I've been working in SEO and online content for over 10 years.
For the last 5, I've worked as a freelancer and run an agency that works primarily with startups and tech companies (generally Series A+ with $10mm++ in funding). Of course, I’m a big believer in SEO and content marketing as a smart, long-term growth strategy.
I've seen it work. I know it works.
I've also seen so many startups fail miserably at SEO. Dumb mistakes, flat-out misunderstanding, and severe miscalculations—I've probably seen them all. And a huge majority of those fuckups stem from a few key problems with the thinking and approach to SEO.
I'm calling these the 7 Deadly Sins of Startup SEO.
The number one mistake startups make trying to execute content marketing is a lack of strategy.
Most teams confuse having a plan for having a strategy.
But these aren’t the same thing.
Having a content plan or an editorial calendar does not mean that you have an actual content marketing strategy. The strategy is a high-level framework for how the content you’re creating will actually translate into tangible business growth.
If you don't understand why you're creating that content, how it works together, and how it will demonstrably achieve a specific business goal, then you don't have a real strategy. You need to do more research and better understand why (specifically) you're executing specific tactics and then how you can make them work.
Most successful SEO & content marketing strategies are about playing the long game. The results, the traffic, the sales rarely come in overnight.
But many startups treat content marketing like they’re stepping up to the plate and trying to hit a home run with everything they publish.
They think that if they just hit a few big homeruns, they'll go viral, their company will grow, and they'll win the game. Meanwhile, they aren't investing any effort in base hits that win games and—ultimately—championships.
It's go viral—or die trying.
But most content doesn't go viral. Most companies don't win by making one big splash. They win by making small waves over and over and over again until it turns into a tidal wave.
Most SEO wins won't come on the back of a single lucky break. This is a losing strategy that relies almost entirely on luck rather than strategic planning and proven frameworks.