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Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is the art of optimizing your online resources for higher rankings in search engines. You can always buy top ranks at Google or Bing, but do you have the budget? As a Startup, you probably don’t, especially in highly contested niches! Still, there are many ways you can influence search rankings for your startup, app or website without paying thousands of dollars. Here are a few tips and tricks you can apply to get better search rankings for your startup.

(Author: Jerry Weyer / Clement & Weyer / Image Credit: Pixabay)
Keep up to date with technical developments

The first item on your SEO agenda should be to create a sound technical foundation for your products. This means keeping up with recent developments in web development and online security standards. Nowadays, you will be punished by search engines if your website is not responsive and doesn’t adapt to smaller screens and mobile devices, or if your website is not accessible via https. It is also never a good idea to use outdated technology, build websites in flash or use anything else but the latest versions of WordPress. You don’t need to follow all the latest trends, but make sure to keep up with modern standards!

Google and Bing each offer online tools to check your website for technical inefficiencies with the Google Search Console and Bing Webmaster Tools. Submit your website, analyze it and see how you can improve the technical aspects of your website.

Content marketing is still important

Search engines have evolved a lot in the last few years and have moved away from simply indexing keywords. Search engines do consider the intent of users’ searches and list first those pages that tend to give the users the answers they are looking for.

Even as today’s landscape skews more and more towards “pay to win,” publishing regular and helpful updates in your niche will help your search engine rankings. As such, don’t try to appeal to everyone—it’s better to rank in the top 5 results for a very specific problem than to be on page 3 with your article that tried to target everyone.

Spread your content on social media

SEO goes beyond optimizing your website for Google or Bing. Depending on your niche, it may be important to show up in the top results in other search results as well. Social media search engines are one of those places where you want to rank in the top spots.

As a general rule, try to register an account for your startup on all the major social media platforms, even if you don’t intend to actively use those promotional channels (yet). Set up a clean account with all your contact information in case platform users are using the integrated search engines to look up your business.

In order to optimize for good social search results, as with the more common search engines, it is important to optimize your website display for social media. Adding OpenGraph tags to your website will tell sites such as Facebook and LinkedIn what information to display and what image to show in their preview. The same goes for Twitter Cards, which allows you to choose how to display your webpages on Twitter. Once your website is optimized for social media, spread your content and interact with your community in order to get people sharing your work.

Get those backlinks!

Creating and sharing your content is an important part of a good search engine optimization strategy, but it takes more to really get your website ranked in the higher spots. What becomes more and more important are backlinks: other pages linking to your website. Search engines view backlinks as evidence that your page is “interesting.”

Backlinks don’t appear magically; you have to “give” (advice) to “receive” (backlinks). People will only link to your website if you are offering helpful insight, sharing your thoughts, successes and failures, and generally providing valuable input. You are not limited to your blog or social media platforms in this regards: helping out on StackOverflow, Ask.com or Quora will also increase the likelihood that people will click on the link in your profile or signature.

Backlinks alone are not enough though: the higher the reputation of a website linking to your content, the better for your search rankings. Having 100 spammy .ru websites link to your page might actually hurt your ranking, while having 3 trusted news pages mention your URL might be enough for a serious boost in results. This is where your traditional marketing will come into play: make sure to always ask journalists and reviewers for a link to your website when they cover your startup!

Optimize your app for stores and lobby to be featured

If you are developing a mobile application, in addition to having a high ranking for your website, it’s critical that you show up prominently in the app stores. Stores take into account several different factors and you shouldn’t underestimate any of them. Your name, description, screenshots and logo all really do matter!

Creating a decent setup in the app stores is similar to the basic steps taken to make your website technically sound for SEO. What really gets your app launched on any store is to be featured. As the featured sections in the Apple and Google stores are edited by people rather than simply by algorithms, you need to appeal to their taste: use a new feature of the platform, create a unique experience in your niche and lobby as much as you can. Keywords and a good description get your app ranked better than other apps, but getting into the “featured” spot really pays off!

This article was first published in SILICON

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