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The SES Conference Series

Breaking Down the Borders: International SEM

The Breaking Down the Borders: International SEM session at SESSF had representatives from Asia, Europe and Russia and each of them had great insights on how search differs in different regions. The speakers were:

  • Motoko Hunt, President of AJPR
  • Tor Crockatt, Product Marketing Director, EMEA, Microsoft
  • Eugene Lomize, Head of Monetisation, Yandex

Here’s what I concluded after the session.

There is no one silver bullet that cuts across all regions.

Sure, the rule still applies in that you need to optimize your content for all search engines and there are some things you can do to make it easier to regionalize or localize content, such as optimizing one CMS template and using it for different sites.

But when context, language and colloquialism comes into play, it can be quite the linguistic nightmare. One tip given by the experts was to look at search intent and local market keywords.

Each search engine is strong in different markets.

In China it’s Baidu.
In Korea, it’s Naver and Daum.
In Japan, it’s Yahoo.
In Russia, Kazakhstan, Germany, Israel and Slavic speaking countries, it’s Yandex.

Here’s an example given by Motoko on how they can differ greatly. When it comes to Baidu, the search engine will probably only index the first part of your web page especially if it loads too slowly – Baidu doesn’t crawl everything.

Eugene stressed the need to discover the differences in algorithms for Yandex and Google. In his experience, what works well for Google, doesn’t work well for Yandex and vice-versa.

Tor highlighted the complexity of search queries and provided a queries formula of sorts which could be a mix of the following:

Compare – Adjective – product – brand – location – intended action – intended use

A question from the audience on the best online payment system was inconclusive as there was no one unified system that was widely adopted across the globe. For example, Eugene pointed out that PayPal is not in Russia – yet.

Customer behavior also varies in different countries. Motoko cited the example of a campaign in India featuring a product for women and targeting them. It was not doing well – up until the campaign was changed to target men buying gifts for women.

Sorry folks, international SEM is hard.

But there’s hope yet – for a start, check out this extremely informational Whiteboard Friday by Moz’s Rand Fishkin on Where to Host and How to Target.

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