As anyone with startup experience knows, launching and growing a new business is often characterized by a stark dichotomy of emotions. It’s both exciting and scary, energizing and depleting, hopeful and frustrating. But what nobody tells you going into it is that you constantly have to weigh the short term against the long term.
With no guarantee of future success, you have to build your business like you’ll still be here in three, five, or 10 years, even when statistical averages suggest you won’t. This means paying attention to investments like SEO and link building — even when you won’t see the benefits until further down the road.
Startups: Shift Your Thinking to the Long Term
We live in an on-demand world — a fast-food culture, if you will — in which anyone can get anything he wants with very minimal delayed gratification. Need a ride somewhere? Pull up Uber or Lyft on your phone, and your very own private driver is on his way. Want to watch your favorite TV show? With on-demand streaming, you can binge watch an entire season whenever you want.
While there’s nothing wrong with living in an on-demand world, it’s warped our view of reality. We intrinsically assume that everything should happen right now. It’s killed any trace of patience we had left in our systems, leading us to believe that waiting for something is a sign of stupidity or weakness.
As an entrepreneur and startup founder, you have to push back against this deep-seated fallacy. As old-school as it sounds, patience is a virtue. A failure to recognize this will lead you to ignore the long-term value that comes from a steady, incremental commitment to SEO and link building.
The Long-Term Value of SEO and Link Building
SEO and link building go hand in hand. SEO refers to the big picture of optimizing your website and content for search engine visibility. Link building is a subheading beneath SEO, albeit one of the most important subheadings. The problem with SEO, and link building in particular, is that you won’t see overnight results. It’s a long-term play that takes months and months of disciplined work and effort to generate tangible results. But once the results start flowing in, they’ll continue to compound.
Startups can’t live without SEO — here’s why. In particular, they need to make a long-term commitment to link building. Patiently doing so over many months yields myriad benefits:
- Amplifies search rankings: Google uses links as trust signals. When an authoritative website links back to your website, it serves as a trustworthy referral. In response, Google lifts your pages in its search rankings.
- Drives website traffic: Link building almost always results in website traffic increases. It does so in two primary ways: First, you gain clicks from the actual link. (A certain percentage of people reading an article with your link will click on the hyperlink and visit your page.) Second, you’ll see organic traffic increases from your improved visibility in the search rankings.
- Builds brand awareness: The more links you have on other websites and blogs, the more exposure your brand gets. This is particularly true if they’re overt brand mentions or features on your business.
- Establishes authority: As you generate more links, the same people continue to interact with your brand. This allows you to establish authority in your niche.
- Builds your network: Link building is far from passive. It’s a proactive investment that requires you to actively engage and seek out opportunities. While it’s hard work, all of this effort ultimately allows you to build up your network with entrepreneurs, business owners, journalists, bloggers, etc.
- Diversifies risk: Anyone with enough budget can pay for traffic and exposure. But as soon as you stop paying, the visibility goes away. A long-term investment in link building diversifies risk by giving you a sustainable framework that will last for years to come.
When you look at link building through the lens of these benefits, a long-term investment is a no-brainer. For now, you have to push past your desire to get quick results and trust that all of your hard work and discipline will eventually pay off. It’s a counterintuitive idea in today’s culture — but also one that’s extremely effective.