Any marketer or online business owner who hopes to succeed on a global scale must know how to optimize for international search engines. Google may hold close to 70% of the American market for desktop and mobile search traffic combined. Google withdrew from China abandoning a market with close to 688 million Internet users.
Russia is a major player that boasts local search that competes with Google in the country’s surrounding regions. Throw South Korea in the mix and add an additional 45 million users to the tally that may not have access to your products and services. If your company hopes to establish an international brand, you need to be aware of the major international search engines and the optimization considerations for each of those countries:
- When considering Google for search, use hreflang tags so that Google can correctly interpret the language for the intended country’s content. Google’s search engine will serve the best results for users who search in a particular language. It is also impossible to mention Google without acknowledging the power YouTube.
- YouTube is the world’s second largest search engine. Plan marketing campaigns around optimizing for video content. While Google has lessened the relevance of meta descriptions and keywords, other world search engines still employ them. Keep this in mind for those pages that you hope will reach international markets.
- Bing ranks as the second most popular search engine in the United States. It also the second largest on the international stage. You can use many of the same marketing and organizational strategies that apply to Google. Relevant content, natural keywords, and social media matter. Social media plays more a pivotal role in Bing rankings than Google rankings.
- Yahoo ranks third in the U.S. and commands 12% of search results. Since Bing’s search algorithm powers Yahoo, optimizing for Bing will yield similar results when optimizing for Yahoo.
- Baidu is China’s major search engine and commands 60% of the country’s search traffic. Baidu is also the third most popular search engine in the world. Over half a billion Chinese use Baidu. Write content that communicates the local language – don’t just use a direct translation. Use a .cn domain along with a local branch address. While a .com doesn’t mean you won’t get ranked, .cn does indicate a more local “flavor”. Baidu pays close attention to meta descriptions, title tags, alt-tags, and H tags. Keep in mind too that Baidu does not load HTTPS well.
- Yandex is Russia’s dominant search engine. Yandex considers queries to be geo-dependent or geo-independent. It can be a challenge trying to optimize for Yandex. However, Yandex does consider user behavior to be a major factor in its ranking algorithm. An interesting fact to note is that Yandex ranks fresh content higher on their ranking list than Google.
- So.com is China’s second largest search engine. Just like Baidu, optimizers should focus on simple language that communicates in native Chinese. Use domains and site hosts native to China since this is still a relatively young search engine.
- Tailor your content so that it addresses the user’s culture and language. Plan for different layouts and color designs for each search engine.
- Keep learning and study what the experts share about international SEO. Try to locate local SEO experts in every country of interest that can assist. The major search engines of the world tweak their algorithms just like Google does. Local country experts are likely aware of algorithm updates and changes.
- Become more familiar with the international SEO advanced tools for webmasters which include, but are not limited to, Google Analytics, Google Trends, Google’s Consumer Barometer (allows you to target an international audience), and SEMrush to name several.
Common Ranking Factors for All Search Engines
You should become familiar with the term “technical granularity.” Ranking internationally does require a different strategy than ranking for a local product or service. However, there are several common ranking factors that give all major search engines an air of legitimacy. These include optimized URLs for regions and languages. All search engines call for content that optimizes for region and language.
The world’s major search engines also call for local links from domains that are country-specific. Partner with the digital marketing professionals who can help lift your international website to its next level of performance. The experts can help you navigate the roadblocks. If you’re a local business looking for an international marketing and SEO , call us to get started.