SEO for scale-ups: achieving sustainable growth

If you’re reading this, you’re probably as excited about your scale-up’s growth opportunities as I am. You already know that SEO can be a powerful tool, but how do you apply it to a business that already has some traction and is ready to scale?

Why SEO is important for scale-ups

You are no longer a startup; you have found a product-market fit and you are ready to grow. But with that growth comes new challenges and opportunities. SEO is crucial in this. It helps you not only expand your customer base, but also establish your brand and stay ahead of your competitors. In a scale-up phase, a well-executed SEO strategy can make the difference between steady growth and stagnation.

Creating SEO strategy for scale-ups

We’ve all been there: you got a great startup off the ground, and now it’s time to scale. But scaling is an entirely different beast, especially when it comes to SEO. Let’s see how to tame this beastie.

The importance of a customized SEO strategy

You are no longer a startup, and that means the SEO strategies that worked then may not be sufficient now. In the scale-up phase, it is crucial to adapt your SEO strategy to your (new) business goals.

Whether you want to expand your market reach, introduce new product lines or go international, your SEO needs to grow with you. A customized strategy helps you deploy your resources effectively and maximize ROI.

This is a make or break phase for many scale-ups in terms of results in the organic channel. Many of the changes in the company such as going international, undergoing a rebranding (which often happens in the transition from start-up to scale-up or getting a new marketing team also affect SEO.

SEO for scale-ups in a nutshell

Core components of a scale-up SEO strategy

So, what are the building blocks of a good SEO strategy for a scale-up? First, technical SEO. Your website should not only be user-friendly, but also scalable. Second, content. But not just any content; we’re talking about in-depth, valuable content that establishes your authority in your industry.

And let’s not forget backlinks; quality backlinks from high authority sites are worth their weight in gold. Finally, measurement and analysis. You have to constantly monitor your performance to know what works and what doesn’t.

Team building and roles

Okay, you have your SEO strategy in place. But who is going to do all that work? A strong team is just as important as a strong strategy. Let’s look at key roles and how to manage such a team.

What roles are crucial for a scale-up?

In the scale-up phase, you can’t afford to miss opportunities because you don’t have the right people on board. You need an SEO specialist for on-page and off-page optimization, a content marketer to create that valuable content, and a technical SEO expert (or a website builder) to make sure your site runs smoothly.

How to manage an SEO team

Managing a team is more than just delegating tasks. It’s about creating a culture of continuous improvement. Regular check-ins, training sessions and KPI tracking are essential. And don’t forget to celebrate successes; a little recognition can go a long way. Read more about building a team internally for SEO here.

Technical SEO

You can have the best content and the strongest team, but if your site is not technically optimized, you will quickly fall behind. Let’s look at some core aspects of technical SEO for scale-ups.

Site architecture is key

A scalable site architecture is crucial. Your site should be easy to navigate not only for users, but also for search engines. Especially in the start-up/early scale-up phase, it is common to redefine the site architecture. From this project should come a long-term vision regarding the URLs used on the website and the entire structure.

Mobile optimization

We live in a mobile world. If your site is not optimized for mobile devices, you are missing out on a large portion of your potential customers. And with Google’s mobile-first indexing, mobile optimization is no longer an option for many businesses; it must be done.

Creating a technical SEO strategy

What is important in technical SEO for a scale-up is that there is a plan. Especially when the scale-up has outside investors, it is important that all technical points can be accounted for. Not only from an SEO point of view, but also from the usability and scalability of the website.

Link Building

Backlinks are the lifeblood of any good SEO strategy, especially if you are in the scale-up phase. They can help you establish your authority and improve your rankings. But how do you tackle that?

The importance of quality backlinks

I cannot stress it enough: quality over quantity. One backlink from a reputable site in your industry is much more valuable than ten links from unknown blogs. Quality backlinks not only increase your authority in the eyes of search engines, but they can also help you be seen as a thought leader in your industry.

How to get backlinks

Getting quality backlinks is not an easy task, but it is certainly doable. Guest blogging, creating valuable content that gets shared naturally, and building relationships in your industry are all effective strategies. And don’t forget to leverage your existing network; a simple outreach can sometimes lead to valuable backlink opportunities.

From the scale-up phase, I recommend generating inbound quality backlinks in particular. In a white hat method with quality content that is actually relevant to the visitor and your ICP.

Local and International SEO

If you’re a scale-up, chances are you’re not just targeting a local market. How can you make sure you are visible both locally and internationally?

This is a great example of how SEO moves with the changing business goals of a scale-up. Are you going international? Then you need to aligne that with the SEO specialist and the marketing team around it. Are you staying local? Ditto.

The importance of international SEO

If you want to go international, SEO is your best friend. But international SEO is a complex field that involves much more than translating your website. You have to consider different search engines, cultural differences and even different algorithms. It’s a challenge, but with the right strategy, you can reach a global audience.

And there you have it, a quick but thorough look at backlink strategies and local and international SEO for scale-ups. With this knowledge, you will be well equipped to take your SEO strategy to the next level. So, what are you waiting for? Let’s go do this!

Local SEO strategies for scale-ups

Even if you have an international ambition, don’t forget your local roots. Local SEO is still important. Make sure your Google My Business profile is up-to-date, focus on local keywords and collect local reviews. This can help you build a strong local presence, which can be the foundation for further growth.

Measure your impact

You can’t improve what you don’t measure, right? In the world of SEO, especially for scale-ups, measurement and analysis is the key to success. Let’s look at the KPIs and tools that can help you do that.

KPIs and metrics for Scale-ups

If you’re a scale-up, your KPIs are probably different than when you were a startup. You’re now looking at things like customer acquisition cost, lifetime customer value (CLV) and of course, ROI from your SEO efforts. But don’t forget the basics: organic traffic, bounce rate and conversion rates are still important.

Make sure that you align your KPIs with your scale-up’s OKRs and that there is no mismatch here. To actually be supportive of your OKRs, these should be the right ones. In doing so, do not be tempted by the easiest to measure or define KPIs (this is a typical pitfall).

Tools for advanced SEO analysis

You need more than just Google Analytics to really dive deep into your SEO data and create a good SEO analysis. Tools such as SEMrush, Ahrefs and Moz can give you insights beyond basic statistics. They can help you analyze your competitors, examine your backlink profile and even predict future SEO trends.


We have come a long way, from understanding the unique SEO needs of a scale-up to discussing strategies and measurements in depth.

Summary of key points

To keep it short: SEO for scale-ups is a complex but necessary beast. You need a customized strategy, the right team and the right tools to measure your efforts. And let’s not forget the power of quality backlinks and both local and international SEO.

In particular, the transition from start-up to scale-up is risky within SEO, but the way to achieve sustainable success with the organization.

Next steps for your scale-up within SEO

So, what next? It is time to put this knowledge into practice. Evaluate your current strategy, assemble your team and dive deep into the data. With the right approach, you can take your scale-up to new SEO heights.

There you have it, a complete guide to SEO for scale-ups. I hope you learned as much from it as I did from writing it. Are you ready to take your SEO to the next level? Feel free to contact me through my contact form.

Senior SEO-specialist

Ralf van Veen

Senior SEO-specialist
Five stars
My clients give me a 5.0 on Google out of 75 reviews

I have been working for 10 years as an independent SEO specialist for companies (in the Netherlands and abroad) that want to rank higher in Google in a sustainable manner. During this period I have consulted A-brands, set up large-scale international SEO campaigns and coached global development teams in the field of search engine optimization.

With this broad experience within SEO, I have developed the SEO course and helped hundreds of companies with improved findability in Google in a sustainable and transparent way. For this you can consult my portfolio, references and collaborations.

This article was originally published on 27 March 2024. The last update of this article was on 10 July 2024. The content of this page was written and approved by Ralf van Veen. Learn more about the creation of my articles in my editorial guidelines.