How important is SEO (Search Engine Optimization) for startups? This is fairly easy to answer. It’s very important.
The question should be, how accurately are you estimating the scale of SEO?
And why are we talking about startups? Most enterprise companies have an in-house SEO consultant, while it’s startups and SMEs that tend to attempt DIY (do-it-youself) SEO. SEO is like the steroid, elixir for startups. The Google Webmasters channel have openly shared their views on this with the: SEO for startups in under 10 minutes video guide.
While SEO may sound fairly simple, as in ‘it’s just SEO’ and ‘rankings for traffic’, it is in reality much more complex and by no means is it a way to cheat the system; a shortcut to fast-track growth for your startup. The reality is that SEO is quite grandiose, multifaceted, and can either grow or burn your business. If you’re planning to invest on SEO, I recommend to be fully aware of what you’re getting yourself into. The key is to put your business first, never SEO first.
Doing SEO: Know That You Are Optimizing for Heuristics – It Can’t Be That Easy
Search engines such as Google, build their service by providing accurate search results and the best search experience possible in order to gain returning user. In order to sort out the importance, relevancy and the value of billions of webpage content across the Internet, Google and other search engines need a very powerful technology and sophisticated algorithm to effectively do this.
To do SEO, means to understand these algorithms; how it works. What factors are the positive ranking factors, how they are weighted and what are the negative factors. In addition, the algorithms weren’t designed by simple conditioning but heuristics which basically translates to artificial intelligence and mathematical optimization.
What’s Your SEO Build?
Here’s a good reference for understanding what SEO entails.
While it takes longer learn and decide how best to go about each of the factors, the table let’s you see SEO as a total GPA (Grade Point Average) type of scoring. There is no single factor that does the trick. If you score less for one factor, you may still outrank a competing website who scored higher (doing better) because your total score is higher.
I will be honest that if you are a MMORPG or RPG gamer, the concept of total GPA and how you compare to competing websites is easier to grasp. Think of builds, a Tank may have more HP, more buffs, but less Intelligence, a Wizard may have less HP, more MP and higher Intelligence, but in a duel, with a good set of combat strategy, the Wizard can still beat the Tank and vice versa.
Two websites with completely different SEO profiles can still overtake each other depending on their SEO Build and the implementation strategy.
Knowing 100 Ranking Factors Means You’re An SEO Beginner
If you know about 100 ranking factors, it means you’ve probably touched on 5% of SEO. What?! There is only around 200 ranking factors, knowing 100 means you’re 50% there. I’m afraid not. There is theoretically knowing the factors from reading, but there is also a much larger chunk called SEO Implementation.
To be able to roll out long-term SEO benefits for your startup, you need to know the tools, how to use them, such as Screaming Frog, Ahrefs, Algoroo; then there’s Google Analytics and Google Webmasters (Search Console) which you absolutely cannot skip.
Besides tools, there’s the various tags such as ‘noindex’, ‘canonical’, meta properties and loads more. In addition to tools and tags, there’s the development/technical hurdle (as they call it); earning the buy-in and cooperation of the development and technical teams to roll out on-site technical SEO and roll them out fast.
In addition to development buy-in, if your marketing team came from traditional marketing, there’s the branding hurdle as well.
What’s more, SEO is a never-ending game of catching up because while you’re learning and implementing, the algorithms are continuously getting tweaked and updated.
You Can’t Catch A Mammoth With A Butterfly Net
Knowing the scale of SEO and being able to accurately estimate just what it entails helps give you an edge; the chance and ability to do it right to reap long-term benefits. You can’t catch a mammoth with a butterfly net, you need spears, a metal cage, ropes, a team of strong warriors.
Before jumping into SEO, or hiring it to an agency (even more risky), ask yourself these questions: How confident am I of my current SEO knowledge? How ready is my team? Am I ready to climb the learning curve? What’s at the end of the road and is it worth it?