Start-up firms with new domains face an uphill battle to convince search engines that their site is not another spam portal – and they need to establish their authority fast.

John Lynch of Search Engine Watch said that as a result, the traditional search engine optimisation mantra of "content is king" does not quite apply because sites without authority would need "mind-blowing" pages to get the incoming links necessary to crack the rankings.

Instead, they should concentrate on off-site optimisation that builds their brand's online profile.

The first step in this process is setting up a listing on community pages like Yelp and Google Local, then persuading "brand evangelists" to spread the word about a product or service with genuine reviews.

Creating YouTube videos that take off as virals is another good way to bring a brand into the spotlight. Content should be tagged with relevant keywords and, above all, should be engaging to potential customers so they will share it with friends.

Furthermore, Mr Lynch said, reviews, YouTube clips and other off-site efforts like guest blogs or how to guides can be linked back to the start-up site, creating a "bounty of dynamic and engaging content" ahead of a traditional link-building campaign.

In related news, Google's new Small Business Blog aims to help entrepreneurs harness online tools to raise the profile of their companies by offering tips on issues like creating YouTube videos.

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