SEO success in a post-Panda and post-Penguin world is now attainable through educational content and authentic relationships. Luckily, this has leveled the playing fields for startups who are don't have a lot of resources at their disposal. Here are three SEO tips for lean startups on a budget:

Whale1. Avoid Whale Hunting. Go Spear Fishing.

If you're operating in an established vertical, it's likely that you have a few competitors with established search engine rankings. Committing hundreds of thousands of dollars and countless manhours to unseating their "cadillac keyword" rankings may not be feasible or advisable.

Rather than whale hunting, try spear fishing. Instead of targetting keywords and phrases that are product/service-centric, take the time to understand your target audience and identify searches that they may conduct when they aren't looking to buy. Chances are, they're searching daily for resources to help them perform their daily job tasks.

For example, if your startup is SaaS for the HR sector, rather than trying to get your product in front of an HR director, try getting an educational resource in front of an HR director. You're probably more likely to rank for "onboarding checklist for new hires" than you are "HR CRM software." Use the Google Keyword Planer to identify these types of longtail phrases with medium-to-high monthly searches and low competition.

2. Identify and Leverage Influencers

When you're just starting out, generating earned media mentions and organic backlinks is critical not just for rankings, but for credibility in general.

Using the HR SasS as an example once again, think about who the rockstar influencers are in that sector, and reach out to them. Maybe they're independent HR consultants or highly-respected authors and speakers. Show them your product, let them demo it and invite them to write a review. It's okay if they're honest in their assessment. If they have critiques, take them to your product team. If they absolutely love the product, they might even recommend it to their network. 

3. Harness Your Employee's Social Graphs

Study after study shows the power that social media shares have on rankings. Even though Matt Cutts has said that social signals from Facebook and Twitter are not part of Google's algorithm, there is still a high correlation between rankings and social shares, especially from Google+.

For new startups, generating social shares can be a challenge. That's why it's important to lean on your staff to get the ball rolling. Encourage them to share your content through their personal and professional networks. It's a great way to jumpstart outreach and get create some stickiness between them and the brand.

What SEO strategies have worked for your startup? Let me know in the comments below!