Selling your products abroad has the same basic premise as selling domestically. If buyers don’t see your products, they can’t buy them. So making your products searchable on the main search engines is the first step.
Your domestic language, even if it’s English, isn’t the language people in other countries will use to find your products! I’ve previously touched on this in another post so won’t go into it again here but only to say if your products are not available in the language of the country you’re targeting, you are limiting the success you can have in that country.
Fortunately, Google is pretty ubiquitous so if you are familiar with optimising for Google this is the starting point. It is either the most popular, or second most popular, in most countries. With this in mind then let’s look at where this is not the case (amazingly only 5 countries):
Baidu is the Google of China with more than three quarters of the search engine traffic in China. It has similar functionality and offers both organic and paid search, along with a music service and music. If you thing Google of China you won’t go far wrong.
Baidu however is not a straight forward as Google to advertise on, there is a certification process where you’ll need legal proof of your business, localised Chinese versions of your business certificates, a Chinese language website and an official company seal.
However, the opportunity to do well in China can outweigh the effort if you approach it properly.
Hong Kong: Yahoo
Yahoo in Hong Kong is very similar to Yahoo in the US or Europe. Sign up for advertising doesn’t require the same level of effort as that for China and given Hong Kong’s nearly $4 billion USD ecommerce market and estimated 10% YoY growth it’s worth reviewing the required effort. Of course there is still the need to localise your products for this market so your review should be part of a wider CBT strategy.
Japan: Yahoo! Japan
Yahoo! Japan is independent of Yahoo and uses search results from Google to surface content, so you should optimise for Google Japan if you’re looking to get your results in Yahoo! Japan. Two birds, one stone, Great!
Paid Search is not Google related though and is independently managed by Yahoo! Japan. Opening an account is straight forward and it has a minimum spend of 3,000 Yen (roughly 27 USD).
South Korea: Naver
Both South Korea and Hong Kong have a huge market for tech products, but other sectors can do well here to. Naver is again very similar to Google but is home grown in South Korea since 2003. It captures around 80% of in country searches, both general and eCommerce.
Localising your site for the market and optimizing your content for Naver can give you a return.
As usual, they also have a Pay Per Click (or Search Advertising) service called Click Choice. Sign up is pretty straight forward and you manage your spend with limits the usual way.
Yandex is Russia’s primary search engine, managing over 60% of searches in country. It won’t come as a surprise by now but they also offer PPC advertising. There’s also the option to advertise on their partner network.
Sign up is again straight forward, all you need is a Yandex.mail account which you can register for in a few minutes. You also need to fund your account before launching advertising with a small minimum spend (less than 10 USD).
The Czech Republic is an unusual case where there isn’t a completely dominant search engine. Google took over as the largest in 2012 but before that Seznam.cz, a home grown Czech search engine was in the lead. As such, Google continues to make gains but without also being findable on Seznam you’re potentially missing almost half the market.
2nd place search engines
When looking at the second biggest search engines there are again not so many. If you localise and optimise for the above + Google, then Bing and Yahoo you’ve pretty much got most of the world covered. However, if you’re really looking to win in a country you should make sure you understand which engines are used there. The 2nd place search engines are sometimes significant with 10, 20, even 40% of the market share.
Below are the main second players. Unless it’s one of the five countries above you can assume that it’s playing second to Google.
Yahoo: Egypt, Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines and the US
Bing: Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, Denmark, France, Mexico, New Zealand, Saudi Arabia, Slovakia and the UK
T-online: A T-Mobile search engine which still holds a few percent of search market share in Germany.
Guam: This is another home grown South Korean search engine which accounts for around 20% of market share.
Yandex: Belarus, Ukraine, Kazakhstan, Turkey
Vinden: This used to be the big player in the Netherlands but now accounts for only a few percent of market share.
Virgilio: A home grown Italian search engine accounting for 5% of Italian searches.
You can see that although there are literally hundreds of search engines in the world, which can be quite overwhelming when you’re deciding on your marketing strategy, you can actually capture almost all of a country by localising and focusing on just one or two of them.