6 Traffic-Boosting Tips For The Penny-Pinching Startup

Search engine optimization seems complicated, but it's all about content and quality.

I’ll fill you in on a little secret . . . you don’t need to spend a lot of money to drive quality, organic traffic to your website.

In a two-year period at KISSmetrics, we’ve brought more than 2 million visitors to the site, and it cost us less than $29,000 to do it. How? By hacking our SEO strategy.

SEO can be intimidating for your time-crunched, cash-strapped startup, especially when competing against huge brands with deep pockets. But it is actually one of the most efficient ways to get your initial traffic and customers, if you know where to invest your time and money.

Here’s what I recommend:

1. Be Obsessed With Content

SEO is all about content. When it comes right down to it, the most important thing you can do for your SEO is to concern yourself with content, content, content.

Before you even launch, hire a copywriter to write 50 to 100 blog posts. Then, drip them out every other day on your blog. Keep up the content output as your blog grows and expands. Build a library of content that is bigger than any other collection of content in your niche. If you have a few extra minutes in a day, write an article. Live, eat, breathe, sleep, and create content.

Unleash content like your business depends upon it . . . because it does.

I’ve started more than one successful startup, and if I had to attribute my success to one thing it would be content.

2. Make Sure Nothing Is Blocked

Imagine you just finished your shiny new website and you’re about to reveal your new business to the world. But then on opening night Google isn’t indexing your site.

You utter every curse word in every known language, call upon expensive consultants, and assemble a March on Mountain View. What’s going on? In code, it looks like this:

You’ve got a noindex on your page. In other words, you’ve told Google, "Move along. Nothing to see here!"

Even though it’s obvious, it happens. Barry Schwartz wrote this in SEO Roundtable:

Heck, I see it all the time in the forums. I've been called by large fortune 500 companies with SEO issues. I've seen more than once, they have a noindex tag on their home page causing the issue. Sometimes they are hard to spot due to redirects, so use a http header checker tool to verify before the redirects. But don't overlook the obvious, check that first.

3. Focus On Page Titles

Your page titles are the most important onsite SEO element.

Here’s how to create a killer page title tag:

  • Keep it around 50 characters, or less than 512 pixels wide.
  • Put a nice juicy keyword or two near the front of the tag.
  • Put a pipe ( | ) then your brand name at the end of the tag.

Here’s what it looks like:

Some Awesome Keyword About Services | Startup Biz

I once helped a startup gain rank for an awesome long-tail keyword. All they did was put that keyword in their page title. Within one week, they had page 1 rankings for that exact keyword. Get this: The head term was not in the page content at all. Nothing else changed; just the page title. Of course, I usually recommend that a business put the term in the content as well as the title. In this company’s case, though, the title was all that they needed.

My point? Your page titles matter. If you don’t have time to do anything else, create good titles for every page on your site.

4. Think Of PR And SEO As Basically The Same Thing

PR and SEO have blended into sort of an amorphous entity. It’s hard to tell where one ends and the other begins.

Traditional PR efforts are designed to get your brand in front of as big of an audience as possible. In modern PR, that happens by way of viral YouTube clips, high-profile news pieces, and heavily syndicated press releases.

In other words, you get major online buzz. That "buzz" consists of backlinks and brand mentions. And that, my startup friend, is SEO.

It’s the best kind of SEO: Natural, viral, high-quality, and enduring. This is the kind of stuff that will bring your brand before the masses, strengthen your online presence, and make your startup successful.

Don’t feel like you have to decide between SEO and PR. They’re basically the same thing.

5. Don’t Neglect Your Personal Brand

In the startup world, your personal brand lends cachet to your business brand. The two are locked in a symbiosis. By enhancing the one, you enhance the other. Feed one, and they both grow.

Today’s successful entrepreneurs become minor online celebrities. Their names are bandied about on niche sites, and they’re asked for interviews. They have large social followings, and street cred.

Personal brand success begets business success. You should work on enhancing both.

6. Make Sure Your Site Is Quick

Site speed is a major SEO issue. Check your page speed using Pingdom and Google PageSpeed Tools.

Google knows how important page speed is. Think about this: Google’s traffic dropped by 20% due to a .5 second slowdown. Amazon lost 1% of revenue when their site slowed by a tenth of a second. Yahoo lost 9% of their traffic when their site slowed down by two-fifths of a second.

You can’t tell me that site speed isn’t important. If you have blazing fast load times, then your SEO will be that much more awesome.

There are ways to hack SEO. And that’s how you succeed with very little money, very little time, and a whole lot of passion.

Neil Patel is cofounder of Crazy Egg, Hello Bar, and KISSmetrics. He helps companies like Amazon, NBC, GM, HP and Viacom grow their revenue.

[Arrow illustration via Shutterstock]

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