SEO for Startups

Search engine optimization (SEO) is the most important marketing strategy for startups. The following are a list of SEO advices for startups, or websites with not too many pages.

Unify URLs with 301 Redirect

Websites may choose URLs either starting with “www” or not, but not both. A common solution is to use 301 permanent redirect to rewrite URLs. The following are examples on writing the .htaccess file for URL redirection.

Redirect non-www to www URLs. For example, redirect “example.com/any.html” to “www.example.com/any.html”.

RewriteEngine On
RewriteCond %{HTTP_HOST}  ^example.com [nocase]
RewriteRule ^(.*)     http://www.example.com/$1 [last,redirect=301]

Redirect www to non-www URLs. For example, redirect “www.example.com/any.html” to “example.com/any.html”.

RewriteEngine On
RewriteCond %{HTTP_HOST}  ^www.example.com [nocase]
RewriteRule ^(.*)     http://example.com/$1 [last,redirect=301]

Sign up Google Webmaster Tools and Analytics

Google Webmaster Tools (https://www.google.com/webmasters/tools/) provide useful information and even controls on how your website is being indexed and searched on Google. Google Analytics (http://www.google.com/analytics/) provide code for tracking website visits.

Create and submit “robots.txt” under the website root. The following example allows search engines to visit all files using the wildcard *:

User-agent: *
Disallow:

Create and submit sitemaps. This allows Google to be aware of the pages on the website. An easy way is just to generate a text file with a listing URLs line by line.


http://example.com/


http://example.com/any.html

Add analytics code to webpages. This allows automatic tracking of website visits, and the collected statistics will be valuable for analyzing the website.

Site Design Strategies

Consider the potential visitors to the website, such as customers, investors, partners, etc. Organize the pages and contents based on the needs of visitors, and make the website easy to navigate.

Make the website understandable by search engines (not just humans). This means website pages should have enough text, instead of just images or other non-indexable fanciness.

  • Organize pages into 2-3 hierarchical levels and build menus showing on each page.
  • Add conversion links on every page, such up “signup/login”, “sharing”, “searching”. This saves extra clicks.
  • Each page focuses on one logical topic. Break up long contents into separate pages and link them up. Each page should have unique title, meta description, meta keywords.
  • For each page, include relevant keywords naturally in the text. These should be the words that users want to search on Google. For example, product categories should be more relevant than your brand name.
  • Create each URL based on the title or keywords of the page.
  • Use meaningful anchor text for links. For example, “click here” is bad, but “product specifications” is better.

Speed, Sharing, Social, and More

Speed matters. The page load time affects the user behavior. The longer the page takes to load, the more likely that the user will give up.

Build external links. The ranking on Google search result largely depends on how the website and pages are linked from other website. Find a potential audience on existing forums, blogs, news, media. This is a long-term effort.

Social media marketing. Social medias have highly connected communities. Create highlighted pages (as entry points) and share them timely.

The following video by Maile Ohye from Google gives great advices on SEO for startups.

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