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3 Steps for a Successful SEO Strategy in Your First Year

It’s easy to understand why search engine optimization might be considered a low priority for a new business. Entrepreneurs are busy, and if they aren’t technically inclined, they’re more likely to focus on something they do know to get their business off the ground. However, ignoring SEO at the start of a new venture can mean leaving a major competitive advantage on the table.
The purpose of SEO is pretty simple: to make your website easily found on search engines. However, this simplicity belies the wide range of benefits it provides a business.

The Advantages of a Strong SEO Strategy

  • Sales leads: The Internet has become a primary discovery tool for consumers. For a business, Google isn’t just a search engine; it’s a free lead generator. Backblaze, a storage backup company, found that about 20 percent of its new business came from organic search. This is no longer the exception, but the rule.
  • Free PR: Media outlets and business investors do their research online these days, and being easily found on Google is an effective way to gain attention from the right people. My latest business was discovered via the Internet by a producer for ABC’s “Shark Tank.” Opportunities like these are invaluable for small businesses.
  • Insight into customer demand: Working on a successful SEO strategy means researching what people are actually searching for in your field, which is a measure of demand. Rather than guessing what consumers want, SEO research can lend insight into what people are actually trying to find.

Year 1 SEO Checklist

Being invisible online can devastate a new business’s chances of finding new customers, so SEO is not something to put on the back burner. To make sure your website is findable, keep these three SEO strategies in mind from the very beginning:
  1. Focus on the quality of your product: This might sound obvious, but remember that when people search for you, they won’t just find your website — they’ll also find reviews and testimonials of the products or services you provide. SEO isn’t just about ranking first on Google; it’s about making sure the other results cast you in a good light. Like all marketing, SEO can only truly succeed if you have a quality product to back it up.
  2. Make the quality of the content match the quality of the product: Optimizing doesn’t just mean loading your website with a bunch of keywords. Search engines — and customers — want dynamic, informative content. Providing a constant stream of high-quality content helps you rank higher in search results and build rapport with your prospective customers.
  3. Be text-savvy: This step is what most people think of when they hear “SEO strategy.” One major factor search engines use when determining which results should come first is the text on your website. This is where keyword research comes in. Use tools like Google AdWords Keyword Planner or Wordtracker.com to research the most-searched terms in your field, and tailor the text of your site to be easily found using these terms.
SEO isn’t as hard as it may seem at first glance, but it’s important to get a full grasp of what you’re getting into. Google provides an excellent (and free) primer on SEO called “Search Engine Optimization Starter Guide,” and there have been many useful books written on SEO. The most important thing to remember is to stay on top of it because SEO is constantly evolving. Using this checklist will help you create a healthy SEO strategy and, more importantly, a healthy business.
Already focusing on SEO for your business? What’s on your SEO checklist?
Published: January 16, 2014

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Stephan Aarstol

Stephan Aarstol is the CEO and founder of Tower Paddle Boards, an online, manufacturer-direct brand in stand up paddle boarding. Tower Paddle Boards was invested in by Mark Cuban on ABC’s “Shark Tank,” was named one of the show’s “Top 10 Success Stories” by Entrepreneur Magazine, and was featured by People Magazine as one of “Shark Tank’s Biggest Winners.” Stephan is an entrepreneurial thought leader and online marketing expert, and he welcomes anyone to reach out to him on Google+.

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