Neil Patel

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9 SEO Hacks for Startups With Little Time and Money

low cost seo hacks for startups

Want to build your personal brand online?

Who doesn’t?

One way is to speed up your website. I have a video on how to do that.

But you need more advanced tools to boost your SEO game.

After all, 66% of marketers are focused on improving SEO rankings in 2017.

SEO stats that will shape your 2017 strategy2

That means the competition is stiff.

If everyone’s doing the same things, you’ll need to take things a step further to climb ahead of the competition.

One of the biggest myths of online marketing is thinking you can stick to what everyone else is doing.

It’s not always true.

Here’s a list of somewhat unique SEO hacks to really jumpstart your organic search traffic.

When you’re running a startup with little time and money, you need legitimate hacks that improve your SEO.

That’s what we’re exploring today.

1. Use free SEO tools

It sounds obvious, but I’ve worked with lots of startup entrepreneurs who ignore free SEO tools. Don’t do that.

It’s important to understand that you don’t need to pay money for SEO tools.

There are plenty of free tools that can help you. Let’s run them down.

First, there’s Google Analytics.

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Acquisition reports in Google Analytics can be used to find what search queries and landing pages are performing (or not) in the SERPs.

Regularly monitor your GA Acquisition reports to stay informed about your website’s status.

Another is Google Webmaster Tool.

Here, you’ll find testing tools, the ad experience report, and other resources.

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Page-speed insights, structured data testing, and more can be found in Google’s powerful suite of tools.

The most commonly used is probably Search Console.

Here’s a short video on how to increase your search traffic using Google Search Console.

Pay close attention to the Search Console reporting for URL errors. Fixing these can greatly boost your SEO.

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Moving off Google, SEMRush lets you monitor both your site and your competitors’ websites.

This is a great way to see how you stack up against your competition.

Here’s what my blog looks like on SEMRush.

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I can see how many organic search visitors I get per month, a visual chart of keyword rankings, and information on matching competitor keywords.

From here, I can perform competitive analysis just by clicking on the links for any of my competitors on the list.

Here’s Backlinko.

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With only a fifth of the traffic, the site still ranks high for keywords like “SEO tools,” and “keyword research,” so I know where to focus my efforts.

And if you have WordPress, you’ll find Yoast to be a helpful free SEO tool.

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This all-in-one SEO suite is an essential WordPress plugin for startups.

It monitors posts in real-time, gives you a general overview from your main WP console, and has powerful SEO features.

And let’s not forget my SEO Analyzer Tool.

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Using this tool, you can compare your website’s SEO efforts to those of up to 3 competitors.

I provide a basic overview with several helpful tips.

And of course, you’re always welcome to contact me or comment on my blogs if you need further assistance.

2. Mine comment wells

I allow and encourage comments on all my blogs.

Among other reasons, it’s because it’s a great SEO opportunity.

Commenters often leave information I may have missed, and conversations, comments, and shares increase post visibility.

Here’s a helpful video on how to attract more blog comments.

Responding to commenters is an important part of using blog comments for an SEO strategy.

I respond to comments, regardless of how old the posts are. This is a conversation from Spring 2014 on an article I wrote way back in 2012.

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I typically wouldn’t use such an old example, but it’s also a relevant blog about how commenting is an effective SEO strategy.

You should use it, too!

I also love commenting on other posts because it’s a great place for free backlink opportunities.

A site like Cracked, for instance, is difficult to get published on, especially for a new startup just starting out.

But the Cracked forums and comment wells are a brilliant place to get links (or at least URLs) placed for branding purposes if done right.

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If you’re just starting out, gaining relevant backlinks is hard.

Most of these comment wells use nofollow links if they allow URLs at all.

However, it’s still one of the best ways to gain traffic when you’re starting out as long as you steer clear of serious commenting mistakes.

3. Submit your site to StumbleUpon

StumbleUpon is a great place to get your Internet content discovered.

If you’re unaware, it’s a different way of searching the Internet.

StumbleUpon contains a community-submitted group of websites that are categorized and presented to others who might want to “stumble” them.

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As people like your pages, you’ll gain more social shares and visibility.

StumbleUpon helped me a lot in the beginning stages of my web building efforts.

Submitting your web pages to be stumbled is easy, too.

After registering and installing the StumbleUpon plugin, you’ll get a toolbar for your browser.

Just click the thumbs up icon and your site becomes discoverable to StumbleUpon’s community.

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Startups with little to no social following, brand awareness, or organic search traffic can jumpstart their businesses using StumbleUpon.

I used it for exactly that, so I know it works.

And while we’re on the topic of content discovery, there’s another little-used SEO trick that can return big dividends.

4. Start a blog with long-tail keywords

I’ve long been an advocate of long-tail keywords and blogging for SEO purposes.

Here’s why.

Let’s say I’m blogging about angel investors for my business.

If I want to attract angel investors, that’s a decent place to start.

So we plug this term into Google AdWords Keyword Planner.


While the generic term “angel investors” is a great target, these long-tail keyword suggestions provide a lot of insight into what people search for.

I now know I can write one blog called “What Are Angel Investors and How Do I Find Them?” to cover a lot of ground.

With H2 headers like “What is an angel investor?” “Joining an Angel Investors Network,” and “List of Popular Angel Investors,” I know I’m on the right track.

We know blogging is great for SEO, but long-tail keywords really guide these efforts and can be used for free.

Once you start a blog, you can also add curated content.

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By pulling in RSS feeds and sharing relevant content, you’ll provide value to your current visitors.

Just remember to source any unoriginal content on your website or you’ll run into copyright issues.

The more content you add to your page, the more likely you are to become another portal for the Internet, which is how SEO giants are made.

5. Make infographics

Infographics are my secret weapon to doubling traffic for my clients.

That’s because visual data is processed much faster than text.

Here’s one of 4 infographics I recently did a case study on.

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It explains social media photo sizes in a very smart and visual way.

It’s not like your typical infographic, which looks a little more like this.

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In fact, with a few infographics, I can cram a lot more information into my blogs.

Load time is important, but it’s a complicated subject that could slow the load time of this page to talk about.

So here’s an infographic.


The more infographics you add to your site, the more likely you are to gain traffic, be sourced, and climb the SEO rankings.

It’s an ingredient in my secret sauce, so I highly recommend it for you.

But don’t just take my word for it.

Here’s an excerpt from a HubSpot infographic on infographics for SEO.

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The majority of consumers and CMOs alike agree that infographics are effective.

I sell information and services, so they’re especially effective for me.

E-retailers have physical inventory to move.

Don’t fret. I have SEO tips for you, too.

Of course, I don’t sell physical products, but even so, the next two marketplaces are kind of a big deal.

6. List products on Amazon and eBay

Here’s a great way to spread your reach far beyond your website and take advantage of two of the most popular websites online.

Ebay is a popular online marketplace that spawned PayPal.

An eBay seller account (or, even better, a store) comes with a ton of SEO perks.

First, take a look at Best Buy’s eBay store, as it’s one of my favorites.

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In this store, you can browse through Best Buy’s full website and catalog, with links seamlessly passing you through to the domain.

Ebay gets an affiliate percentage for referral traffic, and Best Buy now has a way to compete with Amazon and Walmart.

Here’s a chart of eBay’s transaction fees from

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But sales isn’t all it’s good for.

Ebay is great for SEO and remarketing, too!

With 15 custom pages, email templates, promotional fliers, and eBay’s listing feeds, you’ll gain more traffic than you do from your own web page.

The same can be done on Amazon, although it’s a little trickier.

According to Forbes, 64% of American households have Amazon Prime, making it a juggernaut that can’t be ignored.

While eBay ranks higher for profitability, Amazon is the number-one marketplace according to a 2017 EcomerceBytes survey.

2017 sellers choice rankings

On top of this, Amazon now has two Alexas.

It owns the Alexa search ranking site, along with Alexa, the voice assistant on Echo-enabled devices.

Everyone in SEO understands why Alexa rankings are important, but Amazon’s Alexa search platform is even more so.

Over 5.2 million Echoes were sold in 2016.

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And these numbers are expected to possibly triple by the end of 2017’s holiday season.

People are increasingly using Alexa, Siri, and Cortana for voice search.

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Amazon wants to bypass Google search, and you’d better have an oar in each of their waters to survive.

You can sign up for an Amazon FBA sellers account here.

You don’t even have to worry about shipping to customers.

Just freight-ship your products to Amazon’s warehouse and keep items in stock to stay on top of customer orders.

Amazon will nearly always beat both eBay and your own website in search rankings.

And, since both eBay and Amazon are reputable sites, you’ll increase your SEO rankings two-fold.

You can learn more in my book, which is available on Amazon.

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Neat SEO trick, right?

Here’s another one.

7. Help a reporter out

If you’re not yet familiar with Help a Reporter Out (HARO), it’s one of the best ways to get publicity and media attention.

HARO is a great place to harvest sourced quotes for your blogging efforts, offer quotes of your own for backlinks, and gain earned media appearances.

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I regularly appear on podcasts, blogs, and other media outlets all over the web.

That’s because I’ve been in the digital marketing business long enough to know how it all works.

Everyone from small agencies to huge corporations uses HARO, and it covers the gamut of businesses.

As a source, you’ll receive regular emails of pitches from bloggers, magazines, newspapers, radio/TV shows, and more.

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These emails are sent three times a day, Monday through Friday.

Scan your email a couple times a day for a couple minutes, and over time, you’ll find you’ve reached a lot of media platforms.

The trick to HARO is to respond exactly as the reporter asks.

Here’s a recent tech query about SEO/SEM for The Next Web.

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There are query guidelines, and it asks for specific answers to questions.

Far too often, people lose out on becoming sources by only offering to place a journalist in contact with someone.

Deadlines are tight in both online and offline media, so respect the person’s time and provide the information up front to be included.

Here are the questions, so you can see what a real HARO request looks like.

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All you have to do is answer each of these questions with a paragraph or two of useful, meaty, non-promotional information.

Then provide your contact information and a link back to your website.

Many journalists will simply quote you. Some will add the backlinks.

Some keep you informed of publication and others don’t.

Either way, it only takes a few minutes out of your day for a big SEO and content-marketing win that costs no money.

Another great way to gain traffic is by harvesting user content.

8. Encourage user content

If you want to gain traffic, you have to follow those who have traffic.

So let’s see what the big players are doing.

Here are the top 8 most popular websites in the world, according to Alexa rankings.

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Do you see what they have in common?

They all rely on user-generated content.

Search engines Google and Baidu are irrelevant without an Internet full of content to mine from.

Facebook, YouTube, and Reddit are social media sites filled with user-generated content.

Yahoo! is a portal to the Internet, and Wikipedia is known for being a public encyclopedia.

So if the biggest sites online use user-generated content, why aren’t you?

In fact, consumers trust user-generated content more than traditional media.

Here are some statistics from a recent study.


In fact, Social Media Week found that 47% of marketers are utilizing user-generated content on their websites.

It’s also popular on social media, in email, and elsewhere.

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When a post “goes viral,” it’s typically because of user-generated content.

It’s the root of street buzz.

People like to feel connected to a brand and part of a community.

By building and engaging that community, you’ll gain a huge SEO boost along with a brand-reputation win.

I hope you’re still with me, because I have one last SEO hack to teach you.

I already alluded to it in this tip, but we’re going all out this time.

9. Copy your competitors

It’s been said that good artists create, while great artists steal.

Who actually started the quote is unknown, but it’s been stolen quite often.

And the adage holds true in SEO.

If you want to rank high in the SERPs, you need to copy the styles of other sites that rank high.

There are a ton of great tools available to do it, too!

SimilarWeb is a great one.

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With SimilarWeb, you can find out where your competitors get their backlinks from.

It’s also a great place to see where they rank.

Of course, you can always do things the old-fashioned way with a simple Google search.

Let’s look up “SEO hacks for startups with little time and money” to see how this post will do in search rankings.

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We can see that numbers don’t matter because 10, 3, 43, and a non-listicle are among the top results.

However, listicles do seem popular for this search, so I’m good on my format.

Let’s see what topics they’re covering to make sure I’m adding value to the conversation.

The top result uses H2 headers like mine, but there’s not much meaty information.

Also, it lacks images.

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My post is definitely much more informative and visual.

It’s a longer read with better information.

Because of my competitor research, I’m confident that this blog post will fare well in the SERPs.


SEO is a complicated subject.

It may look easy to rank in search engines from reading blogs like this.

It’s not.

It took me several years of constant work to get my website to where it is today.

I’m still not satisfied with it.

That’s why I continue blogging today.

You can replicate my success by continuing to grind at it.

Don’t just stick to these hacks. They’re only a starting point.

The more time you put into building your website’s SEO, the more sustainable your business will be.

What SEO hacks have you tried successfully that I didn’t cover here?

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