When we partner with a client, we have a series of questions we ask during our discovery phase, which is the phase where we get to know our client’s business inside and out. This way we can create a strategy best suited to their goals and objectives. Some of the questions we ask relate to marketing, specifically, keywords and search engine optimization.

We’re always a bit surprised by the lack of interest in on-page SEO from some startups and entrepreneurs. I mean, don’t they want leads coming to their new website?

But then we look at the bigger picture. We’re entrepreneurs and business owners ourselves, and as entrepreneurs we’re busy running our businesses. As if developing our products and honing our services aren’t enough, we also have to be the brand strategist, marketer, salesperson, bookkeeper, virtual assistant and janitor.

It’s a lot to do.

If you’re a startup, you’ve probably gotten most of your customers to date by word of mouth (which isn’t a bad way to get customers). Maybe you’ve thrown up a splash page and a Twitter or Facebook page just to get some early traction and peace of mind.

Now you’re ready to step up your game and need a website. Is the first thing on your mind search engine optimization? No. Understandably, the first thing on your mind is your brand strategy and brand positioning. Your focus at this stage is developing your logo, crafting your core message, narrowing down your target market or markets, and developing pitch copy. You’re thinking about how to differentiate your brand and how your website will look. You probably have other sites bookmarked as examples.

In the back of your mind somewhere, you’re thinking about marketing. But it’s a “next stage” thought. You’re thinking maybe social media, PR, an ad or two, maybe some flyers.

Search engine optimization should be up there on your list.

Here’s what you need to know: SEO and conversion rate optimization need to be built into your website from the ground up. You need developers who are working with designers who are working with marketers to make sure that all the key ingredients are there when you launch.

Not thinking about SEO when you develop your first site will result in one or two scenarios. You’ll either resign yourself to generating no search traffic at all, or you’ll have to rebuild it later on down the road with integrated SEO. Either way, you’re losing valuable money.

It pays to think about SEO now.

SEO may not be the cool kid on the block these days. And yes, many of Google’s algorithms have changed, which means that future-proofing your SEO will come from providing valuable information that engages your readers to share your content. We’re talking about organic SEO: no more gobbling up backlinks and embedding hidden text.

But the fundamental principals of SEO should be in your website build:
  • You need a site that converts. All the traffic in the world won’t do much if your site isn’t set up with sales funnels and a lead capture system.
  • You need landing pages optimized for your target keywords. If you have a unique product or ecommerce site that doesn’t lend itself to high-ranking keywords, add a Resources section with some pages that will rank.
  • For local businesses, you need prominent citations
  • You need to optimize your Google business page
  • You need keyword-optimized titles, tags and images
  • You need a site that’s accessible on both desktop and mobile

This is just for starters.

If you want to start generating leads and grow your business faster, make search engine optimization an integral component of your first website design. This way you’ll be attracting customers sooner, and avoid the costs of having to rebuild your site later on down the road.