So you’ve started a service or app, your product is ready, and you need new users. Now what?
One of the best ways of getting new users is good old SEO; drive users to your site organically through Google.
If done properly you can get tons of new users to your website with a small marketing budget. The basic equation to SEO is simple: find useful keywords to target + ensure your website is optimized + build links.
The section of SEO that new comers find daunting is link building. It can be tough to build high quality, white hat links to a new website. Also building links to a startup can be very different than to an ecommerce website.
Lucky for you, I’m here to help!
I’m going to walk you through five link building strategies that will get your startup ranking in no time. To demonstrate clear examples let’s pretend we have a SAAS company that sells an appointment booking calendar app… named Calendar Pro.
1. Run a PR Campaign
Good old PR is still one of the best ways to build links to a website. You can get links from massive publications with a little bit of work. Coverage on these publications can also drive lots of new users to your website regardless of links.
The most important part of any public relations campaigns is that you have something to talk about. When reaching out to reporters make sure you tell them why your company is different and why what you’re doing is special. What does your app do different? What service are you providing that nobody else is?
Another important aspect is picking the right reporter and getting their personal email. In most cases, pitching to a general support email will go unnoticed. Make sure they’ve covered a similar topic before and what you’re saying interests them. For example, Samantha Kelly at Mashable has written an article about the Google Calendar app.
She’s a perfect person to pitch to! Now you need her personal email. Go to Find Any Email, toss in her First Name, Last Name and Email and get it.
Once you have her email shoot her an email saying:
You saw that she covered a similar article
You have a new startup that she may be interested in
Demonstrate why it’s different from the others
Now that you know the basic process who do you pitch to? There should be two levels to your public relations campaign for link building:
Find relevant local publications that may be interested in covering your story. Local newspapers and blogs love covering things going on in their home town. For example, if Calendar Pro was based in Toronto I might send emails to the Globe and Mail, BlogTO, and CBC.
No matter what your startup does, there are most likely a number of blogs which write about it. In my mind, Calendar Pro falls in to two main categories: SAAS and business organization. There are hundreds (if not thousands) of website which cover these topics. Think Tech.co, Entrepreneur, and Forbes.
BONUS: You can also use HARO (Help a Reporter Out) to get some sweet links for little work. See Quick Sprout’s guide for a thorough walkthrough.
2. Sign up for Startup Lister
Startup Lister is a service which submits your startup to over 70+ directories for a single price of $89. I know, I know people worry about building links from directories but these are high quality listings that will benefit your website.
Personally, aside from links, I’ve seen these listings drive a number of sign ups to new startups.
I believe this is a no brainer for startups that will give your website a little kick in the butt and get you going. The websites they send to include: Venture Beat, G2Crowd, The Verge and Forbes Technology.
They also have higher priced packages where they will do the PR outreach for you to relevant industry blogs. While this isn’t a complete replacement for doing PR yourself… If you’re funded and have some cash to spare it may be well worth it.
**I am not affiliated with Startup Lister at all. Just a happy customer.
3. Competitive Link Building
The premise of competitive link building is pretty simple: get a list of your competitors, find their backlinks and try and replicate them. Calendar Pro would have a number of competitors, but for this example we’ll use Calendly.
To find a website’s links you’ll have to get a subscription to either Ahrefs or Majestic. These programs will give you a list of any website’s backlinks. Ahrefs has a free trial you can use, but I’ll be using Majestic here as they work very similarly.
Enter your competitor’s domain and press “backlinks”.
Then find relevant resource pages or articles where you can ask for a link.
For example, this article from Business2Community is about tools that help with B2B sales management. You can email the author and ask that you be included.
You can replicate this across all of your competitors to get a massive list of link opportunities.
4. Reclaim Brand Mentions
This link building tactic is more passive than the rest, but important nonetheless. It helps you pick up mentions of your startup across the web that may not have linked to the website. Those are golden opportunities for links!
There are a few platforms which let you track your mentions with the biggest ones being Mention and Google Alerts.
The premise is simple… They’ll send you a notification if your startup is mentioned (ex. Calendar Pro). If there’s no link, simply email the website or author and ask them to add your link. If you tell them you’re starting out and it’ll greatly benefit your business, chances are they’ll add it.
And there’s more! You can also add in your competitors to track them online as well. Similar to the competitive link building method, you can chime in and possibly get your link added as well.
5. Create a Free Tool
For this tactic you can either create a new tool from scratch or offer a freemium version of your software. If you’re a startup company, chances are you have developers who can create a small tool with ease.
A free tool is considered a “linkable asset” and gives you a good reason to reach out to blogs.
For Calendar Pro, an example would be to develop a free program where people can input their phone numbers to get text alerts before a meeting. A simple page with meeting time, number of alerts and phone number.
When the tool is developed you can do another small PR campaign and reach out to relevant sources who would be interested. You can also search for “Free calendar tools” on Google to find website who may be interested in linking to the tool.
People are more likely to link to a free product than paid. Also, the tool will get shared organically if it’s useful!
Organic traffic is essentially free and can be generated with a very small marketing budget, which is perfect for new companies. Even a beginner to SEO can follow these techniques. Start your PR campaign, delve in to your competitors backlinks, or build a free tool and see your search rankings soar for your startup.
In his 9+ years as a digital marketer, Sam has worked with countless small businesses and enterprise Fortune 500 companies and organizations including NASDAQ OMX, eBay, Duncan Hines, Drew Barrymore, Washington, DC based law firm Price Benowitz LLP and human rights organization Amnesty International.
He is a recurring speaker at the Search Marketing Expo conference series and a TEDx Talker. Today he works directly with high-end clients across all verticals to maximize on and off-site SEO ROI through content marketing and link building.
In his 9+ years as a digital marketer, Sam has worked with countless small businesses and enterprise Fortune 500 companies and organizations including NASDAQ OMX, eBay, Duncan Hines, Drew Barrymore, Washington, DC based law firm Price Benowitz LLP and human rights organization Amnesty International. He is a recurring speaker at the Search Marketing Expo conference series and a TEDx Talker. Today he works directly with high-end clients across all verticals to maximize on and off-site SEO ROI through content marketing and link building.