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Google's Approach to International Search
Friday, November 21, 2008
The Internet is global, so its understandable when businesses seek a Global online marketing strategy that they tend to start off scratching their heads. Establishing a global online marketing strategy is going to take a lot of planning. Where to begin? Well one of the first things that you will need to do is understand how the major search engines approach international search.

Here in North America, it so happens that Google happens to have the largest market share when it comes to Search. Therefore, for marketers in North America, a great place to begin then would be trying to understand Google's approach when it comes to International Search. A good place to start would be with Google's recent series on their approach to international search. Daphne Dembo, Engineering Director at Google had an excellent post on Google's approach to international search.

Dembo describes how:
  • Google uses statistical data as the basis for making sweeping algorithmic changes. Many of these changes can be rolled out across all languages that Google supports but not always.
  • Google search is used in many countries and languages where Google engineers have little personal knowledge.
  • Google goes through a series of steps to provide search support acrtoss different languages
Initially, the international search improvements were done by Search Quality engineers who were passionate about their languages and countries: Lina from Sweden improved our parsing of compound words in German and Swedish; Dimitra from Greece introduced diacritical support; Ishai from Israel worked on transliteration corrections for Hebrew and Arabic; Trystan from Australia created methods for identifying local search results and ranking them together with foreign ones from the same language; Alex, a bilingual Ukrainian and Russian, introduced morphological understanding of these languages. As the importance of our international search grew, we solicited help from Googlers in all our offices. Finally, we are leveraging an international network of search specialists who help us understand search within the unique combination of their language and country.
As online marketers trying to break into international markets, you'll need to do your homework like Google does to understand the native language of the market. For example, you will need to gain understanding of the local lingo including names, idioms, colloquial usage, and newly coined words not often found in static dictionaries. You'll need to understand the semantic factors that Google and other search engines incorporate into their algorithms.

The planning doesn't stop with Google though. Other markets may illustrate different search habits. For example, according to a report from comScore, did you know that 85% of Brazilian Internet users visited a social networking site in September of 2008? If one was trying to break into this market, you would probably want to have a social media strategy as part of your overall online strategy.
“For Internet users in Brazil, social networking continues to flourish as a hugely popular activity,” said Alex Banks, managing director of Latin America for comScore. “One likely reason for social networking’s success in Brazil is that its concept of online community closely aligns with the culture in Brazil, which is also centered on a strong sense of community and social activity.”
Breaking into international markets through the online world presents a unique set of dilemmas and obstacles for most businesses. The key is to understand the market that you are moving into. Understand the language and the semantics and online habits of search users in those markets.

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posted by Jody @ 12:00 PM  
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Name: Jody
Home: Kelowna, BC, Canada
About Me: SEO guy by day, family man 24/7.
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