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December 6, 2007

International and European Site Optimization

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Another quick intro: Dixon Jones is moderating this panel which includes Michael Bonfils, SEM International, Andy Atkins-Krueger, Web Certain Europe Ltd, Thomas Bindl, ThomasBindl.com, and Kim Frederiksen, Addvisors Copenhagen.

Got all that? Good, here we go with the session of cool accents. Michael Bonfils isn’t here yet. He thought this session was at 3. Oops.

Kim Frederiksen is first up.

When it comes to marketing you need: More business. Better business. Cheaper business.

He brings up a luxury condo site. They did a good job stateside and locally but it was hard and expensive. So they discussed how they could get more, better, cheaper business.

More business:

There are a great many millionaires who aren’t in the US. They’re a hot market because a lot of them invest in real estate and 30 percent of those are investing in overseas property. They have 23 percent more buying power as well because of the weakness of the dollar. They can afford more expensive properties as a result.

Better business:

The traffic was 65 percent from the US versus 35 percent from the rest of the world but 40 percent of new clients can from the US and 60 percent in new clients. US clients averaged about $400,000 less in sales than International clients.

Cheaper business:

Strangely there weren’t a lot of competitors. Averaging $.40 per click, they got position one in Denmark and Russia but for $3.00 per click on average they only ended up in 4th position on average in the US. So they were able to get the business cheaper and it was better business.

Thomas Bindl is next. He wishes us a good evening. He’s from Germany and it’s nearly 11pm there. He also speaks quickly, softly and kinda mumbles. I feel sorry for the people in the back.

He puts up a map of Europe pointing at Germany. It’s in the middle, y’all. Very good beer and food. There are 82 million people living there. Their GDP per capita is about $31,400. They have 52 million people online and they spend about 46 billion Euros spent online. Lots of opportunity there.

Google is incredibly dominate there, even more than here. About 93 percent marketshare. CPCs are usually a little lower but not much.

Of course, you should always speak the language. For language, make sure your translations are accurate: A nice car and a nice tree have only ONE word in common, not two.

11 million .de domains. If you’re thinking about going into Germany get a .de, don’t use a sub-domain. You’ll need a local contact but there are companies out there.

Credit cards are just becoming popular in Germany (also Italy and France.) Make sure they have an alternative way to pay.

Get familiar with the legal requirements for ANY international market. You want to build trust and not get sued. Put your addresses on there.

The late (well, tardy) Michael Bonfils is up next to cover Asia for us. He doesn’t have a cool accent but he does say that the being late thing is typical. He goes over his bio which I linked above.

Like any one campaign, you start with an assessment then you plan then you implement and organize.

Assessment phase:

Step one: Assess the usability of your translated site. Pay international college students in pizza to review your site. What works here, might not work in Asia.

Step two: Analyze your competition

Step three: Research the Asian market

  • China: 162 Million users, 45% female, 54% male and overwhelmingly 18-24 in age.
  • Japan: 69.9 percent of the population online–89.1 million people. Women, 20-35, have 80 percent of the purchasing power.
  • Korea: Incredible infrastructure, most are online.

Planning Phase:

For ecommerce, start with Japan then Korea and China. If you’re branding, start with China then Korea then Japan. You start with China because they’ll create a knock off otherwise.

In Japan, Yahoo has a much better reach (65 percent) with lower quality conversions.
In China, it’s all about Baidu
In Korea, Naver and Yahoo have 80 to 85 percent of the marketshare. Google has 1.5 percent market share.

KEY: Make well-localized keywords, adcopy and landing pages! Do not use an unnatural mix of English and the local languages. Think of how funny but not trustworthy “Engrish” signs are.

Trust building and face to face interaction is HUGE. Putting a face on the brand is very important.

Monitor your local competition. You’re starting at a disadvantage. Look for an edge.

Implementation Phase:

For Japan: Use Yahoo/Overture Japan and Google. Get a .jp domain (co.jp, or.jp, ne.jp). Hosting there is good too. Include contact info. Be international but Japanese.

For China: Start with Google through their interface. For Baidu, They have a minimum implementation fee of $3-5000. WIRE prepayment of funds is the only way to pay. They only have Chinese speaking support. They have a tough validation process. Definitely get .cn (.com.cn if you can). You need to host in China. There are gateway issues otherwise.

Analytics-wise, Baidu and Yahoo provide no impression results. Google Analytics is available. On Baidu, the paid listings are mixed in with the organic and studies suggest that the users don’t know the difference.

Korea: Make it complicated. Google and iPods do terribly in Korea because they aren’t complicated enough. Get a .kr domain. If you want a North Korean domain, it’s .kp but…good luck.

Andy Atkins-Krueger is up next to wrap everything up. Yay!

He offers a few mistranslations. Again, be careful how you do translations!

There’s rapid growth all over the world. Don’t underestimate Africa. Kenya is providing free broadband access.

Which markets should you enter? Do an analysis: Is it feasible, how competitive is it? What’s the audience? And what’s the market? If you look at those three, you can pick the more promising first.

Do your keyword research first, them build a glossary for the translators, THEN do the translation so that the keywords are built in.

Think about navigation issues for languages. Local companies for Arabic speaking countries switch the navigation to the right side because of how the language is read.

What do you do if there is no direct translation? Make sure that you’re conveying the message even if you have to give up what your word is?

When do you run in English or the local language? If you’re using English keywords, you can do a local language creative but NOT vice versa.

The long tail still applies outside of English speaking countries. From the shortest tails to the longest by language families: Romance, Scandinavia, English, Dutch/Germany, Portuguese. (also toward the end, French Canadians.)

You need local links. You NEED local links.

Google’s new geolocation tool isn’t really working yet in their experience.

The number of people who use the “Pages from” radio button depends by country and query. In some cases it might be VERY important to have that local ccTLD.

[Envision a cool slide of search engine market shares mapped by country in Europe. Google is everywhere.]

His theory is that social networks aren’t going to go global with quite the same ease that search did. They don’t translate as easily. Social sites tend to be locally based and not known outside their area.

Q&A

Will English become the global internet language for commerce?

Andy: He doesn’t think that’s going to be the case. There are more speakers of other languages than there are English. What happens more is that words get adopted with different meaning.

Thomas: China is going to be going in the opposite direction. The Web used to be mostly English, now they’re creating their own content. People like interacting in their own language.

Better tools for keyword research internationally?

Pretty much they all agree that Google and Yahoo work best overall with a slight preference for Google.
Kim: For Europe, Google’s sandbox is the best.
Michael: Asia, too.

If you’re shipping internationally from Germany, would you recommend still having the .de domain or should you have a .com? What sort of links should you be targeting?

Thomas: If you’re looking for people who already have interest in Germany, the .de makes more sense, I think. If you’re trying to get people who aren’t aware, try a .com. I don’t think there is a 100 percent solution.

Andy: I’d be inclined to go with a .de domain because I think people associate the domain with the language. However you can’t pick .de as English in Webmaster tools so maybe go with a .com instead.

We have a Bavaria-based client. We have a .de but we wonder if we shouldn’t get a .eu?

Thomas: I’m not a big fan of .eu domains. I’d secure it but wouldn’t use it and I’d stick with .com instead. It’s just not popular enough yet.

Andy: “I wouldn’t touch a .eu with a barge pole.”

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