting this in an easy to grasp way.
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