Grammarly is a multi-million-dollar bootstrapped company (no external funding) with an amazing story that has become the world’s leading online automated grammar checker and proofreader.
The most exciting thing happening at Grammarly today is its transition from a website application to a browser plugin that can be used anywhere you write online. Grammatical accuracy is so important these days for your startup’s brand as well as SEO rankings, and we at Addicted2Success have recently started using it—and love it.
One thing that Grammarly has done well is SEO, and below are the top tips for startups from Nikolas Baron, Grammarly’s head of SEO.
What is SEO / Search Engine Optimisation?
Google processes 3.5 billion searches per day. Put simply, SEO is the practice of creating, optimizing, and promoting web pages to maximize traffic from those searches. Fundamentally, SEO can help you reach a potential audience that expresses intent for what you offer at a higher ROI than most other channels.
1. Know when to employ an SEO person
The correct answer will vary greatly depending on the situation. Hiring a consultant or an agency is a great way of getting started quickly and getting a feel for the potential ROI of hiring someone full-time to manage SEO.
2. Understand the relationship between SEO and Social Media
A lot of social media platforms, including Facebook, don’t let search engines crawl their content. Also, Google has publicly stated that they don’t use social media metrics to inform rankings (including Google Plus). Check out the article on Blind Five Year Old to find out more.
“It’s not the actual social activity that matters, but what happens as a result of that activity”
However, links from around the web indubitably affect rankings, and maximizing your exposure on social media can help you capitalize on that. Social media can indirectly impact SEO by bringing in links, even though it won’t directly impact your rankings.
3. Get used to hearing the word influencer a lot more
What is an influencer? For SEO purposes, an influencer is someone who is going to be interested in writing about you, who has a very high authority web presence and can influence your end users.
Do actual research on who the influencers are in your niche and then try and promote your startup to those influencers. Knowing which platform to use the most for your startup, really depends on where the influencers for your niche are most available.
A lot of people put out social media posts or landing pages and then make the mistake of buying very dangerous black hat links or doing nothing. Create valuable content and pitch it to influencers. If that’s not working, it’s a good sign that you need to refine whatever you’re showing in the search results. If you can’t get influencers to buy into it, it’s unlikely that search engines will deem you worthy of ranking in competitive search queries.
4. Yes, you’re hearing it again. Content is very important
When you think about content, you need to think to yourself, “What is going to make people link to my page?” For some products and services, you can just have a homepage, and people will be interested enough to link to it. For the majority of products and services, it takes a little bit more hand-holding to guide someone through the fact that there is a problem, there are solutions, and this is how the solution works. Content can be a great way to get a foot in the door with people, to tell them about what you do and whatever you’re selling.
Only put something out there if you think it’s going to be valuable and catch on. Think about the influences you’re trying to reach. Does your content add anything new to them? Nikolas suggests focusing on one blog post per week that’s insightful, valuable, and unique as opposed to having five blog posts that might get some clicks, but don’t add any value.
There’s no specific number of words that is ideal. Think about what your competition is doing; that will help you determine how many words you should be using. When posting your content, also think about which platforms you post it on. For example, if you post something to Facebook that is not getting a lot of engagement, then this can affect your edge rank, which Facebook uses to compute how many followers will see your post. This means your next post may only get shown to half as many people. On Twitter, though, that’s not the case; you might just lose followers, or people might start to ignore what you’re saying.
Content and SEO is about conveying something and communicating it with that audience. You need to have authority, be trusted, and communicate clearly, and Grammarly is an excellent tool to help you out, especially if you’re startup that can’t afford to hire a proofreader.
Whoever writes the content needs to be knowledgeable and credible. If your startup is trying to stay lean, then one thing you could do is source content from your community. One big advantage that you and other startups have is that you will have really evangelical early adopters and users, despite the fact that your product might be a little buggy or unrefined. These are the right people to ask to produce content for you.
5. Good research is important, especially when it comes to keywords
One question you should ask yourself before doing any keyword research is “What are the profiles of the people I want to find my page?” Focus on search profiles because some keywords have thirty different variations, yet search engines know it’s exactly the same thing. The keyword clusters within these search profiles are also very important, and you should try to focus on around five or less of these, although these clusters could be made up of 100 keywords.
If you’re able to determine what the different profiles are, then you can create specific landing pages for those profiles, which include a lot of the keywords, and create content for the influencers of those various profiles.
6. Start looking at the future now
One trend that is really hard to ignore is the rise in mobile phone searches. People are searching for different things and people are getting a lot lazier with their search queries because when they ask a search engine a question, they expect the right answer. A great way to prepare for this is to go to your own site with your phone and try to do what you want people to do on your site. If you’re able to do it easily, that’s great; if not, you need to make changes.
You should also try to anticipate the future. As search queries get more natural and more human, try to imagine how people might express themselves when looking for your startup.
The other thing to keep in mind is knowing when Google has changed their search algorithm. The fastest way to check if this has happened is via Twitter. Some other great sites to check out these updates are Moz, Search Engine Journal and Search Engine Land.
SEO books might not be that valuable because the changes to SEO happen so quickly, although some courses like the Distiled.net are worth checking out. As far as SEO experts, the one you should know is Neil Patel. For tips about reaching out to him and other experts, see our article from Vincent Nguyen here.
7. Finally, don’t forget the basics
Start using Google Webmaster Tools. This will show you how many pages are being crawled, if your pages are being crawled correctly, and if you have any duplicate content issues.
From a search engine’s point of view, the question is, “What are the reliable metrics to determine authority?” For relevance, you can look at the text on the page, the meta-description, and the number of pages. For authority, it’s fairly limited. Backlinks are extremely important and will be for the foreseeable future. It’s one of the only reliable signals that search engines can use. The disavow tool in Google Webmaster Tools can be used if you are unlucky enough to have someone put toxic links to your site: a text file tells Google which links will no longer count going forward
Uptime matters for SEO results. If the Google bot is trying to crawl your site, and it can’t because your page isn’t loading, then Google will stop indexing your site, which will drastically affect your rankings.
Stay away from black hat techniques
Some quick black hat techniques can definitely still be used, but many of them are very short-term and will probably get you banned in a few weeks, so unless you want to change your domain every few weeks, stay away from them! Google is changing this regularly and two weeks could easily get down to one day in the future.