Startup / Growth SEO

How do I measure success in a startup with SEO?

As a startup, using SEO as an early marketing and sales channel can be a vital trigger for quick growth. SEO can be a scalable and long lasting growth strategy, and unlike other marketing channels such as paid search or paid social, can be done with little budget aside from headcount itself. There will also almost always be someone searching for your product or service, and the potential to gain ‘free’ organic traffic will always be there.

While SEO can sometimes take time to see true results, particularly if you’re early in the game, it’s important to focus on potential short-term goals for organic growth. Set realistic early goals with your teams in terms of designating SEO success. This could be anything from the acquisition of high quality links from target publications or ranking on the first page of Google for target commercial terms.

How do I measure Customer Acquisition Costs (CAC) from an SEO perspective?

CAC (customer acquisition cost) calculates everything that goes into the acquisition of a new customer from the SEO channel. This includes the cost of all the headcount of your SEO (and potentially wider marketing) team, toolstack and any costs related to activation (such as link building) over a certain amount of time. 

Customer acquisition costs are distilled from the total costs of all of these liabilities over a set period of time and the number of customers you are bringing in as a result of these efforts. 

For example, the total cost of your SEO programme, including team members, tooling, content writing and link building, is $100,000 a year and you have generated 1,000 customers through this, then the CAC is $100 per customer.

SEO over time can be a key lever in lowering your CAC over time. If you focus on building a long lasting, scalable SEO programme that continues to bring in traffic and conversions over time then the reliance on paid advertising and marketing spend decreases.

How do I measure success from LTV from SEO?

Customer lifetime value (LTV) alludes to the average amount of spend or revenue generated from a single customer during the entirety of their relationship with your business. This can vary depending on what you’re selling of course. 

For example, if you’re selling one-off purchases to a permanent subscription on one product (such as a software download) then CLV will be the same. Most businesses will have repeat purchase models however, whether it’s ongoing subscriptions of a product or repeat purchases of a product, such as an online shop.

SEO can be a vital player in ensuring LTV success, with top of funnel activities such as content marketing campaigns being a core component of the initial “branding and awareness” and subsequent “interest” phases of the buyer journey.

Assessing LTV success should focus on improving baseline SEO metrics such as bounce rates and repeat visitors. If more users are coming back to your site and are staying on your site longer due to your SEO efforts, then it is likely to reduce customer churn over time, and improve LTV. If your SEO teams are seeing improvements on repeat visitors spending more time on your site with a view to purchasing, then this is where your CRM, customer service and email marketing teams can step in with a view to engaging with customers to keep them interested long term. 

Where should I invest our investments in terms of SEO?

If your startup is in a fortunate enough position to be able to reinvest growth back into the SEO channel, then there are several considerations. 

Getting the right SEO infrastructure in place is an important component here. This doesn’t mean blindly shopping for all the latest SEO tools under the sun, but rather ensuring that you’ve got a well-rounded SEO offering in terms of resource and tooling. For example, if you’ve got a base team of an SEO manager and SEO content executive, then consider looking at further specialisms under the SEO umbrella such as technical SEO specialists or international SEO specialists, if you have global ambitions.

Sustained startup growth from SEO also comes from consistent and well-thought out SEO strategy that is implemented over time. Put together a road map of content creation that serves to answer your consumer base’s commercial needs and commit to researching and publishing high-quality, engaging content over a serious amount of time.  

What should I report SEO to the board of directors?

Everyday SEO metrics that you may be seeing from your marketing team, such as keyword ranking or click through rate improvements won’t matter to a board of directors. Avoid jargon and the detailing of the many “under the hood” activities that contribute to SEO growth. They will be interested in the overall bottom line in terms of spend on SEO versus profits gained, be that CAC or the improvement of LTV. 

If SEO is a core driver in terms of your business growth, point to clear, tangible top level indications that SEO has been a component in driving revenue growth and lead gen contribution. 

Directors will always be interested in how to respond next in terms of a strategic approach, so alongside core metrics showing what SEO has achieved and why this matters, make sure there are some clear next steps in the report.  

How do I create a lean SEO team?

Many businesses may hire SEO teams based around individual specialisms, such as technical or content SEO. While specialised skill sets are a great way to scale, they can become costly, and possibly limiting in the upskilling of your wider team if they’re sat in silos.

A good approach to creating a lean SEO team is to focus on candidates that are keen on becoming well-rounded SEOs that have the potential to be (or already are) competent in all the key areas. This may require a robust training and development programme, but if you’re able to rely on a leaner team to jump in and troubleshoot various issues under the wider SEO bracket, then this may be beneficial long term. 

What items should I prioritise in startup SEO?

If you’re a start-up looking to SEO as an early lever for growth, then it is likely to be the areas of content marketing and link building that will garner you early success. Startups are likely to have small, uncomplicated websites, so it’s likely your technical SEO will be minimal, save perhaps for an initial audit of performance issues.

The key to standing out early and driving leads is to consolidate a solid content strategy based on thorough keyword research and competitor analysis and then continue publishing. Use link building, digital PR and other activation methods to help drive further traffic and leads from this.

Start Up SEO Case Study

Home crafting startup pivots to SEO to reduce CAC and overall marketing spend.

Problem: During the covid lockdowns, a startup offering home crafting kits built up rapid popularity thanks largely to the macro situation at the time as well as an aggressive paid social strategy. This saw them generate a huge amount of awareness in terms of following and traffic, but customer acquisition costs (on what were cheap to make products) were high.

Solution: Using their popular status within the social media sphere on all things home crafts, the brand looked to SEO to build out a solid long-term content strategy after discovering there were a lot of users searching not only for their products, but for their brand name itself. Capitalising on this reduced their reliance on paid social and saw a major improvement in CAC over a two year period compared to their initial boom during lockdowns.

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