Gritty 3-Step SEO Plan for Dev-Heavy Startups Without a Marketing Team

As an SEO strategist, working with startups that lack a marketing team can be challenging. However, I’m offering some free advice today for small startups on how to kick-start their SEO journey.

Why would startups without a marketing team even need to think about SEO?

Well… because “build it and they will come” simply doesn’t work. You need to actively promote your product in order to get more visitors to your site and to get them to buy your product. And it’s f****ng hard work.

It becomes a bit easier if, instead of just promoting your product, you’ll capture the interest of people who are already actively looking to buy it, right at the perfect time.

And that’s the beauty of SEO.

If you’re at the top of the Google search page for the person looking to buy your product (or a competitor’s product), it’s likely that you’re making that sale.

Unfortunately… most early startups don’t have a marketing team who would have the skills and time to work on SEO or to think strategically about it.

Early startup teams often prioritize product development and neglect marketing

Based on my observations, there are a few reasons why these new startups tend to be so development-heavy and neglect marketing:

  • The majority of startups are founded by tech people who don’t necessarily possess marketing skills
  • Engineers often look down on marketing and hold a mistaken belief that it’s not needed if your product is good enough
  • Developers often assume that building more features will magically attract the right customers
  • Doing marketing for your startup means consistent effort, it’s almost never a “one-and-done” type of action
  • Marketing requires interacting with and understanding your potential customers which doesn’t scale and doesn’t seem appealing to a lot of software developers.

I understand it’s hard for dev teams to get excited about all of this, but I’m here to provide a quick roadmap on how you can overcome these problems and start growing your user base with early SEO efforts.

Here’s how small startups without a marketing team can start:

Step 1: Give your main page an SEO-friendly title tag

This is the one place where using exact target keywords still has an impact on SEO.

Limit your title tag to 50–60 characters (including your brand name) and use only your main target keywords here that describe your product category. No sales copy. No fluff.

Bad title tag example: “Innovating the Future of X With ….”

Good title tag example: “EV Battery Raw Materials Manufacturing — Brand X”

Step 2: Start a blog on your own domain

Now this is where I’ve seen many dev-heavy teams go wrong. Trust me when I say:

❌ Don’t start a blog on Medium, Substack, etc

Why? You’re giving away all the good SEO juice to their main domain and it’s not benefitting your site.

❌ Don’t put a blog on a subdomain, use a subdirectory instead

Why? Google treats subdomains as separate sites.

❌ Don’t go for a simple HTML blog, install a proper CMS

Why? Soon enough, you’ll want to outsource the writing to non-technical people and you don’t want to become the bottleneck for publishing new blog posts. Also, all the major CMS providers are SEO-optimized by default.

Step 3: Initiate a team-wide weekly blog writing practice

Writing is hard for anyone, but there is a lot of value in building up the habit and keeping it going.

Suppose your whole dev team gets into a habit of writing and publishing 1 blog post per week (even without any editorial guidelines in terms of topics, goals, etc) and keeps it going for months. In that case, you’ll start seeing a positive impact almost instantly.

Consider this challenge:

Every team member posts 1 blog post per week and keeps doing it for at least 3 months.

Everyone can pick the topics that interest them

Using AI as an assistant is allowed, but all the ideas and research have to be original. The author’s name will be publicly and prominently featured on the blog post’s page.

Every new post must be published ASAP and promoted throughout the next few months on both personal and company social media accounts.

Even without a special SEO strategy on what topics to pick or which keywords to cover — you’ll start seeing your domain authority improving, your team members become better writers, more keywords getting organic impressions, and more organic traffic coming to your site.

That’s it!

These steps will set you on track with building up SEO traffic and increasing your domain’s authority. It also gives your future marketing team a head start when they start doing strategic work on capturing more leads.

Originally published at

Annika Helendi
Annika Helendi
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