Guest Post: A Case Study on DIY SEO for Start-ups

The following is a guest contribution from Kevin Ng. This is not a sponsored post.

thunderquote founder kevin

Kevin Ng is the founder of ThunderQuote, a B2B services marketplace and was invited recently to speak at the Youth Entrepreneurship Symposium 2016 organised by NTUC nEbO about start-up validation and digital marketing. He will be sharing more details about SEO exclusively on SEOGoodGuys and you can also find the rest of his digital marketing slides at the end of the post.

A case study for DIY SEO

We often think that SEO is something that implies ‘free traffic’ but for startups, the reality is often very different. Instead of an issue of bringing in nice extra traffic, it ends up as a matter of survival. How so?

For the very simple reason that often your site either …
1. Doesn’t even appear when you search your own company name, or
2. Gets screwed over royally by Google’s friendly ‘did you mean algorithm’

These are huge problems as it has been established that a majority of internet users utilize google for navigational searches, ie. Instead of typing in facebook.com, they very often type in facebook which triggers a google search or whichever default search engine they are using before clicking on the result. As you can imagine, as a business if someone googles your name and can’t find it, they may drop out due to sheer laziness or more seriously consider if your company is even legit.

So this is a guide in story form, of how our startup ThunderQuote managed to overcome these two major issues which were severely undermining our marketing efforts.

When we first realized customers couldn’t find ThunderQuote on Google, we were horrified. Most customers, it turns out, wouldn’t bother to try to find you with a second or third search, so we were losing high quality organic and word of mouth traffic (people tended to search ‘ThunderQuote’ rather than type in URLs).

So we worked on building out our basic navigational search SEO (so that people could find us when they searched ‘ThunderQuote’ or ‘thunderquote’). We managed to do it through submissions to the standard SEO directories, local yellow pages online, and doing up our sitemap and Google Webmaster.

When that was done, we celebrated! And then promptly realized that people still couldn’t find us… Google’s ‘did you mean’ algorithm kept directing people to results for ‘thunder quote(s)’ instead of ThunderQuote. Disaster…

Turns out 27 times more people wanted to search about quotes about thunder than about Thunderquote, so Google decided to autocorrect every search for our website to ‘Thunder Quote’. Thanks for nothing, Google!

thunderquote serp

This couldn’t go on, so we trotted out a whole slew of tactics to attempt to get our own search results up.

Here’s the jig, the standard methods aside, it turns out QUORA has a pretty high PageRank, and you can actually build anchor text around the autocorrect search term with a link to the correct page, and drive correct traffic very quickly by using proper categorization traffic tactics.

What we did was ask specific questions ABOUT our problem, with the correct backlink (www.thunderquote.com) from the anchor text ‘Thunder Quote’, and then drive a large (35,000) amount of views in a single night. This immediately drove us into the first page of Google for ‘Thunder Quote’

It also turns out that job ads on the various job sites for startups rank surprisingly well on Google, although we’re unsure of the exact degree to which it helps with our PageRank.

Directory submissions didn’t really help much with fixing this problem, but ads on classifieds sites like locanto, gumtree and so on helped.

For our final measure which we consider a last resort method, initially we also used Google Adwords to serve ads to people searching for ‘thunder quote’. Unfortunately, due to the low relevance to the majority of people searching the ad is not shown frequently but still acts as a form of redirect. Thankfully, the cost of such ads were low given that no-one else was targeting the keywords.

All in all, SEO is a crucial starting point for any start-up or business and should not be neglected but at the same time it is not a silver bullet for getting traffic in! A great deal more effort need to be spent on various marketing methods to reach out to your target audience or even manually through events or networking, you can check out the rest of my slides on Digital Marketing on Slideshare.

Check out the Digital Marketing Slides here. http://bit.ly/yes16dm

Thank you Kevin for the contribution. Here are some related topics if you are interested in further reading. 

~Marcus

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