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What is SEO?
SEO is the practice of optimizing websites for search engines. It includes all actions necessary to influence the organic rankings of a website.
Besides, SEO involves the creation of web pages that answer user queries optimally.
Google, the world’s largest search engine, aims to provide the best user experience. Thus, their algorithm discovers, crawls and ranks internet pages to give searchers the best possible answer, no matter what they look for.
Consequently, websites focusing on providing answers through valuable content will be rewarded by ranking higher.
The goal in SEO isn’t to trick the algorithm, the goal is to offer quality content that brings value to the user.
Why invest in SEO?
Search Engine Optimization is an indispensable step for every company (or individual) that aspires to attract traffic to its website.
Your website can be the most beautiful website in the world, but what’s the point if no one finds it?
Traffic doesn’t happen magically! That is why all website owners should invest in SEO, whether by using their time or money.
Nowadays, in order to have a successful SEO campaign, it requires at least SEO strategists, content writers, and developers. In larger projects, complexity increases with the arrival of new team members such as a project manager, SEO analyst and UX designer.
“In-house” SEO is not for everyone and that is why most SMBs hire an external SEO expert who can supervise their project!
Ready to exceed your targets?
"Normal SEO" vs Local SEO?
If you own a local business, people might have told you about local SEO, but how does it differ from “normal” SEO?
Local SEO is the application of basic SEO principles for local searches. This means that the user’s search intent (the goal of their query) differs from global searches and should therefore be factored into your SEO strategy.
Often times, local searches are combined with finding information such as address, hours of operation, phone number, reviews, or directions. In addition, they also include “broad” searches that lead Google users to discover new places: “coffee near me” or “restaurants nearby”.
Local optimization involves understanding these behaviors and integrating them fully into your strategy in order to seize new opportunities to acquire natural traffic.
We often talk about Google My Business (GMB) as THE important part of local SEO, and it is legitimate!
However, it is not only the GMB optimization that will make you outrank the competition: optimizing your website for local searches, listing your business on online directories, acquiring reviews, growing your social networks are also part of local SEO’s work.
In fact, one of the most important things turns out to be the accuracy and consistency of the information available about your business on Google.
The SEO basics
A SEO strategy always starts with a keyword research.
Usually, it is done using SEO tools to find out the average monthly search volume for a specific phrase, as well as the difficulty of ranking naturally for that keyword.
It is also possible to know the cost-per-click (CPC) of a keyword, which means the price we would need to pay to acquire traffic using this keyword with Google Ads.
This is useful data since it allows SEOs (Search Engine Optimizers) to measure the organic traffic value that they get from their work!
The selected keywords from that research guide the SEO expert on which pages to create and optimize afterwards. It’s part of a lifelong learning process.
A good search engine optimization should always include synonyms of the main keywords in order to properly flesh out the content without saying the same thing twice. The trap is to always repeat your main keyword.
When performing a keyword research, it is important to keep realistic and reachable goals.
For instance, even if the keyword “mattress” is in theory ideal for your business, it represents a highly competitive keyword (lots of players in the industry are trying to rank for it). Therefore, it is unlikely that your newly developed website will position itself on the first page.
Another example would be a car dealership wanting to rank for “cars for sale” or “Audi Q5”. A simple Google search will show you national results, and the websites showing up on the first page are from large companies with a lot of resources (manufacturers, marketplaces, large news websites).
Remember that these keywords are very broad anyway, and despite their high search volumes, they do not bring in targeted traffic ready to convert!
Instead ask yourself: what keywords would bring me visitors further into their buying process, and whose keyword difficulty fits my website authority?
In most cases, these are longer expressions, more precise, but inevitably searched by more qualified people.
Example: “Audi Q5 towing capacity”
Don’t you have a feeling that this person is on the verge of buying a vehicle?
It’s up to you to replicate this with YOUR industry!
Now is the time to optimize your page for search engines, but ALSO and ESPECIALLY for visitors!
Search engines are more and more sophisticated and luckily help more and more humans to find what they are looking for on a web page.
Don’t try coming up with “shady” techniques to gain more traffic, instead focus on your content and ANSWERING THE QUERY the user typed to discover your page.
You will quickly see that visitors will appreciate your content… they will interact more with your pages, maybe even come back to your website, and ultimately Google will boost your rankings.
The key to succeed in SEO remains VALUE! This is what sets you apart from the competition, which increases your brand reputation, and therefore increases your visibility.
What are the most important SEO factors?
SEO factors that influence website rankings can be divided in 2 categories: on-page factors and off-page factors.
Those 2 categories can be split up in subcategories as well:
On-site SEO factors:
- Content (text, image, formatting, keywords, answers).
- Architecture (website organization, URL structure, parent/child pages, page speed, responsiveness).
- Semantic HTML (organizational structure of content, titles and markups).
Off-site SEO factors:
- Trust factors that Google collects about your website (authority, engagement, website history, transparency).
- External link profile (who links to your website and how, quality and quantity of links).
- Reputation indicators (brand awareness, social shares, reviews, etc.)
On-page SEO factors
Off-page SEO factors
About on-page content
A Uniform Resource Locator (URL) is the web address of a page. Your browser needs the URL to find the page, read it and show it to the user.
Meta title (sometimes called SEO title):
This is the title that appears in the search engine results pages in blue. This title does not appear on the page but is one of the most important elements about on-page optimization.
It is the page description that appears below the blue title (“meta title”) in the search engine results pages. The meta description is not a SEO factor itself but is your chance to attract more visitors. Optimize it thoughtfully!
H1 ou Heading 1:
It is the main title that appears on the web page, often times at the very top.
It describes the main content of a page (texts, images, videos, buttons, forms).
Headings (or subtitles):
They are titles organizing the content in order to make it more digestible for the reader. Careful, heading tags are not only aesthetically different: they send an organisational message to the search engines. There are H1 titles, H2s, H3s all the way to H6s..
Writing for SEO can be complicated for untrained people. The goal is to write in a way that you can include your main keywords without disrupting the natural flow of a text.
Ideally you would want to bring value and add a “SEO touch”, without exaggerating!
You need to find a balance between optimizing the text for a given keyword and simply doing keyword stuffing.
Writing for SEO is complex, but this is not the only thing you should care about. Once you have a great text, don’t just copy paste it as quickly as possible to go watch Netflix…
You have to format the text! In my opinion, this is a very important step since it helps ventilating the content. This will convince your visitors to keep reading (and keep consuming your content).
Your page should be easy to assimilate! Usually, I advise to space out the text, use ponctuation and connecting words to your advantage. Above all, organize text and images to create attractive content.
Pro tip : increase the line height for long text blocks! It helps reducing that “hefty tome” sensation for the visitor.
Context is everything on the web: at first, nobody wants to read a text-heavy page! Your web page isn’t a book and visitors didn’t pay for your content so try to maintain their attention!
Finally, let’s talk about a growing factor…
User Experience (UX):
Try to make users’ lives easier! How can you organize content to improve the deliverability of information to your audience?
More about SEO...
How to create optimized content for search engines?
How to attract quality external links (+ VIDEO INSIDE).
How to convert web traffic into quality leads in a few clicks?