SEO for the IPO

The fundraising, IPO and growth periods can be a very exciting time for young and old companies alike, with new products, services and ideas.  It can also be one of the most challenging and stressful times.  The entire company is forced into focusing on numbers, reports, and analytics to support projections and ultimately secure the biggest investors and ensure future hockey-stick-style stock charts.  The latter typically becomes the norm of a company’s culture during the fundraising phase and clouds the huge marketing opportunities of the former.

What I’m talking about is the exciting part of the business—the new ideas and products that got the company where it is.  The business and consumer world is also excited about these products, and your visibility tends to pick up steam once people catch wind of the magical word IPO.

Here are some ideas on how to capitalize on that visibility with SEO:

  • Social Media: This is the best time to get Twitter churning, Facebook humming, and LinkedIn working.  As word gets out that you’re shopping for capital investors or prepping for an IPO, people are going to start talking:  Financial commentators, CNBC, MSNBC, Entrepreneur magazine, Jim Kramer… the list goes on.  Every time someone is mentioning you, it’s a chance to connect and interact with that member of the community via social media.
    ** Will your company ever get this much coverage and press again?  Hopefully, but maybe not.
    ** Wouldn’t this be the best time to attract top talent, and could social help? Absolutely!
  • Company Feedback: As your awareness grows and your social marketing kicks in, it quickly becomes a firestorm of re-tweets, mentions, hashtags and most importantly, feedback.  Make sure you’re capturing the social community’s consensus on your products and company.  This is a great time to find product pitfalls and highlight the features your community loves,  all of which create opportunities for link bait and content.
  • Link-building: Again, every time your company is mentioned on TV, the Internet, radio etc., it’s an opportunity to build links.  You can use the market sentiment, analysis and broadcasts as link bait on your website. You should also be using this as compelling content that can be distributed across the Web with links and anchor text.  Will there be a better time to generate links?
  • SEO: Market buzz and the former present boundless opportunities for fresh content on your site.  Take advantage with a “What they’re saying” section that highlights prominent press mentions. Think about the blog posts, incoming text links and website integration with social profiles. The list of SEO opportunities is endless.

Don’t think for a second that these social, link-building and SEO initiatives won’t have an impact on business objectives.  As awareness spawns awareness and your savvy Web marketing team starts to focus this attention, you’ll be able to control the conversation and steer the masses to product purchases.

The awareness will also spark the interest of the business world’s commentators and analysts.  This in turn won’t go un-noticed to pre-IPO investors, both existing and new.  Post-IPO, your stock will explode because of the underlying fundamentals and revenue generated from social, SEO and Web marketing, along with the hype these initiatives will ultimately create. The only question now is in-house or outsourced: I’m sure you know which way I’m leaning.

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  • Brad – interesting topic and some interesting ideas. As I trust you know, the SEC does not take kindly to companies “gun jumping” an offering (read: hyping the deal) so I would strongly advise any company who is interested in such tactics to employ them LONG before the bankers are retained and the S-1 is filed so that they are considered “normal course of business.” In my experience, starting any new communications tactic in/around the filing is just asking for trouble.

  • Jim Flanagan says:

    Nice thoughts and surely well intended but off the mark. As Rob indicated and I’ll be stronger, starting Social Media during the IPO process in my long experience is a violation of the Securities Laws. “Gun Jumping or Jumping the Gun”, however you want to phrase it will result in a significant ‘cooling off’ period, a time period the SEC will enforce where such a company would be banned from entering the market.
    More importantly, starting a Social Media program around the time of an IPO from my marketing and PR experience is business-wise, late to the game! Where has such a company been that they can go from founding to an IPO and not be using social media in this day and age, and I don’t mean SM for investor relations, which is still in its infancy.
    Like I said, well intended but a recommendation from a knowledgeable and experienced point of view.

  • Brad Miller says:

    Great point Rob.. the last thing anyone wants is to delay a stock debut. If the company hasn’t been active with PR and marketing, then engaging in anything SEO and social would certainly ruffle the SEC feathers and probably open up the doors for future lawsuits. However, chances are they’ve been using PR and marketing long before talks of going public. Wouldn’t SEO and Social simply be an extension of these efforts? For example, setting up a LinkedIn profile is similar to providing a company profile to a magazine or newspaper. I think the biggest concern would be publishing new content and information that is suggesting data on the company’s financials or future stock direction. Thoughts?

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