SEO for startups: A Comprehensive Guide for Early-Stage Founders

Becoming an early-stage founder is a journey filled with excitement and challenges. One of the crucial aspects to master in this digital age is Search Engine Optimization (SEO). In a conversation with Michael MacMillan from MacMillan Search, a seasoned digital marketing expert, we delve into the importance of SEO, content creation, and leveraging digital tools for early-stage founders.

Understanding the Significance of SEO

In a digital landscape where visibility is crucial, SEO impacts not only your site’s visibility but also its user experience and usability. Organic search traffic has been found to have a conversion rate of 16%, compared to a conversion rate of 2% for paid traffic. Therefore, SEO isn’t merely a set-and-forget strategy; it requires ongoing attention and refinement.

While SEO can require a significant investment, there are strategies that early-stage companies can adopt to strengthen their SEO position cost-effectively. It’s essential to understand how each component of your digital marketing strategy interacts with SEO. This includes securing a commitment from key players like developers and content writers, who are instrumental in influencing organic search performance.

SEO is not merely about climbing search engine rankings. It’s about driving meaningful engagement and conversions, such as newsletter sign-ups. As your company grows, effective SEO strategies can help you rank for increasingly specific searches, which is particularly important for businesses offering multiple products or services.

Technical aspects like crawlability and mobile optimization also weigh on SEO success. Ensuring that search engines can access your website is fundamental. Moreover, with a growing number of searches conducted on mobile devices, mobile optimization is no longer optional but a necessity.

SEO is an indispensable element in any comprehensive digital marketing strategy. It has the potential to significantly impact your online presence and contribute to your company’s success.

Technical SEO

For early-stage startups, a pragmatic approach to technical SEO is essential. While it’s crucial to have a technically sound website, the primary focus should be on facilitating organic growth and preparing for more extensive SEO efforts down the line.

The first order of business is ensuring that your website is visible to search engines. Concentrating on crawlability and indexability at the onset lays the groundwork for future SEO endeavors. It’s worth noting that sweating the small stuff, such as minor technical glitches, may not offer substantial ROI at this stage.

Mobile optimization is important if your target demographic is likely to use mobile devices for search. Given the rising trend of mobile searches, a mobile-friendly site can significantly impact your visibility and user engagement.

While the technical aspects of SEO are important, they should serve to bolster organic growth and act as a stepping stone for more comprehensive SEO strategies as your startup grows.

Starting SEO Early

Commencing your SEO efforts early offers a multitude of benefits, chief among them being an amplified online presence. With as much as 68% of online experiences originating from a search engine, optimizing your site can substantially elevate your online visibility and customer reach.

Early SEO implementation also has financial implications. SEO can be a costly undertaking, and by embedding it into your strategies from the outset, you can build your SEO position incrementally. This allows you to bypass the hefty expense of hiring specialized SEO experts down the line, while also fortifying your standings over time.

Another key aspect is content representation. Launching your SEO initiatives early helps ensure that what shows up in search results accurately mirrors what your business offers. This is pivotal for establishing user trust and shaping brand perception.

Lastly, having a strong SEO foundation in place can be invaluable as your business scales. When new products or services are introduced, pre-existing SEO groundwork can facilitate quicker ranking for these new pages in specific searches, thus enhancing their visibility and potential traffic.

In essence, initiating your SEO endeavors early isn’t just about immediate search engine rankings; it’s about laying a robust foundation for scalable growth and future success.

Non-Branded Keywords: The Unsung Heroes

A pivotal part of a successful SEO strategy is optimizing your website content for non-branded keywords. This includes pages about your product, service, features, and use cases. By tailoring the content to be more descriptive and granular, you can cater to specific customer queries, thereby improving your performance in search engine results.

Local SEO & Google My Business

Setting up a Google My Business (GMB) profile is a non-negotiable aspect of local SEO, even for startups operating from a residential address. Failing to claim your GMB listing creates an opportunity for someone else to take control of it, which can have damaging implications for your online reputation.

Your GMB listing also plays a pivotal role in mobile search. When properly configured, information from your GMB profile, such as business hours and customer reviews, will appear in search results on mobile devices, making it easier for potential customers to interact with your business.

For those managing multiple locations, Google My Business offers options to differentiate between them. One approach is to use suite numbers. However, it’s worth noting that this method may not work universally. There are instances where businesses with multiple attractions at a single address have had to get creative to ensure accurate GMB listings.

Google My Business is not merely an add-on but a cornerstone of any local SEO strategy. Its importance cannot be overstated; it serves as a critical tool for enhancing visibility, particularly in mobile search and managing the online presence of multi-location businesses.

Creating Content that Resonates

Quality content is the backbone of any successful SEO strategy. One strategy that Michael highlights is leveraging the insights from subject matter experts within your team. Interviewing these experts and transcribing their insights can yield engaging and valuable content that resonates with your audience. This not only enhances your content’s quality but also infuses it with authenticity.

Monitoring and Checking Content: An Ongoing Process

Lastly, it’s vital to maintain a regular check on your content. Tools like Google Search Console can provide valuable insights into your website’s performance, its visibility on search engines, and any potential issues that might affect its SEO ranking. Frequent checks can ensure your content is being presented as intended and remains up-to-date in the ever-evolving digital landscape.


As an early-stage founder, mastering SEO can be a daunting task. However, with the right knowledge and tools, you can significantly enhance your digital presence. The key is to start early, create engaging content, and monitor your progress consistently. Remember, SEO is not just about driving traffic to your site; it’s about attracting the right audience genuinely interested in what you have to offer. By investing time and effort in SEO, you are paving the way for sustainable business growth.