Taking the first step into search engine optimization can be intimidating for a number of reasons. In this post we will discuss key points that online startups should keep in mind when considering SEO for the first time.
Select the Right Company Name and Domain Name
If you are going to be doing business online it always helps to have a keyword that relates specifically to your industry. Once you have selected this keyword, try to incorporate it into your company name and domain name.
For example, www.getrestaurantcoupons.com is an excellent domain name and company name because it contains the key term “restaurant coupons.” This is a highly searched term that relates specifically to their product offering. If you get ranked highly for a term with significant traffic you can essentially build a business around it. Make sure you choose a term that supports your industry and business model. If you are curious as to whether a domain name is available, do a few quick searches on GoDaddy.
Preliminary Keyword Research
It is always a good idea to check out your industries short and long-tail keywords before you reach out to an SEO company. This will allow you to be knowledgeable about traffic expectations and have an idea of what your keyword goals are. This can be easily accomplished by performing a few searches in the Google external keyword tool. When using this tool remember that there is competition out there, and you cannot get all of the traffic for these terms. A more realistic expectation would be 10 to 50% of the terms traffic, depending on how successful your SEO efforts are.
Check out the Competition
Before starting any online endeavor it’s always a good idea to gauge the competition. Now, there are a few ways to do this:
Use Google External Keyword tool to look at PPC Competition
When you search for a term in the Google External Keyword Tool it will display the amount of people bidding on keywords in pay per click. Although there is no direct correlation here to SEO, this does give you a good idea of how competitive the keyword is from an online marketing perspective.
Perform a Basic Google Search
If you perform a basic Google search and see the search query keywords highlighted really consistently in the URL, title and description of the results, then you can assume it is a fairly targeted keyword. In general, this means that people are optimizing for the term specifically.
Use SEO Tools
There are also quite a few SEO tools out there which will let you evaluate how competitive keywords are. However, if you want to do a quick check use Compete.com or SEMRush.com.
Google SEO Starter Guide
The Google SEO starter guide is an excellent introductory document on the subject. It covers all the basics. I would definitely recommend reading this before contacting an SEO agency. It will really allow you to have a better grasp on the subject before hiring. But while the Google SEO starter guide will help you get your feet wet, it’s not going to get you all the way there.
Selecting an Agency
Selecting an SEO agency is tough. Trust us, we know because we hear it from people all the time. When you select your agency, and I cannot stress this enough, be careful. Because some people just absolutely have no idea what they are doing – yet they are selling the service. Make sure you take a hard look at the 3 Rs – reputation, references and results. When it comes to SEO you really need smart, hardworking people to support you otherwise you will never reach the results you’re looking for.
John E. Lincoln is Director of SEO Consulting and Social at SEO Inc., a 13 year old SEO company known as an innovator in online marketing. Lincoln is a consultant for a variety of notable online businesses, including companies such as Jacuzzi, the Sheraton Hotel, 1800Dentist, BTO Sports, the Grocery Game, Oxi Fresh, TACORI and more. You can follow John on Twitter at: @johnelincoln