The (Shady) Startup SEO Strategy That Made Me $650K

by Elvis Goren

In terms of investment, SEO for a startup, or any new business for that matter, is clearly the best investment you can make. Out of all the marketing mediums, search engine optimization has the second highest return on investment (ROI). But where on earth to start?

I may not know much, but I know SEO. Especially SEO for a tech startup. But the same strategy I’m going to share with you will work for all types of businesses. A decade ago, I was part of a sales and marketing team for a company the manufactured and sold GPS devices. The company was purchased for an undisclosed amount and then I was off to my second venture.

I moved on to be on the founding team of Komodo Technologies. The world’s first smart wearable. We had to compete with the likes of Apple, Fitbit, and Garmin. A tall task that was possible only because of SEO. Over the years I helped the website rise the ranks of Google, eventually selling out all inventory!

All it Takes is One Blog to go Google Viral

SEO for startups is simple (kind of). It really takes one blog article to start the momentum and push your website into the stratosphere. I’ve had this happen multiple times! we’re talking about that one piece of gold you craft that just… explodes.

Like this one time, I wrote a about WHOOP (a fitness tracking product). It was the talk of the town within big time podcasters like Joe Rogan. I didn’t plan for it to go Google viral – nobody does, really. But it hit the jackpot because it was genuine, it had a fresh angle on a stale topic, and it was jam-packed with value.

That’s the secret sauce. You want to write something so good that people can’t help but share it. Give them an experience, not just a read. Throw in your personal stories, a bit of humor, and a couple of “no way!” moments. And SEO-wise, balance is key – sprinkle in your keywords where they fit snugly, but don’t let them hijack the prose. Let your natural style dictate the flow.

SEO Strategy for Startup

Alright, now on to the good stuff. I tried to use genuine examples of strategies and tactics I actually used to skyrocket my startup business. Some of these might be familiar, but others are pretty unique (at least in my mind). So, I hope these are of use too you!

Niche of a Niche

Going niche is good; going niche-ier is better. Ever heard someone say, “Go big or go home?” Well, I say, “Go small, and hit big.” If you’re in the headphone business you might be thinking of going after keywords like “best headphones under $200”. But, think even smaller. That’s what I did. Think of all of the features headphones have and start there. From the higher-level feature to the more obscure ones.

A good tactic is answering frequently asked questions. You can either find it organically in Google, or using tools like Socrates (shown above). It’s about finding that little corner of the universe that you can own. The smaller your focus, the bigger your impact can be. And this isn’t just about grabbing attention; it’s about holding it. Engage your micro-audience with content so relevant and rich that they’ll flock to your site, bookmark it, and keep coming back for more.

Write Provocative Headlines

If you remember anything in this blog, you should remember this. Writing headlines isn’t just for SEO, it’s for every part of your business. It’s how you communicate a message or a story. It’s how you SELL! But let’s stick to SEO.

Many SEO’s, from beginners to experts, have a tendency to follow what’s working for other sites on Google’s first page. i.e. “Top 10 This” and “Guide to That.” If you’re just starting out, you NEED to push the boundaries. There’s an interesting concept called the Zone of Mediocrity. Essentially it says if you’re not eliciting either hate or love from your message, YOU’RE SCREWED.

And as a startup, you should know this. You push the edge and boundaries with your ideas. You must do this with headlines, whether it’s for SEO or your ads. With my first startup venture, I would RIP every competitor with a massive name every chance I got. Not because I’m a hater, it’s just what you have to do.

Build a (ONE) Customer Profile

Let’s get real for a second. You can’t be everything to everyone, and why would you want to? It’s like throwing a party and trying to personally greet a thousand guests. It’s not just about demographics; it’s about psychographics. Who are they? What makes them tick? Dive deep.

When I nailed the customer profile for a health tech piece, the impact was like a surgical strike. And here’s a tip: interview real people in your target market. Their words, their voices will lend authenticity to your content. Weave that into your content, and you’re not just reaching your audience; you’re resonating with them.

Another bonus of hypertargeting on type of customer is that there’s a higher chance your content is a perfect match to questions or concerns they have. This means your blog will be more visible and have a higher click-through rate (CTR), which also benefits overall SEO.

Use Infographics

Infographics are your secret weapon. They make complex data a breeze to understand – and they’re shareable, which is what you want. But not all infographics are created equal. They have to tell a story, not just show numbers. Like this one time, I created an infographic that mapped out a day in the life of a health-conscious consumer. It showed habits, choices, and their impacts. It went beyond data; it told a relatable story, and it was a hit.

Example of a solid infographic

Participate in Trade Shows and Get Backlinks

I Know trade shows are expensive and time consuming. But if you’re looking for ways to promote and are already thinking of trade shows as an option, you can kill two birds with one stone. I’ve been to many trade shows where I was shoulder to shoulder with many media members and bloggers. It’s great because most of the time they come to you.

I’ve had many articles written about companies and clients I work with. These articles usually link back to your website (which is a backlink). If you build a good relationship with a journalist or blogger, you can go to them every time you have a great story. it’s great for startup SEO and for the long term.

Find Startup Pitch Competitions

Pitch competitions are more than a moment in the spotlight; they’re a launchpad for exposure. And they are everywhere! I’ve seen startups get featured on top blogs and industry news simply because they pitched with passion. And it’s not just about winning; it’s about being seen and heard. Each mention, each article, each Google search that leads to you, it’s all a win for your SEO.

See What’s Trending and Write FAST

I used a strategy I call “The Joe Rogan SEO Strategy”. Like I motioned before. But this time I mentioned him and his situation in a blog directly. He was talking about something in my Startup’s industry.

When a topic’s hot, you need to be on it like white on rice. Being one of the first to publish quality content on a trending topic can set you up as a thought leader. It’s like surfing; paddle too late, and you miss the wave. But catch it just right, and you’re in for the ride of your life.

Use Big Name Competitors to Leverage Traffic

Mentioning the industry titans in your content is a savvy move. It’s not about challenging them; it’s about joining the conversation they’re already having with their audience. It’s like a local band covering a hit song – you draw in the fans of the original, and if you’ve got your own spin, they might just stick around for your next number.

Don’t Overuse AI

AI is a tool, not the craftsman. It can assist, but it can’t replace the human element – your wit, your grit, your unique perspective. Use AI to support your creativity, not substitute it. Your audience wants your voice, not the echo of a machine.

There is a right way of using AI. A subject I have been diligently studying and implementing for over a year now. Check out that link. It’s a great starting point. You need to know that Google doesn’t like AI generated content. This could be a blessing. 80% of people don’t know that and continue pumping out a ridiculous number of blogs per month. This is making human content increase in demand (in Google’s eyes).

Optimize Your Thumbnail

Your thumbnail is your first impression, which is key for startup SEO. It’s the eye contact before the handshake. It’s got to be more than just pretty; it needs to speak to your audience, to intrigue, to invite. Think of it as a visual elevator pitch for your content – you’ve got a few seconds to make an impact, so make every one count.

If done right, it works much like a YouTube thumbnail. It’s the headline. And the title becomes a complementary, SEO portion of the blog. Take a look at what I did in the example above. This is my #1 performing blog article. I wonder why.

These Are Just a Few…

There are a few other startup SEO tactics that are a bit shady, but totally legit. I didn’t want to share them here. I want to share those with more serious people who want to know. Email me and let me know. I’m working on a document that I’ll be sharing with you once complete.

Tell me about your project and what you’re working on!

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