Awesome People - Ep 30

SEO 101, Content, Biz insights

Hi founders and fellow VC Friends!

Each week we deliver one awesome person to your inbox. These are the people you need to know—the marketers, sales gurus, engineers, ops wizzes— who give your startup superpowers 🚀. The best part is, everyone is hireable on a part-time basis.

Please meet Nigel, your SEO and organic user acquisition guru 

I met Nigel through Julian Wise, a writer I work with at Floodgate. I’ve been super impressed by Nigel’s results and concrete thinking. You’ll see what I mean in the pro tips section. Most recently, he 2x-ed Hotjar’s qualified organic leads. He’s trusted by Intercom, Unsplash, Hotjar, ProfitWell, Miro, and many other hot SaaS companies. Fun fact about Nigel, he once interviewed Ashton Kutcher hours after arriving in Australia completely jet-lagged (it’s a funny story, ask him about it 😂).  

He specializes in working with Series A+ companies that have product-market fit and are ready to pour fuel on the fire. If you suspect you have a huge opportunity to use SEO and content to scale your acquisition, Nigel is your guy. 

If you have PMF and need SEO help, email me and I’ll connect you to Nigel!

Nigel kindly shared 3 pro tips to help us get started with SEO

Get press to boost organic traffic and gain credibility

One of the best things early-stage companies can do is get press and great links (think TechCrunch). 

When I started working with Soundcharts, a music analytics startup, we had a bit of content, but not much organic traffic. Luckily, we had raised $ and got press coverage.

The mentions, links, and PR goodness gave us credibility in Google’s eyes. This allowed us to quickly get rewarded for new content. 

 Within 3 months we doubled our traffic. We continued to double every 2 months.

The trick is to publish information that’s useful to your industry. At Soundcharts, we launched a page with original data and insights on how streaming platforms pay artists. With no outbound effort, we got top-tier blog mentions which helped all of our pages rank higher. 

Create experiences, not “pages”

At Hotjar, we wrote a blog post on heat maps. It drove traffic and conversions, but was too long. To make it more engaging, we created a visual, multi-page experience. Each page focuses on a core pain point.

We immediately saw results:

  1. More people found what they were looking for and converted at a higher rate. 

  2. The experience seemed much more authoritative and got more links.

  3. Google, being the all-seeing all-knowing web deity that it is, acknowledged both of these factors, ranked Hotjar higher, and drove more traffic. 

Keep in mind the two approaches to SEO: foundational and growth

Every company has a term that’s closely associated with their brand, whether it’s broad or specific. For example, if you sell compostable toothbrushes, you want to own the keyword “eco friendly toothbrush.” There’s not a ton of traffic, but enough to capture meaningful low hanging fruit. 

Nailing these basics is what I call foundational SEO. Everyone should do it. It’s free traffic for potentially high-intent visitors📈. Even if you’re not an SEO driven company, you should feel entitled to high-intent traffic 😀.

Growth SEO is a totally different ballgame. This is where I spend my time and expertise. The answer to whether you should do growth SEO lies in the numbers. You should satisfy at least 1 of the following:

High volume product

Are a lot of people searching for the exact (or near-exact) term that corresponds to your product? For example, over 300K people search for “live chat” every month. If you sell a live chat product, you know there’s a hungry audience. 

High volume problem

People aren’t looking for your exact product, but they’re searching for the problem it solves. For example, lots of startup SaaS products boost customer engagement. Since your product is new, people aren’t searching for you. But, people do search for “customer engagement.” 

High value solution

Have a high LTV? Even if there’s low search volume, it may still be worth putting a ton of effort into SEO. For example, some enterprise SaaS companies have a $50K+ LTV. In this case, your CAC is likely cheaper than almost any other channel, even if your organic efforts only land 1-2 customers a month. 

When you’re investing in SEO, first determine whether it’s a foundational SEO project or growth SEO project. The answer determines who you should hire and your game plan.

FT Gem

Please meet Max Reiter, a business insights analyst. He’s been at Lyft for nearly 4 years and is focused on revenue operations. For the right company, he’s ready to jump 😉. Before Lyft, Max spent 2 years at Uber. Max was recommended by Brian Nichols from On Deck. Brian hired him at Lyft and is a strong vouch.

Feel free to reach out to Max directly on LI.

A few of you have asked how to get your favorite coworkers featured. If you think someone is REALLY awesome, email me, and I’ll see what we can do 🙏. Teamwork makes the dream work.

Let me know if you want an intro to Nigel. Feel free to reach out to Max directly.

Stay awesome,

Julia Lipton

Founder of Awesome People

Founder of Awesome People Ventures

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P.S. Get started with SEO now (for real 😍)

We couldn’t fit all of Nigel’s goodness in the main section, so here’s a special treat. It’s tactical and executable today. Open Google Search Console and follow along. 

Contrary to popular opinion, SEO can get immediate results

Yup, I said it! Anyone who works in SEO is famous for saying things like “SEO takes time.” It’s completely accurate that SEO is a long game but — it doesn’t have to take forever. 

When I started working with Intercom, we identified a series of pages that were relevant for certain search queries but weren’t showing up on Google. By simply swapping out title tags and tweaking the on-page text, we landed some featured snippets and doubled traffic in the first month.

Here’s an example:

Your success depends on the strength of your website, how close you are to ranking, and many other factors. But usually, you can find some quick wins. 

  1. To get started, go to Google Search Console

  2. Filter out your brand term to reveal the competitive keywords you’d want to rank for. In this Intercom example, it reveals different variations of “product analytics.”

  3. Filter to queries where you rank between positions 7 and 15.  These are the queries where you’re close to getting more traffic, but you’re not quite there yet.

  4. Look through the remaining queries for ones where you don’t mention the search term (or a variant) in your title tag, subheads, or within the text of the content. 

  5. Also, look at the featured snippet. What’s the intent of the snippet? Google likes  “definition snippets” with a concise 1-2 sentence definition of the search query. If you don’t already have that, add it.

  6. Make a quick change, then monitor your traffic over the next 1-2 weeks. Sometimes you can see results within a day or so. Other times, you’ll actually reduce your traffic. All in all, I consistently find a net positive outcome.