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Looking Beyond SEO Is A Must for Startups

A few years back, if you had a site technically optimized for search engines, it was enough. All you needed were basic web pages in place, a decent site structure, keyword-stuffed page titles, and heavy keyword saturation on the main navigational pages. But that doesn’t work anymore. With most companies creating sites with all the key SEO elements, it’s getting almost impossible to win top spots in the SERPs by just having your technical SEO in place. If nearly every competitor has technically optimized SEO, then your advantage gets whittled away.

Most startups begin their digital marketing efforts with SEO because it is free. They hire someone with knowledge of Google and other search engines, and focus their attention on beating the search engine’s algorithms. This makes eminent sense as the first step to getting visible. Unfortunately, for a lot of startups it becomes the last. Since their entire focus is on beating search engines and their updates, other marketing efforts come in as an afterthought.

Here’s an article I came across recently that got me thinking about the importance of SEO in the right context. While there’s no doubt that SEO is a vital tool for any business operating online, relying on SEO alone for traffic building and for lead generation is not advisable. Tactics like keyword stuffing and hiding buying mass links, directory links, duplicating websites (or categories) on different domains, content spinning, automatic content and optimizing purely for gaming a search engine’s results could be downright risky if SEO becomes the primary traffic generation tactic.

In 2012, when the Penguin update to Google’s Search Algorithm first rolled out, there were many worried webmasters who lost their page one positions overnight, and in extreme cases, saw their business drying up in an instant. Relying on SEO with nothing else to fall back on is the proverbial act of putting all eggs in one basket. You shouldn’t base the long term success of your website and the traffic that it generates only on Google, or any of the search engines for that matter.

To ensure sustainable digital marketing success, any plan must be built on solid foundations that sit on not just one technique but on a wide range of online marketing tools. Organic search traffic is simply a part of a much bigger picture. SEO won’t get you any new searches or traffic after the initial promising period. It’s vital to invest in a wider online marketing in a variety of different ways and stop worrying about what Google may roll out next.

As a must do list of the online marketing mix, a startup should look at tactics in various parts of the marketing funnel including social media advertising, paid search marketing, paid content marketing, display banner advertising, and email marketing. Organic search marketing is only one component of a much bigger online marketing mix. This way you won’t have to constantly worry about how future Google updates might affect you!

Find out where else your target audience is hanging out online. These other potential referral sites can be a great source of traffic. Display ads on sites that are in some way related to what your startup offers, or on premium sites if your product demands it, can get you much more engaged traffic than plain SEO. Social media marketing in also an excellent means to precisely connect with your target audience. As an example, Facebook, LinkedIn and Pinterest can be a great source of qualified traffic to your website. Ads on such sites get a lot of eyeballs, and allow you to post ads relevant to a buyer’s demographics and shopping interests. Leveraging more advanced display advertising techniques help drive new audiences and generate intent instead of only tapping it.

SEO is by no means either dead or irrelevant. The purpose of this blog post is to make you think about how much of your online marketing strategy relies on SEO and recalibrate if you are overinvested in SEO. Ensure that your online marketing strategy is comprehensive and includes multiple tactics and channels.

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