12 Most Annoying Startup SEO Mistakes

seo for startups

Here is an overview of common startup SEO mistakes, which can ruin your organic traffic and bring down your whole business.

To be honest, I did almost all of them. 🙂

That’s why, I want to share my experience for you to avoid these traps, and save time and money.

Overall, SEO for startups can be super challenging and complicated these days. SEO has become slow and incredibly competitive. It might take your startup months and even years to start ranking for some competitive keyword in your niche.

Therefore, it is even more daunting when you spend so much time, money and effort and turns our it was wasted because of some stupid SEO mistake.

For the start, let’s focus on content – a.k.a. the “king of SEO”.

1. Stealing content

One of the common newbie mistakes is just to get content from other sites and publish on yours.

Not only it is plagiarism with all the consequences. Obviously, this content just won’t rank in Google.

Will your site be penalized though? It depends – if you have hundreds, thousands of pages of stolen, non-original content – it well might be.

There are plenty of free plagiarism checkers online, which can help you with that task.

2. Spun content

spin rewriter

A lot of “SEO specialists” instead of blatantly stealing content, just take it and put it in all kinds of spinner software – for example, SpinRewriter. With this tool, you can get hundreds of almost unique content samples just from one copy.

This is how it works. For example, phrase: I like SEO might be I {like|love|adore} {SEO|Search Engine Optimization|Online Marketing|Search Marketing} – > more than 10 versions are generated.

But, as you can see quality suffers a lot.

To be short, spun content doesn’t work anymore, SEO is all about high quality these days.

3. Cheap content

cheap content

It is super fine to outsource your content.

Actually, it is the way to go, when you are scaling your content marketing machine. But, one of the biggest SEO mistakes is ordering 1500 word articles for $5 on Fiverr and hope that they will be of good quality. They won’t.

Content, combined with an effective SEO strategy, has an effective ROI. But, only high quality content.

If you are outsourcing, prepare to pay at least from $50-100 (lower range) to $200-400 (more complex, technical content) for 1000 words.

One great, long form article will bring much more value SEO wise, than 10 poor quality articles.

By spending money on low-quality content – you are just throwing money out of the window. Avoid this SEO mistake, which is so common among many startups.

4. No startup blog

One of the most common startup SEO mistakes is avoiding blogging at all.

“We just have our product pages and that is enough”. Well, these days, it is not enough. It is super hard to get high intent, competitive traffic straight into your product pages, where people will just click “book a demo”.

It doesn’t work like that anymore… With SEO and organic traffic, more realistic scenario – e.g. for enterprise startups will look like this:

  1. Your startup blog ranks for niche, long-tail keywords.
  2. You collect top of the funnel leads with ebook or another lead magnet on the blog.
  3. Then nurture these leads with emails, other ebooks, webinars and push them to purchase, trial or demo.

So, for this kind of funnel having a startup blog is vital.

5. Blogging with no interest

Many startups have blog, but it is of super bad quality. They just run it to “check the mark”.
Unsurprisingly, it won’t work out this way.

If you are a personal blogger or even SEO specialist for some big enterprise, you should only create content, if you have some spark of interest. Or even better, when you really enjoy or love your niche.

People immediately feel, when your content is just water, without any value.

If you love your topic or niche, you will be able to go into details, deep research and nuances. This is what matters in the end – it demonstrates quality both to Google search bots and of course website visitors.

In my own experience, I tried to start sites in “profitable” niches, in which I wasn’t that interested – and in the long term all these sites just didn’t work out.

6. Blog on a separate domain or subdomain

Many startups keep their main product website on one domain: awesome.site, but host blog on another domain – awesomeblog.site (a disaster for SEO) or subdomain – blog.awesome.site (better for SEO, but still not perfect).

Remember, ideally you should keep your blog in a subfolder: awesome.site/blog
I did it on one of my projects and it boosted a number of ranking keywords in two times.

7. No keyword research

keyword research

Another common SEO mistake is just publishing content, without any look at what people are actually searching for.

This approach sometimes is also called “put some sh** on the wall and hope it sticks”. 🙂

Well, in theory, you can guess, what people are interested in and what they are searching for.

But, why would you guess, if there are already many keyword research tools, which show you exact keyword data?

In the beginning, you should aim only for long-tail, low volume keywords – in the range 50-300 monthly volume searches. When your domain authority grows – start targeting

8. Not doing link building

This is one of the most common SEO mistakes ever.

Very often, link building is considered as spam or some blackout technique.
Even more often, bloggers just don’t understand the value of backlinks and why do you need them.

To be clear, it is ok to start your blog with just publishing a lot of content, targeted at specific keywords. This strategy may work and you may get even more traffic than expected.

But, if you want to significantly speed up the process or start getting tangible organic traffic and growth – link building is the only way to go.

I know, link building is probably the toughest and most confusing SEO process.
If you go the Fiverr route and buy 1000 backlinks for $5 – it will definitely damage your site.

But, if you engage in the community, provide high-quality guest posts, participate in local forums, establish relationships with influencers – these backlinks will massively boost your site.

9. No amplification

If you have a young website, with super weak domain authority, you should follow this simple rule: “Spend 20% of your time on creating content and 80% on amplifying it”.

When your startup is small you should put A LOT of effort into outreach and amplification.

Some common ways to amplify your content:

  1. Post in social media groups
  2. Engage in your niche forums
  3. Answer questions on Quora
  4. Participate in subreddits
  5. Add valuable comments on popular blogs

10. Choosing SEO as a first channel to grow a startup

Let’s be fair.

SEO has become super competitive and therefore slow. It might take months and years to get some tangible traffic. Most of the startups don’t have that time.

Therefore, if you are a young startup and you need to acquire new customers every day ASAP – SEO might not be the best choice.

I would say, in the majority of cases SEO is an incredible 2nd marketing channel for startups.

To quickly test things and get traction, ads or viral referrals might work better. After you are a bit more established – push SEO. Usually, it may be around series A investment round – when your company has more time and predictability.

11. Completely outsourcing SEO to an agency

A lot of startups just tend to completely outsource SEO campaigns to some fancy agencies.

Well, in reality, it doesn’t work that well.

First, these agencies charge a lot, second, if you are not tech-savvy, they will charge a lot for SEO fluff (e.g. countless audits), which doesn’t provide a lot of value without execution; third – in fact, you know your product, niche and customers much better than any agency and you are able to much better explain your solution to the world.

What might work with agencies, is outsourcing some tasks – e.g. outreach, link building, parts of the content and so on.

But, you should definitely understand what is going on with your SEO campaign, to not throw money out of the window.

12. Expecting SEO to grow in one month or week

SEO is a long term game.

Especially, these days, when the competition is just enormous and a majority of niches are filled with good quality content.

So, prepare for the SEO marathon, not sprint.

First tangible SEO results (traffic, ranking keywords, conversions, orders, etc) might come after 6-8 months of hard work.

To sum it up

So, there you have it – some of the most common SEO mistakes, which personally I had experience with.

Hope, you can avoid them and save a lot of time and money.

Good luck!

Andrew Guh – SEO specialist, helping to grow startups & creators. Check out his blog – Online Hikes and an inspirational site for entrepreneurs – Museuly.

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