Deciding which search engines are the most important for brand visibility is an important step in your international online strategy. You then need to understand how each of these search engines differs from what you are accustomed to.
Russia and China are good examples of where Google is not the dominant search engine. Both countries have native search engines that possess a significant home field advantages.
Russia’s Yandex is the preferred search engine in Russia and a number of Cyrillic script markets including Ukraine and Belarus. Bloomberg reports that the Russian search engine has a 62% market share against Google’s 26% and is the fourth most popular search engine in the world in terms of the number of requests processed.
Yandex recently introduced Yandex Islands, an interactive search platform with snippets that help online users get more relevant information from search queries. This means website owners now have the option of providing further information to Yandex, but it will require relevant optimization of site content to support this.
Yandex isn’t the only local search engine making waves overseas either. In China, homegrown Baidu has a 64% market share with other native search engines like 360 (22%) and Sagou taking the lead (10%). One of the most notable problems for international marketers is the Chinese government’s internet censorship Firewall. This Chinese proxy server monitors online users’ internet access and blocks website content deemed “inappropriate.” Google does not compete here due to China’s censorship and surveillance project.
When it comes to SEO Baidu encounters similar issues to Google. Results are often manipulated through “black hat” techniques or unnatural linking activity. Most recently Baidu has been battling this with a series of updates that discount links from poor sites, such as paid articles and directories.
Like search engines, social media platform preferences vary from market-to-market. It’s never just Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and LinkedIn. From Xing in Germany, Kaixin001 in China to VKontakte (VK) in Russia, platforms are as vast as they are unique. To maximize your social media marketing globally, make sure your strategy is specifically tailored to the region and market you are targeting.
Moreover, familiar social platforms which are simple to use in English may create problems when it comes to creating engaging content in foreign languages. Twitter is a classic example of when ‘form follows function’. When it comes to tweeting in different languages the task of creating compelling content can be more than a challenge. Prolix languages like French and German confront digital marketers to find new ways of interacting with local audiences within the character counting world of Twitter.
Truth be told, the complexity of these types of languages makes it extremely difficult to adapt to the 140 character limit. Twitter messages in French are full of neologisms (“nous twitterons” or “followé”) and abbreviations (“koi” for “quoi” or “C” for “C’est”). Formal expressions are diminishing – one of the most significant cases is the replacement of the formal “vous” by “tu” – and use of English and acronyms increasingly introduced. All of which simplify the language to fit the restraints of Twitter’s character limit.
Entering a new market is always a daunting task, but you can dispel the risk of failure if you have the right experts behind you. Never rely on translation. Always understand the motivation of your consumer base – whatever target market you enter. Put local insights and in-market customer needs at the heart of your strategy. With 40% of the world’s population now online, it makes good business sense to go global.