From start-up to unicorn thanks to…

SEO is therefore a priority traffic acquisition and lead generation lever for startups, scale-ups and unicorns this year.

Here’s why and how you can benefit from it, thanks to what we’ve seen at L’Agence over the past 10 years.

The success of startups experiencing hypergrowth is therefore mainly due to 2 advantages of natural referencing: the moderate initial investment and the sustainability of the results.

When we observe startups that have become scale-ups, even unicorns, we find that SEO has played a big role: ManoMano (Monechelle), Aircall, Alan, Evaneos, Cheerz, Malt (HopWork), SosAccessoires, Ledger, Backmarket, Qonto, Back Market or Legal Start. Each of them was a young French shooter one day before becoming a juggernaut in their field. This success is partly due to SEO: in fact, the amount of content produced by these companies is simply phenomenal.

Long-term profitability for an undervalued channel

SEO (Search Engine Optimization) or optimization for search engines aims to position a website or a web page in the first search results for certain search queries.

For example, a company that sells PVC windows made in France has a keen interest in appearing at the top of results, either through its product pages or through its blog posts, when a user buys “PVC windows” or “windows made in “types France” on Google.

The first 3 search results represent almost 60% of the clicks (with 90% of the clicks occurring on the 1st page), so reaching page 2 is already very harmful (only 0.78% of users click a link from page 2 ).

The Grail, the 1st position, collects 33% of the clicks.

Positioning itself well requires a series of techniques to increase a website’s visibility and bring together supply and demand: interested internet users and informative branded content.

Overall, an average of 90% of clicks occur on page 1 and only 0.78% of users click on a link on page 2.

It’s true that the ROI of SEO is more difficult to measure accurately than, say, the ROI of a Google Ads campaign. But the companies (multinationals, SMEs, but especially start-ups) that invest effectively and sustainably in natural referencing are formal: it is a very profitable lever that will only increase over time.

While the initial cost may seem high, it pays for itself quickly and the company sees its positioning (and therefore lead acquisition) increase over time.

“Calculating the return on an investment in SEO over a year makes no sense since it is still bearing fruit 5 years later. »

Jonathan Habert, co-founder and CEO of L’Agence Web, SEO agency

Start-ups have understood this well. unicorns too. When a client comes to us with an interesting budget (e.g. after a fundraiser), we know we’ll quickly be able to unleash the magic of the search.

Why do startups benefit more from the ROI of SEO?

A start-up rarely has enough budget to be able to afford a huge advertising campaign in the early stages.

Although SEO is not free, its costs remain limited, especially when it comes to its results. Often without cash, the start-up doesn’t really have the right to make mistakes in their marketing decisions. SEO offers him the opportunity to test without losing too much and often to build the bases of his visibility on the web.

Even a startup or scale-up that invests in ads will be pushed past its potential customers, but once it stops spending, it will be back where it started. SEO never stops.

SEO offers solid foundations and ever-expanding opportunities.

Natural referencing has been used to rank at the top of search results since the end of the last century. Even if the competition is much tougher than before, it is still possible to get ahead of the best positioned articles and pages. For this, impeccable technical optimization, high added value content and great semantic optimization are essential, with the added bonus of numerous incoming and outgoing links.

“Once the website achieves a certain level of optimization and content, the company’s website becomes almost unbeatable in adopting one of the most effective SEO best practices: creating content in its area and topics. It can then easily become the market leader on the internet. »

Nourdine Selmi, co-founder and CEO of L’Agence Web, SEO agency

Exceptional growth potential at low start-up costs

The peculiarity of SEO compared to other channels is its accessibility with a low budget. Start-ups can therefore get off to a flying start by hiring an internal person, a freelancer or a natural reference agency.

So startups can only win by betting on SEO because not only is it a strategy that can be easily adapted to almost any type of product, service or industry, but it is also possible, with just some skill, time and willpower to begin .

As the business grows, it becomes possible to accelerate content production: many startups go from 1 article per week to 2, 3, 4 or even 5 per week as they scale up. »

Jonathan Habert

All this work allows them to build their position, their presence on the internet and then to consolidate their positions. And that’s for the long term: SEO takes several months to produce results if you’re starting from scratch, but once started, the effects can be felt for several years… until a competitor performs better on the same search query, which can happen.

Shine fast and strong on the internet, the key to going from start-up to scale-up, from scale-up to unicorn

Unlike other structure types, startups often have no choice but to seek the most direct route to their audience. With 93% of online experiences starting in search engines and 3 out of 4 internet users do some research online before purchasing a product or service, it seems obvious that startups have an interest in getting visible on Google.

But Google is not the only SEO acquisition channel: other search engines like Bing, Yandex, Baidu or even Amazon can generate significant traffic depending on the customer and the market. For example, in 2021 we opened an Amazon SEO department in the agency: Amazon SEO and Amazon Ads.

Also, 70% of internet users would rather click on organic links (SEO results) than on sponsored links.

Also, let’s not forget that SEO stays number 1ah Acquisition channel on the internet, and that start-ups are inherently connected to the web, so they have their place in search engines.

SEO, one of the most long-term marketing levers

Only a few marketing levers produce results over several years. The branding and brand awareness created by advertising can last, but is still difficult to analyze and measure.

SEO is a long-term strategy that requires patience and perseverance, but offers exceptional prospects and returns superior to most other long-term marketing efforts.

An excellent ROI that improves over time until it becomes exponential

“For a start-up, the future plays out from the first few months of activity, a period that determines the business potential and market viability of the product. So SEO is the silver bullet as it provides an effective, sustainable and profitable acquisition channel. »

Max Dutru, SEO Team Lead at L’Agence Web, SEO agency

However, make sure to include SEO when creating the page: it must be technically optimized for search engines, an SEO strategy must be set up and content must be created regularly. Backlinks, i.e. the links that refer to the page, play a major role in their popularity, as does digital PR. If this is not considered from the outset, the correction effort is much greater.

However, once SEO starts delivering results, the ROI accelerates until it becomes almost exponential, taking the site from 100 visits per month to 1,000, then 10,000 and sometimes even 100,000…without the amount of work required being proportionate.

The leverage effect is very interesting for brands that want to acquire more qualified contacts on the Internet.

So the facts show that many start-ups become unicorns thanks to SEO (and search more generally: SEA & social ads). Due to its specifics, SEO is one of the best weapons for startups. Innovative digital companies, regardless of their industry and maturity level, all have good reasons to invest in their SEO as early as possible.

Since 2013, we’ve been helping businesses, including startups, scale-ups and unicorns, to acquire their customers and convert them online. Will we work together in 2022?

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