? PAUL: (HTTPS://TWITTER.COM/PAUL_TIRBAN)

It’s Paul.

 

? FLORIN: (HTTPS://TWITTER.COM/FLORIN_MURESAN)

It’s Florin. What are we grinding today? Today we are getting to the essence of SEO and content marketing for startups.

 

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Seo and content marketing for startups. So are you referring here how I should buy or hire an SEO expert or how I should develop SEO skills, or what are you referring to it?

 

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Well, with today’s technology, you can actually do a lot of things on your own and without spending way too much time browsing forums or blogs to learn about SEO and also how to do content marketing. So you can do a lot of these things. You can do them on your own. And especially if you’re on a founder’s budget, then you will want to keep that money for yourself and not hire an expert who charges you $4,000 per month to do your SEO.

 

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And how it’s happening, I guess, in SEO world, and you can confirm if it’s like this or not, you never are 100 % about the results. So you might pay an expert and actually.

 

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Like.

 

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Losing some money or a part of them without the expected results.

 

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Yeah. And basically, you won’t get the results, as you said. And the thing is that you’re basically sabotaging yourself by doing this, because when somebody starts working with you on SEO, they will ask you the following, what are your keywords? What keywords do you want me to rank you for? And you don’t know your keywords because you’re a startup. You haven’t done a lot of research. You don’t know how to do that research. So even if you had some ideas of what your keywords might be, if they just start blindly optimizing content for you and pages for you and getting you ranked for the wrong keywords on Google, that will not help you because it might not help you get traffic. Or if you get traffic, you get traffic from the wrong people, so you won’t bring the relevant visitors to your websites. And since you are most probably trying to do a lean startup, you should also do lean SEO.

 

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Actually, if I’m looking back a little bit, I’m thinking that with our startup initially, like with the first doctor, actually, we didn’t invest at all in SEO. I think in the first year, we didn’t even thought or know what are that keywords and invested in keywords research. Why do you think it’s important for a founder to invest in keyword research?

 

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I guess that investing in keyword research is the best thing you can do as a startup founder, even if you will not want to do SEO ever. Because by identifying the way that your potential consumers or your potential customers search on the web, you can find a lot of ideas for problems that they are trying to solve and for the kinds of solutions that they are looking for online. So you can actually get a huge kickstart on your marketing campaigns and your marketing programs just by figuring out their shopping behaviors and their research behaviors. Because if you understand that, then you can create amazing campaigns for your audience.

 

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Let’s say a little bit on this part with the keyword research. So if I’m a founder with less or more experience, how would you recommend me to start doing the keyword research? What tools should I use? Where should I go or where should I start?

 

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Well, without trying to do any shameless promotion here, you should actually go to Squorley SEO and you should definitely do that because it has a free version and there are a lot of things on the free version. But the idea is that if you will look at the 14 days journey to better ranking, you will find all the information that you need for starting out with SEO, even if you will choose not to do SEO because it won’t make sense for your industry. But just by knowing all of the details there, you will know exactly how to look at keywords because most founders that I know, they don’t know how to do a keyword research because they don’t know that they should look at direct keyword one, direct keyword 2, direct keyword three, and direct keyword 4. And they don’t know when they should choose these types of levels for the keyword research they do. And they also don’t know when to do indirect keywords. Usually, you would use content marketing when you’re targeting indirect keywords, and you could use the other levels of keyword when you’re trying to look for something very specific. In case you would have a very complex tool for social media, let’s say, you would basically have your first keywords like social media tools or social media management, which is the obvious choice, right?

 

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Yeah. Actually, in this part, with these 40 days, I remember that I started using it on the e-commerce platform that I’m trying to launch it. Maybe if you agree, we can try to take this as an experiment. Basically… With the e-commerce platform? Exactly. F or the audience, what I’m trying to do is to build the e-commerce website for the Romanian market that sells natural products and healthy products. H ow do you start with this or with these 40 days? W here it starts me? Because the audience, I guess, they didn’t try it.

 

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Yeah. Well, you just have to go. Each day has different recipe and you just have to read the instructions and then do what it tells you to do. Because it will walk you through everything that you need to do to research great keywords for your online store. Because it will take you from the idea of online stores for natural products to ideas like a certain type of product like natural teas, organic products, bio products, stuff like that.

 

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Coffee since we’re making coffee, we’re doing a podcast.

 

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Organic coffee, natural coffee, stuff like that. Yeah, definitely. And then you could find out from those 14 days, you could find out how to expand the portfolio of keywords that you are optimizing for, so that when people are searching for anything related to your e-commerce store, they will find the products from your e-commerce store and not from the e-commerce stores of your competitors.

 

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I think a lot of the struggle, at least for the technical founders regarding these keywords and once you know them, is the other part in which actually you need to somehow build a web page or the content to write that content for that keyword. Remember in my example, for example, with First Doctor, what we did, we just took a template from an HTML template that we edited for our landing page, and we didn’t just put there our features, basically, of the app. Starting from these keywords, should I look to how to write the content or should there be an intermediate re steps in this?

 

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You should even try to find keywords for your features. A lot of really smart things in SEO is if you have an app, you would try to find keywords for the app itself and then have a landing page for your app using that main keyword. But then you would also need other landing pages. Each landing page presents one of your features, and for that feature, you actually do keyword research.

 

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For example, if I have a doctor appointment app, what keyword do you think I should start with, for example?

 

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Finding a doctor, contacting a doctor.

 

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This would be the keyword 1.

 

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Keyword, the first level is the thing that best describes the app itself. And then keyword 2 would be the features.

 

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Okay, so let’s say I have a feature that you can make an appointment by just talking with Alexa, for example. All right.

 

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Well, you would have to see if people search for any kinds of keywords related to that. For example, if people search on Google for things like Alexa appointment apps.

 

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Okay. And basically should I have different landing pages for all these keywords?

 

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Definitely. You always want to match the keyword to a very specific landing page that has that exact keyword written on it. And even if you would try to do Google ads, for example, Google also wants this on its advertising platform. So if you’re targeting a keyword, that keyword needs to appear in the content of the page to which you take the visitor who clicked on the ad because otherwise it would give you a bad score. And if they see that you don’t update the landing page, they can even ban your account, your Google ads account. So we’ve learned that from a Google specialist who’s actually working at Google for the ads part. And we were like, Yeah, we didn’t know that. We thought that this was only for SEO. We didn’t know that it impacts advertising as well, but it does.

 

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Okay. I actually didn’t know this, to be honest.

 

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I’ve learned it last week because I know SEO, but I didn’t really know a lot about advertising, but it seems that they apply the same rules to advertising as well.

 

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Interesting, really nice. In term of SEO and content marketing, as a founder, would you recommend me to start with a certain platform? Should I build my website from scratch? Should I use, I don’t know, WordPress or some platform?

 

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You should use something custom for the web app. For the web version of your app, you should use something custom. But for the website itself, you should definitely use WordPress because there are a lot of plug ins and a lot of customizations that you can make which are very specific to WordPress and which will get you ranked higher. You have a lot of tools that will help you with conversion rate optimization, a lot of tools that will help you with social media, a lot of tools that will help you with email marketing, and all these are built for WordPress. And because you have a WordPress site, it’s much easier to use all of these tools because you don’t have to invest so much time in getting everything started and everything going because most of them are done automatically because they use the WordPress system. Otherwise, you have to work a lot on integrations and integrations can go wrong and.

 

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A lot of different aspects. Yeah, actually, totally. Regarding this part with the WordPress, for example, in my experience with this e-commerce, basically a struggle that I have is the part in which currently there are a lot of pages and it’s quite hard for me to follow them and to see on what to focus on, what to rank it now, what to rank it later. At the moment, I feel that a lot of pages and it’s hard for me to follow what page is for which keyword optimized.

 

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That makes a lot of sense, actually. Most of the people that I know, they struggle exactly with this part. I mean, especially e-commerce owners where you have a lot of products on the e-commerce side. You will know if you want if you want to do something today, what are you going to work on? But if you start using the focus pages framework where you actually focus on a couple of pages at a time, you will know exactly what to do with those pages to rank them higher on Google, and then you can move on to another set of pages. So for example, you can take a set of five pages with some of the most important products. They may be your most popular products on the e-commerce store, and you’ve seen that you can make really great sales with those products because a lot of people who come to your page, they actually buy the product. Those are the first pages that you will want to rank high on Google. So let’s say that you have a very special syrup or a cream or something like that, then you can optimize it, get it on the first page of Google by following a lot of different steps.

 

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It’s not really that hard these days to follow the steps because Google has made SEO a lot more accessible and easy for people. Because there are a lot of ranking factors that are now very transparent and very public. You need to have this, this, this, this, that, and it’s a list of about 54 factors that you can directly influence to make Google rank your pages higher and to see more quality on the page. And if you actually work on those ranking factors for these first five pages, you will rank these first five pages and then you can move on to other five pages from your side. So in your case, you can make five products first. You will make all of them be really good because it takes a lot of time and a lot of work to get this to a very good state. And then once they are ranked, you can move on to the next ones. Because if they are not ranked, then it means that you need to change the content on the pages. You may need to change the keywords that you’re targeting for the pages. You may need to change the pages themselves.

 

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Sometimes you need to make a lot of adjustments to the content because one ranking factor is, even though you have to write a lot of words on the page, sometimes because you write a lot of words, you make the text super boring. So the person that lands on the product page, they will instantly bounce off and go to another website because your site was boring. So in this case, for example, in squarely SEO and in our focus pages section, we have a thing that says, Okay, write 1,000 words on this page to get a good score from our platform. But you also need to make sure that once you make this change, people will spend an average of at least two minutes on the page. So there are two major points that you need to get straight in order for us to say that you’ve done a great job at that particular point because we want to make sure that you have long content, but that the long content is engaging and keeps people browsing through the page. Otherwise, you haven’t really done anything useful. Google looks at how much time people spend on your pages.

 

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If Google sees that a lot of people come to your page, then they bounce off, they will give you a lower score and you will fall down in rankings.

 

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I think there might be some people that are not familiar with the bounce off concept.

 

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Yeah. So a bounce happens when somebody enters your page and then they immediately close your page. They hit X in the browser and they leave your page for good.

 

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Okay. And I think this is, for example, if you use the wrong keyword and they don’t find what they search for or it’s boring, as you say. Okay. If I understand correctly, basically, what should I do initially is to write the long content, so let’s say the 1,000 words content, and then in the following days or following week to look at the average time. Because if something is not okay regarding the average time, I should change something there.

 

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Yeah, you can do that, but you need to make sure that you get enough traffic to the page. That’s also something that you should be looking at because if you’re not getting enough traffic, there isn’t a lot of potential for that average to get modified.

 

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Basically I optimize this page, I move the focus to say like that to the next one. I think if I’m correct, this part with the focus pages, you introduce it in S 4, right? You are the first.

 

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Yeah, we’ve introduced it in the latest version. We are basically the only ones on the market capable of offering this feature because it looks at over 54 ranking factors to give you the results and to give you the optimizations that you still need to do. The really hard part was that this is not like general advice. This looks at each of your pages. You have five pages, each of them have different statistics and you can’t treat all of them the same. Our platform will actually show you how you need to treat each page and how each page needs to get ranked because the way you get one page ranked won’t be the same way that you get the second page ranked because a lot of things are different from page to page.

 

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I agree with this because I thought when I ranked the first one that it would be very easy for the next one. But actually, it’s easy but it takes work. You need to follow the steps but actually you can do it step by step on this.

 

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Part. exactly. And you will see that you have pages on your website that are better than others. One of your pages might be 5,000 words long and it might have amazing engagement on the page. You will have a low bounce rate. People spend a lot of time on your page. You get a lot of clicks. Even when people see that page on the search engines, they have a very high chance of clicking on your listing to go to that page. And that’s super fine. But this is just like the first page. On the second page, you may have shorter content with worse engagement metrics. People don’t spend time on the page and they don’t click it when they see it on the Google search engine. Then you have two pages, but the work you need to do on them is completely different from page to page.

 

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Regarding this part, should I take the website as a whole or should I treat some pages as some groups to say like that, that the user might go from one to another in order to keep the bounce off lower? Because for example, I might use a page only for a certain campaign, and I think we will get immediately to these parts, like to have dedicated landing pages for a campaign.

 

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Well, it depends a lot on what you want to do because you can have a couple of pages on your website that are meant specifically for something like Google ads campaign or something that you just want to distribute very fast to social media, but it doesn’t really hold value for your overall SEO strategy and for your search engine strategy for the website. So in some cases, you will have a piece of news that is very relevant. A lot of people would share it on social media and it would become viral instantly. But that wouldn’t really be good for somebody searching for a certain keyword on a search engine. So in that case, you will want to make sure that people from search engines will not go to that page because it wasn’t intended for this use case. And in that case, you can set a lot of visibility settings to off. Of course, if you’re using Squirly, if you’re not using Squirly, you can just go to the source code and insert stuff like no follow and no index to the page and even exclude that page from your site map. And then Google will not care about that page.

 

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That will not go to the overall calculations that they make in order to rank your site better. And then you would obtain a page that’s great for ads and social media and it’s not visible for SEO. We actually do this a lot. So if you go to our blog, we have some pretty long articles that are packed with a lot of information. Those are made for SEO purposes. But then we have articles that are just about our company, our latest releases, because we release a lot of products, a lot of new versions, a lot of updates for a lot of things. We talk about this because our audience is interested. But somebody could search on a search engine for, I know, like a social media tool, they wouldn’t really want to know about an update that we’ve done to Squirly Social. Because it’s really not interesting for somebody.

 

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Searching on a search engine. I totally agree on this.

 

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We make those pages invisible on search engines. We use them in the blog, you can find them in the feeds, but you will not find them on search engines because it would provide a bad user experience for the person searching for that particular thing.

 

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Basically, if I have a page on the website that I’m using it as a landing for an announcement that I’m sending to my mail list of registered users, it probably would be a good idea to not have that page indexed by Google.

 

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Yes.

 

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Exactly. Because most probably it won’t have the menu of the website or things like that. It will be just to inform the users on this part.

 

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It’s actually very good.

 

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I would go a little bit back to some scenarios, for example, because I think it’s interesting to see how would you apply this CIO strategy and content marketing. For example, the app for eLearning platform for pharmacies that provide content for any pharmacies on a B2C level.

 

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Okay, on a B2C level.

 

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Exactly. How would you tackle this?

 

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Well, I would need to know a bit more information. Are the pages supposed to be found on search engines?

 

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Let’s say each course from the platform has a free episode that basically describe what’s happening there. Preview, that’s text, and a small video.

 

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Well, it depends on how you want to target that page. So if it’s something like online courses for pharmacists and that’s your keyword, then it’s very good. You have a direct keyword and you have a direct landing page that covers exactly that specific topic. However, if you would see that there is a lot of interest for skincare product education, let’s say that would be something that people search for on the web, you could actually make a blog post that is supposed to get people to convert to your online courses, but they would initially inform the user on ways in which they can educate themselves about skincare and treating skin conditions.

 

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Basically, we get back to that part in which you said that probably you can also have keywords for features. B asically, I could use this part with the blog post to describe a feature in the app, for example.

 

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Exactly. Yeah. Even if you would search for something like… Let’s say that you have a coffee shop. The basic thing is to look for coffee shops in London, for example. But maybe you don’t want to do coffee shops in London because there are a lot of them. Maybe you can find something interesting like the best ways to identify if… I know the coffee you just bought is actually quality coffee. Maybe you can find a keyword for people who search how to identify the quality of coffee. I know if people search for that because I haven’t done a keyword research. But you could look for these kinds of keywords and they are very indirect. They don’t directly apply to your business because your business doesn’t test the quality of different coffees because you don’t have a tester for that. If you would build Rx 8 engine, then you would do compression test and stuff like that because those engines are unreliable.

 

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I guess I didn’t repair your car yet.

 

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No, I just bought a new engine. But yeah, as a coffee shop, I’m not selling testers for the quality of coffee, but I could teach you how to look at the quality of the coffee. ook at quality in coffee. And then you would probably be inclined to come and buy from my coffee shop because we are actually experts in the way that we sell coffee and the way that we make coffee. We grind coffee and everything related to it.

 

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Should I start this part with thinking on the SEO strategy and on the content market strategy when in the life of a startup to select that? Once I have the product, when I try to validate the idea and to search for the initial interest.

 

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A lot of people are doing this to find the initial interest. You can actually Because you don’t really know the product yet at this point, so you don’t really have a feature set with clear keywords. That’s when you can actually use content marketing. A lot of startups are actually doing this because they’re providing content to the desired user, even though they don’t have a very clear solution of what to offer to that customer. And then you write articles about something that’s quite indirect, and then when they come to your article, you may have conversion elements that are stating the value proposition that you’re currently trying to test. So by making great content and optimizing it, you are getting people to those pages. And once they are on the pages, you can see if they are interested in the unique value proposition that you’re trying to offer.

 

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And probably bringing the right people since you’re using the correct keywords. Otherwise, the results might be not so accurate.

 

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Yeah, and you can even test different audiences. So if, for example, for your store, you might see at one point that people looking for organic products are much more probable to be interested in your whole value proposition than people who just try to search for specialty coffee or specialty tea. That’s something that you might see from this experiment where you experiment with different content types and content marketing to get the right people to your site and then to see which of those people actually want to interact with the value proposition that you offer.

 

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Maybe testing the value proposition on different blog posts, for example, I see which makes more interest of users and this turn longer again. Interesting. I didn’t thought that me as a tech founder, for example, I could do my own SEO for a startup.

 

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Yeah, you can actually do it. I guess it’s even easier for tech founders to do SEO because a lot of aspects around SEO are pretty much technical. You already have an advantage over everybody else and you see things based on numbers. And sometimes SEO is a numbers game, so that might also be used to your advantage. Also, if you know how to look at metrics, because as I’ve said, you need to look at a lot of engagement metrics on the page, how much people spend on the page, how many words there are, how they perform according to different content lens that you’ve tested, and you can run experiments. And actually, as a tech founder, you might be much better suited with doing SEO.

 

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If there were to be to recommend two, three sources for documenting about SEO and content marketing for an early founder, where would you recommend to go?

 

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That’s a great question. On guides. C o, the platform is still active. I’m very surprised by this because they actually failed as a startup a long time ago. But the guides that they have on that site are still very relevant and very good. At one point, one of the first content marketing strategies that I’ve ever done was based on some of the guides that you can find on guides. C o. Most of them are very well written and you can get a lot of ideas on how to get started. Other than that, it’s pretty hard with SEO. I can’t honestly recommend other places, maybe the most blocked and stuff about SEO written by HubSpot. But other than that, I can’t really recommend because a lot of people in this industry sadly present details which are either fake or they’re not very accurately presented and they lead to a lot of complications.

 

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On your blog, you also, on Squarespace, you have some content there, right? Yeah. This got me to the next question. We talked about where I should find or look for information. What do you think or what tools should I start with?

 

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For what? For SEO?

 

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For SEO. Let’s say I have… I installed a WordPress website, I add a theme on it because it’s cheap, I can find a free one and it’s fast. I would like to start make a landing page, which is optimized and one, two or two articles to test the initial hypothesis to say.

 

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Well, then you just need WordPress. You can use the Elementor site builder because you can build very beautiful landing pages and they also have a free version of their app. Then you would need to have a Squirly SEO. Then you would need to have an email service provider, something like Mailchimp. Then you also need… So Squirly SEO does keyword research, auditing, search checking. It offers you focus pages. It looks at all of the ranking factors that Google looks when it takes your pages into account for ranking. So it’s like the complete counter marketing suite in SEO suite. But you could also add in, of course, Google Analytics, because if you provide great data in Google Analytics, you will already send the proper data to Google because otherwise they would guess it and they can guess it wrong. And use Google search console because it helps you make sure that Google really knows the last pages that you’ve published to the website. So in most of the cases that I’ve seen, especially with founders that don’t have a lot of experience in online marketing, they create amazing pages. They’re very good pages, but Google doesn’t know about them.

 

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And the founders don’t know that Google doesn’t know about those pages. And by using search console, you can easily make sure that Google knows that you’ve published that page on the web and that it should start thinking about ranking your page.

 

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From what I saw using S corley SEO, it helped me with setting up the Google Analytics integration with Google search console, which is quite easy. And the nice part, basically, it generated the site map for me also in WordPress, which is quite nice.

 

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Yes. And it enriches it with images and videos as well because that’s also an important ranking factor for Google. And we actually had to do this because since 2016, we’ve been trying to identify the problems that a lot of small businesses have with doing SEO. And we thought that the problems were a bit more complicated. They weren’t. A lot of people, they’ve never used Google search console, they’ve never used Google Analytics. Google didn’t know that they had pages published on the web. We’ve redesigned the whole experience to actually do a lot more than what you would normally expect. That’s why we walk people through step by step processes to get everything they need for SEO because people actually needed this more than they needed the search checker or keyword research tool.

 

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I dare now to ask you, if some of our listeners have some question regarding this, can they tackle you on our Facebook group?

 

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Yeah, of course.

 

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So if you have any questions regarding SEO and content marketing, just feel free and join the Startup Expressor group. And there, Floryn can guide you to other specialized group or resources.

 

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Definitely. I do this a lot. You can ask absolutely everything from, Is backlink still a thing to is on page enough to do SEO? You can ask anything that you want. It’s no problem with no question. I will just answer it.

 

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How can I be first on Google for awesome people?

 

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I am not your lawyer.

 

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We are not your consultants.

 

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And I’m not going to be your SEO expert.

 

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But we will give you proper advice on SEO on our Facebook group.

 

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That’s something that will definitely happen. So that might be the only place where we are going to make an exception to our general rule.

 

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And don’t forget, buy us a coffee.

 

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Yeah, definitely go and do that. Buy us a coffee.