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Cherry Blossoms in Japan

Navigating the Landscape of Japanese SEO & Digital Marketing: A Few Good Points

July 29, 2023


Craig in Tokyo

Want to learn more about Japanese SEO? Here's a few points to get you started.


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When it comes to digital marketing in Japan, the terrain provides a unique blend of opportunities & challenges. For developers & digital marketers working in international corporations, understanding this market becomes a vital endeavor. Let's take a journey through the elements that characterize Japanese SEO & digital marketing and uncover ways to engage effectively with the Japanese audience.

Embracing Mobile-First Strategy in Japan

With smartphones being an integral part of life in Japan, a mobile-first strategy has emerged as a standard. More searches are made on mobile devices than desktops, making mobile-friendly design and fast load times crucial for any site. These factors can significantly improve your site's rankings on Google Japan and Yahoo! Japan, both platforms utilize Google's technology.

Understanding the Yahoo! Japan & Google Partnership

In a unique arrangement, Yahoo! Japan uses Google's search data, a departure from other markets where Yahoo's search technology is powered by Bing. This is due to SoftBank's significant ownership of Yahoo! Japan and their decision to partner with Google. As a result, if a website ranks organically on Google, it is likely to have a similar ranking on Yahoo! Japan. While SEO strategies that yield positive results on Google will likely be beneficial on Yahoo! Japan, understanding the unique characteristics of each platform remains essential for a holistic digital marketing approach.

Google Search Features in Japan: Less is More

Not every Google search feature is available in Japan, which allows marketers and developers to focus more on basic yet crucial elements of SEO. These include creating valuable content, utilizing strategic keywords, and implementing local SEO practices.

Search Boxes: A Staple in Japanese Online Ads

Japanese users tend to rely on search engines rather than typing in domains directly, leading to the ubiquity of search boxes in online ads. Consequently, optimizing your site for search engines and creating a variety of valuable content, such as videos, images, and blogs, becomes paramount.

Decoding URL Structures in Japan

In Japan, URLs don't necessarily need to contain the title of a page or article, differing from common practices in English-speaking countries. However, maintaining simple and meaningful URLs is still favored, both by users and search engine crawlers.

Unraveling Longtail EC Keywords in Japan

Many longtail EC keywords, specific phrases with high conversion potential but lower search volume, aren't common in Japanese, or may be condensed into a single term. Comprehensive keyword research is essential to understand user intent and adapt your strategy accordingly.

The Language of Content in Japan

In Japan, localized content is key. If your content isn't in Japanese, it's less likely to appear in local search results. Localization goes beyond mere translation; it involves incorporating cultural nuances, colloquialisms, and local trends to engage effectively with the audience.

Strategic Use of Canonicals for Japan

If you're targeting the Japanese market, adding a Japanese page to your site is just the beginning. Using canonicals to set your site's URLs to target Japan specifically can help avoid duplicate content issues and enhance your website's visibility in local searches.

Beyond Google Translate: The Nuance of Translation

While Google Translate might seem like a handy tool for localizing content, it's not necessarily the best choice for your site. Successful translation captures context and nuances, something that automated tools may not always achieve, potentially leading to awkward phrases or misinterpretations.

The Unique Count of Japanese Characters

Since Japanese characters are unicode doublebyte, traditional Latin letter character counts don't apply to Japanese content. This calls for the use of tools specifically designed for counting Japanese characters to ensure optimal length for meta descriptions and other content.

Understanding and embracing these characteristics of Japanese SEO and digital marketing is essential to successfully engaging with the Japanese market. The road to success in Japan is not merely technical; it also involves a deep appreciation for cultural context and sensitivity. It's this combined approach that opens the door to the world of Japanese digital marketing.