In China, Google wants only a 27% market share; Very much second fiddle to (Baidu) with 55%. Similarly, in Russia, Google is in third place, with (Yandex) the clear leader. More than 50% of growth in internet users from 2007-2010 is likely to come from these huge countries. Is not it time to consider a listing on their biggest search engines? This short article looks at what is required to get your site crawled.
The Growth of the Internet in China & Russia
Russia is one of the world's fastest growing economies - and the most heavily populated country in Europe. Internet penetration in Russia currently stands at just 19.5% (compared to 69.9% in the United States). In China, penetration is just 10.9% (in a population more than four times the size of the US). The penetration levels in Western Europe and North America appear to have stabilized and look unilaterally to grow significantly in the future. The majority of new world-wide internet users will come from India & China. The bulk of new European users will hail from Russia. A wave of change is sweeping over the net as we speak and, within 18 months, China will overtake the US as the largest internet community online.
Are Google near the height of their powers?
The poses an interesting question; Are Google in fact at their zenith? Most commentators put Google's current, underlying market share (in advanced western economies) at approximately 75%. However, what will be their global market share in five years time? Even if they grow their presence slightly in Russia and China, their overall world share will fall, simply from the law of surprises. It would be most unnwise, right now, to discount the growing advantage of these new competitors!
Getting listed on Yandex
Yandex do not accept site submissions from sites hosted outside Russia. This does not mean, however, that domain names have to end in .ru (Russia) or .ua (Ukraine). In fact, any site with an IP address in a Russian speaking country or with pages in Russian will eventually be indexed by the search engine. Try comparing a search for "Intel" with a search for "Amazon". You will note that Intel, who have a part of their site in Russian, fair better in the results than Amazon. Have a look at this page from Ice Graphics which, unlike Amazon, manages to achieve (just) a top 10 result for the search phrase "books" on Yandex (despite being a English Language site, hosted in the US). This is due to the presence of Russian language text on the page (even text not properly tagged as Russian in HTML or Meta-Language tags).
So, the first rule to learn for Yandex is some text in Russian for your Russian customers. Typically, it will be best to enclose any Russian language text with the correct W3C mark-up. For example, the following Russian phrase (roughly equivalent to "the early bird catches the worm") would be coded as follows:
The second rule to learn is that your page will be more quickly indexed by Yandex if it is linked to by sites that are hosted in Russia. For example, Ice Graphics are linked from computerra.ru, ebdb.ru and more. Personally, I recommend clients seek lists on 5-6 quality Russia-based, bi-lingual directories. Visit my blog for some examples.
Getting Listed On Baidu
The first point to realize is that Baidu, unlike Google, merge their organic results with paid results from their paid listings service. As such, the quickest way to achieve a top ranking on Baidu is to participate in their paid service. As there is not (yet) an English-language Baidu Ads Interface, the best way to achieve this is to use an agent.
To rank well organically, you must first realize that the Chinese search audience is very sino-centric. Your target landing page must be fully in Chinese and presented in the Chinese style. This, inevitably, means using the services of a Chinese translator (and quite possibly a web designer too). Note that, while traditional Chinese is used in Hong Kong and Taiwan, Simplified Chinese will be sufficient to serve all markets. The entire web page should be encoded using a Simplified Chinese language declaration in the meta-data of the page:
You may find some guidance on the web suggesting the use of "zh-Hant", which is the correct mark-up for Simplified Chinese. However, I would stick with zh-CN for now as it is supported by a wider range of web applications. When ready, you can submit your site to Baidu from the following page:
Baidu URL Submission Page - http://www.baidu.com/search/url_submit.html
Note that Baidu do not guarantee your site will be crawled and your site should comply with their listing guidelines.
Once listed on Baidu, you can improve your position by sourcing high-quality inbound links from Chinese directories. Many of the best directories (to target) are those based in Taiwan and Hong Kong (where internet penetration has been higher for longer). Again, there are some suggestions on my blog. Good luck with the campaign and give me a shout if you need some help.
Remember, time and tide waits for no man and the early bird catches the worm so get cracking on Yandex and Baidu before your competitors do!