Monday, January 23, 2012

Early-Stage Startups: Here's How to Get Impressive Search Results

Maybe you have an early stage startup with a minimum viable product and you are somewhere between the kitchen table stage and your first funding. When you search for the name of your startup on popular search engines all you see is your own website, your own blog and then irrelevant results. This will change when you get covered by Mashable, TheNextWeb, TechCrunch and so on, but for now it doesn't look very impressive. Without a PR budget you can't pay for professional help but there is a simple, entirely ethical way to make sure that your company practically owns the first page of search engine results -- the only thing most people look at anyway.  Here's how.

Search engines like Google use complex and secret algorithms to decide which sites will be listed first in search results, but what never changes is that the most important sites will always be on top. If you don't have many mentions then all sorts of irrelevant and spammy pages will appear quite high in the list. You can easily push them down by getting your startup mentioned on sites that are ranked very highly.  The Wall Street Journal, the New York Times, Mashable, TheNextWeb and Techcrunch all rank highly but getting covered on their pages is far from easy.

But there are many sites that are very highly ranked and also allow you to simply walk in and create a page for your business -- these are mostly social networking and social media sites. All you have to do is create an account of each of these and place at least some minimum content and very soon everything, or almost everything, on the first page of search results will be owned by you. Later when you get professional help and start getting coverage in major media some of these results will move down automatically to make space for these articles.

You can find suitable sites just by searching for some other companies and see which of the social sites comes up first, but to get fast results I recommend that you start by aiming to add nine more sites to your existing website so that you can fill the first page of results like this:

1. Your own website
2. Your own blog
3. Twitter account
4. Facebook page
5. LinkedIn company page
6. Google+ page
7. YouTube channel
8. Quora board (yes, Quora does allow this. See Quora answer on this topic)
9. Pinterest page
10.  Soundcloud page

Depending on your business you might not find Pinterest or Soundcloud appropriate but you can replace them with other sites like Slideshare and there are new ones being launched all the time. You can find these easily just by looking at the sites that rank highly in searches for other companies.

Even if you are working on your own, to get a minimum viable presence on these social sites can easily be done before the end of today, giving a fantastic return for surprisingly little effort. Later you can try pitching to media -- though you probably need professional help for that -- and more creative ideas. For example, if your startup is located in a city covered by Gidsy you could consider organizing a visit to your office or a coffee-with-startup-founder event.

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Lectures, Workshops & Coaching

For one-to-one coaching, lectures and workshops on this topic see andrewhennigan.com or contact me at conseil@andrewhennigan.com or by phone on 0033 6 79 61 42 81.

Related posts on Branding and Reputation Management:

Choosing Pronounceable Brand Names: Lessons from the Cuil Saga
Five Simple Steps to Improve Your Online Reputation
Branding in the Age of Search Engines
Why Having Accounts on Photo Sharing Sites Is Good for Your Image
Sign Up Now: Joining New Networking Sites Boosts Brand, Reputation

Related posts on Startups

Social Media Crisis Management: Odimax's Emergency Stop
16pics Automatic Photo Picker: Humans Do Better But Have Better Things To Do
Trading Influence For Equity Wahooly Boosts Startups, Raises Ethical Questions
Why Gidsys Marketplace for Experiences Will Change Things
Zerply: Three Thumbs Up, Two Thumbs Sideways


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