An International Search Engine Marketing (ISEM) Guide


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An International Search Engine Marketing (ISEM) Guide

By Liz Elting

Business 2 Community - August 21, 2012

When I talk with other executives about conducting multicultural market research to inform their outreach to global markets, I usually start with the topic of international search engine marketing (ISEM). I usually end there, too; ISEM is that important. And yet, few would-be global companies recognize what this strategy is about or why it such an essential factor in determining the success or downfall of an international expansion effort. For these folks, I offer this brief guide to the basics of ISEM:

1. Don’t bet your business on machine translation. Machine translation (MT) is great for culling large data sets and identifying where human experts should focus their localization efforts. But when it comes to detailed work that will be the basis for international websites, pay-per-click (PPC) campaigns and general communications, MT can’t cut it alone. Small localization errors can have major consequences. Just imagine the machine translation of this successful tagline in US markets: “When it pours, you reign.”t important. And yet, few would-be global companies recognize what this strategy is about or why it such an essential factor in determining the success or downfall of an international expansion effort. For these folks, I offer this brief guide to the basics of ISEM:

2. Optimize your region-specific keywords. This is not as simple as translating your most highly searched English keywords. For each country your business enters, perform search engine research and validation to determine whether or not translations of domestic terms resonate locally. Colloquial expressions, current word usage, and the like are all factors that will be critical to the success of your brand identity.

3. Research local search engine algorithms. Despite what we might assume in the U.S., Google does not dominate the whole world. In China, for example, Internet users are more likely to use Baidu to find the sites they want to visit. The Baidu search engine values different qualities than Google, so businesses must emphasize other factors to boost their standings in its search results.

4. Adapt your ad copy. Straightforward translation isn’t quite enough here, either. If you want targets abroad to click on your PPC ads, the messages in those ads must reflect their cultural norms, as well as localized character length limitations. Then, make sure that ads lead to rich, relevant, optimized landing pages that encourage conversion.

5. Monitor and manage your campaigns. Identify which ads and copy perform the best for the lowest cost. Recognize that ISEM is an ongoing process and replace underperforming ads and keywords.

The most common cause of failure is allowing your customers who are interacting with your site in other languages to receive second-rate images and messaging. Keep in mind that content is at the heart of everything you do with ISEM.

 

 
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