Optimising for Google’s Local Competitors

With Google being the largest and mightiest search power in the world, it’s no wonder the competition for the top of Google’s rankings is quite tough. Well, incredibly tough to say the least of it. However, there are lots of opportunities to get into the “golden ten” of listings without working one’s guts out – foreign language markets.

Every day the web is growing more multilingual, and in many countries Google is far from being the most popular search engine, because there are a number of home-grown search behemoths, or local Google competitors: for example, Yandex in Russia, Baidu in China and Yahoo! in Japan.

Due to the fact that there is generally less online content in languages other than English, there is less keyword competition in “non-English” search engines. That is why your internet marketing efforts for Google’s local competitors may generate a better ROI than your internet marketing efforts for Google, only. But before you embrace this tremendous opportunity of conquering foreign markets you need to know how SEM for these search engines differs from playing the game with Google?

Yandex (Russia)

Yandex takes into account local relevance for search results, which is based on your domain name, IP address and on-page content. However, you can also set your location using their geotargeting tool.

Reasonably enough, Yandex’s algorithm works in many ways just like Google’s, including the rules of localized keywords, authoritative and relevant back-links and original content. So if you follow these quintessential search engine rules, you should do well on Yandex as well.

The main difference here is Yandex’s Thematic Citation Index, similar to Google’s PageRank – it considers out-bound links to authoritative sites as well as in-bound, but doesn’t count any links in or out of web forums, non-moderated directories and other sites with no human control on the posting of links. So keep your link building organic, but boost your outbound linking to match your inbound linking efforts. And don’t forget to register your website by its theme in the Yandex Directory.

Baidu (China)

In China if you want your website listed as locally relevant, you have to choose a Chinese domain name, hosted in China or Hong Kong. Geotargeting your pages won’t work, the site must be hosted locally to get priority.

The most essential point with Baidu is the fact that it counts incoming links towards a site’s relevance, but it doesn’t rank them by the authority of the linking site, as Google does. Thus, a link from a top 1000 Alexa site will in theory have the same value as a link from a top 100,000 site. Also, unlike Google, when determining the site’s relevance, Baidu highly values meta data, including metatags, meta keywords and descriptions.

Yahoo! (Japan)

Basically, the SEO rules for Yahoo! Japan are the same as for Yahoo! elsewhere, except that your website must be in Japanese. Above all factors Yahoo! loves keyword-rich content. Whilst Google prefers a keyword density of 2%, Yahoo! likes it to be up to 7 or 8%, and Yahoo! counts each page’s meta tags. Also, Yahoo! loves regularly updated content, even more so than Google, so blogging keyword-rich content regularly is a great idea. Finally, submit your sitemap to Yahoo!, as its spiders do not search as deeply as Google’s, and this will help them index your website’s pages correctly.

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