At this stage, search is truly global in its reach. Google is the
dominant search engine in many countries, but not all of them. How you
optimize your website depends heavily on the target market for that site,
and the search engine(s) that is (are) the most important in that
According to comScore, Google is receiving 62% of all searches
performed worldwide. In addition, Google is the market share leader in
every regional market. Most notable, though, is the Asia Pacific region,
where Google holds a relatively narrow 36.1% to 26.8% edge over Baidu, the
largest search engine in China. This is the only regional market in which
Google has less than 60% market share, and it also happens to be the
largest market for search in the world (in terms of total searches
Here is some data on countries where other search engines are the
Baidu News reported
in February 2009 that Baidu had more than 73% market share in China
in 2008 (http://baidu-news.blogspot.com/2009/02/baidus-market-share-at-732-domestic.html).
According to figures announced by Yandex, the company’s market
share in Russia comprises about 50% of all searches (http://www.searchengineworld.com/seo/3459183.htm).
Naver was estimated
by the International Herald Tribune (http://www.iht.com/articles/2007/07/04/business/naver.php)
to have about 77% market share in South Korea in mid-2007.
The StartupMeme Technology blog reported that Seznam was reported to have more than
60% market share in Czechoslovakia in mid-2008 (http://startupmeme.com/google-to-acquire-czech-search-engine-seznam-for-1-billion/).
1. Optimizing for Specific Countries
One of the problems international businesses continuously need to
address with search engines is identifying themselves as “local” in the
eyes of the search engines. In other words, if a search engine user is
located in France and wants to see where the wine shops are in Lyons,
how does the search engine know which results to show?
Here are a few of the top factors that contribute to international
Owning the proper domain extension (e.g., .com.au, .co.uk,
.fr, .de, .nl) for the country that your business is
Hosting your website in the country you are targeting (with a
country-specific IP address)
Registering with local search engines:
Having other sites from the same country link to you
Using the native language on the site (an absolute requirement
Placing your relevant local address data on every page of the
Defining your preferred region in Google Webmaster
All of these factors act as strong signals to the search engines
regarding the country you are targeting, and will make them more likely
to show your site for relevant local results.
The complexity increases when targeting multiple countries.
2. Profile of China’s Internet Usage
Based on the data that China released in July 2008, China has more
Internet users than the United States, with 253 million users. Here is a
summary of data from the Chinese
Figure 1 U.S. versus China Internet users
China has the most broadband users in the world (see Figure 2). “This report, the
22nd Statistical Report on the Internet Development in China, also
indicates the number of broadband users has reached 214 million,
which also tops the world.”
China’s Internet penetration rate continues to grow and grow
and grow (see Figure 3):
U.S. Internet usage has hovered around a 70% penetration
rate in the past five years, while Chinese Internet penetration
has jumped from 7% to almost 20% in the same period.
China could plausibly reach a similar penetration rate to
the United States within 20 years.
Mobile phone use in China continues to grow:
China has 601 million mobile phone
users, according to the latest
From January 2008 to June 2008, there were 53.3
million new mobile phone users.
One carrier, China Mobile, has more than 414 million
mobile subscribers and is ranked #1 in the world (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_mobile_network_operators).
Only 12% of these users have accessed
the Internet from a mobile phone because of the lack of a proper
3G network (none of the Chinese telcos have a 3G license); an
estimated 73 million have accessed the Internet from a mobile
However, the Chinese government is moving aggressively to
issue 3G licenses to the major telcos.
Figure 2. Chinese broadband users
Figure 3. U.S. versus China Internet penetration