Raleigh startups, and North Carolina startups in general, have specialized digital marketing needs that can be a bit different than those of many traditional brick and mortar businesses.  We’re here to walk with you through the evolving needs your startup will have.  To understand what makes startups different in regard to what they often need in the way of services such as search engine optimization (SEO), web design, and so forth, a bit of brief discussion about the startup life cycle is needed. 

What’s a Startup

The term startup generally refers to a venture capital funded business that has a strategic business plan of sufficient potential ROI that investors have supplied the money that the company needs in order to develop a new product or capability that isn’t in the market yet.  In many cases it’s fully expected that the startup won’t be profitable for some time because they have to first develop their new product or service and then bring it to market.  Let’s dig a little deeper into that.

Early Lifecycle of Raleigh Startups

Startups developing a new business to business service will often engage in a process of organically identifying suitable prospects and contacting them in order to solicit their involvement as beta testers during the development cycle.  You likely won’t be staffed or organized internally just yet to support a large onset of customers, because you’re in development mode instead of production.  Your primary concern will be ensuring that when you reach out to a prospect, whether in Raleigh or elsewhere, that what that prospect sees online conveys that you are organized, looking at the big picture, and taking what you are doing seriously. 

Web Design for North Carolina Startups

Raleigh startups needs a web presence which conveys that you have something worth taking a closer look at.  This requires not only the right type of content and messaging on the website, but also a visual style that says “we have something special.”  To convey that, some startups may want to venture away from conventional approaches to web design and be deliberately different.  Others may have a quicker cycle and prefer to build their website to support runtime operations and visitor conversion.  I’ll try to explain the difference.

A traditional business providing home services, such as a plumber, for example, may benefit from well-studied designs based on neuroscience conversion principles in order to achieve the highest probability of converting a website visitor into a customer.  This is done through conversion-oriented design that looks at the composition of the page to ensure certain things are in the right places and that key things aren’t missing.  Color and messaging are very important as well.  The idea is to create subliminal trust and funnel your visitor into taking a specific action.

In contrast, Raleigh startups may have a different spin on this at this point in the life cycle of their business.  The startup often wants to be seen as a potential market disruptor with something new and different to offer.  Something noteworthy and compelling.  To accomplish that, they must strike a balance between standing out and maintaining a corporate image that says they have their act together.  The design challenge is to convey their essence and messaging in a powerful way so that prospects imagine themselves benefit from the product while potential investors alike find themselves wondering, “What if?” and envision the possibilities.

SEO Foundation

From the perspective of SEO, a strong brand presence should be established early so that when people search for the business by name, they will hopefully see a lot of results about you on page one.  This serves several purposes.  First, it will allow the various digital assets involved to begin earning trust and authority in search engines.  The authority of these properties will be increasingly important to the startup down the road if they plan to move into the mode of delivering their service to the general market.  Further, it will also ensure that key digital properties are claimed so that they aren’t hijacked by either a competitor or someone else hoping to siphon off some of the potential website traffic.  By properly creating and linking essential properties through specific methods, the startup can avoid some potential problems, eliminate entity ambiguity, and create trust with search engines.  I think of these early steps as the most critical foundation of SEO for a business.

Brand Search Feasibility

Before your business is instantiated, you may want to analyze the online search feasibility of your proposed brand and ensure that you aren’t going to be competing to be found for your own brand name against other established, high-authority websites whose branding may be similar enough to create problems for you.  You can find a high level view of that process on this page.

Why does this matter?  Think about very famous shoe brands named after the gods of Greek mythology.  Now, imagine that their main brand word is part of your company name.  Even though you may not be competing with them on products or services, you may very well be competing with them to be on page one of search results for your own brand name, as I’ll explain next.

For example, let’s say your business is called ‘Brand Marketing’ because you’re in the marketing business.  However, there’s a company simply called ‘Brand’ and they happen to have a marketing department of their own, and they’ve invested in SEO to be sure their marketing department is getting top billing for the search phrase ‘brand marketing.’  You’re competing with them in search engines even though you might not be competing with them for customers.  A preliminary competition analysis can help you understand the difficulty of being recognized in Google for your own brand.  Being recognized in Google search will cost less and be significantly faster if you select a brand name with good SEO prospects. 

SEO for Products and Services

An on-going SEO campaign may or may not be called for at this early stage, depending on when the business needs organic search engine traffic to sustain operations.  It’s a question of timing since such campaigns often require anywhere from four to twelve months according to Google, though very competitive industries may require even longer than that.  Because the product or business service itself is likely still in development, it may not be possible to fully map out all of the taxonomies and naming conventions needed for SEO at this point if you have not finalized certain details relating to the product.  For example, if the product or service has a special name they want to rank for, that isn’t possible until the product name is nailed down.  Instead, you’ll have to focus on generic search terms to start creating some authority and come back to product naming later.  The sooner in the product lifecycle that the name can be nailed down, the sooner that more specialized SEO work for Raleigh startups can begin.

Paid Search Advertising

Paid search, such as Google AdWords, can potentially play a role in the early lifecycle of Raleigh startups.  This would potentially come into play if the startup is having difficulty identifying and reaching out to beta partners.  A possible solution is to use paid ads to get traffic to the website.  In such case, it is critical that the website landing page be designed in such a way as to maximize the probability of a contact request via the website.