Search Engine Optimization

How to get your web pages listed on the first page of Google?

As long as you have a website, SEO is THE acquisition lever that should not be neglected in your digital marketing strategy. Indeed, it is a process of optimizing websites for search engines.

Do you want to put in place a good SEO strategy to acquire new customers? Neither one nor two, let's go, we are embarking you on the conquest of natural referencing.

Morvan CarrierMorvan Carrier

Morvan Carrier

Co-founder
Published on 27 August 2021 (Updated on 14 February 2022)

Summary

SEO, what is it?

SEO: Definition

SEO (Search Engine Optimization) also called natural referencing, is the set of techniques that aim to index your website on search engines, then secondly, to be well positioned on them.

To put it simply, there are 3 important points:

  • The technique (having a successful site)
  • Semantics (in other words the content)
  • Authority (links, netlinking)

Interest & stake of SEO

The main goal of SEO is to get to the first page of search engines, it's that simple.

If one of your pages (be it a product, a blog post or a category page) is accessible from the first Google page, you will have many more visits to your site, you will be considered an expert in this area. Because let's be honest, who goes beyond the first page when doing this research? Very few people, almost no one!

If we had just one thing to remember to be successful on the front page, it's this: content is king. And yes, content is king, it’s that easy.

Why ?

First, because thanks to it, you will be able to be well positioned on search engines, and therefore you will have visitors, which, thanks to a good content strategy and a good website, will allow you to have new customers (in reality it is not that simple, but we explain it to you below).

But not only !

  • As a sales support for your sales representatives
  • As a communication medium on your social networks
  • ...

The challenge of SEO is therefore to get your site listed, but it can also have multiple interests.

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Advantages and disadvantages of natural referencing

As you will see, natural referencing has many advantages, but there are certain points to be taken into account, and not to neglect or forget them!

The advantages of natural referencing:

  • It's free !

And yes, unlike other levers like Google Ads (formerly Google Adwords) for example, you don't need to pay for SEO (unless you want to be supported by an agency, but all work deserves a salary, right?).

  • Resilient!

Generally, if you have an optimized site, natural referencing represents a source of traffic that lasts over time (provided you continue to update and publish content on your site). That is, the content strategy you have in place will bring you traffic for months, if not years.

  • Quality traffic!

From the moment you have defined your personas, and that you have set up your SEO strategy and therefore content in this direction, you will necessarily have quality traffic since your content will attract your targets.

  • Trust!

Who hasn't said to themselves, "If Google has put this site first, it must be reliable, right? A well-positioned site generally sends a positive signal in terms of reputation.

The disadvantages of natural referencing:

I'm not sure the term “inconvenience” is best for this part, let's call it “points to remember” instead.

  • SEO takes time!

And yes, it is not enough to post a well written article to appear on the search engines 1 week later.

So, you are going to say to me “ok, how long do I have to wait?”. Very good question, however, there is no magic answer. It depends on the difficulty of that keyword, the competition, the quality of the site, etc. But usually it still takes a few months.

If you need fast positioning, I advise you to start with Ads (paid search).

  • Be regular!

Regularity is the watchword in SEO. Whether in relation to the publication of your articles, or to the quality of writing.

  • Ranking is not guaranteed.

And yes, in SEO, we cannot guarantee to be in first position (if an agency promises you that, run away !!!)

  • The Google algorithm

The famous, the indomitable, the dreaded: the Google algorithm.

No one has the list of best practices, just a few tips. It is therefore necessary to test, analyze and implement. This is one reason that SEO can often be difficult for newbies. Therefore, do not hesitate to be accompanied by a SEO agency at the beginning!

The little extra? Updates that take place once or twice a year: Core Updates.

How search engines work

How does a search engine work ?

To begin with, let's see what a search engine is. To put it simply, it is a set of software / robots that scour the web, in order to index the pages they visit, by processing and analyzing them, in order to ultimately transmit information to Internet users!

How a search engine works: The principle

In order for a search engine to work properly, it first takes several steps.

Step 1: The crawl phase

A host of robots explore the web, navigating from link to link, in order to retrieve all the information.

Step 2: Indexing

Once the robots have retrieved all the information, it is indexed by what are called "index engines". Basically, it's like a database of words that is regularly updated.

Step 3: Restitution

Then, a search interface returns the results to Internet users, and all that, by ranking them by relevance (this is the ranking).

You will have understood it correctly: it is important to be well positioned on search engines. If I can afford it, it is even essential. I like to say that from the moment we are in the top 3 in the SERP on a request, we are a bit considered as the messiah on this one, as if being well positioned gives us in the eyes of Internet users a great knowledge beyond control.

Zoom on Google

A little history ! Did you know that Google was created in 1998 by 2 students? And yes ! It was Larry Page and Sergey Brin of Stanford University who created the Google search engine, which at first was called Backrub (not as cool as Google, right?).

The goal? Quite simply to classify the sites according to their relevance but also their accessibility. So that anyone can easily access the information they are looking for. Awesome isn't it?

But why zoom in on Google?

The reason is simple, most searches (see almost all), are done on this search engine. To be more precise, in 2020, there were 92.15% of Internet user searches in France that are made on it. Impressive, isn't it?

Because of this, it is more than important to have a site that meets Google's requirements.

But the big question you must ask yourself is "What are these famous requirements?". Mystery and rubber ball, we do not know anything. Well, not really. To be more precise, we have no list of criteria to be respected, let's say that we know the main lines, and then we must above all test.

It's not like a recipe to be followed to the letter, with the list of ingredients and the steps to follow (that would be too simple otherwise!).

In addition, once or twice a year there are Core Updates, i.e. Google makes a major update of its algorithm, so its requirements are constantly evolving.

Even if, let's not forget, the crux of the matter is content.

We could ask ourselves the question of “Why is Google so demanding?”. The answer is quite simple. Google must offer relevant and quality content to Internet users. Otherwise he would lose all credibility, and therefore there would be no one using this search engine, so he could no longer sell Ads, including more money for him! (But that's just my opinion ;)).

To keep you informed of potential changes or updates, I advise you to follow these two accounts on Twitter:

  • Google Search Link
  • And that of Danny Sullivan (even if he's the one who manages the previous one)

As we also said a little above, there are therefore 3 essential factors to optimize your website:

  • Have a high-performance site that meets Google's requirements (the technique)
  • Have relevant and accessible content (semantics)
  • Have a site with authority

SEO: let's talk about the technique

First step and not the least: the technique. Before setting up a content strategy, you must have a successful website that meets Google standards.

Optimize the loading speed of your site

Some will tell you that the loading speed of a site does not affect SEO. My point of view is different, see the opposite.

Knowing that user experience is one of the elements taken into account in SEO, it would seem absurd that suddenly speed is not taken into account, right?

Let me explain, if a site takes too long to load, you're not going to stay on it, are you? So it’s that simple, on the internet we are one click away from our competitors, so we need a site that adapts to user attitudes: it should be fast. In the long run, few criteria have so much impact on your SEO and your conversion.

To help you see what changes you can put in place to improve your site's load time, here are two tools that analyze your pages and suggest areas for optimization:

  • Google Page Speed ​​insight: Google's brutally honest tool loads your page, measures several variables and gives you a rating. If you're not in the green (> 90), you have work to do. A lot of work.
  • GT Metrix: He'll be a lot nicer to you, it's more about checking best practices and performance. Same thing, if you are not in A (90%) there is work.

Have a site that meets security standards

HTTPS stands for HyperText Transfer Protocol Secure. To put it simply, HTTPS is a communication protocol, like HTTP, except that it is encrypted.

So this is the secure version of HTTP (the S at the end means “Secure” site). But secure, that is to say? This is equivalent to encrypting the exchanges between a site and a server.

You will understand, the HTTPS protocol makes it possible to secure:

  • Site information
  • Information that a user can leave on a site (for example in a contact form)
  • Information collected by cookies

Set up a good structure to reference your site

Some would say that this part should go into the content / semantics part, but in and of itself, we don't care, the main thing is that it is done, and most importantly, that it is done well.

By structure we mean several things:

  • Structure of the pages

What is a good structure for good Google SEO? To put it simply, it's just like writing an essay in school. You need a main title (here the h1), then titles (the h2), and the subtitles (the h3, etc.). The whole thing being to try to respect this structure as well as possible, without skipping a game. An example will surely be more telling:

  • Alt tags

The alt tag, or alt attribute, is alt text that allows robots to understand the content of an image.

Its primary objective, the reason for its creation, is to describe a visual to the blind. This tag also makes it possible to reference an image in Google image. This is therefore a plus for the natural referencing of your site.

How to write a good alt tag? This should contain between 3 to 5 words, usually a description of the image, related to the content of the page.

  • Title:

The title is simply the title you see when searching on a search engine:

Its main objective is to encourage the user to visit your website. The title must contain the keyword of your article, must not be more than 65 characters (spaces included).

Keep in mind that this tag is sort of a very short summary of your page's topic. So be relevant! Your key phrase (and therefore the TITLE) should really reflect the content of the page.

Small tips: you must vary the titles, there must not be 2 identical on your site & you must avoid repeating words.

  • Let's take an example :

For a blog post that wants to be positioned on the keyword “marketing automation”.

Example of a bad title: Marketing automation: discover our guide and 6 examples of marketing automation scenarios.

Super title example: Marketing automation: guide and 6 scenario examples

Why is the first example bad? Because this one is too long and there is a repetition!

  • Meta description:

A meta description allows you to add a description of an indexed page that will appear in the SERP. Its main objective is to make the Internet user want to click, to take action. To do this, there are several tips:

  • Use action verbs
  • Provide an advantage for the Internet user (when possible)
  • Write a meta description that matches the content of the landing page
  • Get to the point (160 characters maximum, spaces included)
  • Warning: if you don't put a meta description on your page, or if it is too short, Google will take an excerpt from the page to display it!

If we take the same example as above:

Example of a great meta description: Marketing automation is a staple in digital marketing today. Discover our 6 examples of marketing automation!

In this example, you find the keyword, call-to-action, a benefit (the examples) and we know exactly what we're going to find.

How to get your site listed on google? Optimize your meta data

Simply put, metadata is everything you don't see. That is to say :

  • structured data
  • canonical URLs
  • the hreflang tag,
  • the breadcrumb
  • ...

All this with the goal of having clean source code, and that Google can find all the right information it needs easily and quickly.

Shall we go into more detail?

Structured data

Structured data is information that is found in the code of your website. They allow robots from different search engines to understand the content of your website. This data therefore facilitates the exploration of your pages by these famous robots. Without this markup scheme, search engines would have a hard time listing your pages correctly!

To learn more, Google has written an article that is quite interesting to understand how structured data works: See the article

And if you want to test your data, it's over here!

Canonical URLs

Before starting with the definition of a canonical URL, let's start with the definition of a URL. It is simply a web address, for example: https://www.mon-site.fr.

As for a canonical URL (or canonical tag, canonical URL, meta canonical and rel canonical), its purpose is to prevent any duplication of content, within the same site.

This is the address of a page that signals search engines that it is defined as the original. Thus, they will not index other pages which have taken the content of the "official" page.

For example, you have a page https://www.mon-site.fr/url1, in which you talk about natural referencing, and which you want to position well and on another page, for example https: //www.mon -site.fr/url2, you are talking about the same subject.

Except that on the other page, you put identical content to the first, then there is the concern of duplicate content (which as a reminder is a practice penalized by the big manitou Google) and cannibalization between the two pages. Therefore, on url 2, you must put in canonical tag url 1.

Page URL: https://www.mon-site.fr/url2

Canonical tag of this page: https://www.mon-site.fr/url1

Besides putting in a different canonical URL when necessary, did you know that on every page of a site, you need a canonical URL? This helps prevent duplicate content.

The hreflang tag

Despite the fact that its name is complicated to read, the understanding of it is rather simple, even extremely simple.

It is simply the act of telling Google the language of your site, and positioning it in the correct language. Indeed, a German site has nothing to do with a French-speaking search engine, right?

This tag is also very useful when you have a multilingual site. Using the hreflang tag ensures that search results point to the correct language version of a page!

You have three different places to implement the hreflang tag:

  • in the header (HTML)
  • in the Sitemap
  • in the http header

The breadcrumb

The breadcrumb is the breadcrumb of a site.

A breadcrumb trail is used to indicate the position of a page in the hierarchy of a site, both for Internet users and for Google.

It is therefore an important element that must be added to the structured data of a site.

To do so, you can follow the instructions here, or use a web agency.

Did you know ?

As of January 2021, the markup of the aarian feed on data-vocabularu.org is no longer valid, it must be replaced by the markup schema.org.

UX, the new SEO criterion

We hear more and more about UX (User eXperience) for a website, and more particularly for SEO. What is now called SXO (the marriage between the two parties).

Why ? Because Google is constantly seeking to improve the relevance of search results in its SERP, this is one of the reasons why there are Core Updates (updating its algorithm), but not only! He also wants to improve the search experience for Internet users.

So, there are some points to take into account (non-exhaustive list):

  • Manage interstitial logic processing.

For example, pop-ins should not cut off part of the content and interfere with the browsing of the user. So, STOP with the huge pop-ups that take up the entire page (or at least a large part)!

  • Have a variety of formats on your site.

Do not limit yourself to text, and provide images, videos, infographics, diagrams, etc. (but be careful with the weight, and therefore compress and resize everything upstream!).

  • Pay attention to the fluidity of navigation.

The Internet user can navigate easily, find the right information easily and in the right place.

  • Don't have too many clicks.

We also say stop when browsing a site where we have to click more than 4 or 5 times to land on the web page that interests us.

  • Take into account mobile compatibility

Your site needs to be what is called Responsive Design, that it adapts to all screen sizes.

Robots.txt and Sitemap

Any website must have a robots.txt as well as a sitemap.

The robots.txt is a file that gives instructions to search engine crawlers on what they can and cannot crawl and therefore index when they visit a site.

The sitemap is a file where you find all the pages of a website that you want to index, and it also allows you to link them together.

We're lucky today with most CMSs that can generate it. Either automatically, like with Webflow, or with plug-ins, like with Wordpress.

Don't know how to create your sitemap? Google itself tells you everything here.

Once it's done, don't forget to declare it in the Google Search Console.

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SEO: We move on to content

As we said at the start of this article, content is king. This is the most important point, which will allow you, at least enormously, to help you rank your pages well.

So let's go, we don't waste another minute, and we explain what you need to know.

The different types of content

Did you know that when we talk about content, we don't just limit ourselves to the text? And yes ! The term content is much broader than that, and so much the better!

Who wants to read an article with just one huge paragraph? Barbing no?

Here are different types of content:

  • The text

No need to procrastinate too much on this topic now, just below I am bombarding you with information.

  • The image

Putting pictures is great, but be careful, you don't have to put them anyhow. If you've followed what has been said before, you know that you need to resize and compress them, so that they don't take on too much weight, and of course, put an alt tag.

  • The video

Video is increasingly important when it comes to SEO.

On many subjects, there is a video.

  • Table

When making comparisons, have you ever thought about doing it in tabular form? Simple, clear and efficient!

  • The scheme

As you may have seen in this article, there is nothing better than a diagram to illustrate topics that are sometimes a bit complex.

  • The infographic

Computer graphics are great, however, be careful of their readability, especially on mobile! At Sales Odyssey, we are a fan of infographics, which are also useful for communication!

  • Podcast

For example, why not transcribe your articles in audio? Some people just prefer to listen rather than read.

  • Webstories

A webstory is like what you might find as a story on social media, except you'll find it on Google. In it you can find text, images, videos, gifs, quizzes and links.

How to reference your site? Establish your content strategy

In order to set up an effective content strategy, you need to think about the right content. Namely, one that will bring you traffic, but that matches your target's buying journey!

Here are the steps that we advise you to follow:

  • Find your personas
  • Define the types of content you want to do
  • Choose the topics of your content strategy
  • Carry out your content plan
  • Create your content plan
  • Generate ideas
  • Find the right keywords
  • Map the internal mesh
  • Make your editorial calendar

Want to know more ? Lucky kid, we already wrote an article on content strategy.

Writing your content

The funniest moment (#humor)!

This part can be scary, but no worries, we have written an article specifically to help you.

Remember that writing optimized content for natural referencing is within the reach of anyone, as long as the rules are applied. But if you're writing like a vacation buddy, don't be surprised if your post / page doesn't rank.

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Internal networking: Establishing a semantic cocoon

Many have tried it, few have succeeded and many have not understood.

A semantic cocoon is the way of organizing the pages of a website, by creating links between them (the internal mesh). This concept was invented by a Frenchman 😎 (Laurent Bourrelly), class isn't it?

To understand what a semantic cocoon is, you have to keep in mind that a website is built on the basis of silos. A silo is a branch of a tree, which starts from a theme, and which descends to increasingly specific subjects, this is called siloing.

It should be based on the user's request, his search intent, when he arrives on your site, and not on the basis of the offer you make. Always ask yourself "What are the queries that meet the needs of my buyers persona?", That's what will help you create your architecture.

Bad semantic practices

We explained good semantic practices, what to put in place and why, but it is also important to take stock of all the bad practices that will harm Google SEO.

Duplicate content

Duplicate content is when a text appears several times on the internet. Whether on the same site, or on different sites.

Duplicate content is a practice not recommended by Google and may result in penalties.

There are 3 main sources of content duplication issues:

  • URL variations
  • Pages in HTTP and HTTPS or pages with WWW and without WWW
  • Content retrieved or copied

Word stuffing

This practice was used extensively many years ago, but it is no longer recommended at all. In the eyes of search engines, this is a sign of manipulation of their algorithms (Keyword Stuffing), so be careful!

It is also bad for internet users, who may not want to read redundant content. Remember, user experience is important and taken into account by Google, this also applies to content. They should be interesting, relevant and easy to read.

Our tip? Once you have defined your target keyword, instead of putting it all over your texts and title, use its semantic field instead!

Cannibalization

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No, nothing to do with Hannibal Lecter, cannibalization in SEO is when two pages (or more), deal with the same subject and wish to position themselves both on the same keyword: they eat each other. Which means they're going to have a hard time ranking well and reaching the first Google page.

How to counter it? With a good content strategy and a semantic cocoon. With these two points, you will have an overview, which will prevent you from writing 2 similar articles.

What if you already have this concern? You have the option of grouping the 2 articles into 1 for example, then making a 301 redirect.

Concealment technique

Or in other words, cloaking. This is when you present your Internet users with URLs (and therefore content) that are different from those intended for search engines.

Warning: this practice is prohibited by Google.

The last point and not the least: the authority of a domain

Before starting this part, I want to start with a disclamer ⚠️:

No, netlinking is not everything! At Sales Odyssey, we don't believe that with just the right connections, you will revolutionize your positioning.

This certainly helps, but above all, you need a site with a good architecture, a content strategy, and good internal networking.

Why ? Quite simply because SEO matters if it brings you customers, and an inbound link is of no value to your readers.

Remember: The heart of SEO is content, producing exceptional content on your site, to provide an exceptional experience for your Internet users. Netlinking is the icing on the cake;).

Now let's get to the explanations!

Netlinking, the basics

What is netlinking?

Netlinking (or backlinks) is simply getting a link from one website to another website.

What does “domain authority” mean?

The authority of a domain is equivalent to the trust that Google places in a website. It is defined as a score that search engines give to a website.

This term was coined in the MOZ company. The score ranges from 0 to 100, and the goal is to get the highest possible score. To guide you, a good mark is between 40 and 60.

Here are some things that can contribute to the authority of a domain:

  • The age of your domain name (the older the better)
  • The quality of the content of your website (hence the relevance of having a good content strategy)
  • The number and quality of your backlinks

Remember that the authority of a domain is only an indicator, and that is not everything for your SEO, far from it.

What does “domain authority” mean?

The authority of a domain is equivalent to the trust that Google places in a website. It is defined as a score that search engines give to a website.

This term was coined in the MOZ company. The score ranges from 0 to 100, and the goal is to get the highest possible score. To guide you, a good mark is between 40 and 60.

Here are some things that can contribute to the authority of a domain:

  • The age of your domain name (the older the better)
  • The quality of the content of your website (hence the relevance of having a good content strategy)
  • The number and quality of your backlinks

Remember that the authority of a domain is only an indicator, and that is not everything for your SEO, far from it.

What is netlinking used for and why is it useful for natural referencing?

Netlinking is used to validate your expertise with Google. If links from other sites with the same topic as yours point to your site, Google will consider that you are indeed an expert in this area.

Netlinking is useful for natural referencing for several reasons:

  • Improving the quality and quantity of traffic to your site
  • Develop the popularity of your site, therefore its authority
  • The good positioning of your pages on search engines

Types of links

There are different types of backlinks for your netlinking strategy.

To be more precise, there are two types of links:

  • Nofollow links

Nofollow means these are links that are not followed by search engine bots.

  • Dofollow links

Dofollow means that these are links that are followed by search engine bots.

A dofollow link will therefore have more power than a nofollow link.

What is a quality link?

To make a good link, there are 5 criteria to take into account:

1- The quality of the partner site

It is important that a backlink comes from a site that is in the same industry as you, that it has good authority, and that it is a site with visits.

2- The relevance of the content of the partner site

The content of the site that makes a backlink to your site, must be consistent with the content of your site.

For example, a site that talks about cooking is not going to backlink to an automotive site.

3- The position of the link in the content

A link must appear natural, so it must be located in the heart of the page text, and not in the header or footer.

4- The anchor text of the link

As a reminder, anchor text is visible text that is used to position a link.

The anchor of a backlink must therefore be consistent with the content of the link.

Warning: You need a variety of anchor text and not the same every time (you can use synonyms, brand name etc).

5- The dofollow and nofollow attribute

As you will understand above, a dofollow link carries more weight than a nofollow link. But that doesn't mean that links with nofollow attributes don't matter.

Since 2019, Google has also taken into account nofollow links to your site.

How to check the quality of a link? Diagnostic tools

To check the quality of a link, there are many tools and indicators:

  • Domain Rating (Ahref)
  • Domain Authority (Moz)
  • SEMRush
  • Google Search Console
  • Bing Webmaster Tool
  • Link Explorer
  • Ahrefs
  • Majestic SEO
  • Google analytics
  • Linkody

Warning: penalties

Have you ever heard of Google Penguin? Google Penguin is a spam filter from the Google algorithm, which tracks down netlinking operations deemed to be "fraudulent / aggressive".

By fraudulent or aggressive technique, we mean:

  • abusive repetition of the same link anchor
  • keyword stuffing
  • backlinks from poor quality sites (forums, blog spam, press release sites, etc.)
  • footer link exchange
  • massive addition to hundreds of directories at once

What are you risking?

The penalty is not going to apply to the whole site, but to the page in question, on which you performed this practice.

You will not lose the indexing of this page (s), but you will lose visibility.

What to remember about netlinking

Focus on quality over quantity. It is better to have fewer links, but good links to your site, than a lot of bad links, and medium links.

Conclusion: SEO in 3 points

The 4Cs, which stand for content, code, design and celebrity, is a concept described by Olivier Andrieu. It's an easy way to remember the rules for good SEO.

  • The contents

Exceptional content for both internet users and search engines.

  • The technique

A well built site, well structured but also efficient for the shortest possible loading time.

  • Fame (authority)

Work intelligently on the netlinking of your site.

FAQ: What is Search Engine Optimization (SEO)?

Search Engine Optimization or SEO, is all the best practices and techniques that will increase your chances of appearing on the first page on search engines.

We could debate for hours on the interest for a company to work on its Google Rankings. But let's keep it simple. When you have a problem, what's the first thing you do? You go to Google. So being on the front page on keywords that are close to the problems you solve for your customers sounds like a good idea, doesn't it? In two words: turnover.

To rank higher on Google, there are 3 key points to take into account: The technique: A well structured and quick to load site. Semantics (content): Respond as best as possible to the search intent with rich and clear content. And the authority (popularity): It is the "credibility" of your site which will depend on its age, the netlinking (the sites which mention you) or the notoriety of your brand.