SEO is dead. Well, it’s dying. For the last 15 years Google has continuously improved their algorithm that connects their user with the best possible content available on the web. As brands, we scramble for tips, tricks and shortcuts to give ourselves the best chance of being selected for the first page of Google’s result pages when someone searches for our relevant keywords. We call this process Search Engine Optimization and I’m going to share with you a little secret: Google wants to make it go away forever.

With each new Google search engine update comes new rules and best practices that we must follow to remain in Google’s favor. It also penalizes websites for black hat tactics that try to beat the system. Where Google is heading, and the destination it will eventually reach, is the death of SEO altogether. As Google perfects their semantic search algorithm the ultimate result will be simple: whoever creates the best content that most accurately meets the need of the search terms entered will appear first.

This is great news because it completely democratizes the playing field and gives (relative) newcomers the same chance of appearing in the search results as larger companies with larger bank accounts. Google is making the game very simple for us: Whoever creates the best content wins. New startups and small businesses can go face-to-face with large corporations and other direct competitors that have been in business a lot longer than you.

So if you’re a new startup or small enterprise, here are 5 SEO strategies for new startups and small businesses to go head-to-head with the big competitors in any industry.

SEO website fundamentals

1.  So fresh and so clean

Google and other search engines rely on robots to “crawl” your website and extract the relevant information necessary to rank your position accurately in relation to others creating similar content. In order to help those robots do their job, you need to make sure your HTML is clean and your site loads as quickly as possible. You should provide a properly maintained XML sitemap that defines exactly which pages you want the search engine to crawl.

If this all sounds like Greek to you, start by checking out the Google Webmaster Guidlines and graduate into their Webmaster Toolkit. These resources will help you identify and fix potential issues and avoid pitfalls that will hurt your search engine results page rankings.

2.  Steal the key(words) to the kingdom

It’s critical to success that you intimately understand the keywords and phrases that your potential customers are using to find you and the services you provide. By defining and tracking your keywords tells you what type of content you need to create to attract your target audience. Remember, you don’t want more traffic. You want more of “the right” kind of traffic.

Kompyte just recently partnered with SEMRush for this very reason. Use SEMRush to quickly identify what keywords your competitors are positioning for, and then you can track your keyword ranking and see how you’re improving overtime.

Create Great Content

If you’re not first, you’re last.

3.  Create greatness

The real lesson that Google wants you to take away from the SEO evolution is to pour your entire heart and soul into creating amazing content. Search engines exist to connect their users with the best possible resources to match their search inquiry. So what should you do? Create the best possible resources to match the search inquiries of the people you are trying to attract.

Don’t write for SEO. Don’t write for robots. Don’t create content for the sake of creating content. And for god sakes, don’t talk about yourself so much! Create value for your brand’s audience, NOT FOR YOUR BRAND! No one cares about you, they care about themselves and solving their own problems. Help them solve their problems and you will be recognized as an expert authority in your industry and future customers will start lining up to hire the new prodigy. Your amazing content will get passed around and shared on social media becuase it’s effing amazing. This is the real kind of link building and it’s the only kind you should care about.

4.  Be a social butterfly

Sorry, I got a little heated in that last section. Where was I? Oh yes, social media. I’m going to let you in on a little secret: Google got lazy. They cut some corners and now they give priority to content that is being shared heavily on social media. Their reasoning is this: “if people are sharing this content a lot, it must be good so let’s move it up the ranks.”

Social Media Butterfly

It actually makes a lot of sense. People share value with their friends. Sometimes it’s humorous, sometimes it’s shocking, but if someone’s sharing it, it holds value. Therefore, you just need to fish where the fish are and toss some chum in the water. If your core target customers are primarily on Pinterest and Instagram, then don’t waste your time on LinkedIn. You’re new, you’re broke and you have limited resources. Don’t make your job harder than it has to be. Find your customers on social media and don’t show up empty handed. Offer them a free gift of your insight and expertise. They’ll thank you for it and pass it around.

5.  Plant your flag

If you have a physical address, use it! Verify your business on Google and put your efforts on winning your local market first. People don’t search for “best pizza”, they search for “Best Pizza In Barcelona”. Even if they did just type in “pizza”, Google’s going to assume they’re hungry and will show them pizza joints in their location first. If you’re not a verified local business on Google, no one’s going to eat your delicious pizza, except for you.

As mobile and geolocation-specific searches increase, Google will rely even more heavily on location-based results. Make sure you’re registered with local channels like YellowPages, Chamber of Commerce, Better Business Bureau and others that Google may use to verify their data.

In the end, SEO’s not quite dead yet so you’re going to have to master the basics to get started. Once the fundamentals are in place, focus your marketing efforts on creating the most amazing, high-quality content that brings value to your target audience. Use your keyword strategy and social media profiles to engage your audience and watch your marketshare grow. A deliberate and well-executed SEO strategy will give your young venture the ammunition it needs to steal marketshare and compete against the big guys.