Search Around The World – Part 2: The UK and Europe

Back from a most stressful lunch. Sigh.

Speaking at the Search Around The World panel we have Andrew Girdwood (BigMouthMedia), Thomas Bindl (Refined Labs GmbH), Sebastian Langlois (Aposition), and Joost de Valk (Onetomarket). Marie Dumesnil (Viking River Cruises) is moderating. I’m actually pretty excited about this one, so no witty banter. Let’s just jump into it.

[Okay, I lied; one piece of witty banter before we start: Joost de Valk is way, way cute. It just needed to be said. Finished.]

Andrew Girdwood is up first. Welcome, Andrew!

Most people are familiar with the UK. The cultures are similar. Brits love their mobile phones (but talk on them with funny accents). Text messaging is really popular and broadband penetration is really high. They have newspapers that cover the whole country, not just a segment. UK users are really confident online. They’re not scared to give their credit card information to a brand they recognize.

The UK population is growing (increased by 8 percent since 1971) but aging (declining proportion under 16, more over 65).

Andrew shares some of those "old fashioned" laws that are still in effect in the UK. For example:

  • All English males over the age 14 are to carry out 2 hours of longbow practice a week supervised by clergy.
  • In Chester, you can shoot a Welsh person with a bow and arrows inside the city walls and after midnight!

Hee. Excellent.

A question was asked to UK searchers: When you search Google you often get two sets of results, a large set on the left (meaning organic, but this wasn’t clarified for responders) and a smaller set on the right (PPC). In your experience, which results tend to offer the best Web pages? More than 80 percent of respondents said that the left (organic results) offered the best results. Only 6 percent in 2007, and 4.66 percent in 2008, answered that the paid search results gave the best results.

At SES London, several of the speakers stated that the UK is about 2 years behind the US at Search. Andrew says that’s rubbish. It’s Google-vision in the UK even more than it is in the US.

There are some differences:

  • Google paid agencies in the UK to bring people to AdWords. This created two types of PPC agencies – the optimizers (add value) and the discounters (agencies that did nothing but accept the big spend). Google has since removed this practice. Some of the very big players may soon be dead players. It will change the landscape in the UK.
  • Search hasn’t taken off in London because London wages are 5-10K more expensive. It’s harder to find people and it’s taking them longer to get their grip on search.
  • The FSA: A body that is supposed to regulate financial companies like banks. Reporting paid links to Google is a drip, drip, drip effect. In the UK, if you have a bank that is competitive to one of your clients, all it would take to cause them grief is an email to the FSA. They’ll get on the phone, call the bank, and World War III would break out in online marketing.
  • UK: There are money issues. People use difference currencies. Multi-currency transactions are difficult to manage and track.
  • Contracts: Contract lengths between search agencies and clients are a lot shorter in Europe than they are in the states. Many places don’t hold their clients in contracts at all so they can leave at any time.

Internet issues that concern the UK public

  • Child Safety: Growing calls to adopt a US-like "amber alert".
  • Privacy and Data Security
  • Social Networking at work and as a recruitment issue

Two English Laws to know:

John Doe: The term comes from 18th century law. Lets court proceedings go ahead even when the identity of the person is unknown. Once a Court Order has been obtained, it is possible to go to the ISPs or even the search engines to prevent them from entering sensitive information on a blog

Spartacus Order: The person responsible for anonymous activities must come forward and make themselves known for court or be in Contempt of Court. Wow.

Thomas Bindle is up next.

Facts about Germany:

He starts off by pointing out Germany on a map. Hee. Good to know, Thomas, good to know. They have 82.3 million people and at least two of them are in the SES NY audience. They have 53 million people online and $49 billion has been spent online (in 2007).

Contrarily, in the UK there are 60.6 million people, 41.5 million people online and they’ve spent $53 billion on the Web.

Search Engine Landscape: Google has 95-98 percent market share. Yahoo is also there. Ask is holding on. And MSN is barely on the chart.

Local search is almost nonexistent in German, it’s still growing.

State of SEM/SEO Industry

  • 94.1 percent of advertisers use Google.
  • 48 percent of advertisers do PPC inhouse
  • Tracking is used by over 80 percent
  • CPx and conversion rates are KPIs.

Language Barrier

Thomas gives us some English/German phrases and makes the audiences repeat the German back to him. Shockingly, people actually do this. I didn’t, of course, but other people did.

A Nice Car: Ein Schones Auto
A Nice Tree: Ein schoner Baum
A Nice Flower: Eine schone Blume
Book, Books: Buch, Bucher

There are also special characters in Germany that people in the US aren’t used to, but are really cool. You want to keep all of this in mind when doing keyword research.

Sebastian Langlois is up next to talk about France.

There are many differences with search in France, especially with how they use search engines.

The first difference is a cultural difference. With an office in London and most of their business in Paris, Sebastian knows that they look at things very different. SEM is very important in France.

In France, there are more than 30 million people connected. The digital economy makes up only 6 percent of the GNP in France, as opposed to 14 percent in the United States. Many people in France use search engines, 37.34 use search engines several times a week, while almost 50 percent use it several times a month.

Search Engine Market Share in France: Google is the biggest with 87 percent, then MSN (3 percent), Yahoo (3 percent), Viola (2 percent), and others (5 percent).

There are three ways of considering queries in Google in France. You can type in Google, you can ask for results in French, or you can do something else that I apparently missed. Most people use the default and just type it into the French version of Google.

The top subjects in France are entertainment, computers, and business. Not much different than in the States.

Distribution of queries: Importance of long tail: You need 1, 157 top queries to have 15 percent of the traffic generated. The top 11,000 queries are worth only 30 percent of the total traffic.

After leisure, women look for holidays the most, while men look for technology. Internet users who don’t use search engines for important budgets are rare.

Cell phones aren’t used a lot for search in France. Only about 2.41 percent said they’ve used a phone to find information via search engines. Users between 45 and 54 say they don’t look passed the first page of results. Women are less likely to go to the second page compared to men. Simon says this is proof that French women are less patient. Watch it, Sebastian!

Special French Search Engine Issues

  • Words accentuation: Usage. If you put an accent on the word, it may change the meaning of the word. Aside from accentuation, the French word for "diaper" is the same for "making love". [Joost jokes that if you’re using the same word for diaper and making love, you’re clearly doing something wrong. Nice.]
  • Polysemy: Many French search engines try to analyze the word environment to try and understand the meaning. There are specific search engines based on natural languages.

Next up is Joost de Valk.

He also starts off by pointing out the Netherlands on a map. This is all very handy because I am teh suck with geography.

He pulls up pictures of windmills, tulips, a marijuana leaf and wooden shoes and says that’s how people know the Netherlands. Hee.

Internet penetration rate is 87.8 percent. That’s 16 percent more than the US. They’re #2 in the world. A lot of people are online.

Their online spend is $6 billion. They’re the 4th largest market in Europe.

The Dutch SEM market is fairly small. There are less than 100 SEO consultants (he jokes there are only about 15 you can trust) and there are less than 500 paid search consultants. It’s a small, but highly competitive market.

Search engine usage: Google (93 percent), (2 percent) and llse (1 percent and they carry Google ads).

Dutch is half German and English. It’s easier to speak then German. It’s spoken by 15 million people in the Netherlands. Six billion speak Flemish, a dialect of Dutch. The paid search campaign you’re running in one language will NOT work in the other.

Stemming is one of the anomalies in the Dutch market. For example, a single tree in Dutch is "boom", while more than one tree is "bomen". You have to target both.

They have It’s their biggest online marketplace site. That’s where a lot of the local search queries go. They’re not done on Google.

Spam is everything but it’s more stupid in Dutch. If you do bit of no frills spam and you do some aggressive link buying, you’ll rank. The controls are a lot looser. People are still doing link farms. You notice link farms a lot sooner because there are only something like 2 million Web sites out there.

[My apologies for the lame coverage of this session. Lisa had some trouble with the accents. She promises to work on it.]

Lisa Barone is a writer, content marketer & VP of strategy at Overit Media. She's also a very active Twitterer, much to the dismay of the rest of the world.

See Lisa's author page for links to connect on social media.

Comments (1)
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One Reply to “Search Around The World – Part 2: The UK and Europe”


“Contrarily, in the UK there are 60.6 billion people”

There’s more people in the UK than there is in the whole world! :)

[AN: Thanks! Fixed.–Susan]


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