If you’re already running international search campaigns, or are even just considering doing so, you’ll know how complex and challenging it can be to build a presence and an audience in new markets. If only it was as easy as simply translating your website and choosing a few keywords to get your website ranking highly in the international SERPS. Don’t get me wrong, those things are absolutely fundamental but on their own, they won’t give you the visibility and reach you need to stand out and make your mark.
China, Russia and South Korea are all countries which are increasingly popular with international businesses, due to to their large internet populations, increasingly savvy online users, and a growing interest in foreign goods and brands. Yet these markets are still relatively untapped when it comes to online, meaning there is a real opportunity for international brands to gain prominent positions for relevant and lucrative search terms.
There are, of course, many many ways to do this and a raft of tactics you can employ. But the one I want to look at today relates to the leading search engines in these markets and features that they offer which you can exploit to add weight to your campaigns. This is just scratching the surface, but could be a good place to start and help you think about ways to increase your visibility in the key SERPs for your business.
We’ve seen changes in how SERPs look across all of the search engines recently, with more information appearing directly on the results pages (think Knowledge Graph) to provide users with a fast, efficient search experience. Russian search engine Yandex has taken this a step further with Islands, or Interactive Snippets, which enable on-SERP interactions controlled by websites themselves.
This is an example of Aeroflot, a Russian airline, which gives users the option to begin their online check-in process before they’ve even clicked on the website. Other popular ways to use it is Cinema booking or for arranging medical appointments.
This is essentially just a step on from Rich Snippets, and works in the same way in that it is the responsibility –or the option – of website owners to mark-up their pages and enable the feature. While Yandex won’t automatically give preference to interactive snippets, Click Through Rate is taken into account when ranking pages, and improving user experience is only likely to increase this on your pages.
Naver is a popular search portal in South Korea. Naver Cafés are online communities, which focus on particular topics and subjects, and encourage discussions between members. Working in the same way as groups or pages on social networks, café owners can post content, share knowledge and drive user engagement. Brand Cafés can be a good way for international businesses to build a community and drive brand awareness in South Korea, offering a forum to provide support and advice to customers, as well as increasing visibility. Brands can also join relevant cafés to join discussions and build relationships.
Naver Café, and other Naver products like Naver Knowledge (its Q&A site), are given prominent positions in the SERPs, generally appearing above “standard” organic web listings so having a presence on these is likely to positively impact your performance in the search engine.
These aren’t paid listings – Naver uses factors like frequency of updates, number of members and amount of engagement to determine rankings. As these products are well-known and well-used by Korean internet users, you will also increase the credibility of your brand by appearing in them.
Similar to Naver, China’s Baidu search results are heavily favoured towards its own products, as well as paid results, so putting the effort into to creating content for them will bring rewards. Baidu Baike is a popular example, the Chinese search leader’s own version of Wikipedia. Setting up an entry on the website is straightforward, and it is possible (and advisable) to optimise the content with keywords, Heading Tags and relevant links. Regular updates and any user comments will help to keep it fresh, and visible to Baidu.
While you’re having a go with Baike, you might as well have a go with Baidu Zhidao as well, a Q & A site that will enable you to lead discussions around topics relevant to your business, as well as join existing conversations. As with anything you post in China, be aware of the strict censorship laws that apply when you’re interacting on the site.
Free and Easy
Free and easy might be simplifying it a bit. You will need to have native resources either in-house or outsourced to facilitate the setup and management of any activities, and naturally you’ll need to invest effort into crafting relevant messages, identifying appropriate keywords etc.. , as you would for any marketing activity you do. But there is no charge from the search engines for these features, and it won’t take 3 years and a team of 10 to get going with them.
By taking the time to investigate and use them, you could find a way to stand out from the competition, increase your presence in lucrative foreign markets and ultimately grow your international business.