I met yesterday with Preston Carey, the head of business development for Russian search engine Yandex. Full disclosure: Carey and Yandex originator John Boynton are both Forrester alumni, but that’s not the only reason I think Yandex is smart.
Yandex has tapped into two forces that yet elude the larger US-based search engines (ahem, Google and Yahoo!):
- Russia has the eighth-largest Internet population globally, but only 37% of its population is currently online. This means huge growth opportunity as more of Russia’s 142 million consumers come online.
- As with some other Asian markets (those with a shorter history of being open to western trade, with non-Roman alphabets, or limited English influence, like China) Russian search requires localization. Simply translating keywords, content, or even search engine layouts doesn’t account for the local consumers' manner of searching, researching, or shopping. My own travels to China confirmed just how different commerce and content work there.
I’m thinking a lot lately about the future of search marketing, and one of the things that I see happening over the next two years is a much more significant push for marketers to take their search programs global. Right now, to most search marketers, this means finding a tool or agency that has a handful of offices outside of the US. But my conversation with Yandex yesterday got me thinking that a “rest of world” strategy can’t mean “translate US search strategy for non-US marketers.” Going global means, at the very least, quantifying the opportunity with regional audiences, “culturizing” your brand and approach to local habits and history, and understanding local linguistics. Of course, we all get this in theory, but I've seen little evidence of globalized search strategies . . . yet.