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French search engines and what to consider when optimising for them


(Updated with the latest stats on April 2020)

France has a high internet penetration rate, with over 60 million internet users, equivalent to 93% of the population.

With such a large and relatively wealthy online population, France is understandably an attractive target market for many businesses considering expanding internationally.

This blog post will teach you about the most popular French search engines and what you need to know about French SEO in order to succeed.

Most popular French search engines

  • Google 92%
  • Bing 4%
  • Yahoo 1.4%
  • Ecosia 1.2%
  • Qwant 0.9%

Google is by far the most popular of the French search engines, accounting for 92% of all searches in the country. Bing comes in at second place, with a 4% share of the search market, followed by Yahoo in third place at 1.4%.

Ecosia comes in fourth place, with 1.2% of the search engine market share. This is a new, environmentally-friendly alternative that uses its ad revenue to plant trees. Whilst it accounts for just a small proportion of searches at the moment, its growth nonetheless shows that its eco-friendly ethos is something that resonates with French consumers.

One French-made search engine that is worth mentioning is Qwant. Qwant is the fifth most popular search engine in France, with 0.9% of the search market. What sets it apart from other search engines is the emphasis it places on user security and privacy. As the French are quite keen on online privacy, search engines such as this could grow to become a serious alternative in the future.


Accents and French SEO

The French language imposes certain difficulties and challenges on search engine marketers targeting the French market. One of the main issues is accentuation. There are four significant accents in the French language and yet there is also evidence that French speakers do not consistently use accents when they conduct searches in search engines, with many dropping accents altogether.

This would be OK if search engines compensated for this (technically known as normalisation) – however, unfortunately, this is not often the case. Google for instance normalises the acute accent, but all other accents are not dealt with on an equal basis.

‘Stemming’, which is used to deliver both singular and plural spellings in response to a particular search engine query, is not so prevalent in French, as there are fewer stemming systems available for the language.


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Benjamin Lefebvre

Director of Business Solutions at Webcertain
Ben is the Director of Business Solutions at Webcertain Group, leading the organisation’s solutions unit with the objective to expand into new markets and sectors, and focusing on driving growth whilst directing the business commercially. Ben is passionate about sharing knowledge at various international marketing conferences, and is also the head of the North American branch of Webcertain. He ensures that all clients’ international digital marketing strategies have been adapted appropriately to each target market; he has an extensive linguistic background and over ten years’ experience in the field. Ben is originally from the north of France and lived in the UK for eight years, and is now based in Canada.

One Response to French search engines and what to consider when optimising for them

  1. shivangi says:

    great content…nice work keep it up

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