Congratulations, you work for a startup! Startups make for great business places, as they usually have more fluid hierarchies, open communication channels and often focus on interesting and fun products that are designed to make your customer’s lives better. However, there is one thing that startups do not have that other, more established companies with several years of experience and presence under their belt generally do: a high online visibility. Today, online visibility is a key factor for every business, no matter what industry you find yourself in. If your potential customer cannot find you on the net because you rank on page five for relevant keywords, then how are you going to turn her into a client? In return, how is your target audience ever to learn about your great product or service? Ramping up an early-stage company's online visibility (and, in turn, leads) is one of the greatest challenges involved in marketing for startups.
If you want to increase the number of your leads, sales, and eventually your revenue, you need to be visible on the Internet. In other words: you need to rank among the top three positions in the search engine results pages (SERPs), or at least be presented on page one.[bctt tweet="If you're trying to up leads, you need to rank in the top 3 on the SERP, says @Stefanie_Kobsa"]
The necessity of (and existing potential in) increasing your company’s online visibility should be a no-brainer. Yet, sometimes it is hard for a startup CEO to realize and accept this fact since content marketing and search engine optimization (SEO) are fields that require both expertise and patience before you'll see any results. They're far from immediate.
To make your life easier and to boost the online visibility of your company, I've compiled a list of 10 easily applicable tips that every startup marketer can use to improve the rankings of their company's website (and impress the CEO):[bctt tweet="10 #marketingtips for increasing your #startup's online visibility, by @Stefanie_Kobsa "]
1. Know where you are:
First thing's first: you need to assess and evaluate your rankings. Knowing your current rank (or the pages you are on) is essential to understanding your development curve and measuring your overall SEO success.
Either find out manually on which pages you rank (by doing a Google search for individual keywords), or get some help with a software that can display your ranks for you. At the end of the day, it is important to first analyze the status quo and then get down to business.[bctt tweet="First analyze the #statusquo, then get down to business - @Stefanie_Kobsa"]
2. Know where your competitors are:
As much as you need to stay informed about your current situation in the rankings, it is crucial to take a close look at your biggest competitors and educate yourself with regard to their positions in the SERPs.
By analyzing your competitor’s performance in the search engine result pages, you are both able to find relevant websites that might be interesting as backlink sources to you and aim to recreate your competitor’s link profile to emulate their SEO success.[bctt tweet="Keep a close watch on competitors to emulate and outdo their SEO success - @Stefanie_Kobsa"]
3. Know your most relevant keywords:
You need to know your most relevant keywords if you want to rank for them. Think of what it is that you provide and what terms people are likely to Google if they are doing a search for similar products or services.
Search volume also plays a crucial part here: the higher the search volume, the more difficult it is to rank. You need to consider both search volume and relevance, and then you can detect your most important keywords for which you want to—and can feasibly—rank the highest.[bctt tweet="Consider volume and relevance to determine the optimal keyword strategy - @Stefanie_Kobsa"]
4. Create interesting, relevant content:
Great content and visibility belong together like Sid and Nancy, Jay-Z and Beyoncé, or Kurt and Courtney. You catch my drift. If you want to boost your online visibility, there’s no way around creating interesting, informative and relevant content.
However, you should not simply scribble away and hope that your readers will find it interesting. Keyword research is an excellent way to find out what it is, in fact, that your audience is interested in learning about. Use a keyword research tool, such as one of these free options, and glean some new insights into the topics and keywords that are in high-demand in your industry right now.
5. Be aware of brand mentions:
If you’re lucky enough and people already talk about your company on the net, it is crucial to be aware of those comments, also known as brand mentions. Be ready to react in whichever way the occasion requires.
Brand mentions are a perfect way to find high-quality link sources, since websites that already contain a mention of you are much more likely to link back to you. And, links are still a critical factor to improve your rankings in the SERPs. Links = Visibility. Quite simple, isn’t it?
Consequentially, you need to stay informed of your brand mentions and use them to your advantage to do link building. Set up Google Alerts to send a message straight to your inbox each time your company or CEO get mentioned, and keep a close eye on those Twitter notifications.
6. Be active and responsive:
Speaking of brand mentions, is someone praising your product? Great. Reach out to them, thank them, and ask them if they might be interested in writing a review.
Is someone complaining about your product or service? Take action. Explain, apologize, or offer compensation. Provide timely (and humble) responses to both criticism and praise. A startup that gets involved in online discussions shows both initiative, responsibility, and a community-centered focus.[bctt tweet="Be involved in relevant online discussions to show your community-focus - @Stefanie_Kobsa"]
7. Build and leverage relationships:
Find websites that could be interested in testing your product or writing a review about it. Those websites could be your potential customers, the hubs where your customers hang out, general advice-pages in your industry, or online publications. Be social, and participate in the discussions that your users care about. Comment on other people’s articles, form professional relationships with influencers in your area of expertise, and then leverage these contacts to propose PR-cooperation.
Reviews are a great way to increase your online visibility since they are most likely to be read by your target audience when they're closer to the decision-making portion of the buyer's journey. They can therefore bring in high-quality leads.
8. Stay organized:
A tidy house is a tidy mind, right? Even if you are a fan of chaos and the supposedly creative energy it brings, it is essential to have all your contacts in one place and be able to quickly access your data when doing outreach.
Get all addresses, contacts, and professional positions in one place, and ideally add information such as “communication status,” or comments to help you remember specifics about the respective contact. This way, if you want to reach out to someone, you’ll have all the necessary data, plus additional information at hand. This will not only simplify your entire communication structure, but also render it more effective.
9. Be a purposeful communicator:
Having all your important data in one place is important. However, the crucial point is consistency. When you start doing outreach, it’s easy to get a couple of positive responses and then think you’ve done enough for the rest of the week. Think twice. If you have a friend and haven’t heard from her in a number of months, you might write her off of your list of close friends. The same holds true in PR. If you don’t hear form a person for a long time, you are likely to forget them and might become less open to sharing their content or work with them in the future.
Keep in touch with your contacts as well as influential people in the industry. Use templates to make your communication more effective and most of all, be consistent. This post on successful networking strategies has some great, actionable tips on building and nurturing professional relationships.[bctt tweet="Keep in frequent touch with PR contacts to stay front-of-mind - @Stefanie_Kobsa"]
10. Analyze your efforts:
Let’s say you have put three or four of my tips into action. After two months, you may wonder how successful these measures been. If you do not analyze the methods you deploy, you cannot detect what works well for your company and what doesn’t. For that reason, it is absolutely imperative that you monitor your visibility, your number of backlinks, and those of your competitors on a daily (or at least weekly) basis.
By tracking the data you'll be able to know with certainty whether you are successful in your visibility efforts, saving costs, time and manpower on behalf of your company and leadership. This way, you'll be able to focus on just those startup marketing strategies that will result in maximum return in online visibility.
Do you want to learn the skills to become a full-stack startup marketer? Our full and part-time marketing courses will teach you the marketing skills you need to help an early-stage company grow their brand and customer-base. Download our free course guide to learn more.Photo credit: Blue Fountain Media via Flickrcc