Marketing Your Startup

with Alice Lankester

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Getting found through search engines

Alice Lankester

Startup Marketing Executive, Silicon Valley Veteran, Entrepreneur Enthusiast

Lessons Learned

Ask: what are the keywords that people search for when they are looking for a product like yours?

Thought leadership and quality content are fantastic ways to show up in relevant searches.

Figure out where your visitors are coming from, how long they stay & what they do.


Lesson: Marketing Your Startup with Alice Lankester

Step #9 Discovery: Getting found through search engines

Get Found is the other side of the "I've come across you" coin, or "I've heard of you," rather. So you could say that I'm telling you about Zana and then you say, “Oh yeah, I've heard of you.” In that case, they've actually just kind of bumped into you in some way. They weren't particularly looking for you, but they read an article about you and that's interesting. Get Found is when they're actually specifically searching out your product or service. So they're making a conscious effort to discover the particular service or product that you're providing. The obvious thing is SEO and SEM, and that's like table stakes. SEO is table stakes. It's a complicated business, and it changes a lot. And it's probably what you could buy an SEO for Dummies book and find your way around it. But, to be honest, it's probably worth a bit of money trying to get an expert to at least get you up to the first level, and then to have somebody on your team who you can send off for a couple of days of training who becomes an continued expert.

SEO is a complicated business, and Google changes it all the time. You do what you can, and you live with what you get. SEO is Search Engine Optimization. So, when somebody types into Google that they're looking for social media marketing tools, a listing will come back, and at the top, you'll see there are some paid results and underneath that you'll see what are supposed to be organic results. So results that are decided by Google based on a number of different criteria; how relevant the page is, how recently it was updated, how many other pages link to that page, how many links from that page to other pages. So they'll decide on the relevance based on that. There's a whole process around search engine optimization that you want to be, in an ideal world, on the first page. When do you ever go to the second page of Google? Never. Almost never. So if you're on the second page, it's a sad, sad, thing.

So you really want to be on the first page, and you really want to be at the top. You don't want to have to pay for it. You don't have any money. You want to be the first result, so know what are the key words that people are searching for when they go to find your product. So that's SEO, and that's pretty specialized and difficult. You can great successes with it or failure. And then SEM, which is you actually market through the search engines. When you're searching for social media management tools, there's a bunch of ads that appear on the right-hand side, and you're buying those. And the prices of those changes depending on how popular the search term is. There will be bidding that's done on particular search terms, and if you're an expertise in this, and I'm not an expert in this but I know people who are expert, you can find little used search terms which give you incredibly rich results. They're quite cheap, because they're kind of the B team of the search results, but the fact is the result is quite rich. So those are the paid things in the right column that are SEM.

Let's go back to the whole I came across you, Get Found stuff. So the table stakes that are SEO and SEM, a lot of people are spending a lot of money now developing content and using that content to do lead gen, and that can be really helpful. And that actually ties into what we talked about earlier with thought leadership. If you have somebody that's building content in-house about your industry and you can try and put that content at the end of a lead gen, people have been doing that for a long time. It generally works. There are some slightly more creative ways of doing it, but that generally works. You can also become an expert on Quora and answer questions on Quora about your particular area. So you can get found that way.

The other ways you can get found are finding out if there's anything in your industry where there are industry listing, catalogs, databases, any kind of listings that are really SEO-optimized, where you can get yourself listed. You can sometimes find this out with an analysis of the traffic to your site. You can be really surprised, like it comes from some bizarre location. You have no idea where it's coming from. Well, somebody has built a database of products or services that are in your industry that they managed to list you in, and they've done a really good job of SEOing it. And it's generating all kinds of traffic and who knew? That's great. It's like free traffic. So see if you can find a few more of those. Then see if you can get yourself anybody who has a bigger budget than you. Is anybody sponsoring webinars and industry events and speaking stuff where they're spending the money and you're just bringing the body with the know-how, and see if you can get yourself found that way.

Here's what you had. You had an article that was interesting enough that somebody felt like they wanted to list it and point to it, and that became a source of traffic. So those are how, when somebody is searching on a particular term and they find you, they might find you at your site or they might find you at somebody else's site. If they're doing a really job of making their site, their content, discoverable, then go and write a blog post for them. Go write an article for them. Go offer your services and your expertise to them. And they're always looking for fresh content, so it's a great way of getting found.

If we are talking about some sort of destination site or a SAS platform or some kind of digital destination, the obvious things to measure are traditionally what is seen as the funnel, which is people in, people out. And so people coming in, where do they go? What do they do? Do they stick around? Do they come back? How sticky is it? Do they convert? Do they upsell? So at every point, somebody who comes in, identify who they are, where they go, what they do. So the traditional funnel is the way marketing people have always done it.

The story has got a little more complicated now because the funnel includes a circular reference back through socials. So they may find you on social and converse on social, and you need to find them there. It's kind of a difficult story. But, the important thing is to know as much as you can about who's coming in, where they come from, how they found you, how long they stay, when they come back, what do they do, what's been successful, how do they convert, how long they stay, all those kind of data points. Most of them you can get through a fairly straightforward analysis through off-the-shelf packages like Google Analytics without having to upgrade to the super expensive one. So that's what I'm talking about with that kind of data.

Then the other kind of data is buying habits, like who's buying, what they're buying. There's a whole different thing where you can associate particular products you have with particular customer types, and how do you match up those future customers with future products that match those. I mean that's a much more complicated, completely complicated story. It's a simpler story when you're just talking about digital destination people, how you convert.

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