Startup SEO Growth Plan

$100M SEO for Startups Course

Written by Jan-Oliver Seidenfuss

About this Course

Course Chapters
Course Chapters

This is chapter 8 of the $100M SEO For Startups course.

If you aren't following along, don't worry.

I'll include links to previous chapters for context. This way, you can easily catch up on any necessary background information.

Enjoy! ✌️

This is chapter 8 of the $100M SEO For Startups course.

If you aren't following along, don't worry.

I'll include links to previous chapters for context. This way, you can easily catch up on any necessary background information.

Enjoy! ✌️

This is chapter 8 of the $100M SEO For Startups course.

If you aren't following along, don't worry.

I'll include links to previous chapters for context. This way, you can easily catch up on any necessary background information.

Enjoy! ✌️

Step #1 - Solution Aware Keyword Research

The first thing I do is to find the topics people search for in the solution aware stage of the customer journey.

The topics we find here are vital for the next few steps. So give it your best shot.

  • Product focused - People search for your product directly (e.g. "cat flap with prey detection")

  • Feature focused - People search for a feature of your product (e.g. "cat flap with app")

  • Solution focused - People search for a specific solution (e.g. "cat flap for high prey drive cats")

  • Competitor focused - People know a competitor and are looking for alternatives

You can ignore the other stages of the customer journey for now, they don't matter in the beginning.

You can even use this data when evaluating an idea. But you're probably past this point which is fine.

As we learned when looking at the SEO Strategy, these topics directly map to common startup page types.

We’ll come back to this in a second.

The first thing I do is to find the topics people search for in the solution aware stage of the customer journey.

The topics we find here are vital for the next few steps. So give it your best shot.

  • Product focused - People search for your product directly (e.g. "cat flap with prey detection")

  • Feature focused - People search for a feature of your product (e.g. "cat flap with app")

  • Solution focused - People search for a specific solution (e.g. "cat flap for high prey drive cats")

  • Competitor focused - People know a competitor and are looking for alternatives

You can ignore the other stages of the customer journey for now, they don't matter in the beginning.

You can even use this data when evaluating an idea. But you're probably past this point which is fine.

As we learned when looking at the SEO Strategy, these topics directly map to common startup page types.

We’ll come back to this in a second.

The first thing I do is to find the topics people search for in the solution aware stage of the customer journey.

The topics we find here are vital for the next few steps. So give it your best shot.

  • Product focused - People search for your product directly (e.g. "cat flap with prey detection")

  • Feature focused - People search for a feature of your product (e.g. "cat flap with app")

  • Solution focused - People search for a specific solution (e.g. "cat flap for high prey drive cats")

  • Competitor focused - People know a competitor and are looking for alternatives

You can ignore the other stages of the customer journey for now, they don't matter in the beginning.

You can even use this data when evaluating an idea. But you're probably past this point which is fine.

As we learned when looking at the SEO Strategy, these topics directly map to common startup page types.

We’ll come back to this in a second.

Step #2 - Add Keyword Difficulty

Additionally to the data we have from Google Keyword Planner, I also add Keyword Difficulty to each topic.

But what exactly is Keyword Difficulty?

Keyword Difficulty is a metric from Ahrefs.

“Keyword Difficulty (KD) is an SEO metric that estimates how hard it would be to rank on the first page of Google for a given keyword. It is measured on a scale from 0 to 100, with the latter being the hardest to rank for. […] It gives you a straightforward benchmark of how many backlinks the top-ranking pages for each keyword have:

  • KD 0-5: Top-ranking pages barely have any backlinks

  • KD ~50: Top-ranking pages have a couple of hundred backlinks

  • KD 90+: Top-ranking pages have thousands of backlinks”

Cool!

But of course, the KD is only an approximation. There are a lot of other factors that influence rankings like a topical dependance. See the Topical Authority chapter for more details.

Still, it's a useful metric to get an impression of the topic competitiveness. So put all the topics you found for the solution aware stage into Ahrefs and see what comes up.

Let’s use Flappie as example.

For them, the Keyword Difficulty for the product focused topic - ai cat flap - is 7.

In case you don’t see a metric, click on “update” to let Ahrefs calculate it for you. This usually takes a minute or two.

If you’re done, move on to the next step.

Additionally to the data we have from Google Keyword Planner, I also add Keyword Difficulty to each topic.

But what exactly is Keyword Difficulty?

Keyword Difficulty is a metric from Ahrefs.

“Keyword Difficulty (KD) is an SEO metric that estimates how hard it would be to rank on the first page of Google for a given keyword. It is measured on a scale from 0 to 100, with the latter being the hardest to rank for. […] It gives you a straightforward benchmark of how many backlinks the top-ranking pages for each keyword have:

  • KD 0-5: Top-ranking pages barely have any backlinks

  • KD ~50: Top-ranking pages have a couple of hundred backlinks

  • KD 90+: Top-ranking pages have thousands of backlinks”

Cool!

But of course, the KD is only an approximation. There are a lot of other factors that influence rankings like a topical dependance. See the Topical Authority chapter for more details.

Still, it's a useful metric to get an impression of the topic competitiveness. So put all the topics you found for the solution aware stage into Ahrefs and see what comes up.

Let’s use Flappie as example.

For them, the Keyword Difficulty for the product focused topic - ai cat flap - is 7.

In case you don’t see a metric, click on “update” to let Ahrefs calculate it for you. This usually takes a minute or two.

If you’re done, move on to the next step.

Additionally to the data we have from Google Keyword Planner, I also add Keyword Difficulty to each topic.

But what exactly is Keyword Difficulty?

Keyword Difficulty is a metric from Ahrefs.

“Keyword Difficulty (KD) is an SEO metric that estimates how hard it would be to rank on the first page of Google for a given keyword. It is measured on a scale from 0 to 100, with the latter being the hardest to rank for. […] It gives you a straightforward benchmark of how many backlinks the top-ranking pages for each keyword have:

  • KD 0-5: Top-ranking pages barely have any backlinks

  • KD ~50: Top-ranking pages have a couple of hundred backlinks

  • KD 90+: Top-ranking pages have thousands of backlinks”

Cool!

But of course, the KD is only an approximation. There are a lot of other factors that influence rankings like a topical dependance. See the Topical Authority chapter for more details.

Still, it's a useful metric to get an impression of the topic competitiveness. So put all the topics you found for the solution aware stage into Ahrefs and see what comes up.

Let’s use Flappie as example.

For them, the Keyword Difficulty for the product focused topic - ai cat flap - is 7.

In case you don’t see a metric, click on “update” to let Ahrefs calculate it for you. This usually takes a minute or two.

If you’re done, move on to the next step.

Step #3 - Sanity Check

Let’s look at the product focused topic only.

The product focused topic is what people type into Google when they have the problem you solve & search for a solution but don't know any brands. It has the highest commercial intent.

(Aka people are likely to purchase)

So ideally you’d rank #1.

If you’re already ranking somewhere in the top 10, you’re good.

But if you’re starting from 0, the Keyword Difficulty is a good indication of how much effort & time it will take to climb the rankings.

If it’s low (0-25), you’re just fine. But the higher it gets, the harder it will be.

And the question then is if you actually selected the right topic?

A very high Keyword Difficulty (70+) essentially means there are big players doing the exact same thing as you do.

But typically you don't enter a completely saturated market? So how does your product differentiate? What’s the unique angle you have?

Maybe your product focused topic should be more niche?

If I decided to use “seo tool” as product focused topic, I'd have to realise that I am doomed.

With a KD of 89, it’s basically impossible to rank.

But actually, it’s just the wrong topic. It’s way too general.

So if you’re faced with very high Keyword Difficulty maybe reiterate on the topics you found.

Ask yourself - who are you targeting and how do you differentiate from existing products?

This way you potentially come up with a product focused topic that is more niche and less competitive.

Often there is one which can help you get very high intent traffic early on.

But what if not? What if you’re actually doing the exact same thing as existing players? Or nobody searches for the way your product differentiates?

Well, it means that the topic you found is indeed the right one. But it’s just very hard to rank.

All good. No worries.

Enough other ways to get traffic early on. With time you’ll build the authority to rank.

Let’s look at the product focused topic only.

The product focused topic is what people type into Google when they have the problem you solve & search for a solution but don't know any brands. It has the highest commercial intent.

(Aka people are likely to purchase)

So ideally you’d rank #1.

If you’re already ranking somewhere in the top 10, you’re good.

But if you’re starting from 0, the Keyword Difficulty is a good indication of how much effort & time it will take to climb the rankings.

If it’s low (0-25), you’re just fine. But the higher it gets, the harder it will be.

And the question then is if you actually selected the right topic?

A very high Keyword Difficulty (70+) essentially means there are big players doing the exact same thing as you do.

But typically you don't enter a completely saturated market? So how does your product differentiate? What’s the unique angle you have?

Maybe your product focused topic should be more niche?

If I decided to use “seo tool” as product focused topic, I'd have to realise that I am doomed.

With a KD of 89, it’s basically impossible to rank.

But actually, it’s just the wrong topic. It’s way too general.

So if you’re faced with very high Keyword Difficulty maybe reiterate on the topics you found.

Ask yourself - who are you targeting and how do you differentiate from existing products?

This way you potentially come up with a product focused topic that is more niche and less competitive.

Often there is one which can help you get very high intent traffic early on.

But what if not? What if you’re actually doing the exact same thing as existing players? Or nobody searches for the way your product differentiates?

Well, it means that the topic you found is indeed the right one. But it’s just very hard to rank.

All good. No worries.

Enough other ways to get traffic early on. With time you’ll build the authority to rank.

Let’s look at the product focused topic only.

The product focused topic is what people type into Google when they have the problem you solve & search for a solution but don't know any brands. It has the highest commercial intent.

(Aka people are likely to purchase)

So ideally you’d rank #1.

If you’re already ranking somewhere in the top 10, you’re good.

But if you’re starting from 0, the Keyword Difficulty is a good indication of how much effort & time it will take to climb the rankings.

If it’s low (0-25), you’re just fine. But the higher it gets, the harder it will be.

And the question then is if you actually selected the right topic?

A very high Keyword Difficulty (70+) essentially means there are big players doing the exact same thing as you do.

But typically you don't enter a completely saturated market? So how does your product differentiate? What’s the unique angle you have?

Maybe your product focused topic should be more niche?

If I decided to use “seo tool” as product focused topic, I'd have to realise that I am doomed.

With a KD of 89, it’s basically impossible to rank.

But actually, it’s just the wrong topic. It’s way too general.

So if you’re faced with very high Keyword Difficulty maybe reiterate on the topics you found.

Ask yourself - who are you targeting and how do you differentiate from existing products?

This way you potentially come up with a product focused topic that is more niche and less competitive.

Often there is one which can help you get very high intent traffic early on.

But what if not? What if you’re actually doing the exact same thing as existing players? Or nobody searches for the way your product differentiates?

Well, it means that the topic you found is indeed the right one. But it’s just very hard to rank.

All good. No worries.

Enough other ways to get traffic early on. With time you’ll build the authority to rank.

Step #4 - Choose Domain Name

If you already have a domain you can skip this part.

If not, you have to make a decision.

Either you go for a domain name that contains the full product focused topic (Exact Match Domain, EMD), part of it (Partial Match Domain, PMD), or none of it (No Match Domain, NMD).

We’ve previously seen that both EMD & PMD have an indirect impact on our sites Topical Authority

And can thus help with ranking.

How does this work?

Well, if the product focused topic is part of your domain, people use it to search for or link to your page.

This way, you build Topical Authority through the branded search for the right keywords.

If this sounds weird, check the chapter to understand the impact the domain on SEO.

I would decide about the domain based on my ambition and the scope of the project.

  • If you go for an Indie Hacker project and there are people searching for the product focused topic, an exact match domain can be an advantage. If not available, a partial match domain makes sense.

  • If you are building a product with focus on brand, go for a no match domain or partial match domain.

If you already have a domain you can skip this part.

If not, you have to make a decision.

Either you go for a domain name that contains the full product focused topic (Exact Match Domain, EMD), part of it (Partial Match Domain, PMD), or none of it (No Match Domain, NMD).

We’ve previously seen that both EMD & PMD have an indirect impact on our sites Topical Authority

And can thus help with ranking.

How does this work?

Well, if the product focused topic is part of your domain, people use it to search for or link to your page.

This way, you build Topical Authority through the branded search for the right keywords.

If this sounds weird, check the chapter to understand the impact the domain on SEO.

I would decide about the domain based on my ambition and the scope of the project.

  • If you go for an Indie Hacker project and there are people searching for the product focused topic, an exact match domain can be an advantage. If not available, a partial match domain makes sense.

  • If you are building a product with focus on brand, go for a no match domain or partial match domain.

If you already have a domain you can skip this part.

If not, you have to make a decision.

Either you go for a domain name that contains the full product focused topic (Exact Match Domain, EMD), part of it (Partial Match Domain, PMD), or none of it (No Match Domain, NMD).

We’ve previously seen that both EMD & PMD have an indirect impact on our sites Topical Authority

And can thus help with ranking.

How does this work?

Well, if the product focused topic is part of your domain, people use it to search for or link to your page.

This way, you build Topical Authority through the branded search for the right keywords.

If this sounds weird, check the chapter to understand the impact the domain on SEO.

I would decide about the domain based on my ambition and the scope of the project.

  • If you go for an Indie Hacker project and there are people searching for the product focused topic, an exact match domain can be an advantage. If not available, a partial match domain makes sense.

  • If you are building a product with focus on brand, go for a no match domain or partial match domain.

Step #5 - Optimise Landing Page

Obviously we need a page for people to visit.

If you haven’t done so, build it.

Consider to directly SEO optimise your landing page for the product focused topic.

We’ll cover how to do this in the next chapter.

Obviously we need a page for people to visit.

If you haven’t done so, build it.

Consider to directly SEO optimise your landing page for the product focused topic.

We’ll cover how to do this in the next chapter.

Obviously we need a page for people to visit.

If you haven’t done so, build it.

Consider to directly SEO optimise your landing page for the product focused topic.

We’ll cover how to do this in the next chapter.

Step #6 - Build Topical Authority

There are two cases when you have to build Topical Authority.

Case 1 is obvious: You have a new domain & thus no Topical Authority.

Then it’s time to change that, right!

Case 2 is a little tricky: You have an existing domain, good traffic, but have authority for topics with the wrong intent.

This can happen if you didn’t do Keyword Research in the beginning.

To get a clear picture, first understand what your domain’s Topical Authority is.

Then see if that matches with the overall product focused topic or not.

I don’t mean word by word but generally.

Let’s see an example.

For Flappie, the product focused topic is “ai cat flap”.

We found that Flappie has Topical Authority for “cat flap”. So that’s great.

But it can happen that you position yourself as something that actually has a different intent.

To prevent this, it's important to consider SEO from the beginning.

Cool!

But how can you actually build Topical Authority?

Through other marketing channels. Not SEO!

Your primary goal is to get people to visit or link to your page. Ideally with keywords that belong to the product focused topic.

Two great ways to build Topical Authority are free tools and assets.

Free tools are usually small, free applications that have a single functionality.

If we'd release a Topical Authority checker, people would search for spexia topical authority checker on Google to find it.

And we'd get Topical Authority for this keyword.

But there's another level to free tools. They actually drive organic traffic as well.

Check out Pallyy as an example.

A great amount of their traffic comes from free tools.

So it’s a win-win!

The second way I like to build Topical Authority is free assets. It’s what I am doing with this course.

The main topic we focus on at Spexia is “seo for startups”. By naming the course “$100M SEO FOR STARTUPS”, people will search for it with e.g. “spexia seo for startups course”.

Bingo! We get Topical Authority for seo for startups.

But to make people aware of the free assets & tools I don’t rely on Google but e.g. Twitter, Youtube and Reddit.

These are just two of my favourite ways to build Topical Authority. Check the previous chapter for more.

There are two cases when you have to build Topical Authority.

Case 1 is obvious: You have a new domain & thus no Topical Authority.

Then it’s time to change that, right!

Case 2 is a little tricky: You have an existing domain, good traffic, but have authority for topics with the wrong intent.

This can happen if you didn’t do Keyword Research in the beginning.

To get a clear picture, first understand what your domain’s Topical Authority is.

Then see if that matches with the overall product focused topic or not.

I don’t mean word by word but generally.

Let’s see an example.

For Flappie, the product focused topic is “ai cat flap”.

We found that Flappie has Topical Authority for “cat flap”. So that’s great.

But it can happen that you position yourself as something that actually has a different intent.

To prevent this, it's important to consider SEO from the beginning.

Cool!

But how can you actually build Topical Authority?

Through other marketing channels. Not SEO!

Your primary goal is to get people to visit or link to your page. Ideally with keywords that belong to the product focused topic.

Two great ways to build Topical Authority are free tools and assets.

Free tools are usually small, free applications that have a single functionality.

If we'd release a Topical Authority checker, people would search for spexia topical authority checker on Google to find it.

And we'd get Topical Authority for this keyword.

But there's another level to free tools. They actually drive organic traffic as well.

Check out Pallyy as an example.

A great amount of their traffic comes from free tools.

So it’s a win-win!

The second way I like to build Topical Authority is free assets. It’s what I am doing with this course.

The main topic we focus on at Spexia is “seo for startups”. By naming the course “$100M SEO FOR STARTUPS”, people will search for it with e.g. “spexia seo for startups course”.

Bingo! We get Topical Authority for seo for startups.

But to make people aware of the free assets & tools I don’t rely on Google but e.g. Twitter, Youtube and Reddit.

These are just two of my favourite ways to build Topical Authority. Check the previous chapter for more.

There are two cases when you have to build Topical Authority.

Case 1 is obvious: You have a new domain & thus no Topical Authority.

Then it’s time to change that, right!

Case 2 is a little tricky: You have an existing domain, good traffic, but have authority for topics with the wrong intent.

This can happen if you didn’t do Keyword Research in the beginning.

To get a clear picture, first understand what your domain’s Topical Authority is.

Then see if that matches with the overall product focused topic or not.

I don’t mean word by word but generally.

Let’s see an example.

For Flappie, the product focused topic is “ai cat flap”.

We found that Flappie has Topical Authority for “cat flap”. So that’s great.

But it can happen that you position yourself as something that actually has a different intent.

To prevent this, it's important to consider SEO from the beginning.

Cool!

But how can you actually build Topical Authority?

Through other marketing channels. Not SEO!

Your primary goal is to get people to visit or link to your page. Ideally with keywords that belong to the product focused topic.

Two great ways to build Topical Authority are free tools and assets.

Free tools are usually small, free applications that have a single functionality.

If we'd release a Topical Authority checker, people would search for spexia topical authority checker on Google to find it.

And we'd get Topical Authority for this keyword.

But there's another level to free tools. They actually drive organic traffic as well.

Check out Pallyy as an example.

A great amount of their traffic comes from free tools.

So it’s a win-win!

The second way I like to build Topical Authority is free assets. It’s what I am doing with this course.

The main topic we focus on at Spexia is “seo for startups”. By naming the course “$100M SEO FOR STARTUPS”, people will search for it with e.g. “spexia seo for startups course”.

Bingo! We get Topical Authority for seo for startups.

But to make people aware of the free assets & tools I don’t rely on Google but e.g. Twitter, Youtube and Reddit.

These are just two of my favourite ways to build Topical Authority. Check the previous chapter for more.

Step #7 - Add Solution Stage Pages

I would always add solution aware stage pages early on.

But why do I think these pages are great?

There are two sides to it.

First, ignore SEO for a second. Forget everything you know.

Does it make sense to create these pages? Even if they would never get a single organic click?

In my opinion yes!

They show potential customers what you offer, how good your offering is & how it compares to other products. So they help with converting the visitor to a customer.

Now the other side: Add SEO to the equation.

Adding and optimising these pages can bring in a lot of organic traffic with high commercial intent. Which is also great.

So adding solution, feature & competitor pages is great!

We'll go into more details in the page type specific chapters.

I would always add solution aware stage pages early on.

But why do I think these pages are great?

There are two sides to it.

First, ignore SEO for a second. Forget everything you know.

Does it make sense to create these pages? Even if they would never get a single organic click?

In my opinion yes!

They show potential customers what you offer, how good your offering is & how it compares to other products. So they help with converting the visitor to a customer.

Now the other side: Add SEO to the equation.

Adding and optimising these pages can bring in a lot of organic traffic with high commercial intent. Which is also great.

So adding solution, feature & competitor pages is great!

We'll go into more details in the page type specific chapters.

I would always add solution aware stage pages early on.

But why do I think these pages are great?

There are two sides to it.

First, ignore SEO for a second. Forget everything you know.

Does it make sense to create these pages? Even if they would never get a single organic click?

In my opinion yes!

They show potential customers what you offer, how good your offering is & how it compares to other products. So they help with converting the visitor to a customer.

Now the other side: Add SEO to the equation.

Adding and optimising these pages can bring in a lot of organic traffic with high commercial intent. Which is also great.

So adding solution, feature & competitor pages is great!

We'll go into more details in the page type specific chapters.

Step #8 - Add Affiliate Program

This is something I didn’t understand in the beginning.

By adding an affiliate program you incentivise people to feature your product in their content.

Which brings not only visitors but also backlinks & increases your Topical Authority.

We love all of that.

But why exactly do you need an affiliate program for that?

Well, because most people don’t compare the top 5 cat flaps for “the joy of writing”. They want to make money out of it.

If you don’t offer an affiliate program, they can’t. So why should they feature you over a competitor that does offer an affiliate program.

Even if they think you have the better product, they’ll likely opt for the money.

You risk being left aside.

We don’t want that.

So as soon as you make sales and the product is running I’d add an affiliate program.

Literally no downside to it!

This is something I didn’t understand in the beginning.

By adding an affiliate program you incentivise people to feature your product in their content.

Which brings not only visitors but also backlinks & increases your Topical Authority.

We love all of that.

But why exactly do you need an affiliate program for that?

Well, because most people don’t compare the top 5 cat flaps for “the joy of writing”. They want to make money out of it.

If you don’t offer an affiliate program, they can’t. So why should they feature you over a competitor that does offer an affiliate program.

Even if they think you have the better product, they’ll likely opt for the money.

You risk being left aside.

We don’t want that.

So as soon as you make sales and the product is running I’d add an affiliate program.

Literally no downside to it!

This is something I didn’t understand in the beginning.

By adding an affiliate program you incentivise people to feature your product in their content.

Which brings not only visitors but also backlinks & increases your Topical Authority.

We love all of that.

But why exactly do you need an affiliate program for that?

Well, because most people don’t compare the top 5 cat flaps for “the joy of writing”. They want to make money out of it.

If you don’t offer an affiliate program, they can’t. So why should they feature you over a competitor that does offer an affiliate program.

Even if they think you have the better product, they’ll likely opt for the money.

You risk being left aside.

We don’t want that.

So as soon as you make sales and the product is running I’d add an affiliate program.

Literally no downside to it!

Step #9 - Size SEO Opportunity

Until now we didn’t produce a lot of content.

We focused on the solution aware stage of the customer journey and, over time, added feature, solution & competitor pages.

Besides that we also added free tools/assets for organic traffic & to build Topical Authority.

We used other marketing channels to get people to link to & search for our brand (with the right keywords) which further boosts our Topical Authority.

The next step would now be to move up the customer journey to the problem aware & unaware stages.

But before we do that, let’s figure out how big the SEO opportunity actually is. And if it makes sense to invest time and money into it.

To get a better picture we have to size the SEO opportunity first. I showed you how to do it using a top-down approach in a previous chapter.

For Flappie I got an estimated yearly revenue potential of $324k. Quite good considering that it’s only for German speaking countries.

But there are cases where SEO isn’t a great channel.

A few reasons could be

  • Very high competition by big, established websites. I mean just look at the CRM space with giants like Hubspot. They publish content for basically everything related to their product and dominate almost all of the unaware stage topics. This way, they make it very hard for competitors to grow. Whether you’re in such a situation or not will become evident from sizing your own opportunity. What you’ll see is a few very authoritative sites with massive traffic and small competitors with very little. In this case it’s probably best to stick with other marketing channels.

  • The overall search low search volume is very low. One reasons could be that your product is very niche like “wealth management for family offices”. Or your target customers aren’t using Google to search for something related but hear about it from referals. It can still make sense to penetrate the niche for the topics that exist. Even if there aren’t many.

  • Other channels work great. If you found a scalable distribution channel and don’t have capacity for SEO, focus on the other channel first. You can come back to SEO later.

So analyse the situation & make a decision.

If you decide to move on with SEO, it’s time to move up the funnel to the problem aware stage.

Until now we didn’t produce a lot of content.

We focused on the solution aware stage of the customer journey and, over time, added feature, solution & competitor pages.

Besides that we also added free tools/assets for organic traffic & to build Topical Authority.

We used other marketing channels to get people to link to & search for our brand (with the right keywords) which further boosts our Topical Authority.

The next step would now be to move up the customer journey to the problem aware & unaware stages.

But before we do that, let’s figure out how big the SEO opportunity actually is. And if it makes sense to invest time and money into it.

To get a better picture we have to size the SEO opportunity first. I showed you how to do it using a top-down approach in a previous chapter.

For Flappie I got an estimated yearly revenue potential of $324k. Quite good considering that it’s only for German speaking countries.

But there are cases where SEO isn’t a great channel.

A few reasons could be

  • Very high competition by big, established websites. I mean just look at the CRM space with giants like Hubspot. They publish content for basically everything related to their product and dominate almost all of the unaware stage topics. This way, they make it very hard for competitors to grow. Whether you’re in such a situation or not will become evident from sizing your own opportunity. What you’ll see is a few very authoritative sites with massive traffic and small competitors with very little. In this case it’s probably best to stick with other marketing channels.

  • The overall search low search volume is very low. One reasons could be that your product is very niche like “wealth management for family offices”. Or your target customers aren’t using Google to search for something related but hear about it from referals. It can still make sense to penetrate the niche for the topics that exist. Even if there aren’t many.

  • Other channels work great. If you found a scalable distribution channel and don’t have capacity for SEO, focus on the other channel first. You can come back to SEO later.

So analyse the situation & make a decision.

If you decide to move on with SEO, it’s time to move up the funnel to the problem aware stage.

Until now we didn’t produce a lot of content.

We focused on the solution aware stage of the customer journey and, over time, added feature, solution & competitor pages.

Besides that we also added free tools/assets for organic traffic & to build Topical Authority.

We used other marketing channels to get people to link to & search for our brand (with the right keywords) which further boosts our Topical Authority.

The next step would now be to move up the customer journey to the problem aware & unaware stages.

But before we do that, let’s figure out how big the SEO opportunity actually is. And if it makes sense to invest time and money into it.

To get a better picture we have to size the SEO opportunity first. I showed you how to do it using a top-down approach in a previous chapter.

For Flappie I got an estimated yearly revenue potential of $324k. Quite good considering that it’s only for German speaking countries.

But there are cases where SEO isn’t a great channel.

A few reasons could be

  • Very high competition by big, established websites. I mean just look at the CRM space with giants like Hubspot. They publish content for basically everything related to their product and dominate almost all of the unaware stage topics. This way, they make it very hard for competitors to grow. Whether you’re in such a situation or not will become evident from sizing your own opportunity. What you’ll see is a few very authoritative sites with massive traffic and small competitors with very little. In this case it’s probably best to stick with other marketing channels.

  • The overall search low search volume is very low. One reasons could be that your product is very niche like “wealth management for family offices”. Or your target customers aren’t using Google to search for something related but hear about it from referals. It can still make sense to penetrate the niche for the topics that exist. Even if there aren’t many.

  • Other channels work great. If you found a scalable distribution channel and don’t have capacity for SEO, focus on the other channel first. You can come back to SEO later.

So analyse the situation & make a decision.

If you decide to move on with SEO, it’s time to move up the funnel to the problem aware stage.

Step #10 - Scale to Problem Aware Stage

If there is an opportunity, it usually makes sense to start scaling the SEO efforts early on.

But what exactly does early mean?

As discussed in the SEO Strategy chapter, I am usually looking for a minimum of about 500 clicks per month or a Domain Authority of ~15+ before moving forward.

But let’s assume your site also fulfils this requirement. Then it’s time to get going.

And I would first focus on topics in the problem aware stage.

We discussed how to find them during the Keyword Research chapter.

It may be that there are only a few distinct topics. For Flappie there are only about 10.

That’s fine.

If you find a lot more, even better! I would generally create content for all of these topics as everyone has the problem you are solving and is searching for possible solutions.

As we’ve seen, the expected page types here are typically articles, listicles, product & category pages.

Cluster the topics based on these page types.

As people search for a solution in this stage, I expect most topics to be either Articles or Listicles.

For (Articles & Listicles) you use Editorial SEO for optimising the pages. For Product & Category pages, you use Programmatic SEO.

I have separate chapters covering each one in detail.

In case you have a massive amount of topics, I’d just prioritise by Search Volume.

For Flappie, with only 10 articles, there is no sorting needed.

Another aspect that now gets important is Technical SEO.

Technical SEO is often overcomplicated.

But basically you want to make sure that your content is interlinked properly and is server side rendered. That’s it.

I’ll explain exactly what this means in the upcoming chapter.

If there is an opportunity, it usually makes sense to start scaling the SEO efforts early on.

But what exactly does early mean?

As discussed in the SEO Strategy chapter, I am usually looking for a minimum of about 500 clicks per month or a Domain Authority of ~15+ before moving forward.

But let’s assume your site also fulfils this requirement. Then it’s time to get going.

And I would first focus on topics in the problem aware stage.

We discussed how to find them during the Keyword Research chapter.

It may be that there are only a few distinct topics. For Flappie there are only about 10.

That’s fine.

If you find a lot more, even better! I would generally create content for all of these topics as everyone has the problem you are solving and is searching for possible solutions.

As we’ve seen, the expected page types here are typically articles, listicles, product & category pages.

Cluster the topics based on these page types.

As people search for a solution in this stage, I expect most topics to be either Articles or Listicles.

For (Articles & Listicles) you use Editorial SEO for optimising the pages. For Product & Category pages, you use Programmatic SEO.

I have separate chapters covering each one in detail.

In case you have a massive amount of topics, I’d just prioritise by Search Volume.

For Flappie, with only 10 articles, there is no sorting needed.

Another aspect that now gets important is Technical SEO.

Technical SEO is often overcomplicated.

But basically you want to make sure that your content is interlinked properly and is server side rendered. That’s it.

I’ll explain exactly what this means in the upcoming chapter.

If there is an opportunity, it usually makes sense to start scaling the SEO efforts early on.

But what exactly does early mean?

As discussed in the SEO Strategy chapter, I am usually looking for a minimum of about 500 clicks per month or a Domain Authority of ~15+ before moving forward.

But let’s assume your site also fulfils this requirement. Then it’s time to get going.

And I would first focus on topics in the problem aware stage.

We discussed how to find them during the Keyword Research chapter.

It may be that there are only a few distinct topics. For Flappie there are only about 10.

That’s fine.

If you find a lot more, even better! I would generally create content for all of these topics as everyone has the problem you are solving and is searching for possible solutions.

As we’ve seen, the expected page types here are typically articles, listicles, product & category pages.

Cluster the topics based on these page types.

As people search for a solution in this stage, I expect most topics to be either Articles or Listicles.

For (Articles & Listicles) you use Editorial SEO for optimising the pages. For Product & Category pages, you use Programmatic SEO.

I have separate chapters covering each one in detail.

In case you have a massive amount of topics, I’d just prioritise by Search Volume.

For Flappie, with only 10 articles, there is no sorting needed.

Another aspect that now gets important is Technical SEO.

Technical SEO is often overcomplicated.

But basically you want to make sure that your content is interlinked properly and is server side rendered. That’s it.

I’ll explain exactly what this means in the upcoming chapter.

Step #11 - Scale to Unaware Stage

This is where most of the SEO efforts happen.

And this is also the stage where SEO can drive the biggest impact.

But a quick disclaimer before we jump in: You’re gonna be lost without automation tools. There are just too many keywords & topics to handle it by hand.

You'll see why in a second.

The thing is that you could glue together a variety of individual, paid tools to make this work. But we built Spexia so you don't have to. So feel free to give it a shot.

But let's jump in!

Prioritising Topic Cateogories

As we’ve seen during Keyword Research, the unaware stage contains a LOT of topics where people have no idea about you and are searching for things that don't even relate to your product/service

Your task with the content is two fold:

  • Fulfil the visitor's intent with UX & comprehensive content. That’s how you rank.

  • Convert the visitor on their intent. Make every visit count!

But as there are so many topics, I find it easier to think of the unaware stage in terms of topic categories.

Topic categories are broad terms that group together semantically related topics.

To give an example for Flappie, a topic category could be cat flap. Specific topics are then how to install a cat flap, top 10 cat flap types, cat flap for window, etc.

You get the idea!

When we did Keyword Research for the unaware stage, some of the topic categories for Flappie we found were cat allergies, cat types, cat care, etc.

But which topic categories should you focus on?

Great question!

Ideally we want to penetrate the topic categories that have the highest business value - the ones that contain the topics that convert best.

The thing is that this is really individual and depends on your business. So you have to kind of figure out yourself which ones this are.

For Flappie, a very good Topic Category is cat flaps. But also specific cat breeds like Maine coon which have a high prey drive. Owners of these cat breeds have the problem of prey in their house more frequently.

These are the topic categories we want to prioritise.

Cool! But how do you do that?

Well, let me first tell you what you don't do.

You don’t just start creating content for some topic that belong to the specific topic category.

Instead, what you want to do, is start with topics you have high Topical Authority for.

Let me explain.

When introducing Topical Authority, we found that Flappie is known for “cat flaps”. But also “cat flap with prey detection”.

Therefore, topics in the topic category "cat flap" can directly be covered.

But Flappie isn't topically known for “maine coon”.

So what could Flappie do now?

The goal is to find topics that belong to the maine coon cats topic category but are semantically adjacent to topics Flappie is known for.

Examples could be

  • cat flap for maine coon

  • maine coon prey drive

Flappie is likely to rank for these topics as they have Topical Authority for “cat flap” and “prey drive” is related to “prey detection”.

If they rank, they establish Topical Authority for maine coon. And can then expand in this topic category further.

What I am saying is you can and should be strategic about it the topic prioritisation.

A trick that can help in the beginning is to start with topic categories that don’t convert well but you have high Topical Authority for.

An example is practice.do.

Practice.do is a solution for coaches, consultants, and therapists to handle the coordination with their clients & much more.

Due to their domain they had high Topical Authority for practice.

They used this to rank for topics that are still somewhat relevant for their target customers and fall in the topic category of practice.

Then they expanded from there.

Finding the Individual Topics

Great!

Now that we understand which topic category to focus on, how can we actually find the individual topics?

We’ve seen part of it in the Keyword Research chapter already.

In short, each topic category maps to thousands of keywords.

These keywords can then be clustered to topics. If you use Spexia, we do this automatically. Otherwise you can default to automation tools like Keyword Insights.

The topics will contain a lot of stuff we don’t want to create content for. So we have to filter out the ones with a wrong intent.

Examples could be people searching for

  • specific products. An example is “magic cat flap” which is actually a book.

  • specific competitor websites or products like "cat food purina".

  • pages like Reddit or Twitter. Example could be "cat knowledge reddit".

  • free things that you don’t offer,

  • different content types like “pdf”, etc. that you don’t provide.

Then, cluster the topics by page type: Article, Listicle, Category or Product page.

We’ve seen that we’ll use Editorial SEO for Articles/Listicles and Programmatic SEO for Category/Product pages.

Both are covered in their individual chapters.

Again, to prioritise the topics, you’d first create content for the topics you have the highest Topical Authority for.

Other factors for prioritising I’d use is search volume & business impact.

If you’re an established site it could cost too much to write content for super niche topics with little monthly searches. But if you’re just starting out, these are generally super nice as the competition is lower.

When we’re already at it, the competition is another factor to take into consideration.

What you want to avoid are topics where only very high Domain Authority pages rank.

Why?

Because they are just too competitive.

But if you see a few pages ranking with Domain Authority lower/similar to yours, that’s a great signal. Go for it!

We’ve discussed this in more details during the SEO Strategy chapter.

This is where most of the SEO efforts happen.

And this is also the stage where SEO can drive the biggest impact.

But a quick disclaimer before we jump in: You’re gonna be lost without automation tools. There are just too many keywords & topics to handle it by hand.

You'll see why in a second.

The thing is that you could glue together a variety of individual, paid tools to make this work. But we built Spexia so you don't have to. So feel free to give it a shot.

But let's jump in!

Prioritising Topic Cateogories

As we’ve seen during Keyword Research, the unaware stage contains a LOT of topics where people have no idea about you and are searching for things that don't even relate to your product/service

Your task with the content is two fold:

  • Fulfil the visitor's intent with UX & comprehensive content. That’s how you rank.

  • Convert the visitor on their intent. Make every visit count!

But as there are so many topics, I find it easier to think of the unaware stage in terms of topic categories.

Topic categories are broad terms that group together semantically related topics.

To give an example for Flappie, a topic category could be cat flap. Specific topics are then how to install a cat flap, top 10 cat flap types, cat flap for window, etc.

You get the idea!

When we did Keyword Research for the unaware stage, some of the topic categories for Flappie we found were cat allergies, cat types, cat care, etc.

But which topic categories should you focus on?

Great question!

Ideally we want to penetrate the topic categories that have the highest business value - the ones that contain the topics that convert best.

The thing is that this is really individual and depends on your business. So you have to kind of figure out yourself which ones this are.

For Flappie, a very good Topic Category is cat flaps. But also specific cat breeds like Maine coon which have a high prey drive. Owners of these cat breeds have the problem of prey in their house more frequently.

These are the topic categories we want to prioritise.

Cool! But how do you do that?

Well, let me first tell you what you don't do.

You don’t just start creating content for some topic that belong to the specific topic category.

Instead, what you want to do, is start with topics you have high Topical Authority for.

Let me explain.

When introducing Topical Authority, we found that Flappie is known for “cat flaps”. But also “cat flap with prey detection”.

Therefore, topics in the topic category "cat flap" can directly be covered.

But Flappie isn't topically known for “maine coon”.

So what could Flappie do now?

The goal is to find topics that belong to the maine coon cats topic category but are semantically adjacent to topics Flappie is known for.

Examples could be

  • cat flap for maine coon

  • maine coon prey drive

Flappie is likely to rank for these topics as they have Topical Authority for “cat flap” and “prey drive” is related to “prey detection”.

If they rank, they establish Topical Authority for maine coon. And can then expand in this topic category further.

What I am saying is you can and should be strategic about it the topic prioritisation.

A trick that can help in the beginning is to start with topic categories that don’t convert well but you have high Topical Authority for.

An example is practice.do.

Practice.do is a solution for coaches, consultants, and therapists to handle the coordination with their clients & much more.

Due to their domain they had high Topical Authority for practice.

They used this to rank for topics that are still somewhat relevant for their target customers and fall in the topic category of practice.

Then they expanded from there.

Finding the Individual Topics

Great!

Now that we understand which topic category to focus on, how can we actually find the individual topics?

We’ve seen part of it in the Keyword Research chapter already.

In short, each topic category maps to thousands of keywords.

These keywords can then be clustered to topics. If you use Spexia, we do this automatically. Otherwise you can default to automation tools like Keyword Insights.

The topics will contain a lot of stuff we don’t want to create content for. So we have to filter out the ones with a wrong intent.

Examples could be people searching for

  • specific products. An example is “magic cat flap” which is actually a book.

  • specific competitor websites or products like "cat food purina".

  • pages like Reddit or Twitter. Example could be "cat knowledge reddit".

  • free things that you don’t offer,

  • different content types like “pdf”, etc. that you don’t provide.

Then, cluster the topics by page type: Article, Listicle, Category or Product page.

We’ve seen that we’ll use Editorial SEO for Articles/Listicles and Programmatic SEO for Category/Product pages.

Both are covered in their individual chapters.

Again, to prioritise the topics, you’d first create content for the topics you have the highest Topical Authority for.

Other factors for prioritising I’d use is search volume & business impact.

If you’re an established site it could cost too much to write content for super niche topics with little monthly searches. But if you’re just starting out, these are generally super nice as the competition is lower.

When we’re already at it, the competition is another factor to take into consideration.

What you want to avoid are topics where only very high Domain Authority pages rank.

Why?

Because they are just too competitive.

But if you see a few pages ranking with Domain Authority lower/similar to yours, that’s a great signal. Go for it!

We’ve discussed this in more details during the SEO Strategy chapter.

This is where most of the SEO efforts happen.

And this is also the stage where SEO can drive the biggest impact.

But a quick disclaimer before we jump in: You’re gonna be lost without automation tools. There are just too many keywords & topics to handle it by hand.

You'll see why in a second.

The thing is that you could glue together a variety of individual, paid tools to make this work. But we built Spexia so you don't have to. So feel free to give it a shot.

But let's jump in!

Prioritising Topic Cateogories

As we’ve seen during Keyword Research, the unaware stage contains a LOT of topics where people have no idea about you and are searching for things that don't even relate to your product/service

Your task with the content is two fold:

  • Fulfil the visitor's intent with UX & comprehensive content. That’s how you rank.

  • Convert the visitor on their intent. Make every visit count!

But as there are so many topics, I find it easier to think of the unaware stage in terms of topic categories.

Topic categories are broad terms that group together semantically related topics.

To give an example for Flappie, a topic category could be cat flap. Specific topics are then how to install a cat flap, top 10 cat flap types, cat flap for window, etc.

You get the idea!

When we did Keyword Research for the unaware stage, some of the topic categories for Flappie we found were cat allergies, cat types, cat care, etc.

But which topic categories should you focus on?

Great question!

Ideally we want to penetrate the topic categories that have the highest business value - the ones that contain the topics that convert best.

The thing is that this is really individual and depends on your business. So you have to kind of figure out yourself which ones this are.

For Flappie, a very good Topic Category is cat flaps. But also specific cat breeds like Maine coon which have a high prey drive. Owners of these cat breeds have the problem of prey in their house more frequently.

These are the topic categories we want to prioritise.

Cool! But how do you do that?

Well, let me first tell you what you don't do.

You don’t just start creating content for some topic that belong to the specific topic category.

Instead, what you want to do, is start with topics you have high Topical Authority for.

Let me explain.

When introducing Topical Authority, we found that Flappie is known for “cat flaps”. But also “cat flap with prey detection”.

Therefore, topics in the topic category "cat flap" can directly be covered.

But Flappie isn't topically known for “maine coon”.

So what could Flappie do now?

The goal is to find topics that belong to the maine coon cats topic category but are semantically adjacent to topics Flappie is known for.

Examples could be

  • cat flap for maine coon

  • maine coon prey drive

Flappie is likely to rank for these topics as they have Topical Authority for “cat flap” and “prey drive” is related to “prey detection”.

If they rank, they establish Topical Authority for maine coon. And can then expand in this topic category further.

What I am saying is you can and should be strategic about it the topic prioritisation.

A trick that can help in the beginning is to start with topic categories that don’t convert well but you have high Topical Authority for.

An example is practice.do.

Practice.do is a solution for coaches, consultants, and therapists to handle the coordination with their clients & much more.

Due to their domain they had high Topical Authority for practice.

They used this to rank for topics that are still somewhat relevant for their target customers and fall in the topic category of practice.

Then they expanded from there.

Finding the Individual Topics

Great!

Now that we understand which topic category to focus on, how can we actually find the individual topics?

We’ve seen part of it in the Keyword Research chapter already.

In short, each topic category maps to thousands of keywords.

These keywords can then be clustered to topics. If you use Spexia, we do this automatically. Otherwise you can default to automation tools like Keyword Insights.

The topics will contain a lot of stuff we don’t want to create content for. So we have to filter out the ones with a wrong intent.

Examples could be people searching for

  • specific products. An example is “magic cat flap” which is actually a book.

  • specific competitor websites or products like "cat food purina".

  • pages like Reddit or Twitter. Example could be "cat knowledge reddit".

  • free things that you don’t offer,

  • different content types like “pdf”, etc. that you don’t provide.

Then, cluster the topics by page type: Article, Listicle, Category or Product page.

We’ve seen that we’ll use Editorial SEO for Articles/Listicles and Programmatic SEO for Category/Product pages.

Both are covered in their individual chapters.

Again, to prioritise the topics, you’d first create content for the topics you have the highest Topical Authority for.

Other factors for prioritising I’d use is search volume & business impact.

If you’re an established site it could cost too much to write content for super niche topics with little monthly searches. But if you’re just starting out, these are generally super nice as the competition is lower.

When we’re already at it, the competition is another factor to take into consideration.

What you want to avoid are topics where only very high Domain Authority pages rank.

Why?

Because they are just too competitive.

But if you see a few pages ranking with Domain Authority lower/similar to yours, that’s a great signal. Go for it!

We’ve discussed this in more details during the SEO Strategy chapter.

Step #12 - Conversion Optimisation

After you

Having clicks and traffic on your content is great. But pretty useless if it does not drive conversions.

So as soon as you established a sustainable content creation process (=content engine) and see the good results in terms of traffic increase, it's time to start thinking about conversions.

We want to make every visit count by converting visitors on their intent.

How to do this depends on the content type. That’s why we cover it in the content type specific chapters.

When you see that specific content, topics or topic categories convert better than others, double down on those.

After you

Having clicks and traffic on your content is great. But pretty useless if it does not drive conversions.

So as soon as you established a sustainable content creation process (=content engine) and see the good results in terms of traffic increase, it's time to start thinking about conversions.

We want to make every visit count by converting visitors on their intent.

How to do this depends on the content type. That’s why we cover it in the content type specific chapters.

When you see that specific content, topics or topic categories convert better than others, double down on those.

After you

Having clicks and traffic on your content is great. But pretty useless if it does not drive conversions.

So as soon as you established a sustainable content creation process (=content engine) and see the good results in terms of traffic increase, it's time to start thinking about conversions.

We want to make every visit count by converting visitors on their intent.

How to do this depends on the content type. That’s why we cover it in the content type specific chapters.

When you see that specific content, topics or topic categories convert better than others, double down on those.

The SEO Operating System for Startups Founders

Copyright © 2024 Profaile GmbH. All rights reserved.

The SEO Operating System for Startups Founders

Copyright © 2024 Profaile GmbH. All rights reserved.

The SEO Operating System for Startups Founders

Copyright © 2024 Profaile GmbH. All rights reserved.