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SEO and SEA decoded and action-oriented

SEO, Google results... Not only do you need a website when starting your business, but you also need to know what to do with these terms! And it's not easy if you're not in the field... Let's delve into the basics of free and paid referencing in this article.

Have you ever heard of SEO (Search Engine Optimization) and SEA (Search Engine Advertising), two techniques for referencing your online content? The first one is free (to some extent, we'll come back to that), and the second one is paid. SEO is the process of optimizing your website for search engines. The goal is to position it on the first page, or even among the very first results, on Google searches.

SEO: Basics and initial actions

This so-called natural referencing relies on a set of pillars that allow search engines to find and index your site, understand the topics it focuses on, evaluate its relevance on these topics, and highlight it compared to competing sites.

Search engines use complex algorithms to determine which website best answers a given query. These secret algorithms rely on several factors, including:

Keywords: You need to identify a list of relevant keywords related to your product or service, your industry, etc. We recommend relying on your persona interviews and customer testimonials to find them! You can also use tools like Google Keyword Planner or Answer the Public. Then, you should naturally incorporate these keywords into your site. The idea is to help Google easily understand what you're talking about without "speaking like a robot."

Meta tags: This is jargon for additional information you can provide to search engines to position your site. This includes the site title and the description of each page. You should find this in the properties of your website creation tool. Ideally, you should do this for every page. Also, consider the URLs of your pages! Include relevant keywords that describe what can be found on the page.

Example for an article on the website (we're using WordPress).

Content quality: Sales-heavy marketing language is not recommended. Algorithms look for markers of informative, engaging, and relevant content. That's why regularly creating high-quality content is always valued!

Internal and external links: If your site is of high quality, it should be recommended by others, right? That's the goal of this category, divided into two pillars:

  • Create internal links, linking between the pages of your site, to improve navigation and structure. Of course, they should be logical and relevant.
  • Create external links, known as backlinks, from authoritative websites. Identify authoritative sites in your domain and contact them to propose mentioning your site on theirs. This could be in the press, a directory, other content sites, etc. The more well-known they are, the better!

User experience: Improve the user experience on your site by optimizing page loading speed, optimizing image sizes (small enough for quick loading but large enough to avoid pixelation or blurriness), simplifying the organization of your site, and more. Make sure your site is also enjoyable to navigate on mobile devices! Nowadays, over half of internet users browse on mobile devices (smartphones or tablets). Test all these options to find the right balance. You can get some improvement suggestions by testing your site on PageSpeed Insights.

SEO is known to be free, and it is to some extent: if you do everything yourself with free tools. However, if you rely on certain paid tools or a service provider to assist you, there will be costs to consider.

The case of local SEO

If you have a physical location or want to strengthen your local presence, fully utilize this lever: local referencing. Use Google My Business to create your business profile if you haven't already, and complete it to the fullest. Add photos, your opening hours, etc.

This process is free and will help you rank better in local searches. You can increase your chances of appearing in the top local results by encouraging your customers to leave reviews for your services. We strongly recommend doing this every time, whether it's via email or on Google, Facebook, etc. Guide them by asking the following questions:

  • What was their situation before they contacted you?
  • Why did they choose to work with you? What criteria convinced them?
  • How has their situation been since you helped them?

Adapt this template to your context, of course. The idea is to provide information that unequivocally shows Google that it's a positive review and to provide concrete elements to interested individuals to persuade them to work with you. Double reward!

SEA: Use with caution

SEA is the paid counterpart of SEO. In essence, you're buying your spot at the top of the podium. This can be done by purchasing positions for keywords, promoting an ad, and more. You can use platforms like Google Ads to get started.

However, we don't recommend using this lever right away because it's a double-edged sword: yes, you'll quickly reach the top, but you'll become entirely dependent on ads to stay there. Their cost can vary, and the day you stop, you'll drop significantly in the rankings. Ads can be interesting for testing a concept, a product, or a service (we explain how to do this for social networks here), but in the long run, SEO techniques will be more effective for your website and your finances!

Continuous improvement

No matter which levers you test, always remember to monitor and analyze the evolution and performance. You can set up Google Search Console and Google Analytics to check traffic, keyword rankings, conversions, and other data on your site.

However, keep in mind that patience is required in referencing! These are efforts that pay off in the long term.

Of course, there are many hacks for each of the techniques explored above. We chose to present you with fundamentals that will remain true for a long time, rather than temporary shortcuts. We hope you can start implementing the concrete steps described and see the first results.

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