Hello there. This is a monthly newsletter from Together. Our aim is to help entrepreneurs and founders realise their potential.
What can we promise you from this newsletter?
It will be fun and smart.
It will not take too much of your time. We know you have a lot to do.
The science and art behind SEO 📜
In our series, we’ve tried to take founders through the journey of trying to grow their companies. We would really recommend reading our back catalogue. Founders hire specialists so that their company websites scale the rankings. There are several deep dives and how-tos to set up your website and optimise it for SEO. Reddit is an amazing resource if you can fight off the distractions that memes bring along with them. But this isn’t any of that. It is a guide so founders can pick up interesting hacks, for the lack of a better term, so they can navigate the complex world of search engine optimization.
Usually, in a rush to grow, founders think of traffic as a result of paid marketing only. There’s a lot more to that. But we’re not experts. Far from it. So we have two people who know how this works. We spoke to Dhanasekar MJ from Zoho. He has been doing this, literally, all his life, and Zoho’s success is for everyone to see. We also spoke to Narendran Hariparanthaman from Social Animal. Naren has spent over a decade in SEO and had some interesting hacks to share.
We’ll let them take you through how they strategically think of SEO. And how practicing these few things could take you a long way.
“SEO is an iterative process. You’ll always have to find innovative ways of getting your customers to find you.” - Dhana
Dhana says the first thing a founder needs to do is identify their product. What are you trying to build? What is the value proposition? “Philosophically understand the problem you’re trying to solve. Everything else comes next,” he says.
Once a founder knows what they are building, then comes design. Design, both Dhana and Naren say, is part of the SEO process.
SEO doesn’t start after the website is built. “You have to visualise the tabs. See how your website will begin to look. Each page has to have a story,” Dhana says.
Ask yourself, “what kind of pages are you building? Will they drive traffic,” says Naren.
Now is when you start with keywords. Both Dhana and Naren say the first thing a founder needs to do is look at the competition. This tells the founder what kind of traffic is competition channelling towards themselves.
“That’s your starting point,” says Naren. But you need to work on driving traffic volume to the website. And for that, you need to look at advanced search metrics. “The best tool for that is Google,” he says.
But don’t cram the website with tags, advices Dhana. It’s a mistake that most new founders make.
But what if you don’t have competition? “There is always competition. You start drilling down to what is truly your value proposition and you will find someone who is close to what you sell. And that’s where your customer could be,” says Naren.
Don’t forget keywords when you code your pages, says Dhana. Those are not the only things founders ignore, it is also long-tail keywords.
“Let’s assume you sell credit cards,” says Naren. Now, you know the likes of the best credit card and top 10 credit cards as search terms are expensive and have a lot of competition. But there are unique keywords, which may be too niche but you may find a lot of takers.
In this example, think of it as “the best credit card for single people”. Now, that becomes so niche and so unique that you start catching traffic that you wouldn't have caught earlier.
Content, content, content. It’s all about creating content. Google ranks pages higher if the algorithm thinks the page is giving the user knowledge.
Think beyond transactional topics, Naren says. Think truly about how you can create engagement.
Add videos and infographics if possible, says Dhana. The key is to get customers to spend time on the page. “Google checks for bounce rate. So, if people spend more time on the page, the higher it will rank,” Dhana adds.
Try to make the content around 1,000 to 1,500 words. It will help describe the product in detail. And don’t forget to use keywords.
Get experts to write copies that can educate your customers on not just the product but also the market. This will mean people will want to come back to the website. It will then start directing traffic to the website.
“Think beyond SEO tags when directing traffic. Think Reddit, Quora too” - Naren
Some interesting hacks ⚙️
Naren says you need to be clever when directing traffic to you. Let’s take another example.
Let’s say you’re selling different kinds of mutual funds. The easiest way to do this is to put a laundry list on a website. “The smart way could be to use a SIP calculator,” says Naren. It doesn’t add too much to the company but it is a tool that can live in perpetuity and can keep attracting customers. It makes the page popular and it rises in the ranking.
Another smart hack, Naren says, is using the likes of Twitter, Reddit, and Quora to generate interest. “Use tools to find the keywords your customers would use. Now find those keywords on these websites and try to write a coherent answer to questions. And then add a link to your website,” he says. That sends people really interested in your product your way.
A trick Naren says he uses is HARO. The platform enables reporters to find expert comments on stories. “We would reach out to reporters and talk about the problem statement. This means we show up in a publication and that directs traffic,” he says. Sometimes you reverse the problem. “We set a problem statement and got others to contribute to our posts. This meant people were invested and wanted to talk about where they were published,” he adds. The third way you can use posts is by getting guest writers. “When these guest writers put up a post on your website, you encourage them to cross-post on theirs too. This sends traffic to us,” he explains.
All of this helps increase discoverability. And at the end of the day, it is about educating what your product can do. Whatever way you can bring people to your website, it’s all SEO.
What Together has been up to ✍🏽
A few things we’d like to share with you.
Zipy joins our network: Vishalini and Karthik are one of the best design minds in India and they started up. They want to help developers save time and so they have created one platform that helps them sort through product/customer feedback. We welcome them to our family. Read their story here.
It’s time to switch off: Founders burnout. A lot. This burnout affects their personal lives, it affects their companies, and most of all it affects them. And nothing good comes off any of it. We believe founders need to find ways of switching off. We spoke to Pankaj Bansal to understand how.
A little social media popcorn 🍿
This is a very interesting thread on scaling SaaS companies.
Because we’re talking about SEO, here’s one on how SEO can help you scale.
That’s it from us for the month. If you believe you’ve got an idea that we need to hear, write to us at email@example.com
We’ve got an exciting guest lined up for next time. Until then, stay safe, and let’s build Together.