Tuesday, 20 May 2014

Search-scopes from Afar: Expanding Eastward

As the eye of the global economy manoeuvers in an increasingly easterly direction, the search-scopes and social media environments of countries such as China and South Korea are becoming ever more prevalent. Nowadays, names such as Naver, Baidu and Weibo are whispered more and more amid the ranks of SEOs worldwide, who in turn convey an increasingly high value in the understanding of how to undertake successful digital marketing strategies for the Asian zone.

And quite rightly so, especially given the fact that China alone has an online population of over half a billion, is rapidly catching up the US in terms of the size of its ecommerce market, and houses netizens obsessed with social media and the latest internet trends and topics.

Yet for even the most tuned-in SEO expert hot on the tail of Google’s latest algorithm update, understanding SEO and digital marketing as a whole for many emerging Asian markets presents a fresh, yet somewhat completely different challenge altogether.

Different search engines, different needs

Take Baidu for instance, China’s main search giant. Despite the steady recent rise of its key competitor Qihoo, Baidu continues to dominate the search landscape in China following Google’s China office shutdown in 2010, and employs a whole different agenda in terms of its appearance and required SEO approach. On a typical Baidu SERP for example, you’ll find that organic results barely feature, with paid ads splattered across the top and right-hand sides of the page. Baidu also throws its own products into the mix, with Q&A platform Zhidao, Wikipedia clone Baike and community forum Tieba all harbouring a healthy amount of space on the average Baidu SERP, and as a result all requiring SEO attention.

From a distance, the term Black Hat SEO may spring to mind when looking at Baidu, and to a lesser extent, Korea’s search giant-cum-social media hub, Naver, which also throws in its own arsenal of sub-products into the SERP midst. Yet with the 2013 release of the paid link-targeting Pomegranate and Moneytree updates, it would appear Baidu is carving its own path to White Hat SEO – though that doesn’t mean it will rhyme true with what we’ve all come to expect from Google. 

Photo: Lauren Romero

Final thoughts

In a general sense, it’s an exciting yet challenging time for digital marketers who receive more and more requests from clients wishing to branch out into the booming Asian search sphere. On one hand you’ve got the varying SEO requirements for each market, and on the other, a set of vastly different cultures to take into account when creating content and performing activity over various social media channels.

For digital marketers across the world, variety, it seems, is not only what English poet William Cowper declared as “the spice of life”, but is also indeed the future. 

Main image credits: Edson Walker

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