For years, B2B marketers have refrained from putting search dollars into non-US markets because the userbase was lacking and the investment seemed too risky. But search markets around the world have matured considerably in recent years, and now offer a great opportunity. It is time B2B marketers took another look at global search.
The opportunity in a nutshell
According to comScore, the global search market is growing faster than ever. Markets such as China, Japan, and the United Kingdom (UK) now represent substantial search markets of their own with more than 28 billion annual searches between them. Additionally, a number of countries across the globe have experienced double digit growth in the last year. For example, in 2009, search in Russia and France grew at a jaw-dropping 92 and 61 percent, respectively, and search in Brazil was close behind with a 53 percent increase.
In fact, total worldwide search grew at 46 percent from 2008 to 2009, and included more than 131 billion searches. Moreover, while such volume is nothing short of impressive, US searches accounted for a mere 17 percent of that total. In other words, global markets represent 83% of the total search audience.
Pointing out the obvious
Despite such compelling statistics, many B2B companies still have not invested in developing a search presence in global markets. For example, recently I had a conversation with a marketer at a major consulting firm. While they offer their services to businesses in a number of markets around the world, they have yet to broaden their search efforts to target these markets.
Worse still, they indicated that they “had the international market covered” with a page on their US website that discusses their global offering. Apparently, they felt that one page would be enough to address the needs of the vast majority of the worldwide search audience (83%).
Tips to get started
If you’re a B2B marketer and you have not recently considered expanding your search efforts into global markets, now is the time to begin. Below are a few items to think about as you move forward:
- Establish your presence early. This is your chance to be visible and establish your brand in the international search engines before your competition does. Start by researching your competitors’ presence in your global target markets. If your competitors have not gotten wise to the opportunity yet, being the first company in your space to have a search presence in a particular market could translate into a competitive advantage for your company. However, if they are already there, don’t fret. While being first can be favorable, ultimately, the advantage goes to the company who does it best.
- Be methodical in choosing markets for entry. How you take your search efforts global will depend on a number of factors, including the international markets your company serves, the resources you already have available, and how deeply you want to penetrate each market. When deciding how best to begin, it is important to carefully select your markets. I advise starting with just one or two, and tapping into your web analytics for insights on which markets to target. For instance, the data should be able to tell you if your US site is already getting traffic from foreign countries, and if so, which ones.
- Research each target market. To be effective in your global target markets, you need to gain an understanding of the search landscape for each market. Avoid going into a new market with US-based assumptions as it can adversely impact your results. For instance, while Google dominates the US search landscape, don’t assume that is the case everywhere else. Baidu has the dominant market share in China, and Yandex leads the way in Russia. By researching the market share in your global markets, you can ensure that your campaigns are targeting the right engines.
- Localize your content. To be successful in global markets, it is essential to localize the content of your site to reflect the local vernacular. Doing so will allow you to get in front of B2B decision makers internationally by speaking to them in the language they use to look for your goods or services. But this is not just applicable for foreign language markets . The same holds true for markets where English is the primary language. For example, if your company sells elevator parts and can ship internationally, you will never properly reach your UK audience in the search engines if your website doesn’t use the local term for elevator: “lifts.”
While B2B marketers may have shied away from the global search market in the past, the opportunity is now too great to ignore any longer. Smart B2B marketers will consider whether global search is right for them today.
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