SEO for Startups: How to Bootstrap Your SEO and Still Get Results

SEO best practices

SEO is a must-have if you’re starting up a new business, especially if that business is operating online in any capacity. As a startup with a bootstrapped budget, is possible to still get great results with SEO?

Yes! It’s not impossible to do SEO on a tight budget. Here’s how you make it work.

SEO Bootstrapping Tips

#1 Do Your Own Keyword Research

It’s tempting to pay for an expensive keyword research tool right off the bat, or to outsource this particular headache. But, for a bootstrapped budget, you might be better off just doing it yourself. The good news is, you don’t have to do keyword research frequently, as long as you do it right the first time.

There are plenty of free tools, even those offered by Google itself, that will give you a good general picture of what’s going on with every keyword. You’ll be able to get most of the information you need so you have analyze and narrow down your keywords from there.

If you’ve got a little wiggle room in your budget, a keyword research tool makes it a lot easier to get precise, high-quality data in a much shorter space of time. This is probably the first SEO tool you should look into getting if you have the budget for anything. What happens if you cant figure it out, even with your new tool? Don’t worry, if you get stuck, you can always consult a customer service chat bot.

#2 Mimic & Outdo Top-Ranking Competitors

A great way to put top quality SEO strategies into play without having the budget for an agency is to look at what your competitors are doing and try to do it better. If they’ve made it to the position 1 for the keywords you’re targeting, they’re obviously doing something right. Do what they’re doing, but do it better than them.

Never copy your competitors directly. Plagiarism isn’t a good look for any site and it’s sure to get your penalized by Google. However, you can structure page titles and content in the same way as your competitors and get a good picture of how to set up your content. What’s popular? What’s working in their favor? How are they drawing and keeping attention? How in depth are they going into the topic? Take a dive into your competition for some insider information.

#3 Put in the Legwork for Backlinks

Getting your links up on other sites takes some work, but the effort does pay off. The best backlinks are from guest posts or from resource pages. These take more effort and time to get, but they’ll work more in your favor. Guest posts are sometimes tough to get and you have to write the content yourself or pay for good quality content to be written for you. Once you have 1 really good guest post, you can re-write it any number of times to submit to new sites, as long as it’s completely unique and doesn’t contain any of the same text as the other copies.

For lower quality links that still help you, use sites like Quora or go post comments on blogs and discussion forums. Quora gives you more opportunities, since you can answer a lot of related questions and potentially bring more eyes to your content. If you answer well enough, you might be the top answer, which could end up bringing traffic to your site.

If you go either of these routes, you have to avoid being spammy at all costs. Follow the guest-posting or commenting rules and only try to put your two cents into a conversation where your content is relevant. For example, if you run a blog about raising organic chickens, you probably shouldn’t guest post about how to mix oil paints on a canvas, or answer questions on Quora about the history of a Rubix cube. Stay in your lane. There are plenty of options for your niche.

#4 Link Internally + Externally

Whatever content you’re posting on your site, you should be linking relevant internal pages to it for more efficient indexing by Google. You should also use high-quality external links within your blog posts, or whenever else they’re relevant.

The key here is high-quality HYPERLINK “” external links. Where you’re linking out to matters to Google, whether your readers will care or not. Better quality links make your site look better than low-quality links. Try to only link to official sources, authority sources, and other quality sites that are safe and heavily visited.

#5 Use Existing Tools to Your Advantage

You may not know it, but tools you already use for other functions can help you out with your SEO if you get creative with it. For example, you can use your VPN to help out with certain aspects of SEO.

VPNs can help you search for results in different local areas, hide your visit from competitors as you scour their sites, and avoid geo-locking on different services you want to use. VPNs give you a lot of options for customizing what you get from Google, which makes it easier for you to do SEO on your terms. If you don’t already use one, you can look for the best VPN options for your budget and start now. A VPN is already a useful tool on its own, so this kills 2 birds with 1 stone.

#6 Utilize Your Social Media Accounts

Link out to your social media on every page of your website. Your social icons should be omnipresent on your site, just to add to the quality links on-page. Social media is also a great place to connect with people and spread your content around. Shares on social media add up and could lead to inbound links from other content creators, which will boost your SEO without you having to put in the work yourself. Just make sure inbound links are from good sites, as backlinks from low-quality sites could actually hurt your SEO.

#7 Improve Page Load Speed

Sites that load faster do better in search engines. Most of this is because sites with longer load times end up with a higher bounce rate. People don’t have the patience to wait for large sites that take too long to load. HD pictures and sliders may look awesome, but it’s not worth it if you have to sacrifice your ranking for them.

Lower picture sizes, nix the sliders, go light on videos, and use media sparingly. Media helps break up the monotony of your content, but if you overdo it, you’re going to ruin your load time. Use only what you need and what adds the most to your content. If it’s not directly adding to your content, get rid of it.

#8 Don’t Outsource Your SEO!

If you have to choose something to make room in the budget, you may as well look at something with a better ROI for your time and investment. Marketing automation tools, CRM tools, accounting software, and other tools might make more sense for you than SEO tools at this point in your business growth.

Cheap SEO packages often won’t give you the results you’re looking for. They’re cheap for a reason. Putting in the effort yourself will probably end up working better for you than playing someone a tiny sum to try to build your SEO. Worst case scenario, you could get penalized by Google for black-hat SEO tactics or really poor link-building strategies. Wait until you can afford a reasonable SEO budget before you consider fully outsourcing.


Creativity is the key to making SEO work for you on a tight budget. As long as you’re willing to work with what you already have and take a little extra time to do the right stuff, you can get great SEO results for your startup, even on a bootstrapped budget.

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