Guest post by Sean Dudayev.
Many companies don’t have the budget to launch a full-scale digital marketing campaign. Startups and small businesses have to be clever enough to stay lean and still find ways to scale their business growth.
That’s no easy task, and it requires a lot of sweat equity investment from the team—though not necessarily a lot of spending. Here’s how to use search engine optimization (SEO) and other digital marketing tactics to grow your business without a huge chunk of capital.
The Leanest (and Most Lucrative) Method of All: SEO
When it comes to digital marketing for startups, SEO has the best ROI of all efforts you can possibly engage in. The only thing that comes close is going viral on social media, but that is not nearly as predictable and nowhere near as sustainable or scalable.
Building a company requires playing the long game, and SEO is a perfect complement to that mindset. Organic search optimization allows you to drive traffic to your website you would otherwise be paying for. If done right, you can sustain that traffic for years or more. Here’s how to get it done right.
Research the Right Keyword Opportunities
SEO isn’t just about generating more website traffic, it’s about attracting the right kinds of visitors. Focus on “buyer keywords,” which are keywords that have the highest potential to turn into a customer, as they are the types of words and phrases your prospects are most likely to use when searching.
With SEO, it’s possible to get 1,000 visits and generate no leads/customers, or get 100 visitors and generate 10 leads, depending on the type of keywords that are getting the traffic. Start your research by talking to your actual customers (ideally) or least to customer-facing staff in sales and support functions.
As an example, if you’re selling a sales CRM platform, a keyword phrase like “tips for sales people” might be good, but a term like “tools to increase sales productivity” might be better. The best one to target is of probably “best CRM for sales” (though that is likely to be difficult to rank for due to high competition).
You can use free or affordable SEO keyword research tools like Google’s Keyword Planner or the Keywords Everywhere Chrome extension to fine-tune your list.
Write In-Depth Content
Google loves content, so if you want to succeed with SEO you’ve got to get used to writing, and writing a lot. All other factors being equal, longer content tends to rank higher in search.
Of course, that doesn’t mean extending low-quality content with fluff or filler text will help. But research will. After you’re done researching keywords, prepare a list of articles you want to create. For each keyword phrase, research what competitors have written, then strive to outdo their articles by a in terms of depth and quality of content.
Before publishing, complete the on-page optimization for every post and page: include your target keyword phrase in your meta title tag, image alt tags, and meta description.
Get Links Pointing to That Content
Google views links pointing to your site in much the same way that people value referrals from someone they know, or at least know of. The more respected and higher authority the person is, the more valuable the referral, the same goes with links. The best link you can get is one from a website in a similar niche that also has a high domain authority.
The best approach for this is influencer marketing. Your primary goal is to build relationships, but the backlinks can be valuable for SEO as well. This will be one of the most important things that impact your rankings.
Include yourself as a solution within all of the content that you create, but BE CAREFUL—do it in a way that’s helpful to the reader, not just blatantly self-promotional. Don’t make the content about you; rather, make sure you give the visitor real, in-depth, educational information.
However, you also want to make sure they leave knowing that you are able to help alleviate some of those pain points. You can include pop-up modals, sidebar “ads” on your own site, or just briefly mention yourself towards the end of the article. You also want to build your email list, so have newsletter signup to capture leads you can stay in touch with and nurture.
Overall Cost: Sweat Equity
The good news is if you do this consistently, you will begin to see significant results within six months of starting your efforts. While that may seem like a long time, the pay off can be huge in the end.
Not only will you continue to grow that traffic that will be coming in for FREE, but you will also be able to scale it exponentially once you’ve earned Google’s trust and built a good foundation for SEO. Every organic visitor you get is another visitor you didn’t have to pay for.
Sean Dudayev is the Founder of Frootful Marketing who is passionate about all things related to business growth. After selling his first company, he chose to take what he’s learned and help other entrepreneurs scale their start-ups to the next level.