It is expected that by 2015, the total number of internet users in BRIC countries, plus Indonesia (making them the BRICI markets) will total 1.2bn, more than double the current online population of these regions.
This, combined with other technological advancements and financial growth, means that now could be the time to start considering extending e-commerce practice in these markets.
In terms of SEO, this means beginning to think of strategies for search engines other than Google. In most of the BRIC markets there are many search engines other than Google which hold the leading market share, or there are at least strong competitors for the search giant.
Developing SEO strategies for domestic search engines is far more likely to bring positive online results in that region, so here’s the lowdown on BRIC search landscapes to start you off on your global expansion.
Google is the market leader in search here, and this applies to many parts of South America. However, this doesn’t necessarily mean that the SEO strategy for Brazil would be the same as in the UK or USA. Local keywords and search terms can vary hugely, so rather than translating, it’s best to write up text for a Brazilian audience from scratch, with locally researched keywords included.
The Brazilian online audience is also widely engaged with mobile internet access, so ensuring a site is accessible via mobile could be an effective way of drawing traffic.
Russia has an interesting search market, with Yandex.ru being the majority share holder at 64%, and it’s not showing any signs of surrendering to Google. Its success is said to be down to its ability to ‘read’ the tricky Russian language, something which other international search engines struggle to do.
Although it is moving forward, Yandex is nowhere near as advanced as Google, some ‘black hat’ SEO tricks which would usually be considered spammy by Google such as very high keyword density or a high number of irrelevant links, can sometimes work on Yandex. However, this is not necessarily a given, and Yandex.ru have recently claimed to have changed their rules regarding SEO to be more advanced in recognising black hat tricks and penalizing for them.
In India it is Google that is the search engine market leader; however, it is social media marketing which has really taken off in India. There is predicted to be over 70 million social network users there by the end of 2011, up from 45 million in 2009, and by working on a good social media strategy to reach the Indian audience, companies can drive more traffic to their site and improve search engine rankings.
However, the social media landscape in India differs hugely from that in the UK and USA. Orkut is the most popular social network, holding around a 40% user reach. Facebook has a mere 13% and Hi5 8%. However, Facebook usage is on the rise, and Twitter experienced a boom in usage in 2009.
Possibly the most dynamic of the BRIC search markets, China’s biggest search engine is Baidu, which recently announced that its market share was 70%. Contrary to popular belief, it has almost always been the biggest search contender in China, even before google.cn was banned by the Chinese government and searchers were re-directed to google.hk.
Baidu is similar to Yandex in terms of its advancement, and after very important and recent changes Baidu no longer automatically ranks pages with an overly high keyword density above others.
As always, international SEO is all about localisation, and this certainly applies in China. In Hong Kong, Baidu is barely used and it’s Google which is the market leader. There are also differences between the types of written Chinese used in mainland China and Hong Kong. This highlights the importance of carrying out thorough localised research into each individual market before developing an international SEO strategy.