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Global Search Marketing: The Year In Review

It has been a busy year in global search, and interest in multinational marketing seems to be expanding more rapidly than most expected. Today, I’m going to look back of some of the changes this year, and in my next article will talk about some new trends for 2011 and how we might be able to leverage them to capitalize on the opportunities around the world.

I write this from my hotel in the Dominican Republic where I am spending a diving holiday with my family. The dive shop we have been frequenting for the past few days currently gets 60% of its bookings from the Internet, and most of them are the result of a simple query for “Punta Cana dive shops.” Without the power of search, there is no way this small company had the marketing budget to reach the Germans, Canadians, Americans and Russians we dove with this week.

I am more than ever a believer in the power of search and how even the smallest business can use it to enter a market. Some of the following trends, initiatives and thinking by key players will only make this a more powerful medium for any business.

The U.S. Government

Earlier this year President Obama signed the US Export Initiative executive order that laid the foundation that the administration hopes to lead to a doubling of the volume of American exports. This initiative is fairly extensive with goals of opening markets, increasing export financing and increased promotion and funding for more export and trade counselors. The initiative has also put a special focus on increasing the number of small and medium sized businesses who are exporting, as well as trying to help at least 50% of them to export to more than one market over the next five years.

So what does this have to do with global search? As I have said many times before, you are only a search query and click away from any market in the world but many businesses are not aware of the opportunity or what they should do to leverage the potential for search and digital marketing for their business.

In June of this year, Export.gov, a branch of the US Commerce department, put on a conference in Boston (later in other cities) for businesses to learn how to “leverage your website to increase international sales” that had couple of search marketing sessions. The response was amazing with nearly all attendees indicating they would start or expand their global search marketing efforts.


Google has been working to make it easier for companies to reach overseas markets. This year the company launched two new features:

Google Export Planning Tool. This tool was launched earlier in the year and allows companies to enter a list of US words and via a mashup of multiple Google products will spit out a list of target countries, query volume for the local language keywords as well as broader market data.

Foreign Page Translator. Andy Adkins-Kruger covered the functionality of the Foreign Page Translator that recently made its way into the non-English versions of Google. It is simply a new search result option that offers machine-translated versions of web pages. I completely agree with Andy that this may prompt more searchers to consider content outside of their native language as an option to explore. However, as Andy cautions, if your website doesn’t have content in a local language such as price, size and even your business terms, you may not be able to connect with searchers even with the translated page.

Russia’s Yandex

As I mentioned in my last article, From Russia With (Search) Love Yandex was singled out by comScore as the fastest growing search engine with 94% growth year over year. Yandex is the dominant engine in Russia, and in May they announced plans to roll out “international” versions. They now have multiple language versions and have indexed over four billion pages with around 80% of them in English.

In addition to indexing international content, Yandex has beefed up its efforts to reach out to non-Russian agencies and companies to make them aware of the opportunities and the solutions available within the Yandex network to reach this rapidly growing market of online consumers.


Over the past six months I have been contacted by a number of agencies about recommendations for potential partners in specific countries and regions. More and more I see companies creating alliances and even some acquisitions to give them local marketing expertise. Interestingly, in years past these were for obvious markets like China, Japan or Germany, but most recently there has been a need for Arabic language skills to target Middle Eastern countries, Russian speakers and even agencies in Colombia.

My recommendation to agencies is to talk to your clients and poll where their collective projected growth will be in 2011 and then find a partner to help you with those markets. If you’re really ambitious, just start building your own capabilities in those markets—they’re still relatively undeveloped and underserved, so the competition is light.

Conferences & Education

If you are one of those agencies that are looking to expand into local markets I would strongly suggest you attend some of the local market search conferences. Attending the local events will give you and idea of competition, maturity, best practices and key players from agencies as well as the search engines. Last month Bas van den Beld provided a detailed guide to European Search Conferences. I will try to develop a similar list for some of the other regions early next year.

Multinational focused search events have always been a weak spot in the industry. While the demand for global and individual markets has increased, most events have only had a token session around the topic and training sessions are few and far between. There is a ray of hope though: Third Door Media, in conjunction with Web Certain, is launching the International Search Summit @ SMX West, a full day track programed by Search Engine Land Columnist Andy Atkins-Krüger. This track is a must-attend for anyone with a need or interest in global search marketing. I have had the privilege of speaking at Andy’s events in Europe and they are laser-focused on global and local market issues guaranteed to take your global game to the next level.

Leveraging The Potential Of Global Search

Global search marketers are energized like never before. With the increasing number of tools now available to search marketers and with the support of the US government, conferences, engines and companies spending money on emerging markets I think we are well-positioned for growth and prosperity in the coming year.

Opinions expressed in this article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Search Engine Land. Staff authors are listed here.

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