The Organic Challenge for Startups: Nobody Knows to Look for You
One of the biggest challenges startups face when developing an SEO strategy to build a robust, valuable organic footprint is the fact that people (searchers) don’t know your widget exists…so they are not searching for what you are offering.
When you look at a traditional company, for example, search behaviors are easy to tap into and to build strategy around. If I am a luxury bed retailer with a brick and mortar location, for instance, I know I can build content around “luxury beds” and all the materials and craftsmanship and sustainable practices that go into the creation of the products I sell. I can build a content strategy around my shopping experience, around the lifecycle of my customer journey, and around the benefits of great sleep. I can build out my Google Business Listing to capture local search traffic and extend my organic footprint off my site and into Google’s ecosystem. You can verify your Apple Maps business listing.
We can easily cross reference all the search data around all these terms, and the opportunity to build an organic footprint is vast. “The best beds” and “great sleep” are common terms. People think about these things. They are a part of common lexicon, regular daily dialogue. In short: people search for these phrases online.
Why does a strong organic footprint matter to my startup?
In short, your organic footprint can help you succeed faster – and with less capital requirement – than relying on Paid and Earned channel activity alone. A strong, strategic organic footprint will help your venture be discovered by people who matter – and can drive both customer traffic as well as investor (and/or exit) visibility.
How do you build an Organic strategy when you are creating an entirely NEW product or service?
When you are creating a brand new product or service, however, you are challenged with the fact that people aren’t readily using the language that describes your venture. Nobody is searching for your brand name, which is often a significant driver of organic search traffic. Top level, short tail searches will likely be minimal to non-existent.
So how do you begin the process of building an organic footprint that will drive valuable search traffic to your site?
One of the best ways to think about starting your organic footprint is to think of your flagship website as a physical, brick and mortar location. You are building a presence for the billions of people who drive past your location on the information superhighway, so to speak.
TIP: A great way to go through each of the steps on this page is to build in related search terms or phrases to what you want to be found for. An easy technique for building this library of related keyword & keyphrase content is to launch Google and do searches for related products or services. For instance: if you are creating a brand new interactive video monetization and interactivity tool, consider talking about “monetizing video” or “video advertising online” – terms people are already searching for that you can start showing up for as well. Then, as you create your content, include those words and phrases as you go.
Your domain name is your street sign.
Your domain name can both summarize what you’re all about and give your visitors an impression of your personality. You can picture it like your street sign on the side of the information superhighway, grabbing someone’s attention as they search. While .com domains continue to be the default extension and be the way people think of domain names immediately, there are many other domain extension options to choose from that can also add to your branding and identity. For example, you can use .org, .net, .actor, .accountant, .associates, .band, .beauty, .biz, .consulting – and countless other extensions – so if you’re stumped for a .com that works for you, explore your options and get creative.
A couple things to keep in mind if you choose an alternative extension to .com is that you are going to have to continually promote that unusual extension in your marketing and communications, and that you are best off avoiding an alternative extension to a .com that is already taken.
For instance: if you want to be found for thegreatwidget.com, but that domain is already taken – you don’t necessarily want to build your empire at thegreatwidget.rodeo, as the .com will be the default site people go to until they get your extension burned into their memories.
Your homepage is your building.
While it is absolutely true that over the course of time every page of your website will serve as a landing page to greet site visitors, your homepage will always be your best place to introduce the general public to your venture. Your homepage is your best place to give an overview of what you’re all about and who you are. It’s a great place to include compelling reasons to buy what you’re selling, or to reach out and establish a relationship. Your home page should contain fluid content like the latest blog posts and news headlines in addition to static features like links to your most valuable site pages.
Treat your homepage like it’s your building: make it look good. Paint it the colors of your business. Hang signs in the windows, so to speak, by leveraging sliders with big, beautiful, descriptive photos. Embed videos that engage viewers. Keep it fresh so people see something new when they drive by over time (return visitors).
Each pillar page is a department in your store.
Arrange your site content in easy to understand buckets so your site visitors can find what they are interested in quickly and easily – like departments in a store. Within each department you can arrange content more granularly – but your top level navigation should make it easy for your visitor to get an understanding of what your site offers and where they should go to find what they are looking for – and to take the action you want them to take.
Additionally, your site’s navigation is important information for Google and other search engines to help them understand and index your website. The way you label your site navigation helps identify keywords for that indexing, and helps them understand what you, as a business, value in your site. The theory is that if it’s important enough for you to create navigational links to in order to drive your visitors there, it must be important enough for them to pay attention to as well.
Your page headlines are aisle signs letting people know what’s down there.
Picture walking through your local hardware store, looking at the signs above the aisles to find out what’s down there. That’s kind pf what your page headlines do for both your site visitors and for search engines: they identify the primary content on that page. By employing one large headline and then breaking up sub-sections with smaller sub-headlines (“h1, h2, h3” in website vernacular), you help outline primary concepts on your page.
It helps to keep your headlines simple, and to “call a duck a duck” in the famous words of a high school English teacher. It helps your reader who is scrolling down your page to see if there is something of particular interest, and it helps your site’s organic index by simply identifying keyword content.
Your page content is your store shelves, stuffed with value and variety.
As you write and create multimedia content, this is your opportunity to stretch your wings and have fun. By writing copy and creating images and video that bring detail to your story, you can create content that speaks to a wide range of audiences and that exponentially expand your organic footprint as you continue your content marketing strategy over the course of time.
Write a technical article that features engineering schematics. Shoot a video describing how easy it is to log on to your app. Ingest social posts (User Generated Content) that demonstrate customer delight. Write a long-form article about a customer journey. Post case studies.
Once your site is up and running, you can reference Google Search Console and Google Analytics to see what people are finding you for online, and what people are searching your website for. Both sources are goldmines for identifying your topics for ongoing content creation.
After your building is open, let people know you’re there.
By submitting your site, and a sitemap, to Google Search Console starts the ongoing process of indexing site content so it can begin to be discovered through Google searches. From this point onward, your job is to continue to refresh your content, to add things to your store shelves, so to speak, with things you want people to visit you for. Write copy, include pictures and videos. Create and share across your social profiles.
As always: if you need help with any of this, we’re happy to jump in. Just connect with us, and let’s get to work.