Written by toomaime
Last Updated 🗓 22 days ago
Hey Rick, first of all, can you tell us a little bit about you and what are you working on?
Hey! My name is Rick van Haasteren and I’m from Holland. My side project is SiteGuru, an SEO tool that helps you improve your website and rank higher in Google.
You are the maker of SiteGuru - how did you get your first users?
In the very beginning, I launched the absolute minimum of what I thought an SEO tool should do: it would just check one page and give some recommendations. I spend a few hundred bucks on Google Ads, just to check if people would use the product and signup. They did, so that was a great motivation for me to keep going.
I don’t think just spending money on ads is a sustainable way to get traffic and new users, but it’s a great way to check if you’re on to something without spending a lot of time on promoting the product. Once I had confirmed people were interested, I shifted focus to other traffic sources.
How do you promote your project - any tips for other makers?
I’ve been doing a lot of promotion in various startup communities. Indiehackers and ProductHunt worked great to get a lot of attention and signups. Next to those big ones, there are a lot of websites where you can easily get your startup listed. That’s a relatively easy way to build links and gain some traction. I kept track of all the directories I reached out to and shared it on my website: https://www.siteguru.co/startup-directory-list.
One thing I wish I knew easier: your fellow startup founders are often easy to reach out to, but they are not always your perfect target audience. I saw that happening with SiteGuru: most founders like the product, but they’re not the ones who’d pay for it. That’s why I shifted attention from indie makers to marketing agencies: they really need a tool like SiteGuru to monitor the quality of their clients’ websites and are happy to pay for a tool that works.
"I strongly believe that both the SEO and the startup games are marathons, not sprints."
Site Guru gives you great insights about your SEO issues - what are common mistakes indie makers are doing?
Giving up too soon! I strongly believe that both the SEO and the startup games are marathons, not sprints. Don’t expect to become an overnight success, and also realize that most overnight successes you hear about have been years in the making.
That’s very true for SEO and content marketing: you have to keep going even if you feel like no one is reading your content. It normally takes about six to nine months before your efforts start paying off. But it’s worth it: once your strategy starts taking off, you’ll benefit from it for years to come!
What do you think are the most important things you need to do for great SEO results?
The challenge with SEO is that there isn’t one thing that matters most: it’s a combination of a good technical setup, amazing content that is valuable to your audience, and other sites linking to your website. If done correctly, these 3 elements of SEO only enhance each other: a great website with great content gets a lot of links. SiteGuru will help you with the technical setup, you’ll need to create great content yourself, and reach out to get people to share your content. One doesn’t work without the other.
"Documenting your own journey as a founder isn’t just a way to get attention, it’s also great for yourself to reflect on the progress you’ve made so far."
Let’s talk about content marketing - any plans for SiteGuru or anything that really worked great for you?
SiteGuru is in one of the most competitive markets for content marketing: all our SEO colleagues realize the importance of creating relevant content, so that makes it hard to stand out. Instead, I focused on long-tail keywords in specific niches. I’m currently working on content specifically about technical SEO audits. That’s less competitive and fits greatly with the product, so I have high hopes from that!
Secondly, there’s an easy content marketing strategy every founder can apply: share your own story. One of my most viewed articles is about how I got my first 1000 users (https://www.siteguru.co/blog/how-i-got-my-first-1000-users). Documenting your own journey as a founder isn’t just a way to get attention, it’s also great for yourself to reflect on the progress you’ve made so far.
What advice would you give someone to get his first 100 customers?
First, define who your ideal target audience is. Then find a couple of those people, for instance on Twitter, and go talk to them. What are their challenges, what keeps them up at night? Then ask yourself: is there a match between your product and this audience? If not, should you tweak your product? Or maybe target a different market?
If there’s a match, that’s great! Their input will help you improve and promote your product because you understand your audience so much better.