SEO, simplified
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SEO, simplified

Tags
Product Management
Table of contents

Intro

In my entrepreneurship journey with MakeMyResume between 2017 and 2019, I focused a lot on learning and implementing SEO strategies for cost-effective customer acquisition costs, resulting in my website consistently in the top 3 results on Google Search, beating out even billion dollar competitors like Naukri.com for similar keyword searches.
I also worked as a Senior Product Manager at Hashnode, a blogging platform for software developers, with 3M MAUs. The platform was heavily SEO optimized, and a lot of content written by writers on the platform were featured on the front page of Google. There was also a sharp focus on performance and accessibility, which I learnt and contributed to.
If you're a startup, I always think it’s a good idea to get started with SEO before you need it. Although SEO takes time to build up, it’s an asset that lowers CAC and has the highest return on investment from a marketing perspective over time.
Here are some of my insights on SEO and how you can use it to improve your search ranking.
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Basics

SEO consists of two main types: internal and external SEO.
Internal SEO encompasses on-page optimization and content, while external SEO primarily involves backlinks.
But before we get into the implementation of SEO, we look at keyword research as the first step.

Keyword Research

Doing preliminary keyword research is important to understand what are people searching for and what is their search intent for:
  • Top of funnel (awareness)
  • Middle of funnel (desire)
  • Bottom of funnel (interest and action)
 
In the resume writing services example, I knew that they keyphrase ‘resume writing services’ was bottom of funnel, whereas phrases like ‘resume keywords for X role’, ‘resume samples for X role;, etc were more middle or top of funnel.
For another example, like in e-commerce, you could think of “buy iPhone 15” as bottom of funnel. And “iPhone 15 top features” as top or middle of funnel.
 
If you already have a site up and running, you can look at Google Search Console and see what phrases people are using to land on your website. If you don’t have a website currently or want to target different search intent, you should look at Ahrefs, Google Keyword planner, and other tools.
If you're just starting out with SEO, it is best to target long-tail keywords that have enough search volume while having low keyword difficulty and low competition to start ranking quickly.
 
Tools: Google Search Console, Google Keyword Planner, Ahrefs (Paid), SEO Quake Research

Internal SEO

Once you have the keywords that you want to rank for, the next best place to start is Internal SEO, which consists of - on-page SEO, performance, and content. It is the most “in your control” part of SEO, and should be taken advantage of to the fullest.

On-page SEO

On-page SEO or also known as technical SEO is the structure of the page with the content. With the keywords that you’ve researched on, use the top 1-2 keyphrases and add them to the:
  • Titles, Headings, Hero section, Meta Description, Image Alt Text (don’t forget this one), and generally peppered through the page.
Don’t keyword stuff, that will get caught easily.
I also followed one of John Rush’s suggestions and saw what queries people were already using and added to page hero, h1/h2, and meta tags and have seen an increase in rankings.
 
More elements that are helpful for SEO include:
  • Schema Markup
You can add structured data markup like products snippets, reviews, blog pages, local business, and much more to make the search appearance more dynamic and engaging.
 
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  • FAQs
These help increase user engagement on the website, especially with the drop down answers, and increase time spent on the website. Along with this, if combined with schema markup, it can show up as ‘Answers’ on the Google search page — and result in more traffic.
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  • Section with links, above the Footer
While not a good user experience, it is good for SEO where you add links to major sections of the website. You can also add these to a dropdown section.
 
Example: Flipkart
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Example: Souled Store
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Tools: Lighthouse and Google Search Console
 

Performance

Performance optimization is another crucial aspect of SEO. This includes:
  • Optimizing image size by compressing images. Use tools like Tinyjpg to compress images. Use the right dimensions for images on mobile
  • Using web friendly formats (usually .webp and .avif images work better than .jpeg and .png) — there is a plugin on Webflow that alllows you to convert all your images to .webp in just a click
  • Implementing lazy loading for the images below the fold. While not lazy loading images above the fold, because you want to be mindful of cumulative layout shift, which if large, can affect SEO rankings
  • Minimizing script usage
  • Optimizing font loading
  • Ensuring mobile responsiveness
  • Minify HTML, CSS, JS scripts (can be done automatically with Webflow)
  • Using CDNs like Cloudflare can also improve site performance
  • HTTPS for sites also have an SEO boost
 
 
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Tools: Lighthouse, CDNs like Cloudflare, tools for landing pages: Webflow and Framer. Not Wix or Wordpress
 
Checklist
  • Create a Google Search Console account
  • Create and submit sitemap.xml

Content

Content plays a crucial role in SEO. And here again keyword research plays a role. I can divide Content into the following parts:
 
Landing pages
These are pages that focus on the use case, product, features, or any other page that is not traditionally blog content. This can also contain pages that perform well on search like:
  • Alternatives and comparisons (Medium vs Substack)
  • Lists (Top 10 blogging platforms)
Blog content
Writing high-quality content that targets long-tail searches is an effective strategy. Although you should always cross-post content onto sites with better SEO like Medium or another blogging platform depending on your niche.
 
Algorithmic SEO content
Additionally, using algorithmic SEO techniques can help create multiple pages from existing content efficiently. For instance, in the resume writing services niche, a combination of ChatGPT, Zapier, and Webflow can be used to generate numerous resume keyword pages that rank well, even competing with larger companies.
 
There are some do’s and don’ts
  • Don’t have the blog on a subdomain rather have it on /blog subpath
  • Attempt to answer questions - long informative
  • Link between your pages
  • Cross post on platforms like Medium, Hashnode with canonical link - Algorithmic - For example - resume keywords per profile
 
Tools: Airtable, Zapier, Webflow CMS
 

Off page SEO

Off-page SEO primarily revolves around building backlinks. Backlinks tells Google how popular your website is, in comparison with others.
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Quality backlinks can be obtained through organic features, press coverage, and listings on platforms like Product Hunt and Betalist.
Quantity-focused backlink strategies include listing on directories, guest blogging, and link exchanges.
 
The best approach is to create something noteworthy that other people organically link bank to. This could be just your offering, or even the content, or any side apps like calculators, or quizzes or something similar.
 
Tools: Ahrefs backlink checker can help analyze competitors' backlink strategies for inspiration. Google Search Console for checking inbound links.