By 4 years ago in SEO

SEO for startups

There are a few posts out at the moment discussing whether SEO is a viable marketing strategy for startups.

We’ve had the chance to work with some great startups and seen the important part that SEO has played in their growth but I don’t think investing heavily in SEO is the right strategy for everybody.

For me there are two levels to SEO. The first is doing the on-site aspects and basic keyword research/link-building which every startup simply has to do in order to be visible on the web. This is virtually zero cost so everybody needs to do it.

The second is the higher level SEO involving a decent agency or perhaps a strong in-house team. This typically costs anywhere from £50k/year upwards if you want to compete for decent keywords and factoring agency fees as well as developer time to implement changes.

For startups the key thing to understand when deciding whether to invest in SEO are the simple laws of supply & demand. If you are launching a new service such as WakeMate then very few people are likely to search for such a product, there simply isn’t an established market for it. You need to build the demand first.

On the other hand if you want to launch a new business doing a great job of selling office supplies or perhaps a hotel booking engine there are literally millions to be made every month if you rank well on Google for loads of keywords. The problem is that to compete in these sectors you will need a £50k plus annual SEO budget in place which might be a stretch if you don’t have sufficient funding. Lots of demand but also lots of supply & competition too.

So the short answer is that if you are a startup in a sector where there is lots of demand and you have the budget to compete then SEO is definitely a strategy to pursue. If you are in a sector where you need to create demand then it’s probably best to put your budget elsewhere and just do the basics.

By Patrick Altoft. at 3:47PM on Monday, 07 Mar 2011

Patrick is the Director of Strategy at Branded3 and has spent the last 11 years working on the SEO strategies of some of the UK's largest brands. Patrick’s SEO knowledge and experience is highly regarded by many, and he’s regularly invited to speak at the world’s biggest search conferences and events. Follow Patrick Altoft on Twitter.

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12 Responses to “SEO for startups”

  1. Rakesh Kumar says:

    Good start-up for newbies. I work hard most on online SEO strategy. Thanks for suggestion.

  2. jezza101 says:

    I worked at one of our much loved “big” comparison sites for a few years. Having seen the budgets allocated to ranking for credit card, insurance, energy, loan etc terms I would strongly urge those with all but the deepest pockets not to waste their time/money competing with these established sites!!

  3. I agree that a heavy SEO investment is not always the best option for a startup, although I think this logic applies to all marketing avenues for fresh companies that need to generate results with a limited budget.

  4. I think anyone that has a website should do SEO, even if they are a startup. I have helped local businesses come up in search by simply helping them get the keyword and their city name on the page.

  5. Sergei says:

    Hello Patrick

    >these sectors you will need a £50k plus annual SEO budget

    could u provide an example of report, which u deliver to customer after the work done? will be so nice to see any examples

  6. ANUPAM CHAKRABARTI says:

    Is there any opening for a trainee SEO executive.I am a web designer.Can anyone help me out?I am willing to learn and earn through this expertise.

  7. Paul Myers says:

    Good post, but I don’t think you need to spend upwards of 50k across the board. It all depends on the sector. I agree that the basic stuff, on page etc can be done in house on the cheap. However when it comes to keyword research you need a little knowledge on what you are doing, the terms you target, search volume, competition etc. Also, a lot of link building can be done in house, if you have genuine knowledge on your business then creating and publishing real content will build links to your site long term.

  8. mquotes says:

    Good post Patrick – indeed we have seen costs higher than £50Kp.a – it is a minefield for startups as the web is so competitive (an arms race).

  9. Frank Adams says:

    Thanks for discussing your thoughts in this matter. Search Engine optimization is a tricky thing if a beginner will be doing it with a website. SEO also is a tricky thing if one will be doing some marketing. I had a hard time with it myself but I had services like unlimited banner impressions and clicks for a flat monthly fee from advancedwebads.

  10. william says:

    Really a good post but I don’t think that a heavy SEO investment is always the best option for a startup Company

  11. Paul says:

    I would think new “start ups” may have be means to investigate the basics of SEO for themselves. Once the foundations are set it may be possible to embark on simple link building services and/or get an SEO company to take a look at your basics (most offer ‘free analysis’)

  12. Jupiter Blue says:

    £50k is too much. You can just start simply on link building. I started like this and I’m doing fine.

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