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A Beginner’s Guide To SEO For Startups

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A Beginner's Guide To SEO For Startups


Search engine optimization or SEO is an essential part of brand-building in today’s competitive environment.

However, many startups don’t understand SEO well and are not sure where to begin. Ignoring SEO or implementing it incorrectly leads to missed opportunities and wasted resources.

SEO is not intuitive and a lot of information is out there — some of it seemingly contradictory — and much of what people know or think they know about SEO is greatly misunderstood. Doing your own research to better understand what a healthy SEO campaign looks like should be among your first tasks.

If you own or manage a startup business and you’re ready to undertake SEO or build on your fledgling SEO strategy, we can help! We put together this beginner’s guide to SEO to help you start or grow your SEO campaign.

Create a Mobile-Friendly Website

According to a 2022 report from Statista.com, the number of smartphone subscriptions globally currently surpasses six billion and is predicted to grow by several hundred million in the next few years. That’s why Google, inarguably the leading search engine worldwide, has implemented a mobile-first indexing process, meaning that it uses the mobile version of website content for indexing and ranking.

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Mobile-friendly websites — those that provide a good mobile experience — not only offer a better user experience (UX), but they also benefit from a rankings boost. Optimize your website for mobile use by designing a responsive website that delivers the same content on desktop and mobile devices. Responsive websites — those that adjust the page size to the user’s device — are the standard today.

Here are some technical issues to think about when creating your website:

Website Structure. Simply put, the structure is the hierarchy of the site, or the way in which the pages connect to each other. Developing a sitemap that enhances the user experience is key. Easy-to-follow navigation with pages named simply and understandably (i.e., not with your branded terms) leads to a good user experience, and UX directly affects the ranking of mobile pages.

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Page Load Speed. The speed at which actual users are able to download your individual web pages is a Google ranking signal with growing importance. The content management system (CMS) that you select along with its configuration play a critical role in page speed. Just as important, is your web developer’s abilities to properly code an error-free website with fast loading pages.

Hosting Provider. In addition to the page speed considerations listed above, you must carefully consider the choice of a website hosting service. Not all hosting companies are alike, and your choice may impact your SEO results. Google prefers secure websites with fast loading speeds, which requires a solid network infrastructure and optimized server configurations.

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Optimize with Keywords

Perform thorough research to determine the words and phrases that your target customers use when searching for what you offer. Focus on a few important (even niche) keywords that best describe your offering(s). Utilizing relevant keywords correctly throughout your website — on the pages on which they make the most sense — helps make your website visible and boosts your search engine rankings. Keywords should be carefully selected and utilized in your URLs, title tags, meta descriptions, page titles, heading tags, body content, internal link anchor text as well as certain image filenames and image alt tags.

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How do you select keywords? While you can begin by typing in words and terms that describe your products or services, tools are available to help marketers with keyword research tasks. These tools provide data that allows you to determine the number of people searching by each keyword, find related keywords and learn the likelihood of ranking for various keywords. A better ranking is more easily obtained using low-competition keywords, especially for startups with little brand recognition or website authority.

Produce High-Quality Content

Because search engines rank web pages and blog posts with useful information more highly than others, your content must reflect what the user seeks when searching for your product or service. Quality content — text, images, infographics, blog posts and videos — is topic-relevant, engaging, unique, well-researched and well-written. When driving traffic to your site is the goal, less is more — less high-quality content is better than more low-quality content.

Good content not only describes your product or service in simple terms, but it also lets users know how it solves their problems, educates them about its use, and answers what you know or sense they are asking. Be sure to provide downloadable resources that may be helpful to current and potential customers.

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Quality content is also easy for users to read. Use images to break up large sections of text, create relevant headers that separate content into reader-friendly chunks, include internal links to other pages of your website, and use bullet points for quick scanning and to highlight important information. Make website pages actionable with good calls-to-action (CTAs) that help turn visitors into customers.

Maintaining interest in your website and attracting repeat traffic require constant refreshing of your content. Product description pages don’t generally change much, but new blog posts and podcasts should be added regularly. For inspiration regarding new topics, check out Google Trends, Twitter Trends, Google Analytics, customers’ social media posts and customers’ emails to your sales team. Attend an industry conference, solicit guest blogs and more.

Build Authority with Backlinks

A backlink or inbound link is a hyperlink to your website from a website other than your own. Association with relevant, higher-authority websites via backlinks results in higher rankings. A number of good backlinks signifies that your site is a popular or authoritative destination, which leads to improved website rankings on search engine results pages (SERPs).

How do startups earn backlinks? Guest blog posts on large industry publications, listings in industry directories, new product announcements and adding your website URL to your social media may help you rank quickly and attract quality links back to your website. Be aware that your content must be high-quality and engaging to earn links from trusted sources.

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In addition to attracting traffic from SERP rankings, popular bloggers, trusted journalists and social media influencers can be a good source of links. Their audiences may be small, but they tend to be loyal. You may develop ongoing relationships with influencers, generate content with specific influencers in mind or offer their audiences free products. Any mention of your company (along with your URL) provides an opportunity to increase website traffic and, ultimately, sales.

Track and Measure Results

Is your SEO strategy leading you in the right direction? That depends on where you want to go! Research keywords (popularity, competition, relevance, and intent) using Google AdWords and other free and paid tools. Track your organic traffic (number of visitors from search engines) by page URL via Google Analytics. Monitor keyword performance (rankings, impressions, clicks and clickthrough rate) in Google Search Console. View your backlinks with backlink analysis tools that are also widely available. Be sure to utilize these helpful SEO tracking tools to optimize your existing content.

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Tracking your SEO results over time is vital. If your tracking metrics aren’t looking good after 3 – 6 months, then change your strategy. But before you do, be sure to set up a reliable analytics tool in advance so you can compare “before” and “after” results. You may want to select more relevant keywords or keywords that are easier to rank. You may find that your audience is not who you originally expected, and you should use this opportunity to optimize for the users who visit your site, not those that you thought would come.

Conduct Ongoing SEO

SEO is not a process to undertake only once. Optimizing for SEO requires a significant amount of effort, and you may find concentrating on just one or two aspects at a time easier. As discussed above, frequent reevaluation of your SEO may indicate the need for website and/or content adjustments to boost or maintain rankings and meet your users’ needs.

Additional reasons to continually revisit your SEO strategy include changes in the online marketplace, SEO trends and changes in your business. As your startup grows, you want to add pages for your new products and services. Your audience may grow and shift as your business evolves. And we all know how often Google’s ranking algorithms change over time!

Reap the Benefits of SEO

Most people think of SEO as a way to increase traffic to a website for the purpose of growing sales and increasing revenue. When done well, SEO does that — but it does so much more! The fringe benefits of SEO not only lead to a better written and designed website, but they also make your business more credible and your brand more valuable. Are you ready to achieve your business goals?



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TECHNOLOGY

On email security in the era of hybrid working

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Cloud Computing News


With remote working the future for so many global workforces – or at least some kind of hybrid arrangement – is there an impact on email security we are all missing? Oliver Paterson, director of product management at VIPRE Security, believes so.

“The timeframe that people expect now for you to reply to things is shortened massively,” says Paterson. “This puts additional stress and pressure on individuals, which can then also lead to further mistakes. [Employees] are not as aware if they get an email with a link coming in – and they’re actually more susceptible to clicking on it.”

The cybercriminal’s greatest friend is human error, and distraction makes for a perfect bedfellow. The remote working calendar means that meetings are now held in virtual rooms, instead of face-to-face. A great opportunity for a quick catch up on a few emails during a spot of downtime, perhaps? It’s also a great opportunity for an attacker to make you fall for a phishing attack.

“It’s really about putting in the forefront there that email is the major first factor when we talk about data breaches, and anything around cyberattacks and ransomware being deployed on people’s machines,” Paterson says around education. “We just need to be very aware that even though we think these things are changing, [you] need to add a lot more security, methods and the tactics that people are using to get into your business is still very similar.

“The attacks may be more sophisticated, but the actual attack vector is the same as it was 10-15 years ago.”

This bears true in the statistics. The Anti-Phishing Working Group (APWG) found in its Phishing Activity Trends Report (pdf) in February that attacks hit an all-time high in 2021. Attacks had tripled since early 2020 – in other words, since the pandemic began. 

VIPRE has many solutions to this age-old problem, and the email security product side of the business comes primarily under Paterson’s remit. One such product is VIPRE SafeSend, which focuses on misaddressed emails and prevents data leakage. “Everyone’s sent an email to the wrong person at some point in their life,” says Paterson. “It just depends how serious that’s been.”

Paterson notes one large FMCG brand, where a very senior C-level executive had the same name as someone else in the business much lower down. Naturally, plenty of emails went to the wrong place. “You try and get people to be uber-careful, but we’ve got technology solutions to help with those elements as well now,” says Paterson. “It’s making sure that businesses are aware of that, then also having it in one place.”

Another part of the product portfolio is with EDR (endpoint detection and response). The goal for VIPRE is to ‘take the complexities out of EDR management for small to medium-sized businesses and IT teams.’ Part of this is understanding what organisations really want. 

The basic knowledge is there, as many organisational surveys will show. Take a study from the Enterprise Security Group (ESG) released in October in terms of ransomware preparedness. Respondents cited network security (43%), backup infrastructure security (40%), endpoint (39%), email (36%) and data encryption (36%) as key prevention areas. Many security vendors offer this and much more – but how difficult is it to filter out the noise?

“People understand they need an endpoint solution, and an email security solution. There’s a lot of competitors out there and they’re all shouting about different things,” says Paterson. “So it’s really getting down to the nitty gritty of what they actually need as a business. That’s where we at VIPRE try to make it as easy as possible for clients. 

“A lot of companies do EDR at the moment, but what we’ve tried to do is get it down to the raw elements that every business will need, and maybe not all the bells and whistles that probably 99% of organisations aren’t going to need,” Paterson adds.

“We’re very much a company that puts a lot of emphasis on our clients and partners, where we treat everyone as an individual business. We get a lot of comments [from customers] that some of the biggest vendors in there just treat them as a number.”

Paterson is speaking at the Cyber Security & Cloud Expo Global, in London on December 1-2 around the rising threat of ransomware, and how the security industry evolves alongside this threat. Having a multi-layered approach will be a cornerstone of Paterson’s message, and his advice to businesses is sound.

“Take a closer look at those areas, those threat vectors, the way that they are coming into the business, and make sure that you are putting those industry-level systems in place,” he says. “A lot of businesses can get complacent and just continue renewing the same thing over and over again, without realising there are new features and additions. Misdelivery of email is a massive one – I would say the majority of businesses don’t have anything in place for it.

“Ask ‘where are the risk areas for your business?’ and understand those more, and then make sure to put those protection layers in place to help with things like ransomware attacks and other elements.”

(Photo by Cytonn Photography on Unsplash)

Want to learn more about cybersecurity and the cloud from industry leaders? Check out Cyber Security & Cloud Expo taking place in Amsterdam, California, and London.

Explore other upcoming enterprise technology events and webinars powered by TechForge here.



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