There’s an awful lot to do when you’re the founder of a startup. From working on your product and building your website, to hiring staff and negotiating with suppliers, a different challenge lies around every corner.

On top of all that you also have to work out how to acquire customers. SEO, PPC, PR, traditional advertising, it can seem impossible to know what works, what doesn’t and where to start.

But this guide aims to make one thing a little easier for you to manage. As a startup, SEO can be crucial to your success. In this article, we’ll show you why it is so important and what to do about it. By the end, you’ll know exactly what to do next so that you can get back to running your business as quickly as possible.

Why focus on SEO?

Unless you are lucky enough to have secured VC funding, cash is probably a little tight at your startup. But you still need to get the word out about your business and drive visitors to your site. Facebook and Google ads are probably out. Not only are they unsustainable because you have to keep paying to drive more leads, but if you don’t get the targeting right and have your website set up to convert leads, they can be a huge waste of money. Search traffic from Google, on the other hand, is free forever. And, better still, you can attract users who are actively searching for your product or service. That means there is a high chance that they will convert, or at least sign up to your email list.

Even if have more pressing priorities than traffic generation, it is crucial to consider how your site will rank in Google from the outset. Site structure is a crucial part of SEO and if you get this wrong you may never be able to rank well. That means no matter how big you get you will always struggle to get that huge amount of targeted traffic from Google.

Of all the digital marketing tactics, SEO should be the first one that you consider as a startup. But how do you get started with it?

How to get started with SEO

There are hundreds of fantastic articles online that can teach you how to get started with every single aspect of SEO. From on-page optimization (a necessity for startups) to content creation and link building, you can learn how to do it all online. But that doesn’t mean that you should.

If you’re not already an expert in online marketing, you should consider leveraging the SEO services of an agency or a consultant. That’s because it is often much more efficient to invest in an SEO agency rather than spending time reading up on the latest techniques and trying to implement them.

For one, leveraging a do-it-yourself strategy will almost always result in an uncoordinated hodgepodge approach that may achieve a couple of short-term wins but will ultimately be unsuccessful in the long run. What’s more, as a founder, there’s probably a dozen other things demanding your attention. A successful SEO strategy can help ensure your company’s success, but it will be all for nothing if the rest of your company is falling apart. Finally, you’ll get results quicker. SEO agencies can leverage proven methods to start getting you business-growing traffic after a month or two, whereas it could take a year or more to see results with your own trial and error approach.

How to find a great SEO agency

This is where things get difficult. It’s easy to understand why you should invest in SEO and why you should hire an SEO agency, but finding one that is a good fit is a different story. It’s a bit like dating, you might have to have a dozen consultations before you find the one.

So how can you get your search off on the right foot? Start by asking other founders or your ex-colleagues for referrals. If someone you know is happy with their SEO agency, they must be doing something right. Google is also a good place to start. Searching for SEO companies near you will return dozens of results. Naturally, you should start with the guys at the top of the rankings as they clearly know how to practice what they preach. Finally, look for companies producing great information. As a startup, you’re going to want to grow with your SEO agency, so it is important to partner with an SEO firm that will be patient with you, answer your questions and educate you on the industry. If a firm is putting great content out there for free, they will probably be a great agency to partner with.

Most importantly of all be patient. It can take time to find a good agency and it can take time to start seeing results. Search engine optimization is not about quick wins, it is about building an executing a strategy that will create lasting success for your business.

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