Whether looking for information, a product or a brand, it starts with a Google search for 90% of Internet users. If you are launching a business, or if you are starting its digital transformation, the search engine is therefore one of your main acquisition channels.
To be visible on Google is to activate a powerful lever in the service of your notoriety and your sales.
If the issue is obvious, the means to achieve it are much less so. Getting your site to appear first on Google can be a real obstacle course. This is all the more so when you don’t know (or understand) anything about the concept of SEO.
If this is your case, we invite you to continue reading: we will help you better understand this concept and its challenges. How does a search engine work? Why is being well referenced strategic for your company? How to make your site appear first on Google? We answer all your questions!
Why make your site appear first on Google?
To understand the importance of your website’s position on Google, just think about your own online behavior. After launching a search, how many times did you go beyond the first page of results? Certainly not much, if ever, right? You are then part of the 75% of Internet users who stop at these first ten positions.
And, even on this page, the ranking is very important: the top 3 organic links (that is to say, excluding advertisements) capture three quarters of the clicks. The first position on the search results page alone has an average click-through rate of 31%.
You will understand: the higher your website is positioned on the results page, the more traffic increases. This is the whole point of trying to make your site appear first on Google: you increase your visibility and potentially your sales, if you manage to generate qualified traffic. This is, indeed, your ultimate goal: if you have 1,000 visitors thanks to Google, but it doesn’t trigger any conversions, then your efforts would be in vain.
To get satisfied results, you need to define a suitable strategy. This requires first knowing (and above all understanding) how a search engine like Google works.
How does the Google search engine work?
To make your site appear first on Google, you must first understand how this search engine works.
The Google search engine works like a database, updated continuously. For this, it uses indexing robots, called crawlers, whose role is to browse the web in search of new content. They thus analyze each web page to index them in the Google database.
Then comes the moment when a user launches a query on the search engine. He types in the search bar terms or expressions that are called keywords. These must be an integral part of your strategy to make your site appear first on Google. They are the ones who lead the user to your web pages: the more relevant the choice of keywords, the more qualified the traffic on your site. This then benefits your conversion rate.
Once the request has been launched, the Internet user accesses the search results pages (“Search Engine Results Page ” or SERP).
Each website that appears is represented at least by a URL, a Title tag and a meta description: these elements are fundamental, because they constitute the first contact of the Internet user with your content. This data can be enriched depending on the nature of the search: Google then adds images, prices, customer reviews, optimized extracts, etc.
All SERP results are ranked in order of relevance. The first organic result (ads excluded) is therefore the one that Google deems the most likely to answer the request.
Google works like you: it wants to offer the best possible experience to users of its site. He is particularly demanding in terms of the quality of the results he puts forward. If he wants to retain Internet users, he has every interest in offering them reliable and quality websites.
Thus, its algorithm takes into account hundreds of criteria (kept secret) to rank your website on its SERPs. This is called natural referencing (or organic referencing). It is to be distinguished from paid referencing, which consists, as its name suggests, of paying to appear on specific queries.
2 levers to make your site appear first on Google
To make your site appear first on Google, it is possible to activate two levers: the optimization of natural referencing (SEO) and paid referencing via Google Ads (SEA).
Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
The ranking of the Google algorithm is never fixed: it evolves according to the changes specific to the algorithm and those that you make to your site.
It is therefore possible to ensure the optimization of natural referencing to make your site appear first on Google. This is also referred to by the acronym SEO for “Search Engine Optimization”.
It is a fundamental lever in your digital strategy, because the position of your website has an impact on its visibility, its traffic and its conversions. In fact, the higher the ranking, the more positive the results for your business.
The three pillars of SEO
Although the precise criteria of the algorithm are secret, we know that SEO is based on three pillars: the technique, the content and the popularity of your website.
It encourages adopting a global approach that looks at all aspects of a site, such as:
- The quality of navigation and user experience (UX),
- The quantity and quality of content, as well as the frequency with which it is updated (for example, “fresh” content forces crawlers to visit your website regularly),
- The choice of keywords (including long tail keywords) and their strategic position on the site (h1 title, Title tags and meta descriptions, etc.),
- The quality of the internal link,
- The number and quality of backlinks (also called inbound links)
- The responsive design of the website (to adapt to all media)
- The presence of an HTTPS protocol,
- The authority of the domain name,
- Page load speed.
To optimize the natural referencing of your site, you must then start by determining the blocking factors (both “on-site” and “off-site”). These are all the elements that Google deems penalizing and which prevent you from reaching the top positions on the search results pages.
If you ask an SEO agency, they can offer you an SEO audit to identify them for you. This is a preliminary step to defining an effective natural referencing strategy.
Paid referencing via Google Ads (SEA)
Paid referencing (“Search Engine Advertising ” or SEA) is the second lever available to make the site appear first on Google.
We are therefore talking about advertisements here: it is a question of paying to appear in first position, before the organic results, on target queries. At Google, this goes through its powerful Google Ads advertising network (formerly Google Adwords).
How does paid referencing work?
Paid referencing works on an auction principle. You choose the keywords on which you want your ad to appear: the amount you pay is defined by the cost per click (CPC) of the keyword. In general, the more competitive it is, the higher the cost per click.
Depending on the allocated budget, it is therefore an important criterion to monitor. It’s up to you to define the right keyword strategy to optimize the results of your Google Ads campaigns. You can also get support from a Google Ads agency to make the wisest choices.
The advantages of paid referencing
Thanks to paid referencing, it is easy to make your site appear first on Google. You have immediate and optimal visibility since your ad is placed before the organic results. You can easily capture the attention of Internet users and even divert traffic from your competitors.
Paid search has other major advantages. First of all, it allows you, unlike natural referencing, to carry out precise targeting (by geographical area, language, centers of interest, device used to connect, etc.). You can thus maximize your return on investment (ROI), while keeping full control of your advertising expenditure: they can be consulted at any time from the Google Ads dashboard.