Why should I invest my seed or series funding in SEO?
When you’re on a startup journey, weighing up where to invest your funding is one of the biggest initial decisions you’ll face. There’s a huge amount of factors to consider, especially when you have a range of stakeholders to answer to and key objectives you want to quickly achieve. So when it comes to deciding on marketing strategies, SEO might not be at the front of your mind.
However, investing early funding in SEO, whether seed or series, can bring a whole wealth of benefits that go beyond ranking on the first page of Google. Here, we’ll be going through the advantages that early investment in SEO can bring. But before we get into what these are, let’s take a look at the different funding positions you may be in as you consider your initial marketing strategy.
Different types of funding and SEO investment
Before you start executing your marketing strategy, it’s important to align it with the stage of growth you’re at. This helps to set expectations of what you can achieve, as well as help you lay the foundation for a long-term marketing plan. Leveraging SEO early on in this will pay dividends in the long term. So, let’s take a closer look at these different types of funding and see how SEO investment can fit into their timelines.
Seed funding stage
At the seed funding stage, it’s likely you’ll be looking to spend on market research and key hires. You’ll be aiming to make a product that makes money that the market has a gap for and that you can build long-term to generate profit and scale. At this point, you’re looking to justify spend, and importantly, doing the groundwork that proves your product works. This may include things like market strategy, brand strategy, USP, building out services/products, and so on.
There’s a misconception that SEO is for long-term play, and should be done further along your brand’s journey. However, SEO should be part of the groundwork you’re doing, even at this early stage. As we’ll explore later, there’s significant benefits that come with investing in SEO straight out of the gate.
Series funding stage
At the series funding stage, you’ll be further along in the development journey. Your funding may be in the millions, rather than the hundreds of thousands. You’ll already have infrastructure in place, so are now looking at how to scale. Key foundations are in place, such as a website, inbound channels, and a product ready to sell. You may even have PPC channels and customer reviews. It’s at this point where SEO can be used to audit whatever you have already built.
Your website will still be relatively new, so you can create and implement an SEO strategy without having to work on a backlog of legacy content. At this particular point of your startup’s journey, the starting point of your SEO strategy will be dictated by the maturity of your online presence.
5 reasons to invest early on in SEO
SEO isn’t just for larger companies and isn’t just a long-play marketing strategy. It’s holistic in its approach and offers multiple benefits alongside ranking. There’s a misconception that SEO only focuses on competing with top-level brands. Understandably, this can be intimidating when you are in an industry where you might be a smaller challenger business and have access to a smaller pool of resources.
However, as we’ve mentioned, SEO ties into a full marketing strategy that brings about benefits very quickly. Often these benefits aren’t really considered to be as important as ranking, but the truth is that they can present key competitive advantages. Think of SEO as laying down a foundation for your overall marketing strategy. With that in mind, let’s take a look at the key reasons that investing early in SEO can benefit your business.
1) Improves the strength of your brand
SEO can improve the prominence of your brand in organic search. You can quickly target branded phrases related to your business, which in turn can increase brand awareness. With this approach, users not only learn important details about your brand, like where you are based, what your lead times are, and so forth but can also explore the narrative behind your brand. Homepages and about us pages are perfect examples of where you can highlight your brand’s story and focus on your USP.
Remember that SEO doesn’t just stop once a user clicks through from Google. Once they’re on a website, the brand story plays a crucial role in encouraging conversions. A brand’s narrative builds trust, which in turn encourages users to convert.
Strengthening your brand’s narrative on your website early on means that it doesn’t get missed. It allows you to create and convey unified messaging across your website, which again encourages conversions.
So when it comes to communicating your brand online, think consistency, think story. And all this brand strategy work can easily be supported by SEO.
2) Helps establish trust in your brand
You may have heard of the term E-E-A-T. It stands for Experience, Expertise, Authoritativeness, and Trustworthiness and is a framework used by Google to assess the quality of a website’s content. It’s vital to use this framework when creating content for a new website if you want to rank successfully on Google. However, it has a dual impact. It also benefits your business in that it helps establish trust in your brand. Here’s how.
It’s important to highlight that your business is qualified to market the service or product offered in order to convert. This can be supported by the content you produce, as well as other trust signals such as social proof, in the form of review widgets, and author profiles. These profiles can include the reasons the authors are competent to discuss certain topics, as well as qualifications. All these go towards helping to establish trust with prospective customers.
3) Supports other marketing channels, including PPC
SEO is great at supporting other marketing methods, such as Pay Per Click (PPC) and other paid advertising channels. Startups frequently need to start making money quickly to show that their product is effective, and SEO can help this effort. PPC and SEO are most successful when they work in tandem, collaborating to achieve their shared objectives of boosting revenue and conversions.
In addition to bolstering PPC efforts, SEO can unify entire marketing plans and offer a better return on investment (ROI). Take this example – A PPC landing page is often no-indexed. This signals to Google that it should not be crawled and should not be ranked in Google search results.
However, this doesn’t stop visitors from exploring your website further before making a purchasing decision, which can reduce conversions if the rest of your site is poor. So, investing in SEO helps you to cover wider aspects of the user journey by optimising both transactional and informational content across your site.
Another example – keyword research. Not only can this be used for SEO purposes, but it can also support numerous social strategies by providing them with content ideas, as well as optimised landing pages for them to link to.
Collaborating with other marketing channels also leads to a better functioning, consistent website that provides a better experience that also encourages users to explore the site. After all, you don’t want visitors to bounce after clicking on a PPC landing page and then have a negative experience on the rest of the website.
4) Considers the whole of the customer journey
SEO helps keep the customer journey easy and consistent across the site. It also keeps the most important pages, the ones that convert, optimised. It makes sure that there are pages that specifically target queries that are relevant to the business, and effectively provides users with the information that they need. It also ensures the website’s quality doesn’t drop off, and that the information architecture (the website’s navigation) is easy to use. Remember, having a strong foundation to your website in the early stages will only benefit your business in the long run.
5) Offers ongoing, evergreen value
SEO strategy can identify evergreen content opportunities that can be monitored and tweaked over time. This approach will pay off in the long run and is something that can be consistently reviewed and built up over an ever-evolving SEO strategy. The ROI on this is particularly impressive if you lay the foundation for evergreen content early on in your website’s development.
What ROI to expect from investing early in SEO
It’s hard to distinguish which channels are driving revenue from an early point in a startup’s journey. Therefore, it can be difficult to determine ROI when investing in SEO at this initial phase. However, leveraging free tools like Google Search Console and Google Analytics can help.
Although the success of an SEO strategy might not be reflected in ‘click’ data early on, it can contribute significantly to other aspects of your overall marketing plan, especially when it comes to the customer journey. Think bounce rates, time spent on site, conversions etc. So it’s important to look at these other benchmarks when assessing the impact of SEO efforts.
Although the main purpose of SEO is to drive non-branded traffic, it offers a range of benefits when introduced at an early stage, both short and long-term. It helps support the creation of an effective website from the get-go, which in turn helps support other marketing channels. It’s also worth remembering that starting SEO too late may end up being a mistake for your startup.
When considering investing your seed or series funding in SEO, consider its potential to support a stronger marketing strategy. In this sense, it’s not a case of choosing SEO over other marketing strategies. Rather, it’s taking a holistic approach that fully understands how all your marketing channels work alongside and support each other. And this will really help you stand out from the competition.