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Interview with Antonin Pasquereau of Black Cat SEO

Steve Wetmore – Today on InstaVIP Podcast we are interviewing Antonin Pasquereau of Black Cat SEO in Montreal, Quebec. specifically we’re going to be discussing the future of SEO in 2020.

First Antonin will outline who he is and what he does at Black Cat SEO.

Antonin Pasquereau – I’m originally from France and immigrated to Canada 15 years ago with a business school diploma. I worked in Quebec, the first five years in the marketing department for large companies. It took it took me five years to realize I didn’t want to work in central departments. So I switched to technical SEO, and I took one year off to learn everything I could about SEO from the roots. I then basically started with a company that was selling advertising placements and I was in contact with some SEO guys over there.

Antonin Pasquereau – I started doing technical SEO for some websites in the adult industry. And after one year, I decided to leave everything behind in terms of that particular market, and switch to the BtoB model and apply all the techniques learned. So it was around 10 years ago and working with Mediagrif, which is a big stock company in b2b markets, based in Montreal.

Antonin Pasquereau – I started my own company right at this moment and I started to have lots of requests from colleagues and friends and also from different clients. So I created my website and it’s been nine years since we incorporated doing some SEO for companies in Quebec, and now in France. It’s a great pleasure to keep working with my home country.

Steve Wetmore – Fantastic, that’s an interesting background. Could you talk about your customers and the specific niche that you found success in?

Antonin Pasquereau –There was obviously a progression and evolution in my clients profile, I guess. We start working with small entrepreneurs or small companies. We call that in the French PME for small and medium sized companies (Petites et moyennes entreprises). So that’s typically the profile of clients I started working with. We usually divided clients profile this way, in terms of size. So if you have between zero and 10 people, that was typically my clients profile. Then we fell into, you know, companies with dozens of employees having more than $500,000 per year revenues

Antonin Pasquereau – So the first five years I worked for small companies in Quebec, basically. What’s funny is that having good results with these people, we developed a lot of referrals? Yes, lots of referrals.

Antonin Pasquereau – Quebec is as small and friendly place in Canada. So it’s easy to be mentioned. So in the last two years where we have more requests from bigger companies, actually global and multinational companies and we found our Black Hat SEO to be really, really relevant for international SEO.

Steve Wetmore – So basically, selling your products in other countries through the web. Interesting. The fact that you’re fluent in English and French? Do you often recommend that your clients duplicate pages in French?

Antonin Pasquereau – Well, it’s an interesting questions because it’s a big concern for all clients. They often ask, can we literally translate a piece of content? For example from US English to Canadian English? The first thing to understand is that every piece of content on the same domain belongs to you : it just needs some geolocalization.

Antonin Pasquereau – Plus, search engines understand that one version of the page can be translated in another language and correspond to another territory. So there is no such thing as duplicated contents when we talk about international SEO, because we have regional equivalencies from one page to another. So the challenge is basically to indicate to search engines that this page is the translation of another page in a different language. And it’s done with the local tag or rel internet tag

Steve Wetmore – So how many different languages will you work with?

Antonin Pasquereau – We really focus on the language we master. I’m originally from France. So we obviously work in French Canada and France. That’s the two main territories in terms of revenues and then our secondary market is with English speaking people in Canada and English speaking people in the United States.

Steve Wetmore – Very, very interesting. Okay, well, let’s get into the meat of this interview. I’d really like to get your perspective, your views on what you see happening in the future of SEO, and especially in 2020.

Antonin Pasquereau – There is many things happening nowadays with deep learning and how we apply, let’s say aid to search engine indexing. It’s a very interesting topic, because most of the experts in this field are trying to understand the relevancy of criteria for Google rankings. But we learn that there is real ranking factors. So the real ranking factors, the criteria that are basically used in a second ranking process from Google are really important. And we’re talking about engagement data. We’re talking about traffic statistics from Google SERPS to your websites. So everything that we knew before in terms of link building, in terms of how we create mentions, how we create an audience is being How can I say, is being balanced with this kind of engagement data.

Antonin Pasquereau – Click through rates is an important metric. If you create a link or an article in a publication you want to have some traffic going from the article to your website. And the funny thing is that Google won’t admit that the click through rates or any kind of traffic data will be used as a first ranking hint.

Antonin Pasquereau – But we know this is true because of Patents and some SEO case studies, that’s the engagement that are used and reused to rank a website. So it’s definitely this multi process of Google you just changing the game for SEO.

Steve Wetmore – Interesting. So I’m looking for one juicy snippet piece of advice, something that makes Black Cat SEO unique in the marketplace.

Antonin Pasquereau – It’s pretty much the same principle each time or for any country … First of all, we can give away secrets, since there are no secrets. In my opinion there is just transparency and expertise. Yeah. I think what defines our strengths is honesty. I mean, it’s always about signal alignments. We need to have content accessibility; we need to have a crawler going through our website the good way. And of course, we need authority, which is what triggers the results.

Antonin Pasquereau – So our strength is to explain this alignment of very wide specialties, I mean, publishing an article as a press release is completely different from the canonicalization process on the website, right. But we need a holistic approach if we want to get results. So our strength is definitely to put all the SEO testing perspective for a defined campaign duration and make everything clear and transparent from the technical aspects to the price we pay to put an article online and get some traffic from this article to the website. We have over 12,000 partnerships with blogs in the US, including USA today or Forbes or even the big media editorial sites like Reuters, CNN, the Sun etc.

Antonin Pasquereau – We give price we pay to our clients. There is no secrets over there. So definitely what make what makes black so different is this transparency from technical aspects, the way we work with them, the way we explained everything and we even give codes to the price they have to pay for the vacation.
Our plans are for a duration of two months, three months, four months, it depends. But everything is managed and synced up perfectly so that the clients understand the whole Plan.
That’s really our differentiator.

Steve Wetmore – Excellent. Okay, let’s, let’s talk about what three SEO tools you use most often and find most useful.

Antonin Pasquereau – Yeah. Very interesting one.
Let’s talk about Onsite SEO first because the tools to use for onsite SEO and offsite are different. There are tools specialized for certain objectives.

Antonin Pasquereau – So for on site SEO, we use good crawlers and believe ScreamingFrog is the first one.
Still,sometimes we rely on other crawlers
Screaming Frog does not allow you to export nice and user friendly PDF reports easily. You have to work on cleaning up the presentation. What I find is sometimes SharkSEO works better on smaller websites and gives us a finished report for clients. So big ecommerce websites definitely work best with ScreamingFrog

Antonin Pasquereau – For Offsite our sites we rely on AHREFs.COM and MOZ.COM that are the two main Tools for of site metrics and giving an overview of what could be the equivalent of the “dead” PageRank. MOZ is a great indicator to see the stable backlinks over time. The refresh delays is not great though. So when you want to uncover fresh backlinks, you want to try HREF.

Antonin Pasquereau – For Offsite our sites we rely on AHREFs.COM and MOZ.COM that are the two main Tools for of site metrics and giving an overview of what the equivalent of the “dead” PageRank could be. So most is a great indicator to see the stable backlinks over time. The refresh delays nuts is not great. So when you want to uncover fresh backlinks, you want to try a dress a dress is a great software it for for having this freshness of links.

Antonin Pasquereau – And ranking positions,  depending on the situation we use  or MOZ. It really depends on the quantity of keywords.

Steve Wetmore – Antonin, could you could you give us just one piece of wisdom, one piece of advice to anyone that is interested in SEO or is an SEO?

Antonin Pasquereau – In my opinion the most useful piece of advice I can give away for any webmaster or any entrepreneur that wants to start his business online, is to explain that you need to focus equally on Onsite content and Offsite content. It’s not possible to grow organic traffic websites with just on site deployment and today’s principle of authority assignments. So someone that wants to start SEO should really focus on content in order to systematically create an ‘echo’ on other websites. There is another tweak we can use. We used to say, the more backlinks you build, you gain the better ranking. Yeah. And we don’t do that anymore. We don’t automate. We don’t do directories anymore because we understand Google has changed. But still every backlink you paid for every backlink you build, you should backlink it itself.

Steve Wetmore – So give me an example.

Antonin Pasquereau – Well, you get a wonderful article in Forbes or Entrepreneur and you know it has great potential because the content is fresh and relevant. You’re sure it will transfer some authority to your website. If you want to have even better results, you can backlink, you can mark it, you can quote it in the comments. You can use it as a profile link. You can do this kind of thing we used to do for the first layer 10 years earlier. Today we can we can do backlinks to the second layer.

Steve Wetmore – Very good. Well, that’s, well, Antonin, thank you so much for sharing this valuable information.