Sébastien Neveu is an SEO analyst for nvi, a web agency in Montreal. In just 8 years of existence, nvi has grown to be the largest bilingual search marketing agency in Canada, offering services in English and French. Having worked in the field in England and in Canada, Sébastien knows well the SEO realities of the two continents and presents a comparison between netlinking in French and English…

If there is something certain in the natural referencing of today, it is that things evolve quickly, very quickly. Google has accelerated the pace. To be convinced, it suffices to see the significant developments that have resulted from the implementation of Google Panda and especially Google Penguin.

google loves me workshop banner

Quality is more important than quantity

A furrow has emerged very clearly: Google has now declared war on everything it considers spam, and in the first place, inbound links, “backlinks”. The next update from Google, which should arrive shortly, should still focus on a new version of Penguin, that is to say on the penalization of sites that are optimized in terms of SEO. All this coupled with the enhancement of authorship through the next Author Author Equality, proves something even more true than in the past: quality takes precedence over quantity, and any slippage will be punished harshly by Google.

So what about netlinking? Will it disappear completely? Yes, at least as we know it in the past. Gone are the days when it was relatively easy to weave a network of links from multiple platforms: comments on sites, forum, side links, footer links … All this is now banned or at least closely monitored by Google.

The only remaining solution is to insert incoming links in the body of the text, in theHTML code.

The anchor of the link should also be very carefully studied: no more “commercial” anchors used repeatedly. It will now be necessary to effectively mix between its brand, and the greatest possible number of combinations around strategic keywords, perfectly integrated in the context of the body of the text, and particularly informative.

It is obvious that creating / promoting the creation (PR, communication) of links to its website will remain one of the important activities of the SEO and webmarketing departments. It will only be much more complicated. A game of patience where the objective will no longer be counted in hundreds of links but in ten very precisely targeted links.

Significance criteria to take into account

To achieve this goal, you will have to make the right choices as to which sites can host the backlink. For this, an audit will have to be carried out according to precisely determined criteria. Without being exhaustive, here is a list of criteria that I use most often to determine the quality and credibility of a website:

  • Respect of the theme and language (even if the TLDs have less weight than in the past, the location of the hosting server is still to be monitored);
  • Quality of the content: typology of the website (forum, blogs, website, etc.), grammar, unique content, length of texts, relevance;
  • Freshness of content: is there a regular publication of new content? Periodically? ;
  • Type of links on the website: footer links, widget links, links with redirects, js links, or the very simple and classic link ? ;
  • Commercial targeting of the website: how are the anchors of the links? Very commercial? What is the advertising / text ratio? ;
  • Observation of metrics: Page Rank (if not available), domain and page authority by SEOmoz, number of inbound links (inbound links, referring domains), age of the site. Are the metrics good? Rational? ;
  • Is the theme of the site related to activities monitored by Google (games of chance, casino, porn …)? ;
  • Is the site open to external publications?

Understand the difference between English and French netlinking

This new game will not all be in the same boat. Because, it is obvious that it is relatively easier to do netlinking in English than in French. In comparison, a French SEO analyst will take longer than their English counterpart to create a link.

There are several reasons for this:

  • First of all because the pool of French-speaking sites is much smaller than that of English-speaking sites. And it gets even more complicated when you work in a niche market (swimming pool, whirlpools, etc.);
  • Then, many websites / blogs of these niches are operated directly by an editorial network or a company in the sector. The number of “independents” is lower than in English;
  • And this state of affairs, almost monopolistic, is known to French-speaking “webmasters”. This thus strengthens their bargaining power;
  • Similarly, as a general rule, French-speaking sites have lower PRs than their English equivalents. No doubt because Google’s understanding of the French language is less than English. This often makes the qualitative audit of the sites in question more difficult;
  • Then, it is clear that the French “webmasters” have a much less “business” approach to their websites. This is for cultural reasons, but also because the average potential income that can be generated by advertising is lower in French. In the end, they don’t like to establish partnerships with third-party sites, especially for inbound links, and even less remunerated;
  • Another possibility is the websites managed by former print journalists. In these cases, the approach will be very “conservative”, with a deep ignorance of the principles of SEO. This often leads to confusing “visibility” and “natural referencing” when talking about links. With ensuing pricing practices, completely wrong.

It’s less easy, but once you know these differences, you can more easily know your weaknesses and strengths. And therefore, adapt your strategies accordingly. And let’s not forget that fewer sites also mean less competition. The prospects of gain are therefore more important if we apply the right digital strategy.