Is SEO Recommended for Early Stage Startups?

The short answer – No. Surprising coming from an SEO agency? But that’s the honest truth.

We don’t recommend that early stage startups and bootstrapped companies that are in the initial phase of marketing their business invest in SEO. That’s because early stage startups are likely exploring the viability of a business, use cases and demographics while a bootstrapped business may be looking at avenues that can get them immediate traffic or sales.

SEO doesn’t work in both of these cases because the results aren’t quick enough. Moreover SEO requires investment in 4 main areas

  1. Tech front – You need to have a site that is optimal for crawling for Google’s search engines. This involves working on improving your page loading times and other SEO tech optimizations that requires the assistance of a developer.

  2. Design – SEOs may suggest layout, design changes or creation of new landing pages and this will require design changes in few or many pages.

  3. Content – Goes without saying that in most cases, regularly updated content in the form of blogs are necessary to keep the site in Google’s good books.

  4. Backlinks – Links are still crucial to ranking well in Google. Links are a considerable investment cost.

While above mentioned costs may also be involved in other marketing channels, the time frame to see traction (traffic/sales) is considerably higher in SEO.

Even if you are ready to invest in all of the above, in most cases it can take anywhere between 6-12 months before you actually start seeing results from an SEO campaign.

6 months can be a lifetime for many early stage businesses that want to quickly get traffic on their site and see how users are engaging with their business or products. These learnings can then be put into use to modify or pivot the business.

You don’t get the luxury of doing this with SEO. As counter intiutive as it may sound for someone running an SEO agency, my recommendation is that opt for SEO if you have a vision of a minimum of 1-2 years for your business.

Yes paid ads can be costly and even unsustainable in a competitive market but its preferable to SEO in the early stages of your business. SEO won’t make much of a dent prior to the 6 month mark.

That is because unless you are a blogger who can afford to build slow and steady or unless you are a business that has such strong brand value (a Zerodha or Fittr that spends next to zero on paid advertising because of word of mouth marketing and is hence sustainable) most other businesses are better off targeting social and paid channels to get in the immediate traffic.

The exception though is an early stage FUNDED startup. But even here we would recommend that you utilize SEO in tandem with other marketing channels.

Seasoned digital marketing professional with 10+ years of hands-on experience in the areas of SEO, content, and analytics. Proven track-record of increasing traffic, improving brand and site visibility within Google & major search engines.

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