The likes of Yahoo, Google, and MSN dominate search around the world, and a session at SES Chicago gives some insight on how publishers can take a shot at being more of a search presence globally.
Two points emerge from Chris Richardson's report on the afternoon session, Global Search Landscape; publishers who want to have a global presence need sites that speak the language, and reside in top-level domains for their target countries.
Andy Atkins-Kruger from WebCertain.com Europe recommended researching those markets, especially for keywords that may perform better for a publisher than what they assume may be best. Purchasing a local domain can help, especially when launching a site in the local language.
Tools from services like Wordtracker, Yahoo's Overture unit, and MIVA can help with that keyword research. Frequently, a simple Google search in the desired market's language can give results comparable to Yahoo's research tools.
Atkins-Kruger noted the difficulties many languages pose, particularly Russian. Some words have multiple spellings, and word use for even one word can be different throughout a phrase.
In Latin America, where Google reigns as the most popular search engine, actual Internet penetration remains low. A lot of Internet usage happens at Internet cafés, so according to speaker Lucas Morea, CEO of LatinEdge.com, most users access the Internet from a café's broadband connection.
When doing business in Latin American, a number of customers primarily buy things in cash, and many online transactions end up offline. More expensive shipping options like FedEx are a necessity, due to the low trust many countries have in regular mail.
Prospects for doing business with the Latin community require publishers to make their advertising and landing pages correctly translated for the target markets. Oddly enough, Morea noted that Amazon.com is very popular in Brazil despite not having a Portuguese language portal.
David Temple with TopRank Online Marketing cited a low Internet penetration rate of 9 percent in Asia. Why is that encouraging? Because that currently translates to about 300 million users, including over 100 million in China alone.
China ranks first in Internet usage, followed by Japan, India, South Korea, and Indonesia. For page creation, Asian language character sets pose even more of a challenge to the publisher. Redoubled efforts by Yahoo, Google, and Microsoft should improve upon search engine's ability to parse those character sets.
Speakers recommended that publishers can avoid duplicate content penalties by varying the content being translated, if only slightly. Newsletters can benefit from accurate translation, too, especially those targeted at the technology market. It is important not to mix languages on a page, otherwise they may not be indexed properly.
Still, publishers should consider foreign markets. Only 31 percent of Internet users speak English natively.