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Launching a start-up is not an easy move. But it sure as hell can be a thrilling journey.

Besides opening a company and looking after all the necessary steps to release your new product or service, promoting it is definitely one of the most challenging part that will guarantee the success of your project.

If most of the businesses start to think about marketing and communication at a late stage, some believe that promotion requires a high budget but the truth is that there are ways to advertise even if you do not have an unlimited budget, especially thanks to the Internet. Having a website is a must-have but driving people to your platform, so that they can engage with your brand and eventually buy your products, is a key step.

Of course, the higher your budget is, the more campaigns you can launch, the more prospects you can reach, but there are affordable methods and basics that can allow you to reach new audiences, if you have time to spend to promote your products and services.

Driving traffic to your website

That’s the first question entrepreneurs should ask themselves when it comes to release a website. It’s a powerful tool to promote and sell, but not only. It’s also a wonderful way to retrieve data that will help you to enhance your brand, from the products that you offer to your internal processes, thanks to the feedback you can get from your audience.

Therefore, the question is, how can you drive people to your website? Here, there’s a need to explain a bit how web-analytics works and to define the different sources of traffic.

  • Direct traffic: Users who know your website and who connect it directly. The only way to influence that is to improve your brand awareness.
  • Social: Users coming from social networks. Social traffic can either be organic, for instance, if you post something that naturally gets clicks, or paid, when you post ads on networks based on demographic criteria that you’ve selected.
  • Emailing: Users who receive your email and who click on a link. While this is powerful marketing tool because of the targeting features it offers, emailing requires to have qualitative lists of prospects that would most likely be interested by your brand.
  • Referral: Users who click on a link available from another site (social network excluded) and who land on your page. By receiving links from third-party platforms, you can improve the referral traffic and your SEO strategy since links are seen as votes by search engines.
  • SEO: Users who see your organic link in search engines and who click on it. The goal here is to improve your pages so that they match search engines algorithms. Therefore, they will give them more value and rank them higher when users search keywords.
  • PPC: Users who see your ads on search engines and who click on it. Publishers can buy keywords on the main search engines (and their advertising network). Using a bidding system, it’s a way to quickly generate traffic but once the budget is over, ads do not show-up anymore.

Are there free ways to promote my company?

Officially no, but Social Media and SEO (which can also influence the Referral traffic) are two great channels you should focus on because you won’t have to pay for each click you receive, in comparison with the advertising campaigns.

The fact is that if you hire a company to support the development of your SEO and Social media strategies, you will go deeper and benefit from an expert who will assist you to move faster. However, the visits you will get from these channels are free.

If you have time and if you’re handy, you can start implementing the basics and get some interesting outcomes but if you need to go deeper, then consider hiring a digital marketing consultant.

How can I appear higher in Google search results?

SEO offers various advantages and it should definitely be a focus for any website’s owner:

  • In average, it brings between 20% and 70% of the monthly traffic.
  • You don’t need to pay Google or any search engine for each visit you receive, unlike PPC (Pay Per Click) campaigns that you can run using Google AdWords for instance.
  • Even though there are always ways to improve a website, most of the CMS available in the market offer features to manage some areas of SEO.
  • There are plenty of affordable tools that will allow you to manage and improve your strategy.
  • SEO is the most interesting source of traffic, in terms of ROI, in a long run, and most likely the one that will bring you most of your visits.

Therefore, setting-up a proper SEO strategy is mandatory when you launch your website and there are mainly three areas that should be improved: technical, content and popularity.

While Google uses hundreds of signals to rank pages and that there are algorithm updates every week, SEO basics remain the same since years and could be summarized as follow:

  • Have a SEO-friendly website from a technical standpoint.
  • Create great content that will engage your audience.
  • Communicate efficiently to get links from websites related to your industry.
  • Think about the users by providing a great UX, both on mobile and desktop, with secured pages that load fast.

The Technicals

To display your pages in its search results, Google needs to be able to scan them, by using the internal links, which implies that you must make sure that:

  • There is no accessibility issue that would prevent Google to “read” your content.
  • Pages are available in a reasonable number of clicks, less than 4 from the homepage.
  • Use HTTPS and set-up the canonical redirects to avoid duplicate content.
  • Implement rich-snippets to help Google understanding better the content.
  • Link corresponding pages and use hreflang tags if you propose several languages.

While a professional digital marketers can provide technical SEO audits that will help you to spot code-related issues and to find solutions, free tools like Google Search Console or Screaming Frog SEO Spider (free for the first 500 URLS) can also be useful.

The Semantics

If Google can scan your pages and index them, it must also be able to understand the content of each page to be able to deliver them to the right users when they are typing keywords related to your activity.To do so, there are various areas you can improve:

  • Make sure that your web-pages have unique Title Tags that target keywords.
  • Add keywords in your content and improve the whole semantic field each page targets.
  • Have a dedicated landing page for the different expressions that can be of interest.
  • Properly link your pages using keyword rich anchor text.
  • Publish fresh, long, and quality content that engage your users.

While a professional company could help you to improve your semantic SEO strategy by providing Keyword Researches and Content Optimisations, free tools like Google Keyword Planner or Answer The Public are interesting options to find relevant keywords and content ideas to improve your pages and to develop new ones.

The popularity side

Getting links from other websites to your own pages are considered as votes and it is extremely powerful to improve your rankings in Google. However, search engines regularly penalise websites that are over-optimising their links so it’s important to make sure that:

  • Links are coming from platforms from the niches close to yours.
  • Links are not only using keyword-rich clickable texts (the so-called “anchor” text).
  • Links are linking the different important pages available in your website.
  • Links are coming from websites that are indexed in Google.
  • Links are from quality platforms, not SEO-ones that were created for the sake of getting links.

While a professional SEO agency can help your company to improve its link profile by working on a Link Audit and on Linking Building services, there are plenty of methods that will allow you to get your first links. Writing for other websites as a contributor is among the most interesting techniques but working on link-baiting strategies by writing great content, like surveys and infographics, being interviewed, developing editorial partnerships, launching press-release campaigns and subscribing to quality start-ups sites are great ways to get links.  

Promoting a start-up is definitely not the easy thing to do but there are plenty of creative opportunities available on the web to make sure people are talking about you, and not only regarding the SEO part. And you? What are you using to promote your start-up?

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