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Google ≠ SEO: Mind Google's International Competition to Stay on Top!

W4 | W4 / April 20, 2018

The world is discovering itself via Google? No, the Western world mainly! Other regions prefer other search engines. And those search engines have their own rules according to which they operate. Businesses interested in markets like China and Russia should therefore research Baidu and Yandex.

Google is regularly updating its algorithms to deliver users the best search results. Website owners are usually paying close attention to every change that is being made. Sometimes, these updates introduce significant changes that websites have to adapt to in order to stay on top of Google's ranking. However, businesses solely optimizing its websites for Google might miss out on international markets like Russia and China. The search engines that dominate in these regions, namely Baidu (China) and Yandex (Russia), differ from the the Silicon Valley giant in some aspects.

Baidu currently has 900 million active monthly users. Businesses that want to be found on the Chinese search engine have to consider the following things:

  • Speak the language of Baidu's users. No Chinese content, no visibility on Baidu!
  • You should use either a .com or .cn (sub-)domain.
  • Server location: a server in China is an absolute must!
  • Try not to use JavaScript and AJAX: even though Google is pretty happy about content in JavaScript because it enhances the user experience, Baidu has problems crawling this type of content. That is why businesses using JavaScript and AJAX elements in their websites should think about a separate Chinese HTML website (or at least use HTML in important parts of the website, such as navigation).
  • Meta keywords et al. do not matter to Google a lot anymore. However, Baidu still values meta descriptions, which is why they have to be researched and used accordingly.
  • Social networks are also popular in China. However, Twitter and Facebook not so much. The Chinese people use Chinese networks and linking to content from these Chinese social media can benefit a website's ranking on Baidu.
  • Responsive design: The Chinese increasingly browse the internet on their mobile devices. Websites have to be mobile optimized!

Even though Google is not as insignificant in Russia as it is in China, Yandex is still the market leader when it comes to search engines. There are a few differences as well between both search engines:

  • Keywords still matter a great deal!
  • Websites should use a .com or .ru (sub-)domain.
  • Yandex is big on geo targeting and provides localized search results. Businesses should enter their preferences in the webmaster tool.
  • Even though Yandex also has an international version that displays search results in other languages than Russian, businesses interested in the Russian market should still have a Russian language website.
  • Inbound links are valuable. Like in China, Russia has its own popular social networks that can be a valuable source of inbound links.
  • Indexing can be a bit slow on Yandex compared to Google. A good sitemap can speed up the process. Web developers should also mind a few details with regard to using AJAX.

Conclusion: As you can see, Google differs from Baidu and Yandex. Even though they fulfill the same purpose, they value different aspect when ranking search results. Businesses interested in the respective markets should therefore consult with local experts.

Read more about Digital Marketing in China.

Tags: SEO

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Sarah Wilhelm
Sarah Wilhelm
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