Search Engine Optimisation for startup newbies

- March 3, 2014 3 MIN READ

It’s no secret that Search Engine Optimisation takes time, a fair amount of effort and quite a bit of technical know-how. Fast growth and acquisition is often a key focus of online startups, to get as many customers as possible in a quick amount of time. SEO in the beginning is almost counter intuitive to this. It’s like trying to light a fire with a log instead of twigs … it takes a lot more time to generate visitors than simply paying for them outright via pay per click.

At BugHerd, organic search visitors convert to a trial faster than any others and they have a higher percentage of conversions than from any other source. It makes sense to focus on growing these valuable site visitors.

Upon analysis of competitor sites, it appeared there was something lacking in most bug tracking competitors – Evidence of SEO. Far from being startups themselves, some of these competitors are well established juggernauts in the industry, yet it appears that that little effort has been put into establishing and/or maintaining growth of search.

Don’t tell my boss I said this, but there are a lot of really easy things to be done to increase SEO that don’t require a Marketing genius. Simple activities can go a long way to increasing rankings without requiring any more resource than time. It can be pretty darn rewarding to see what happens when a little effort is put into optimisation. Though many efforts may seem small and trivial, when put together they can make a big difference, kind of like that stick/log analogy earlier.

A good place to start is some good old keyword research. Start a spreadsheet to compile your findings and look at your own site’s words … Which ones are repeated the most? Which ones provide the most visitors? Which ones convert those visitors the most? There are a number of tools to help you, such as WordTracker Scout’s browser extension for on-page keyword analysis

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Wordtracker Scout

Check out your competitors. What’s in their HTML Title tags? What’s their meta description? Have they accidentally gone and given you all their keywords by providing meta keywords (note: These have no bearing on Google rankings any more)? What do they have in their image alt-text? What words appear most frequently on their pages? SEO Site Tools browser extension is helpful with obtaining this info.

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SEO Site Tools

Don’t forget to look at paid keywords that are driving visitors and conversions, are they reflected within the site content?

By now you should have a handy spreadsheet that looks a little something like this:

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(You didn’t think I’d actually give you my hard earned keyword list did you?)

The hardest part is choosing which ones to try and rank competitively for. Search is competitive and if it were easy to rank number one for your terms it wouldn’t take as much effort and/or paid search dollars to appear on the first page.

The ideal situation is to find that sweet spot between high traffic and low competition words. Using a combination of the MOZ keyword difficulty tool and Google Adwords keyword planner to work out which words are the best to tackle and for giving new keyword ideas is a place to start.

Without giving away too much of a trade secret, we found that the though term “bug reporting” yields a lot of visitors it is extremely competitive and a lot harder to rank for than the term “bug reports.”

So with a list of keywords, you need to optimise your site for the terms you want to rank for. It’s not simply enough any more to shove them all into your title tags, meta descriptions, H1s and alt-texts, in fact too much of this and you may even become blacklisted for certain terms (if they don’t match on-page content). Keep them nearby, use them organically within your blog posts and page content. Sure, optimise your page elements but ensure they make sense within the context of the page and you’ll see your rankings start to improve.

Of course, SEO isn’t just about keywords, but when it came to our own competitors it turns out plenty were still rubbing two twigs together in the dark … in light of this there’s plenty of opportunity for small companies and startups to enter the search market competitively.

Though SEO takes time to generate visitor growth and to research optimisations, there’s no real argument to not go ahead and get started. These are just some of the tools to achieve higher rankings and once you start seeing improvements it can be addictive finding more ways to improve (there’s a whole 200 signals Google look for!). Maybe then it will be necessary to hire that Marketing genius to take over.

About BugHerd:

BugHerd was born in 2011 out of the desire to be able to visually manage and track bugs on a website. Users embed the application directly into a website, so bugs are flagged and managed visually (complete with screenshot) without the need to fill out lengthy forms or send emails back and forth to clients. Simply put, BugHerd is a fast and simple bug tracking tool available for the web. For more information, you can visit bugherd.com.