The fact that startups should refrain from SEO campaigns has been a trusted piece of wisdom passed amongst SEO professionals for years. But is it really true?

Well, if you consider growth hacking to be a form of SEO then I’m a little confused. My biased opinion tells me every startup needs that. 

The truth lies in the middle of course.

Startups just need the right kind of SEO. 

It all begins with strategy.

Let’s consider our beloved SaaS (Software-as-a Service) startup. They need users to use their platform, a lot. And they need brand awareness, so users decide it’s worth their time because a lot of other users are there too.

Let’s do a quick analysis on two solutions for SaaS companies with content publishing platforms, much like StackStreet, the platform this was originally published on. 

1. Use proper canonicalization and create easy IFTTT (If-This-Then-That) integrations.  This will make your platform part of the premium syndication networks already used by professional content marketers. 

These are your base and you want to make it easy and SEO friendly for them to syndicate their extensive content generation enterprises across your network.

Check out how Medium is using canonicalization to attract content syndicators.

They’re also on IFTTT, coincidence? 

I think this is a pretty solid one-two punch for publishing platforms looking to increase their user base.

2. The next item really depends on the Founder’s vision for the company. That is deciding whether or not to go “no-follow” on your linking policies.

“No-follow” is an attribute added to an outbound link which tells search engines not to pass authority. Platforms do this to limit the amount of their own domain authority leaking out so they can grab more rankings for the posts published on their platforms. This helps make their platform attractive to the user in it’s own right.

Now, this is a no brainer for platforms like LinkedIn who already have a huge user base. But for newer platforms looking to grow their user base, there is something special about offering juicy “do-follow” links.

When your platform passes link juice you unlock another layer of fungibility. Let me explain.

There are many professionals on the internet who make their living writing and publishing superb blog posts on high authority platforms for businesses. These posts are also usually accompanied by their own SEO campaigns which generally include link building and social signals. 

Any platform who can attract these people will begin to host very well written, professionally published content, and gain all the links and social signals associated with that content.

These are your super users and they go where the juice flows, link juice that is. 

If a platform concentrates on their own SEO campaigns to increase their Domain Authority (DA), to about 50 or so, they will see an increase in this type of user resulting in a highly efficient form of user generated SEO. 

I say 50 because that is when a platform becomes attractive for me to use in my own content syndication networks.

An exaggerated example of this is the major news outlets like the Huffington Post. They’re flooded with article submission requests from bonafide journalists while other platforms can barely get users. 

The difference is the backlink. A backlink from the Huffington Post is coveted, and there will be no shortage of great content for links like that.

Of course, they also have great readership and send their own valuable referral traffic, which has its own benefits. But I will assure you many content marketers are interested in the effect of a backlink on the rankings of their own web page.

There is a downside.   

They will also receive many more users with bad content that is either scrapped, spun, or otherwise not unique. This is an area companies should be focusing on and there are a number of ways to counteract this, the primary being some form of content moderation.

Another problem facing publishing platforms who allow “do-follow” links is it can counteract their efforts to build their own Domain Authority.  The DA can literally leach out faster than they are generating it. 

Luckily, any good SEO can address this with good linking policies and a strong guest blogging and SEO campaign. 

Social media is another avenue that must be captured by all startups and there is an almost unlimited availability of tools and strategies for them to employ there. 

But that would be for another blog post. Thanks for reading!