Interview with Eloi Casali SEM Account Director at ZenithOptimedia
I met Eloi Casali when I was in Paris in September We had a drink in a typical French café near Gare du nord. I wanted to find out how the French/English SEM Director was enjoying working Paris after spending the earlier part of his career working in the UK.
What does your company specialise in?
ZenithOptimedia is a multi specialist agency with teams of experts in all disciplines of marketing. We have expert teams in affiliation, display, SEO and PPC who come together for one client. That way, each discipline remains at the top of its game, whilst being integrated under one roof for data consolidation, integration with Analytics, de duplication … Big Data works better when you have all the information available in one place.
What is the search market like in France?
The market here is smaller and less competitive than in the UK or USA. For SEM in France, you cannot bid on other companies’ brand names. Whereas in the UK this happens regularly and therefore a chunk on your PPC budget goes towards your bidding on brand terms. The market itself is Google dominated : 90% for Google, 3% for Bing and 1.5% for Yahoo . Other small search engines make up the remaining 5.5%
How did you get into SEM?
I graduated in Communications and Digital Media so I was already in the sector. My first job out of Uni was with Site Visibility where I worked with Kelvin Newman who now runs BrightonSEO. I loved SEM from the first day, and still have a Google training manual from 2007!
Do you often have to optimise your sites for English and French?
I work in both languages as I am fluent in French and English. I have some clients that have businesses in France and in the UK. It just depends on the client: some do not want to advertise and/or sell internationally, and therefore work is only carried out in French.
Do you work much with the other European countries?
Yes we work with all the other EU countries, with a strong emphasis on the UK HQ in London. Co mpare the Market for example, is launching in France and we are taking the UK learnings and best practices and applying them to the France market. This way, we can be ahead of the game. The French insurance market is a couple of years behind the UK though, so it is important to not compare like for like, and take into consideration local market differences. We exchange a lot of tactics, learnings and best practices within the Publicis Groupe and this is really a great thing. Knowledge spreads very fast, especially success stories. Successful tactics can be deployed internationally quite fast.
I try to go to SMX as much as I can. I went to the London ones a few years ago and it was really great. Really, conferences are one of the best places to learn. There is another event in Paris called SEO camp which is pretty good.
What link building do you do and do you conduct this in English or French or both?
A lot of the tactics revolve around brand content. Brand content is a way to build links without looking dodgy in Google’s eyes because it’s the user spreading it. The value of earned media rises, which is very important : earned media generates natural links and virility, which are key to a campaign’s success. Google is constantly updating the algo based on things SEOs do (or abuse? ie infographics). While these tactics are good for short term, we find that an effective brand content campaign will generate much better long term results. We do submit to directories and do the basic link building, but we find that the best long term results will come from tactics that are not currently abused.
Were you affected by Google Updates like Penguin / Panda ?
Not really. Not that I can think of. We have certainly had a lot of questions from clients, as Google seems to ‘market’ algo updates these days, but since we don’t abuse tactics, we were left fairly untouched.
Do you have any French specific clients where you solely work in French?
Yes, most of the client base at my agency are solely French clients.
Are there any specific tactics that work in France?
No, not really. We find that things that work well in other countries will also work in France. Only difference is the local language, the way people search, and how different messages can perform differently across Europe.
If you were to put France on a timeline and the US is “2012”, the UK “2011”, where would France be?
It is hard to put it on a timeline per se. The techniques are pretty much on par, what differs is the tools we use to plan, produce and report.
Bing has a special focus on France, have you noticed any positive changes?
We have not noticed anything in particular. We have a Bing representative but they are mostly attached to paid search activity as with Google. As we are using Marin Software, all our campaigns are duplicated to Bing Ads though. It is important that an SEM campaign uses both search engines.
I do not like the fact that it can take a long time for results to show. This makes it hard(er than other channels) to manage the client’s expectations.
What do you like the most about SEO?
I really like the SEM community. In no other sector is there a community as there is in SEM who share knowledge and who do not mind doing so.
What do you do outside of work SEM/SEO?
I have been meaning to launch a few websites but at the moment I do not have any side projects. I am fairly active on Twitter, tweeting tips and tricks in Online Marketing, specifically SEM.
What is the future of SEO in France?
In France, it is the same as future of SEO in other countries. We have to build sustainable results without being affected by the Google updates.