The vast amount of marketing channels available in 2018 alone can be overwhelming. Of course, it’s important to understand where your audience is and what channels they engage with the best, but one channel remains constant across almost every industry and business. Search. Every day, there are 3.5 billion searches on Google alone.

Whether you’re an established corporation, or a new startup, SEO, or Search Engine Optimisation, should be an important focus for your marketing efforts. SEO is the process of getting your website to rank organically on a search engine results page with the hope of ranking highly to gain more exposure and traffic.

While it might sound simple, SEO is a huge area which can bring equally huge benefits to your startup. Here are just some of the ways SEO can affect your startup through the three main areas of SEO: on site, off-site and technical.

Build Traffic and Brand Awareness

Building your traffic and brand awareness is likely the goal of your overall marketing campaign — and SEO can help significantly in this area. Simply put, the better your SEO, the higher you rank and the more traffic you attract from search engines.

While all three areas of SEO are important and will impact your rankings, your on-site SEO is crucial for ranking within the first few results. On-site SEO is about optimizing existing content and creating new SEO focused content on your website that will help you rank.

Conducting keyword research is important for creating relevant content to target keywords that you know you will be able to rank for. It’s likely that the keywords you initially want to rank for will be dominated by the bigger players in your space, and therefore difficult to rank for. Instead, it’s best to conduct research and target longtail keywords, that have less traffic but are easier to rank for.

Focus on creating content that provides value and insights to your audience while removing any thin or unnecessary content. A good strategy is to consider common questions that your customers have and answer them with blog content.

There’s a lot to on-site SEO including building a strong site architecture with simple subcategories and easy to find content. While you can learn these things on your own, running a startup takes a lot of time and energy so it’s often best to find an SEO professional (sites like Gumtree are good places to search) who can help with your SEO campaign.

Establish Your Authority

Another benefit of SEO is establishing your authority within the industry. Off-site SEO efforts can be helpful in this area. Off-site SEO works on the premise that the more relevant, high-quality links that are pointing to your site, the higher your site will rank. Google will see that other sites trust yours by linking to you and deem your page as an authoritative source.

Try to build links on high-quality sites within your niche. This might be on directories, government listings or through guest blogging. Guest blogging can take a lot of time and effort but receiving a link from a good site can be worth it, both for SEO and direct traffic sent from the site.

Another thing to consider is encouraging your customers to leave reviews on Google and other third-party review sites. Of course, you only want to do this for customers who are going to leave positive reviews.

As you build up your guest blogs and 5-star reviews, your startup will become an authoritative voice within your niche.

Generate Interest and Improve Engagement

Improving the user engagement on your site is a common challenge faced by startups but finding ways to keep people on your site for longer periods of time will help your SEO efforts. This can be achieved through technical SEO which is the most complicated area of SEO.

Having a fast loading website is crucial as page speed is an SEO ranking factor. SEO’s should work closely with web developers to ensure the website loads as fast as possible. You also need to be sure that Google can crawl and index your website. If it can’t do this, no one will be able to find your website on the search engine results page.

A hugely important factor in 2018 is the mobile-friendliness of your site. Google has introduced mobile-first indexing, which means the mobile version of your website is what Google includes in their index as a baseline for rankings.

In addition to this, more and more people are searching solely on mobile so the performance of your site on mobile is key to improving engagement. Creating a website that looks great on any type of advice is important, both from an SEO perspective and a customer experience perspective.

SEO is important for any business, but especially startups that need to build traffic and brand awareness, establish themselves as an authority, and improve user engagement. And organic search is one of the best channels to do just that by delivering traffic to your site.