Vacation season has started, and today we invite you to make a trip around the world of SEO!
How is it possible that Google isn’t the most popular search engine? Which social networks are bigger than Facebook? How is SEO different in different countries?
Learn the answers to these questions in this post. Also, don’t forget to take a look at the SlideShare presentation to find out information about local SEO blogs, SEO tools and much more.
Have a nice journey around China, Japan, Russia, Ukraine and the Czech Republic!
For Chinese SEO, there’s a whole other world to master with different search engines and social media platforms, and a unique online culture. Google, Facebook, Twitter and other major Western platforms are blocked.
For search engines, Baidu is the major player, while 360/So.com takes second place. Social networks such as Weibo and Weixin are distinct, and can no longer be considered as 1-to-1 analogues of Western social media platforms.
In my opinion, the Chinese market is sorely lacking when it comes to marketing tools – there are some, but they just don’t compare to the huge variety of SaaS tools available to English-language marketers. Paid search marketing takes up a larger piece of the pie as well, with Baidu displaying some paid search results in an almost identical format to organic results.
Top keys to SEO in China:
- Make sure your website is in Chinese;
- Keep lots of fresh content on your homepage;
- Build links;
- Make sure you have somebody able to understand the online environment in China to be able to implement the necessary tactics.
The two absolute most important things for Chinese SEO: obtain an Internet Content Publisher license from the Chinese government and do not have any words on the site that are blacklisted by China. WIthout an ICP license, it is very difficult to rank for anything.
Some other interesting things about Baidu is that you can buy multiple ad placements for PPC. Baidu reps also claim that buying into a PPC program will help improve organic rankings.
For social media marketing, Baidu gives a lot of merit to content that's been shared through its own channels, like Baike and Zhidao. Adding a Baidu sharing icon will also help tremendously. As far as link building goes, Baidu is not very strict on it yet. They seem to give more merit for quantity over quality of links, but this should be taken with a grain of salt like any other risky link building strategy because they may start cracking down on link spam any day now.
When doing SEO in Hong Kong, you still have to pay attention to Yahoo (Bing). The most recent study from 2013 suggests that Yahoo has 59 percent market share vs. 35 percent from Google. Take note, however, that mobile market share is the complete opposite, with 59 percent Google and 38 percent Yahoo. Search intent also matters; research-type queries generally see a heavier-than-normal share from Google.
For English keyword research, SEMrush now has a database dedicated to Hong Kong. It does not support Chinese yet – for that we fall back to Google’s Keyword Planner. When no search volume data is available because the market is too small, we use the good ol' search suggestions from Yahoo and Google. It’s not quantified data, but it's a decent qualitative guide. For an all-around tool beyond just keyword research, we use Dragon Metrics by our sister company.
For blogs in the market, ClickZ has a section dedicated to Hong Kong and Asia to a larger extent. Shameless plug – we also run our own blog, Search Blog Asia, to share news and knowledge (especially for China, Japan and Korea) in English. We also follow the usual suspects like Search Engine Land, Search Engine Watch, Moz, etc.
We find that not a lot of companies are doing sophisticated SEO in Hong Kong yet, often times choosing to focus on social like Facebook. As a result, SEO can have a very high return on investment because you can get that much more ahead when you do take it seriously.
If you are starting a digital project in Japan, focus on Google's ranking factors. Yahoo! Japan is powered by Google's algorithm, and in the Japanese market, Yahoo! Japan and Google are the most popular search engines in the country.
Localization is an extremely important factor to consider when entering the Japanese market. Use local hosting, Latin characters in your domain (Japanese users normally type in Latin characters before converting their search queries into Japanese characters) as well as have native speakers from the region write your content for a good start.
In social media, Mixi was once a popular social platform. (However, Facebook and Twitter have overtaken them in recent years.) Mixi users are able to interact online; share and discuss their opinions through communities, write and comment on blog posts; and send and receive messages. If you want to reach out to your audience using videos, NicoVideo is popular in Japan. It is as equally popular as YouTube, and will increase opportunities to reach out to a wider scope of audience.
The most important consideration to take into account in Japan: Think local, speak local, go local!
The most popular search engines in Russia right now are Yandex and Google. Yandex is more popular and more commercial, I would say. Other search engines have a small percentage. For example, Mail.ru has just 10 percent of the market.
With all their differences, Yandex and Google both love quality content and hate spammy tricks. Even though Yandex "refused" to rank websites based on linkprofiles for certain commercial topics, it doesn’t mean they didn't completely. It just means that commercial queries rank differently from other queries. The same is true for Google; Penguin doesn’t like low quality backlinks and doesn’t count them.
Social networks in Russia are very popular. The audience is very large, which is why every social network can find its niche. Vkontake and Odnoklassniki are the most popular.
For business goals, grow your communities in Twitter, Facebook and Google+. And, like how it works in the rest of the world, develop relations and attract new users with good content.
Ukraine uses the same search engines as the rest of the world, and Google is the leading one. It should be pointed that Yandex is constantly increasing its stake, and some studies say it has already crossed the 42 percent mark.
SEO in the Ukrainian market has the same peculiarities as SEO in any other regional market. You have to keep in mind the popularity of particular channels, and think about linguistic differences. Approximately two-thirds of users are using Russian language for search, which also has a lot of nuances.
In terms of SEO tools, we don’t like to reinvent the wheel; we use proven, powerful tools like SEMrush, Alexa, Ahrefs, Sape and so on. The one tool I want to pinpoint is Prodvigator.ua, a service for competitors’ analysis, specializing in the Ukrainian market.
Martin Kůra, International SEO Strategist
Doing digital marketing for Czech users is not a piece of cake. The Czech Republic has always been a specific market with precise rules, but once you manage to gain the trust of the locals, you’ll get a very loyal and engaged audience.
Google serves the majority of users, but is not the overwhelming winner. Approximately 35 percent of searches are performed in the local search engine Seznam. Seznam is very popular among the middle and lower class, and should be an essential part of both SEO and PPC strategies.
Over the past years, Facebook has dragged 3.6 million Czech users out of local social networks, while keeping them active both in terms of engagement and time spent on the network. Twitter, with its 100k users in the Czech Republic, still remains a place for “geeks” and the “professional public” – marketers, IT workers, journalists and influencers (rarely politicians).
The most important thing to remember when approaching Czechs is not the channels, though. Due to cultural and historical reasons, most Czechs are very skeptical toward anything new “that comes from abroad.” So, it is advisable that companies delegate all communication to native speakers – including content creation, social communication and PPC ads. Even communication in English with an English-speaking audience might not be well-received, as C&A found out recently.