"I wish I had waited longer to do a startup," said no one ever. Just go do it.
— Aaron Levie (@levie) February 6, 2013
Aaron Levie is one of my favorite people on Twitter and this tweet captures how I feel about SEO as much as startups.
Nobody ever said that they wished they had waited longer to invest in SEO.
As a new business in any field (whether you fit the “startup” label or not) you need to start thinking about SEO from the very beginning because you’re facing an uphill battle. If you’re starting a new company it is unknown, has no brand and doesn’t have any customers. This makes it tough to gain trust in the eyes of search engines.
Search Engines (Google) favor brands. This happens because Google’s algorithm places a premium on older domains with a high number of quality links. Why should Google trust the domain you registered last Tuesday with a few links from Facebook and Twitter? They should not, and they won’t.
SEO Takes Time
To achieve lasting results with sustained growth in organic search traffic you need time and resources dedicated to SEO. Starting a company is difficult. Most founders don’t have an abundance of time or extra resources to devote solely to SEO.
“A good plan violently executed now is better than a perfect plan executed next week.” -George S. Patton
Therefore SEO gets placed on the back burner. If you spend months developing a great product and then decide that two weeks before launch you need to “implement SEO” you’re in trouble.
When you’re in a hurry to get results through SEO the only way you can achieve your goals (temporarily) is to lean on black hat, spammy tactics that will not lead to long term growth. If they work at all the results will be short-lived and you’ll pay the price later.
SEO is Not a One Time Event
Just like great UI, you can’t just build a website and then tack on SEO after it’s done. SEO should be a consideration from day one of building your company.
You should start doing keyword research before building a website or writing any copy. Although your first consideration in content creation should be users, keywords are still important. Don’t try to stuff keywords where they won’t fit naturally (this tactic doesn’t work anymore anyway), but you need to be using the same language as people who are searching for your product/service.
You also need to build your website so that it produces SEO friendly URLS and focuses on one unique topic per page with a unique title and meta description.
Developing an SEO strategy early in the life of your business and continuing to invest in SEO is integral to building a successful online presence. Especially if your startup only operates online.
Another reason that you should start SEO early is that you probably don’t know which tactics are going to work. You need to start experimenting as soon as possible and test your theories. Are guest blog posts a good tactic (probably)? What type of content is going to resonate with your target audience? I don’t know, and there is a good chance that you don’t either. Should you spend time creating videos and infographics?
My point is that you don’t know what is going to work, no matter how well you think you know your prospective customers. There is a good chance you’re in for a surprise. You might get lucky, but I wouldn’t bet on it.
SEO for Startups in Under 10 Minutes- from Google
I’m not going to write much about specific tactics in this post, because plenty of people have done it. This video does a great job of explaining tactics for SEO in less than ten minutes.