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The internet has revolutionized the way companies find and reach their customers. No longer reliant on billboards and television ads to gain visibility, small businesses can launch powerful, hyper-focused campaigns to target their specific niche in the market. However, consumers are becoming savvier to traditional marketing techniques, and tend to be wary of paid results. In fact, a study from group GroupM UK and Nielsen found organic searches are favored 94% of the time, and according to the group Search Engine Watch the first page of links receives 92% of all clicks. This is why a strong search engine optimized content strategy needs to be central to your startup’s marketing plan.

Here are 4 tips you can use to get your startup to the first page:

1. Play the Long Game

The first thing to know about SEO optimization is that it takes time. That can mean anywhere from six months to a year to start seeing results, even if your content is excellent. There are many techniques to game Google’s algorithm such as landing pages and pillar pages, but these rely on slowly building a strong SEO content ecosystem. The most important strategy is to find the words and questions that your customers are searching for, and creating content that will be helpful, engaging, and relevant while also developing your brand. Naturally, this can not be the only marketing technique your company uses, but establishing a deep, interconnected content library will pay dividends down the line. This doesn’t just mean search rankings either. Good SEO content can be repurposed and condensed for engaging social media posts, or collected and offered as an ebook on your landing page.

2. Get Specific

Say your company operates in a small niche of an overcrowded market, like making organic pet food for older dogs. It clearly wouldn’t be good SEO content strategy to try and compete with all the other articles just about ‘food’, or ‘dogs’, or even ‘dog food’. Instead, imagine what your customer is searching for and work from there. How does your company connect to their niche issue? What words and phrases describe your company, but not the rest of the market? Creating a narrow focus with keywords means you aren’t wasting time trying to compete with larger companies, better established, and gives you a more direct line to your customer.

The real work for a niche start-up comes from balancing SEO competition with web traffic for those terms. Luckily, there are ways to help eliminate the guesswork. For example, the Mangools extension for Chrome makes it easy to find long-tail keywords with low competition, and helps you choose between options. From there, any professional-grade marketing platform will support A-B testing, which can be used to fine-tune your messaging and SEO keyword selection as you rise through the ranks.

3. Make Something Up

It might seem obvious, but the best way to make a search term direct the consumer to your articles is by coining the term yourself. This is becoming increasingly common for startups in sectors like technology, where differentiation can be especially difficult. Of course, this is best employed once an online presence is already established, so you can maximize the visibility of your new idea. A zero-competition keyword is no good if it’s getting zero traffic. Additionally, balance the coining of new terms with consistency in what you are already saying. Just because a term isn’t catching on immediately doesn’t mean it won’t. Be patient, and if it becomes clear the tactic isn’t working, move on. A unique term also has the power to turn your brand into a thought leader within your niche if it gets adopted by others in your field. This is extremely powerful for SEO, as outside links to your pages will strengthen your position in search rankings.

4. Don’t Stop There

As mentioned above, SEO marketing is a vital base for startups looking to develop their online presence and visibility, but it is just one part of the whole marketing picture. It works best in combination with a solid inbound marketing strategy to draw potential customers down the buyers’ pipeline. The SEO in your long-form content can also be used to help develop a cohesive social media presence to build brand awareness. Banner ads and calls-to-action can leverage the value provided by your content to build email lists of interested readers. Any startup planning to market itself absolutely needs SEO content for a successful campaign, but that SEO content needs to be surrounded by a solid marketing strategy. Hiring a professional inbound marketing firm or freelancer can provide great ROI for new startups, as they can develop content, social media, and email strategy together.