SEO Best Practices for Startups: How to Compete Against Established Businesses

As a startup, you often work with limited resources and brand awareness, which makes generating website traffic difficult. Most customers discover startups through searches since you don’t have a widely known name yet. However, appearing in those searches means outranking established websites. As daunting as that may seem, it’s possible using SEO best practices.

Learn five ways to build a strong SEO strategy for startups to bring in a steady traffic flow.

Key Takeaways:

  • SEO brings in consistent website traffic with minimal investment.
  • Use specific, low-traffic keywords rather than highly competitive keywords with high traffic to increase your conversion rate.
  • Your content’s authority matters more than your keywords.

Is SEO Worth It for Small Businesses?

As a startup, you don’t have an established traffic flow to your website because your customers are unaware of your solutions and products. So, they don’t know to search for your website.

How can you drive traffic to your website and build that crucial foundational awareness?

Search engine optimization (SEO) generates website traffic by appearing in relevant searches. It also doesn’t cost much. Therefore, your limited startup budget can go further as you attract new customers, build authority, and increase brand awareness by showing up in your target audience’s relevant searches.

What Does SEO Look Like in 2023?

Google’s search engine algorithm constantly changes to accommodate how people search for information online. Several years ago, you needed solid keywords and links to rank high in search results and attract traffic. However, this led to black hat practices like keyword stuffing, where content creators focused more on search phrases than offering readers valuable content.

That’s why Google introduced E-E-A-T, which stands for:

  • Experience
  • Expertise
  • Authoritativeness
  • Trustworthiness

Your SEO content needs keywords to help Google’s algorithm correctly index your page and know which searches it applies to. However, that’s only part of the puzzle. You also need unique content that offers quality information, showcases your expertise, and establishes your brand as an authority.

5 Tips to Outrank Even Established Businesses on Google

Use these five SEO best practices for startups to build your website traffic, increase your domain authority score, and attract valuable backlinks. As your site’s authority rises through consistent traffic and quality content, you’ll also rank easier in more searches.


1. Target Longtail Keywords

Longtail keywords are search phrases with three or more words. They have less competition and allow you to target a niche audience. Google also uses longtail keywords to index content more accurately. It combines its machine learning tools that track what customers search, their location, and what they prefer with your exact keywords to offer results users are more likely to click on.

For example, “SEO tool” is a shorttail keyword and brings up a broad range of results. However, when someone searches a longtail keyword like “SEO tools for startups,” they’ll see more specific results related to that phrase and their search intention.

To find longtail keywords that your target audience is searching for, use tools like SEMrush or Moz. Then, use those longtail keywords in page titles, URLs, content headings, and meta descriptions.

2. Target Low Difficulty Phrases

Keywords also have difficulty scores, which you’ll find when using your SEO tools. The difficulty scores consider several factors, including how many websites rank for each keyword and how strong those websites are.

Keywords with high difficulty scores mean several high authority, established websites rank for that keyword. As a startup, ranking alongside established businesses will be a challenge. So, target keywords with low difficulty scores. In SEMrush, that means keywords with scores under 15.

Factors involved in keyword difficulty

Image from SEMrush

3. Use Location-Based SEO

Your strongest market is your local community. About 46% of users search for local results. Additionally, 80% of those local searches end in a conversion.

By adding a location throughout your content, you can reach a niche audience, cut out non-local competition, and boost your conversion rate. To further improve your location-based SEO, build a Google business profile. Your profile will show up on Google Maps and “near me” searches in your area, even if you don’t have a physical store for customers to visit. Then, the website link on the profile directs customers back to your website.

46% of Google searches are for local businesses

Image from WebFX

4. Build a Strong Website

Google ranks websites that offer the best user experience. If your site has a slow load speed, a clunky setup, and too many pop-ups, it can negatively affect your ranking.

Invest in a reliable website hosting platform that keeps it running. Also, regularly perform site audits to identify broken links, blank pages, and other issues that might hurt your ranking.

Instead, build a strong website with small image sizes, relevant internal links, and easy navigation as an SEO best practice.

5. Establish Your Authority

A site with high authority means people trust the content and regularly engage with the site.

To build your startup website’s authority, you’ll need to focus on the E-E-A-T factors. Here are some tips to get you started:

  • Create original content: Create unique content with personal opinions and ideas.
  • Recognize the author: Create bios that include the author’s experience and authority in the field.
  • Use external links: External links connect your content to high-authority, trusted sources.
  • Publish regularly: Keep creating content to show you’re an active leader in your industry.
  • Encourage engagement: Encourage shares, comments, and likes on your content.

While artificial intelligence has grown considerably in the past few years, it won’t create authority content. Instead, AI pulls information from online to rewrite ideas others have already presented. It also often works with outdated or bad data, which negatively impacts your authority.

To ensure you keep publishing authority content, use your website’s analytics to track and analyze actionable data on how traffic responds to your site. It will tell you which content resonates most with your audience so that you can invest in more of that type of authoritative content for your startup.

Take the First Steps

It is possible to rank on the first page of Google as a startup if you invest in consistent, high-quality, well-optimized content using the best SEO practices and strategies.

To get started, optimize your website’s static pages. Then, begin publishing consistent blog content using longtail keywords and authoritative content. After a while, you’ll start seeing steady traffic and can enjoy watching your authority grow.