17 Tools and Resources for Startups Getting Started With SEO

Reka Forgach

September 16, 2021

Implemented well, SEO can be a largely free way to improve your traffic and conversion statistics and fine-tune your messaging for better business results. 

Already in on the secret? Skip ahead to the tools and resources that will support your SEO success.

SEO for early stage startups

For startups in the validation phase, building a solid organic inbound traffic strategy can lay the foundation for a diverse stream of traffic and conversions. Instead of relying solely on paid advertising and creative social media virality, building out your SEO and maintaining a content strategy has long-term staying power that results in well-qualified leads.

According to an Organic Channel report by BrightEdge, half of traffic to websites comes from organic search. In fact, 70% of online marketers say that SEO is better than PPC for generating sales.

SEO for high-growth startups

For startups in the growth phase, SEO work on your site can provide you with a spectrum of useful information about customer behavior and new business opportunities. By researching what customers are searching for on the web, and what content they respond to the most - you can hone in on your key value propositions, and use data to support product business development.

Focusing on SEO and legitimate link building leads you to develop relevant, useful content that people want to share and provides digital word of mouth.

SEO has global reach and can even provide dynamic translation and localization that can bring in new and unexpected customers from all corners of the world. Because of Google Analytics’ detailed demographic breakdown, you could use SEO data to analyze where visitors are from to determine where potential expansion may be beneficial.

How to SEO?

There are quite a few similarities to running a business and maintaining your SEO strategy. In both cases, there’s a major challenge in understanding what you need to do to achieve your goals, prioritizing tasks, and adjusting them over time as results come in.

In order to better streamline your SEO strategy we’ve put together a few mindset must-haves to bring clarity into your workflow.

What to keep in mind when you start working on SEO

It’s OK not to do something

Use First Principle Thinking when you make decisions on what kind of content to create, what to optimize for, and where to funnel users. That is, understand the original intent of the practice, decide whether it makes sense for your use case, and only then implement.

A good example of this is, for example, prioritizing the mobile experience in marketing. Marketers are inundated with the messaging that everything needs to be optimized for mobile-first, and that content should be created for a mobile-first journey. 

Before you commit to this by shortening articles or changing up the formatting, take a look at whether that assumption is correct, and whether your customers really are coming from mobile channels. If a majority of your users are consuming content on desktop, then prioritize that instead.

After that, you can create content, test, and re-evaluate down the line.

SEO takes time

This isn’t just a gimmick to let SEO agencies extend their contracting times with you. An SEO campaign definitely includes playing the long game, so you’ll have to be patient and remove bias stemming from pressure for results while you’re making your conclusions.

Good SEO is a marathon not a sprint - though it has great benefits along the way. SEO inherently rewards more ‘senior’ site - the more content and backlinks a website has built up, the higher its credibility, a feat that has few shortcuts.

While strong, white-hat SEO can be a winning strategy for cutting through digital noise, it’ll take time to rise through the ranks. In addition to investing into creating thorough, accurate, and timely content — invest in the right keywords. Aim for a mix of short and long-tail keywords that your audience is searching for, to carve out your own space.

Not everything works

20% of your content will be responsible for 80% of your inbound traffic. That means that while you’re creating content, you shouldn’t be evaluating every piece on its own, but rather creating a holistic strategy and playing around with different topics and distribution strategies until something sticks. No one writes a game-changing content piece every single time - not even Paul Graham.

SEO is top down

Instead of doing super detailed analysis and building up your bigger strategy by putting together small pieces, take a more general approach, measuring whether you’re going in the right direction and optimize accordingly. Keep throwing things at the wall until you’ve found something that triggers your audience, and then keep the experiments running.

As you set about auditing your current content or refreshing your SEO strategy, ask yourself these questions and map out your answers with different tactics:

  • What aspects of your business are you looking to improve?
  • Is it more traffic? Research the right keywords and create a higher quantity of high-quality, strategic SEO content.
  • More clicks? Focus on conversion elements and consider hiring a conversion or CRO expert to help you turn more traffic into buyers.

17 tools and resources to support your SEO journey

While investing in publishing SEO optimized content is far from free, it is a cost-effective method with scalable results.

Here’s a list of free and paid tools and resources to help you on your way:

Ahrefs: Ahrefs is the second biggest website crawler after Google, and features a Site Audit feature, where SEO newcomers and experts alike can check up on exactly how their website is doing in terms of SEO. Competitive audits with the tool help you keep an eye on backlink strategies, and strategize what keywords you can build on to beat your competitors.

Google Search Console: Google’s own search tool breaks down what search queries your website is promoted for, amount of traffic by day, and which pages are indexed by Google.

Keyword and Backlink Opportunity Research

MozBar SEO Toolbar: This tool gives you instant metrics while viewing any page or SERP.

SEMrush: For those serious about their SEO optimizing strategy, SEMrush is a favorite amongst pros. The dashboard lets you check rankings and notifies you of new opportunities, as well as run competitor analysis on what keywords your competitors are ranking for.

Open Site Explorer: The world’s best backlink creator is developed by Moz, and helps you audit your backlink health by showing you who links to your site, finding links that point to old or broken pages, or researching competitors to see who links to them. Broken links lower the quality of your website, so staying on top of them is a boon to your strategy.

SEO Site Tool: An extension for Chrome that pulls up page rank, meta description, incoming links, and more for the site you’re visiting.

Keyword Suggestion Tool: A free tool from SEO book that shows the number of searches for a specific keyword and gives suggestions.

Google Trends: Shows volume of searches over time. A good tool to view keyword popularity.

Site Optimization

Robots.txt Checker: Find errors in your robots.txt that prohibits spiders from crawling your webpage.

Anchor Text Over Optimization: Highlights where your anchor texts may be at risk for over-optimization to avoid getting punished by Google.

Test Page Speed: Google tool that measures your site’s load speed and offers suggestions for improving it.  Site speed is a huge factor in your page ranking, so making sure everything loads optimally is paramount.

Industry Blogs

Search Engine Land: Search Engine Lands creates regular content on everything from SEO tips to news, relevant to everyone from newbies to experts. Sign up to the blog’s newsletter to stay on top of changes in Google’s algorithm and how to navigate them successfully.

Moz: With content like Whiteboard Fridays and a host of free tools, Moz gives new SEO marketers a fantastic introduction to everything SEO and a load of options to start building and executing effectively.

Hubspot Blog: Hubspot provides a load of info about inbound marketing, including SEO. All of their content is excellently tagged and parsed depending on your skill level, letting you learn and advance at your own pace.

SEMRush blog: SEMRush covers topics both in organic and paid inbound marketing, broken up accessibly for all ranges of expertise. With the range of data and case studies at their fingertips, they are one of the best resources for learning tips and tricks from real scenarios.

Google’s SEO Starter Guide: Google itself telling you how to get good with Google with practical methods on SEO best practices.

Google's Search Central YouTube Channel: A more visual introduction to SEO in video format.

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