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SEO Tips for Startups from Brett Borders of Copy Brighter Marketing

This week, I had the chance to chat with marketing expert Brett Borders of Copy Brighter Marketing about startups, SEO and small business. Check out the interview below for tips and advice from Brett!

Who is Brett Borders?

Brett BordersBrett Borders was an early Web adopter who first went online in 1989 and got internet access (via MIT) in 1992, two years before internet service providers came to his hometown of West Palm Beach, Florida. Interested in sociology and web technology, he has traveled around the world and participated in hundreds of different online communities.

What do you do?

I run Copy Brighter Marketing, a Boulder, Colorado, internet marketing firm that specializes in online reputation management. I work with national and international brands and help them cultivate and maintain a positive online identity. My work is a synthesis of SEO (search engine optimization), social media marketing and public relations. In my spare time, I research new online reputation management techniques and I develop a portfolio of my own web properties in the “green” niche.

How did you get started?

Several years ago, I was working as an agency copywriter and most of our clients were marketing directors at brick-and-mortar companies. I really enjoyed working with them and they made me realize I had some natural talent for marketing. Around 2005, a programmer friend taught me about RSS feeds and showed me some stats predicting a massive increase in spending on online marketing and advertising – and I could feel myself getting goosebumps just thinking about it. I decided I should get aggressively into the game. I didn’t have many web skills at the time, so I quit my job and enrolled in a full-time interactive marketing program in Oregon’s state university system. For a year and a half, I spent about 80 hours a week studying direct marketing, content management systems, PhotoShop, XHTML/CSS, Flash, JavaScript and PHP – and I discovered I was most fascinated by SEO and social media marketing.

What are some major pitfalls that startups risk?

One of the biggest mistakes for startups that I see is a vast majority of them pay little or no attention to SEO. You’ll see an online word processing startup site that doesn’t even mention “online word processor” once on the website and no one will ever find it on Google! What they don’t understand, is that telling their friends and other (mostly uninterested) people about a product is fairly worthless compared to making it findable for those people who are desperately searching for the new technology they offer. People actively seeking a new product are by far the easiest to covert and they are the most enthusiastic evangelists.

A lot of startups have a “If we build it, they will come” kind of fantasy. I think it’s more like: “If they can find it, they will come!” Yes, a few remarkable/lucky startups catch on strictly from word-of-mouth and online buzz… but a vast majority of them fail. Web startups need to include SEO into the very fabric of their development and marketing process… naming, branding, picking a domain, blogging, getting links, press releases, business alliances. All the plans and steps should take SEO into account.

Another pitfall for many businesses is they have no plan to build, strengthen or defend their online reputation. If you just have a company website, then your brand is very weak and vulnerable. Anyone can write an anonymous review or blog post saying your product “sucks,” it will rank for your name in the search engines, and it can really hurt your brand. It doesn’t just happen to “bad” companies, it can easily happen to any company or professional. If you start building a portfolio of positive publicity in the search engines from square one, you can have a strong defense and control over how you appear online in the future. If you wait until there is negative information about you online, then it is much, much more difficult to change or manage. So I help companies develop a solid, defensible identity online before it is “too late.”

What are good tips/resources for new webmasters?

I recommend SEOmoz and SEOBook as the best places for startups to learn about SEO (search engine optimization) – they both have excellent blogs and they offer premium content that is well worth the money. Dosh Dosh is a top resource for social media marketing. Please check out my blog for online reputation management advice, and I also highly recommend Andy Beal’s new book “Radically Transparent” for any business or career professional. Everything you learn and do to manage your online reputation today will be worth its weight in gold in the future. You’ll be so glad you took the time!

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