Search Engine Optimization

Madame de Rambouillet Optimizes Her Content

Catherine de Vivonne Mme de Rambouillet

It is impossible to establish exactly when Madame de Rambouillet first welcomed her habitués into her Chambre Bleu, though we know her salon was already in full swing by 1613. The poet François de Malherbe, one of her regulars, recorded the fact in his recollections. He was the man of letters who gave the great salonière, whose given name was Catherine de Vivonne, the pseudonym Arthénice, an anagram of Catherine.


Chambre Bleu in the Hotel de Rambouillet
The Chambre Bleu in the Hotel de Rambouillet.


The first three letters are so perfectly eloquent because it was her aim to elevate conversation to an art from. She was also determined to create models of ideal behavior and to reach aesthetic perfection in every way possible. Today, we thought we’d take a look at how the grand dame of salons might optimize content for her blog were she promoting her salon online today. This will allow us to highlight exemplary practices in achieving legendary SEO health with one of the most misconstrued aspects of content strategy—categories and tags. Having these two pieces of the content puzzle get out of control can decrease traction for a site. We know firsthand, as we’ve taken over platforms that had an unruly lack of organization behind the scenes. It can take months to achieve respect from the spiders crawling these sites by redirecting non-relevant orphans and low-numbered tags, punching up the number of posts for relevant tags and filling in archive pages, so best to do this right from the get-go.


Madame de Rambouillet as Salonière

A bit of background on Madame de Rambouillet is in order so you can see why she would organize her material the way she does. When she founded her salon in her Parisian château, the hôtel de Rambouillet on rue Saint-Thomas-du-Louvre, the aesthetics of her surroundings were so important that she took it upon herself to act as architect and interior designer. She had resolved to create a backdrop that would uniquely express her essence, and she will be just as exacting with her online presence.


Hotel Rambouillet
An etching of the Hotel de Rambouillet as it would have looked during its heyday.


In her book The Age of Conversation, Benedetta Craveri notes how her château was “the archetypal setting for society life.” And it was seriously avant-garde because the hostess situated her bedroom in a large closet, designating the space that would have normally been her sleeping quarters as the official reception room for her salons—such a daring move for that era. She will bring the same amount of courage to her platform, though within the rules of healthy SEO, of course. As the name suggests, Chambre Bleu was swathed in shades of blue, and the art of entertainment was a priority at the hôtel de Rambouillet. The passion the salonières felt for theater was particularly keen. These three facts are her first considerations for her online moves.

Let’s say Arthénice is devoting a blog to recounting the activities that take place in her salon with an eye to including each post in a book she wants to publish. This blog-to-book effort makes it possible for the very busy hostess to create the material because the narrative can be composed in bite-sized pieces. Her motivation, of course, is to leave a legacy in written form, a site that she titles Chambre Bleu because the name is already associated with her salon; the blog, which will be on the same site, will be called Esprit. The name of the book will take both into consideration, her title being Esprit de Chambre Blue.

Using spirit was a natural choice, as few words were as important to her and her coterie than esprit. She gets right to work writing the content that will fill in the pages of her website, taking special care in explaining why the word has so many subtle shifts in meaning it is extremely difficult to translate. She notes how its definitions are so diverse it can only be understood in nuances by the native French speaker, as the connotation can sway from complimentary to ironic depending upon the context in which it is used.


Madame de Rambouillet Optimizes Her Content

Catherine de Vivonne Mme de Rambouillet
Madame Rambouillet, the founder of one of France’s most famous salons.


With her main site content created, she turns to organizing her blog, knowing she must be a stickler for having her categories and tags strategized before she goes live. To do this important piece of strategy correctly, she has the first three posts ready before she publishes any of them. This will keep her from having any orphaned tags, which is a no-no for good SEO. As she thinks about how she will roll out her material, she decides that her first tier of content will be focused upon all of the entertainments that make her life such an extremely busy one. These include receptions, balls, fêtes, concerts, dancing, music outings, spectacles, hunting parties, picnics, luncheons, tiltings for rings, parlor games, conversation, readings and theater.

She creates an excel file with a page for categories and one for tags, adding the above list to the tags page for future reference. Keeping an excel list will be an invaluable tool because she knows she will have a hefty number of posts to file under all of the categories and tags she will populate thanks to the lively culture she has created. Looking at the lists she’s made, she decides her first category will be “entertainments,” and she chooses “conversation” as the first tag she will use.

Creating her first three posts to relate the titillating repartee she witnesses in Chambre Bleu is very satisfying for her and she sees how strongly the structure of the tags and categories relate to a book. “One of my chapters will be ‘entertainments’ and the posts, or essays, that will be filed under the category on the blog will fit seamlessly within this chapter in the book!” she remarks to Gédéon Tallemant, whom she tapped to help her realize the project. With this statement, Arthénice has hit upon how we look at category and tag development for our clients, as healthy organization of these important aspects of a platform is built just like the table of contents in a book with categories forming the “chapters” and tags organizing the content elegantly within these chapters.

Her three posts for conversation written, she turns her attention to three ideas for the tag “theater,” rolling out the material featuring performances that have captivated her coterie. Once these are live, she feels she can add another category to her content because she has six solid posts filed under “entertainments.” She decides to have as her next choice “literary activities.” This is very on point because the society over which she has had such a tremendous influence is gradually transitioning from the spoken to the written word. Craveri puts it this way: “One aspired to capture the fleeting word and gesture, the short-lived incident, in anecdotes, in letters, in written portraits, or in the thousands of verses intended not to be read silently but to be listened to, though they nevertheless ended up circulating in manuscript and published in collections.”


Vincent Voiture by Philippe de Champaigne.
Vincent Voiture as Saint Louis, a portrait by Philippe de Champaigne.


Having decided to concentrate on the literary next, she knows the salonière she will feature. He is one of her most talented habitués named Vincent Voiture. She chooses “written portraits” as her first tag under this new category, which she knows will serve her well because she can highlight the sketches and tales that are being produced by this intellectual she admires so much. “[T]here was one main subject of conversation of which the small, privileged circle around Voiture never tired: the idealized story of their own daily lives,” Craveri writes. “In verse or in prose, written or spoken, this cheerful, affectionate, saucy, dashing saga not only reflected the tastes of the hôtel de Rambouillet but determined, updated and redirected them.”

Voiture was so admired because he aspired to cement his reputation as a galant homme, a gentleman, rather than being someone seeking literary fame. This means he wrote with the sole purpose of pleasing his friends rather than schmoozing anyone and everyone who could help him build fame by becoming published. He was also a master at staying within the boundaries of the etiquette of the day with everything he wrote. “Composed for the very people who inspired it, his poetry mimicked their style,” Craveri explains; “it was brilliant, discursive, anecdotal, swift, and conspicuously lighthearted.” These points would be made in Madame’s blog posts, of course, an idea that appeals to her because she can concretize his legacy as she is solidifying hers.

Because his talents were broad, Arthénice decides she will list all of the poetic genres at which he is adept on her excel sheet so she will know when the time is right to add them as tags. These included stanzas, ballads, sonnets, madrigals, and rondeaux. When she realizes that her favorite anecdotes include sonnets, she sees she can file the first three posts she is writing in this category under the tags “written portraits,” which she had already strategized, and “sonnets.”


Pleasure and Amusement the Epitome of UX

François de Malherbe
François de Malherbe


To further flesh out her literary activities category, she chooses rigmaroles next. These rhymed verses formed when each participant in her salon adds a line are so on trend that she feels she will be on the cutting edge of avant-garde thought and will gain the momentum she will need to help her blog achieve important relevancy. Plus, this will allow her to mention a large number of her précieuses so the built-in engagement she will achieve will be a bonus—not to mention how much more popular this will make her! She can’t wait until François de Malherbe sees how she will highlight him in this series of posts!

This point brings her back to creating an excellent user experience, a subject she understands fully because she has accomplished this IRL in the playful utopia of pleasure and amusement she has fostered within her hôtel de Rambouillet. Once she achieves quantifiable UX on her blog, the momentum will carry over to the book she is building—the fête she will plan for her first signing in her lovely château already coming together in her mind.

Feeling satisfied that she has created a healthy structure for her fledgling blog, she makes a note on her excel file to strategize letters soon because correspondence was conversation at one remove to her and her friends. Voiture will once again figure in the explorations under this category, as his letter-writing skills were based on a thorough knowledge of his audience, “their psychology, their tastes, and their habits, all of which went to making him a true master of flattering statements.” Craveri writes, “His letters were enchanting mirrors in which the recipients could see the sublime reflection of themselves.”


A portrait of Catherine de Vivonne.
A portrait of Catherine de Vivonne.


There are many more ways she will be optimizing categories and tags, such as filling in the content on her archive pages and using them to link back to in blog posts. That’s because these are among the most important landing pages that people will find in search, and they should provide the best user experience when someone clicks through to them. We cover a number of subjects like this in our tutorial on our LABS site. As an example, we’re linking back to the Marquise de Rambouillet tag archive page on our founder’s site; and you can see our archive page for the Search Engine Optimization category that we are filing this post under by clicking through. Our tutorial also covers how many categories and tags are optimal, as more is not necessarily better.

For those of you who have been following our Legendary SEO series, we’d like to thank you. This is the last post we’ve written under this theme. We’ll be rolling out our Notorious Content Strategy series soon. Let us know if you feel you’re benefitting from these explorations highlighting our savvy with healthy content creation.

Text of Madame de Rambouillet Optimizes Her Content © adroyt, all rights reserved. Unless otherwise stated, the adroyt blog is written by adroyt’s CEO Saxon Henry. Our downloadable knowledgebase can be found at adroytLABS. You can find our collection of Whyte Papers on the LABS site, and we’ve created a number of Value Propositions there that present successes we’ve achieved for clients.

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