SEO (Search Engine Optimization) is designed to improve the search ranking of a website when certain keywords are searched in search engines and to provide high-quality content to readers. In Japan, search engines such as Google and Yahoo are the mainstream, and their systems are constantly evolving to provide useful content and information to users.
Features of the Japanese search market that you should definitely know
Search engines outside of Japan will basically display content and sites that “satisfy the reader” at the top of the list, but there are a few characteristics of SEO in Japan.
Usage of Katakana, Hiragana, and Kanji
The Japanese language is unique in that the same object can be expressed using Katakana, Hiragana, and Kanji. For example, when the same meaning or object is represented differently, such as “メガネ”, “めがね”, “眼鏡”, or “ネコ”, “ねこ”, “猫”, etc., this is called “notation shaking”, and there are various cases where notation shaking occurs such as with kanji declension kana, proper names, and Japanese notation of foreign words.
Recently, the accuracy of search engines has been improved so Katakana, Hiragana, and Kanji do not change their meanings anymore. They are displayed as the same by search engines.
As a countermeasure against this kind of “shaky notation” peculiar to the Japanese language, it is effective to include keywords that include the shaky notation in the title as well as meta description.
Keywords used in the Japanese market that are different from those in the U.S. and other countries
As we all know smartphones have been so popular that made it more possible to search quickly for even the most trivial information. However, people sometimes experience some issues that make them think about the reason or how to end this problem that they encounter most of the time. Moreover, the larger and more complex the problem or issue, the more likely the user is to search for multiple keywords. Therefore, it is important to identify and set keywords that your target users are likely to search for, not just keywords that apply to everyone.
Do Japanese people tend to read text more than images?
It is not very common for people to search for a certain keyword and read through all the top-ranked content including sites from the top. Most people look at the titles and meta descriptions, or the most searched words. If they seem useful, they open the page then if they find out the title is irrelevant, they just skim through.
In most cases, after opening the page, users check the table of contents and see a lot of images then they only skim or scan the text, reading is the only necessary for them. However, if the page you open has full of images or text, you may think, “Are these pages useful?” If this is what they always experience, users will surely think that the article is not very efficient because they may look boring and feel uninterested. Hence, it is significant to have images together with the title, headline, and text to provide details including additional information. SEO can also be improved by selecting and placing the correct photos to match the keywords and text.
In addition, more content is now being provided in video format. More users can take advantage of this due to the busy routine of people. They can easily access this according to their availability even during train rides, housework, and childcare.
A Japanese cares more about other people’s evaluation and brand than the value of the product.
We are aware that social networking services such as Twitter and Instagram have a great impact on all who use them, there are more opportunities for evaluations, and word of mouth about products, and their services to influence actual user purchases and consumption. In particular, users often look for reviews by users of the same gender, age, and lifestyle as themselves.
Different usage of SNS in Japan from overseas
SEO refers to the process of ranking a website higher in search engines when keywords are searched for. This is to prevent the increase of inappropriate links due to spam and spoof accounts on social networks such as Twitter. As a result, the operation of social networking sites and the spreading and sharing of information do not directly lead to SEO.
However, from the users’ perspective, both SNS and search engines play the same role as tools to gather information. When there is a product they want, they generally use search engines to look up information about the product but depending on the category. People are good at searching for information nowadays with the help of the internet. They may also use SNS to search for people who have already purchased a specific product and look for their reviews about it. The information that they check like their experience of using it or the effect after using the specific product after.
For example, with Twitter, immediacy, diffusion, and hashtag functions allow you to find out the information you want immediately, and the reactions of other users. With Instagram, you can look for users and products that are currently being used such as fashion and cosmetics.
If content and information are shared and spread to more users through social networking sites, it will not have an effect on search engines, but it will gain engagement from social networking users. Consequently, SEO can be indirectly impacted by increased traffic and links from SNS users.
For most companies and services, the purpose of SEO is not to appear higher in search results but to get users to take some action such as purchasing a product or trying the service. Therefore, SEO is about attracting a large number of users and ensuring an influx of traffic plus buzz from social networking sites.
About Mainstream Search Engines in Japan
There are various types of search engines in different countries and regions. SEO measures need to be tailored to each language and search engine. Google, Yahoo, Bing, etc., and their percentages. Google and Yahoo are the main search engines used in Japan. Bing is a search engine with a certain share in North America and Europe, and the default search engine for Microsoft Edge in Windows 10 therefore it has a certain share in Japan.
Japan is still said to be a country with low IT literacy, and it is depicted in its search engine market share. Google’s share of the global search engine market is over 90%, but in Japan reached 76% with Yahoo and Bing trailing behind.
Differences in search engine market share between BtoB and BtoC in Japan
In Japan, most people use Google or the old famous Yahoo for personal computer use and smartphones. Therefore, in the case of BtoC, we found out that Yahoo has the largest market share next to Google due to a large number of smartphone searches.
Next, when looking at search engine market share even only for desktops, Bing follows Google.
Based on the tables we see, it is clearly shown the fact that most in-house computers (computers used in companies) in Japan use Windows, and in fact, many office workers use Bing, which is installed by default. As a result, the background that those with high IT literacy tend to use Google however those with low IT literacy use it without changing from the default search engine.
This means that companies developing BtoB services in Japan need to pay some attention to bing’s search rankings.
Important factors in SEO in Japan and differences from other countries
About “title” and “description
The title has an important role which representing the content and the description. It represents the summary, and it is one of the most important points in SEO. description, also known as meta description appears below the title in the search results and describes the content. Like the title, it is also the first part that users get their attention to make a decision whether to click or not to view the content.
For search engines, keywords in the title and meta description also influence search rankings by determining the theme and content of the content. It is important to create a title that includes the main keywords and a meta description that includes relevant keywords for users to access the content and for search engines to judge the content.
About KWs to be addressed in Japan
Most of the keywords used in searches are giving problems or issues to the users who badly want to know why and are eager to find a solution. Since each user has different needs and concerns, multiple keywords are made to deliver information that is valuable to the user.
The SEO offers an easy way for users in order to avoid the confusion that normally happens. A setting keyword is a must. First, determine the market to which the company or business belongs. Since those keywords will be the ones that users are most likely to come up with, the number of searches for those keywords will be large. Second, SEO will be more effective when the keywords are displayed at the top of the list. Lastly, once the main keywords are set, you have to identify keywords that are related to the needs of the users or if you are a company or your company’s strengths and set related keywords. Also, by doing these steps mentioned, we can clarify the concerns and issues that users have and create content to solve them.
URLs for Japanese sites
In SEO, the length of the URL has no direct effect but including keywords in the URL can have an SEO effect. Most important, however, is to set URLs that are easy for users to view and access. Having a cohesive URL for each piece of content such as keywords or words related to the content in the URL will make it easier and more convenient for users. Search engines help them to make decisions, which in turn will help SEO.
URL length does not affect SEO, but extremely long URLs and cryptic URLs are avoided because users will find them difficult to understand and refer to. If a URL contains Japanese characters in the domain or keywords, the Japanese part will be converted when the URL is copied and pasted, resulting in an unintelligible string of characters. To avoid this, it is important to use English or hyphens (-) in URLs for user convenience and ease of identification by search engines.
Mistakes that should never be made in Japanese SEO
SEO strategies are changing with the evolution of search engine updates and algorithms. Therefore, you must be mindful and careful of the wrong SEO strategies.
In the past, the SEO strategy was to collect a lot of links by reciprocal linking, but it is no longer effective for SEO because meaningless reciprocal links may result in a penalty.
About title and description
Excessive use of keywords or unnatural repetition of keywords in the title, description, and text is considered a factor that reduces user-friendliness, and may lead to spamming and can drop in search rankings. While it is necessary to take countermeasures against the shaky notation unique to the Japanese language, it is important to double-check while creating content to avoid overstuffing keywords with too much SEO awareness.
In this issue, we have discussed
- Characteristics of Japan in the search market
- Mainstream search engines in Japan
- Important factors for SEO in Japan
- Mistakes you should never make in SEO in Japan
SEO strategies change daily as search engines and algorithms evolve. Therefore, it is necessary to always keep an eye on new SEO and information. In conclusion, the most important part is how useful the content can be for the user. Let’s take a user-first approach to SEO, which is to provide high-quality content.
If you would like more information, please do not hesitate to contact us.