When it comes to French SEO, there’s a prime factor we must consider before anything else:
Why is that?
When writing for search engines, the characters applied in the text impact heavily on the local positioning. And French alphabet includes many different characters from our native alphabet.
The same happens with the backlinks you use and even your website URL
Have you thought about the domains? Targeting local SEO in France and not using a .fr URL is like using the right rod but the wrong bait to fish.
In that sense, while French SEO can be pretty upfront, many details can affect your strategy if you’re not careful.
Let’s take a look at these factors and discover the importance of French SEO and .fr backlinks.
Why are localization and optimization essential for French SEO?
A common mistake when implementing SEO in France is believing that you just need to translate your original content into the language, using the original copy and content for the campaign.
However, limiting yourself to only translate the text will hinder your positioning. Let’s see.
Consider that France is one of the biggest markets in the world – the third biggest to be precise -. Of course, this comes from the fact that they’re also the top #1 tourist destination – they receive more than 79 million tourists yearly! -.
But also because of the privatization of most industries within the country.
Why is this relevant for French SEO?
Because that tourism activity also increases online searches and the market traffic. To be honest, the translation shouldn’t be a problem with tourists, and it isn’t.
However, French is the 6th most present language online. This means you’re competing with high-quality content, which was first designed for SEO campaigns in France.
It’s easy to understand why not committing to your marketing efforts will only detriment on your ROI. Your competence will leave you behind.
Even so, an advantage of this market is that the French people work almost exclusively with Google. You only need to work with one search engine tactic.
This means it will be easy, right? Wrong!
Unfortunately, it’s not as simple. Besides organizing your general strategy, you also need to consider the following particularities of the French market:
- French consumers are quite nationalist: they will generally reject a poorly translated website or a not-French domain.
- Word length: French words are considerably longer, and in that sense, they may not fit metatags or readability scores if you just translate.
- Keyword variations: due to the different accents in the language, Google will index some words with or without the checkmark.
- Keyword slang: as in any other languages, some French expressions can’t be translated from another language.
All these particularities can be turned into advantages if you apply your French SEO strategy smartly and optimize your website with the proper localization.
Because that’s the only way to make your website searchable in that only engine which is Google.fr
Let’s share some tips and advice on how to optimize your website for French SEO.
How can you optimize your website for a French SEO strategy?
Ok, so now we’re clear that you shouldn’t settle for just translating your website. But you should optimize it locally to fit the criteria for SEO in France.
Translate your website manually
We said that you shouldn’t translate your website. And that’s true, you shouldn’t just translate it, but – just for the record…
It must be in French!
But you must certainly make sure that it uses the proper terms and slang expressions for every copy you create.
Our best recommendation is, as we stated before, to adapt your copies to the language. Rewrite them if you must!
For that, you would need a native translator or copywriter that can collaborate with your project. He will provide pertinent recreations of your original copy to make it friendly for the local audience.
This simple measure will aid in addressing two particularities of French SEO:
- It will be in proper French, so it will be acceptable for the local audience.
- It will include your keywords with the proper orthography.
Just remember to include the metatags on the service. This way, they will also be optimized for SEO in France!
And one last tip for this one; if you can’t manage to get a professional manual translation, you should stick with English, as 79% of French users prefer English websites to those with mediocre French translation – according to the CSA -.
Research local keywords
This recommendation will also aid with two of the particularities – keyword variations and slang – when it comes to ranking your website on Google.fr. But it will also get you closer to your real audience.
In this sense, you’ll be able to better understand the problems they’re trying to solve:
- You’ll better understand some cultural factors and how they affect your optimization.
- You’ll get familiar and used with the slang and the way they express it during the conversation.
- You’ll be more familiar with the accentuation normalized by google – or not – and how it impacts your search.
- You’ll refine the specific translation of your products – some may have several translations depending on the case -.
In general terms, keyword research will throw valuable information about how you should communicate with your French audience. And in return, you’ll develop a better user experience, which will help your position your website French SEO.
Pick a French name for your website
This one follows the same line.
Your SEO results in Google.fr will dramatically increase if your website is called “LePetitPrince.fr” instead of “TheLilPrince.com”
“.com or .fr”? Backlinks importance in French SEO
Finally, the last resource for optimizing your website for French SEO is backlinks. This one deserves a heading for itself, as it’s one of the most overestimated tools.
What are backlinks?
Backlinks are hyperlinks to join your page to other pages on your website or other authority pages outside your website but on your niche.
Their principal function is to drive traffic to your website, but not any kind of traffic. When your website counts with a structured network of backlinks, you’re already filtering the traffic to your website.
Allow us to explain.
When an online user spends more time on your website, their chances to buy your product or service increase. And at the same time, user experience and the time these users spend on your site are the best metrics for positioning!
That’s how inbound links – or links to other pages on your website – help your SEO strategy.
On the other hand, links to authority websites support the authority of your content and site. You’re referencing trustable sources after all.
In that sense, your website begins to become a reference for other websites too! And then, the target audience, looking for your specific content, arrives like flies!
But you can get even more benefits from backlinking when you target them locally, and that’s where backlinking enters the game of French SEO.
Here’s a video mad by Google about to improve local SEO:
What’s the importance of backlinks in French SEO?
To fully address the significance of backlinking in French SEO and SEO in general, we must understand the why.
Why are backlinks important?
Because Google’s purpose is to provide reliable content to their audience, and as we’ve been mentioning, backlinks demonstrate the quality of your references.
The source of the content you’re providing to the precious audience is crucial for positioning.
And that’s precisely why “.fr” backlinks are essential in French SEO. Let’s explain it simply.
We already stated that Google intends to rank the best quality content. The one that users choose is more valuable, and they spend more time navigating on it.
Then, you only need to answer one question:
Are .com or English backlinks truly valuable for someone that…
- Speaks french
- Is quite protective with their language
- And is using a .fr search engine?
The answer is pretty obvious. If your content is in perfect french, your keywords and metadata are accordingly translated. But your backlinks are not french; you won’t rank.
Google will consider your backlinks irrelevant. And do you remember what your backlinks are?
Your references. They represent the quality of your sources, and in consequence, the quality of your content. So, as tiny as this step may seem, it may actually tear down your whole French SEO strategy.
Of course, it’s not enough for the backlinks to have a .fr domain. They still need to meet the quality and authority criteria of Google engines. Otherwise, you’ll hinder your ranking.
Among the essential considerations for picking your French SEO backlinks, you can find:
- Links should be planned and placed on strategic websites with positive references and, if possible, backed by official institutions.
- The referenced websites must be optimized, SEO-friendly, and relevant to your niche or keywords.
- When the reference is to your website, you should refer to a fully structured page that is well-designed, with valuable content and call-to-action.
- Assure your website is ready to receive the traffic, or you may harm your site’s reputation.
- Avoid backlinking to references for general keywords as they may dilute the quality of the traffic.
If you’re a foreign company trying to optimize your website for French SEO, you may struggle to find trustable websites. In that sense, you may always search for a professional agency that offers backlinking services for French SEO.
Other considerations for optimizing your French SEO
Addressing a different culture and their markets is always a challenge. And that’s why information and insight are our top allies when it comes to French SEO.
Some other cultural facts that you may consider when optimizing your SEO in France are:
- Watch your tone! French people tend to be more protocolar and polite. They even have a more formal “you” – “Vous” – and a less formal “you” – “Tu” -.
- The same happens with emails and letters, which usually end up with quite formal and diplomatic greetings. Protip: you can find templates online and adapt them to your texts.
- If your site has any badge of authority or government institution approving or supporting your products or service, show it! You’re more likely to inspire confidence in the French audience.
- You should write phone numbers in pairs (02 02 79 26 47). That’s how they pronounce it out loud.
- When writing high figures, use periods to separate the units, while the commas are for cents.
- Once your website is fully optimized, hire a French reviewer to check you align with the culture.
- French audience values linguistics. So, even if the keywords accents are avoided for SEO in France, you should still keep neat orthography in your website’s content.
It may seem at first sight that SEO in France is different than regular SEO. But the real importance of French SEO and .fr backlinks radicates in the linguistic and cultural differences among audiences.