Predictability on key performance indicators like an increasing trajectory for new customer acquisition, reduced customer acquisition growth, etc. is precisely what investors look for when committing funds.
- By Aditya Saxena
Leaders at the helm of startups tend to be bright and ambitious. They usually have a clear understanding of how they will disrupt an existing industry. A challenge they face is how to make their service or product discoverable. An excellent product isn’t the only prerequisite for success. Unless a targeted consumer segment learns about it, the company may never acquire the critical mass it needs to grow. A HubSpot Go-To-Market report for startups 2019 lists ‘growing your brand’ as one of the top three priorities for a startup to ensure its continued success. Within brand awareness and demand generation efforts, focus on search engine optimization (SEO) is the overwhelming choice, with close to 50 per cent of 290 successful startups listing it as their number one priority.
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Search dominates any product/service path to purchase, with more than 75 per cent of prospects beginning their online journey in organic/paid search. Within search, organic search drives more than 70 per cent of clicks, with the contribution share even higher in B2B instances. When consumers decide to buy a product or service, most first search for it online, hence online searches have become the preferred way to find products. Companies that are optimized online stand to benefit immensely when consumers search for products or services they sell. Good SEO is about more than driving traffic to a site or reaching a more significant number of consumers.
While both are the results of good SEO, another advantage of being optimized online is consumers’ trust. Consumers trust companies that are ranked well by search engines for a good reason. Google ranks sites that demonstrate expertise, authoritativeness, and trustworthiness. Many consumers trust Google’s rankings, and when they see a site being ranked consistently high by Google, they are more open to buying its products or services. Establishing a searchability culture can help a startup that has expertise in its field quickly build credibility. A searchability culture, done right, will lead to all your customer-facing initiatives becoming optimized for search. This, in turn, ensures your brand captures as many as possible of those hundreds of billions of annual search clicks.
Great SEO and nuanced use of keywords can help startups understand the needs of their customers. A reason why a startup needs to understand its customers is that they are looking to disrupt an industry and need to know how to bring about a behavioural change. By following what consumers search for online by the strategic use of keywords, startups can understand their market and how to influence it. Search queries are probably the cheapest and the fastest way to get valuable customer research that any company can utilize. Unfortunately, it is also the most underutilized form of market research. Entrepreneurs should know how their customers look for their products to be able to serve them better.
The ability to reach a narrow audience that is likely to need its products is a plus. One of the most significant impacts of SEO for startups is once companies are ranked among the top ten, they have a good chance of staying there for months if not years. They may only need to expend a minimal amount of effort to retain their spot among the top-ranked companies. Once they are consistently among the top companies, they will enjoy a steady flow of traffic to their site, much of which can be transformed into customers. Even though a startup may not have the authority to rank, you can choose a topical area with low competitiveness and still be visible in your target market. If you start when you are small, it will give you enough time to gain authority as you grow.
Passionate business leaders who have their skin in the game and commit energy and resources to sustainable tactics like SEO inspire confidence amongst seasoned investors. Predictability on key performance indicators like an increasing trajectory for new customer acquisition, reduced customer acquisition growth, increased customer lifetime value, growth in natural traffic, and improved brand awareness, is precisely what investors look for when committing funds. By investing in a long-term SEO strategy, entrepreneurs, therefore, provide the right impetus for sustained competitive advantage.
Aditya Saxena is the Vice President, APAC at iQuanti. Views expressed are the author’s own.