Running an SEO campaign in France can give the company measurable benefits – the country’s economy is developing dynamically and the Internet is used by more than 86% of inhabitants. See what you should pay attention to if you aim at increasing the visibility of your website in the French search results.
French is the tenth most widely spoken language in the world and the country has the fifth largest economy in the world. All of these make entering the local market extremely profitable. Last year, France was ranked third in Europe in respect of the number of its Internet users (Germany was first on the podium and the UK followed it). Because of that, it can be safely stated that satisfactory visibility of your website in the SERPs of French customers may be quite beneficial. What do you need to know if you’re planning SEO activities in France?
French Internet ancestor
The Minitel system was introduced in France in 1982. It was based on videotext so it resembled teletext. What’s interesting, although similar services and technologies appeared in other countries already in the 1970s, it was in France that they gained the greatest popularity.
Minitel initially functioned as a phone book but later on it was used even for operating bank accounts. Why is it important for SEO? Some specialists claim that the Minitel’s popularity has delayed the development of the French search engine marketing sector in relation to the UK or Scandinavian countries. But how does the situation look today?
These days, France is one of the leading countries in terms of percentage of people using the Internet. In the chart below you can see online activities of the French – it presents the activities done at least once a week in 2016. But how do the French users spend their online time today?
As you can see, search engines are intensely used in France. It’s not surprising, as according to data from this year, the Internet is used by almost 56 million people, which gives 86.4% of the population. Undoubtedly, it’s worth taking care of high positions in the search results when such a dynamically developing Internet market is concerned.
SEO in France
If you want to run an SEO campaign in a foreign country, you should start from checking which search engine is most frequently used there. In Russia or Ukraine, you’d have to devote your time to learn the secrets of Yandex. On the other hand, Seznam is the most popular in the Czech market. So which search engine rules in France?
It comes as no surprise that Google is the leading search engine in France used by 94% of people. However, it doesn’t mean that you can transfer all of your undertaken local SEO activities to the foreign market. When doing SEO in France, it’s advisable to focus on several aspects:
1. Most of the French people search for phrases in their native language
Avoid word clusters that consist of two different languages. Choose the French names instead of the English-French ones. Otherwise, you can confuse not only the website users, but also Google robots.
2. Don’t translate your keywords literally into French
The mere fact that given keyword phrases work well in a particular country, doesn’t necessarily mean that they will work in the same way in the French market. Therefore, try to translate your phrases and examine which of their synonyms are frequently used both in official and colloquial speech. If you deal with e.g. leisure services, don’t choose the easiest way out and don’t translate mechanically everything that has worked so far. Make sure which terms are most eagerly used by the French speaking people – gite, vacance or maybe chale?
3. Regional diversity
When selecting keywords, you should also take into account that the search terms may vary depending on the region of France from which the users come from. Thus, products and services offered by a particular company may be known under different names. For example, in the South Pyrenees region, the traditional French sweet rolls (pain au chocolat) are referred to as chocolatine. Therefore, if you aim at reaching as many customers as possible, keep in mind different names of the same products.
4. The space issue
And here comes another problem, particularly visible while translating from English as the same content translated into French can take up noticeably more space. Although in SEO this issue isn’t as important as in the case of using the PPC model, you should still remember about taking it into account while writing your texts.
5. Cooperate with a native speaker
Syntax, accents, slang… If French isn’t your mother tongue, you’ll probably hesitate about various language issues during the work. Although Google doesn’t see two pages with the same content in different language versions as duplicate content, it’s worth taking your time to translate texts properly instead of doing it literally or mechanically. Valuable pieces of writing should include both slang and culture specific elements of a given country. Here, the help of native speakers is priceless – they’ll take into account various nuances and help you to create top quality content.
6. Focus on link building
Référencement, meaning reference is the French word for SEO, so even the name itself emphasizes the role of link building in the whole process. The link database is extremely important in the French SEO. That’s why you should make every effort to get as many high quality external links to your website as possible in order to obtain a high position in the results of the local search engines.
During building links to your website and implementing the general campaign of promoting the enterprise, it’s worth considering which platforms play the most important role for the French. The most frequently used solutions for business are Viadeo and LinkedIn, followed by Facebook. When it comes to individual users, they’are particularly fond of Facebook (74%) and Pinterest (15%).
Is it feasible?
Is it possible to run the French SEO campaign from abroad? Of course! But first you need to consider why your website should have any chances of attracting French customers. Extensive knowledge of SEO may not be a guarantee of success on the international market. In order to properly present your business in French, take care of creating content that is optimized also in terms of linguistics.
France is one of the most notable destinations when you think about international campaigns and promoting your website abroad. An economically powerful country and a great population speaking one language are just two of the factors that can encourage companies to implement an SEO strategy in France. Obviously, entering a new local market requires not only the knowledge of the specificity of the region and its culture but also, what is extremely important for SEO activities, the knowledge of its language. If you still have any doubts whether it’s worth the effort, specialists estimate that by 2050 as many as 500 million people will be speaking French!