If you’ve ever started a brand new site, you’ll know that getting organic traffic is extremely difficult. Sure you can buy traffic through Adwords or various other media buys and/or you can use PR to get you spikes. The question I like to ask people is, do you have longevity? Developing a holistic marketing strategy should be your first and foremost priority because it will help guide you every step of the way. It will help you drive the decisions you make about the paid traffic, publicity, and how you use social.
SEO is the “down in the trenches” traffic stronghold you can use as a baseline for traffic efforts.
For some reason, startups (and frankly, all businesses) don’t invest enough in organic search traffic from the beginning because it’s not a priority. I get it and understand it because when I started Eventup, it wasn’t a priority for me either. The most important thing at the time was shipping product, launching the company and iterating.
It doesn’t mean we forgot about it entirely, we still built in some core principles from the SEO strategy I put together. The way we did this was adapting tactics into the product as we built it. As you’re defining the core infrastructure of your site, can you define SEO alongside that? The answer is YES.
For example, let’s look at a case study where we didn’t have the time to think of all the URL variations for getting the site up and running pre-launch. We got it up so we could start signing up venues, start seeding it, and talking about it to friends.
In December 2011 we had 74 unique keywords driving traffic. In February 2012, we updated the URL structure and our long tail traffic went up an order of magnitude (10x) literally. The thing is, we know it was not just because of the launch buzz, because it wasn’t just traffic, it was number of unique keywords driving traffic. This
For someone like me, it really isn’t that difficult to get the basic SEO best practices built into the site architecture. I’ve seen the variations for startups and small businesses to high volume sites like Yahoo! Sports to Myspace.
That said, not every startup or company has someone that has spent 10+ years doing various forms of Online Marketing. I figured I would put together some of the stuff that I put together for either businesses I create or clients that I’ve worked for.
This should be the first step of everything you do. I know it sucks, it’s tedious, it’s time consuming, but, if you have no idea what your audience, users, or customers will be looking for, you’ll be left in the dark. Developing a solid set of keyword research is essential. Start by thinking of your topic as a whole and asking yourself, what do users search for. My favorite example of this is the automotive space, because, let’s be honest, how many times have searched for “automotive” or “automobile” — that’s right, you haven’t — because people search for “cars”.
I wrote about SEO keyword research 5 years ago and to this day it’s a good starting point for how I do keyword analysis and breakdown what my audience is looking for. Putting this definition together is the core of everything I do going forward in my SEO requirements, definitions, and guidelines for content on the site.
Bonus: For clients, I like to put together an “Assessment” or analysis as well that gives them a breakdown of not only the keywords, but the competition they will face in search (and, only search) and what steps it will take to rank for those keywords. If you have the ability to do this, it can help you make decisions going forward.
On-Page SEO consists of a variety of things like your page structure, the keywords you use in the content of your site, the page meta data, etc. While a lot of these tactics are debated very widely amongst folks in the “SEO Industry” I believe there is one core tenant that will always remain true: relevancy. The pages you create should be relevant to anyone and everyone, and, when a new visitor comes to your site, they should understand EXACTLY what they are looking at. Search engines work in the same way, when they look at a page and see common themes, that page then becomes relevant for that theme, or in this case, keyword or key phrase.
I’ve written an article on Core On-Page SEO principles, but, at a high level, there are a few things that you’ll be building into your site anyway, that you can quick define (and if needed, iterate on) when launching your site.
<title>%Player Name% Stats, News, Highlihts | %Team Name% | %Brand Name%</title>
At the end of the day if your Page Title, URL, and Headings are very relevant to one another, you have a good baseline for content. Yes, these are basic SEO principles, but, if you have a page about the “Chicago Bulls” and it is not mentioned in any of those elements, no matter how many links you get or tactics you try, you’re not going to see the traction needed because that page is not relevant.Relevancy is key.
Get WordPress set up as your blog, preferably as a subfolder (e.g. tonyadam.com/blog) or as a subdomain (e.g. blog.eventup.com). Start by writing a blog post weekly. Increase it to a couple blog posts a week on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Before you know it, you’ll be up at writing multiple posts per week and hopefully daily.
The reason this is important is because you want to be domain relevant for the market you are working within. The more content you create, the more relevant you become for that topic. The more people read that content, the more relevant you become. The more people search for you and that topic, the more relevant you become. If you’ll notice, there is one consistent element here: Relevance. The key is becoming the most relevant around a given topic as a whole. When your domain becomes relevant around a given topic, it is that much easier to rank and drive traffic for keywords related to it.What do you build into your marketing strategy? Is SEO at the core of it? If not, what is? Let me know on twitter
At most large organizations, doing just the basics can help you out tremendously, the value of your domain itself is huge. That said, it doesn't mean that you can implement the basics and just walk away, SEO is still a holistic process that is important to continuously follow up on. At the same time, it still means that you need to nail the basics, and if you do, it will pay off in spades!
This week, I had the unfortunate opportunity to experience what is the 4th layoff round, but the fortunate side is, I somehow made it through without being laid off, again. It was quite a relief to know I wasn't going to have to look for a job or find a job during a tough economic downturn. Even as hot the technology scene is in LA, and quite frankly all over, it is never fun to have to look for a job.
After the tough day that was the layoffs, I was able to sit down with someone that I care about, over dinner. I feel like it was perfect timing for me. I was going through a lot of introspection lately and trying to understand, "what is my value?" Lately, it's been on my mind, am I valuable outside of being an SEO? Is being an SEO good enough for the long term? Is it time to continue the diversification of my skill set? The answer to this question whenever I think of it, is always an emphatic yes.
Over the last couple years I've spent much of my time outside of SEO learning how to get visibility with social media, learning the basics of business development while building relationships and partnerships. It has seriously been some of the best experience I have had in my career, and helped me to diversify my skill sets of being really good at product, project management, SEO and technology. Diversifying yourself as a technologist, marketer, and overall as someone that works on the web is extremely important, especially as you continue to grow and move forward in your career.
So, back to the question, am I just an SEO? I have had to think long and hard about that. As I mentioned, I've made sure to diversify. Something that you should be asking yourself as well. You should be asking yourself, "What makes me different from the guy sitting next to me?" Being a standard anything just isn't good enough, the web changes so fast and that knowing a skill at it's best 2 years ago, just isn't going to cut it now, let alone 3 years from now. Don't get me wrong, you can make a great living and you'll find a job...but...that isn't what we are talking about here. What I am talking about is killing it and realizing your full potential as an individual that contributes to innovation and online technologies. What I am talking about here is making a name for yourself, becoming someone that people look to, being someone that people ask for advice. Being average is not going to
run of the and ask yourself if you are okay with that? Many careers and skills online, are important to be honed in on and learned to perfection. If you have and really enjoy what you
"What makes me any different than anyone else that does SEO?" So, while I was pondering this I realized that I am not just an SEO person, nor am I just a marketer. It reminded me of a conversation that I had with a former colleague 2+ years ago about how we both took great pride in being generalist. The reason I thought it was important that I realized this tonight is that it was like an awakening, I realized tonight while talking to earlier mentioned individual, my value is that I know more than just SEO. That I do have experience in all facets of web businesses.
I bring all of this up because it's important to understand your skills, how you apply them, and the confidence you have in yourself. Once you realize your potential and are confident in your abilities, people feel it and embrace it. The important thing is not to let it get to your head and stay humble about your abilities.