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Common Website Optimization Mistakes Startups Make

Posted on 11.22.2015

:: By Tim Clarke, Clutch ::


These days a website is a “must have” for businesses of any size and startups are certainly no exception. In fact, for startups, websites serve as a very important driver of awareness and brand impression; they’re the hub of any online communication activity and, ultimately, the source of new clients, customers and revenue.

Unfortunately, in the online world it’s not true that “if you build it, they will come.” Startups really need to put some sound consideration into the development of their first website. They need to get it right the first time. 

There are, unfortunately, some common mistakes that many startups make. Brad Shorr, with Straight North, a search engine optimization (SEO) firm based outside of Chicago says that many of their clients are startups who find that they need to redo their entire website because it doesn’t serve their needs. This can be avoided, he says, by being aware of some common mistakes. These include:

Not giving enough thought to SEO at the outset

Simply having a website doesn’t drive traffic to that website. SEO is an important consideration that needs to be part of the initial planning process of a website. If it’s not, businesses will find that they need to rebuild their entire website a few years down the road—resulting in an unnecessary investment of time, effort and money. 

Failing to develop a phase two and phase three sitemap

Savvy businesses know that their websites need to be built with scalability in mind. 

“Startups need to think through not only the products and services it offers when the website launches, but also those it plans to introduce in the years ahead,” said Shorr. “When this isn’t done, future website pages tend to get crammed in where they don’t fit, making website navigation clumsy and confusing to visitors.”

If this upfront thought process doesn’t occur the result can be not only lost customers, but poor impressions made on visitors to the site who find a hard time finding what they need. Chances are these visitors won’t be back. Worse, chances are they may spread the word about their poor impressions to others.  

Inadequate keyword search

“You can implement all the cool SEO techniques you want, but if you’re optimized for the wrong keywords, the best-case scenario is irrelevant, non-converting traffic, and the worst-case scenario is no traffic at all,” said Shorr.

The trouble is, coming up with solid keywords can be challenging for many start-ups. Why? Then tend to think in terms of "insider speak" rather than the words and phrases that real people are using when they’re searching for the types of good and services that the startup has to offer.

“Top flight SEO keyword research not only enables the new website to reach the right audience, it helps the website content speak the language of the customer and thereby build brand credibility," said Shorr. 

The kind of top flight keyword research that is required to achieve good results can be complicated; working with an expert is a must here to save time and money down the road—and to achieve desired results. 

“SEO keyword research should take the lion’s share of the first year SEO budget if that’s what it takes to lay the groundwork for a solid campaign,” said Shorr. 

That investment will pay dividends in the future.

Falling prey to SEO hype

Startups want to build an audience and often they want to build one fast. That makes them easy prey for less-than-reputable firms that promise the moon but fail to deliver. Companies should run from SEO campaigns that sound too good to be true. 

“We see a lot of startups fall into this because they failed to plan out a comprehensive, long-term Internet marketing plan well in advance of launching their websites,” said Shorr. “As a result, they don’t really hit the ground running with an adequate marketing budget.” 

Effective SEO requires an investment in thought, time and budget. 

It’s important to take the time to carefully think through your online strategy and to find a marketing partner that is right for you. 


Tim Clarke is the Research Manager with Clutch, Clutch identifies leading software and professional services firms that deliver results for their clients. Tim heads the SEO and PPC research at Clutch. You can follow Clutch at @clutch_co.


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