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How to Best Market Your Business in Asia The region is on the verge of technological advancement and as a consequence, attracts more and more start-ups willing to invest on marketing campaigns

By Killian Kostiha

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

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Asia is the next goal for businesses across the world. A recent global perception-based survey ranking counties based on scores from over 6,000 businesses says this is all thanks to the region's rapidly evolving environment, massive and diverse population, good source of new discoveries, high standards of convenience, reasonably affordable and competitive rates, and advanced infrastructure.

The region is highly affordable, bureaucratic, easy access to capital and cheap manufacturing costs. Additionally, it is connected to the rest of the world. The region is on the verge of technological advancement and as a consequence, attracts more and more startups willing to invest in marketing campaigns, especially on search engine optimizations strategies (SEO).

The growth of E-commerce Market in Asia

Asian countries have seen a drastic growth in the e-commerce market, which can be attributed to rising income, increased mobile adoption and improved logistics. The Asian e-commerce brands make it clear that the business has quintessentially innovative features ahead of global e-commerce.

According to Research & Markets 2018, over 50 percent of global online retail sales stems from the Asia-Pacific (APAC) region. The reports cover regions data, trends, and consumer payment preferences among other pertinent information. The e-commerce economy in Asia is expected to hit $240 billion by 2025, $40 billions more than previous estimates, hitting an inflection point in 2018 according to an e-Conomy SEA 2018 report from Google and Singapore-based Temasek.

The region's digital economy is expected to hit $72 billion in 2019, and the investor confidence in the area is growing to $9.1 billion new startups in the year so far in Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, Indonesia, the Philippines, and Vietnam.

The Role of Search Engines in Asia

By mid-last year, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam saw over 350 million people connected to the Internet. The Internet is the primary driver of e-commerce. Thus, startups and entrepreneurs must leverage the power of SEO to drive sales and connect with more customers across Asia.

Asia has been a unique market for SEO since, unlike in the West, Google's domination is less important and many regions are dominated by locally grown search engines, such as:

  • Baidu and Shenma in Mainland China.

  • Naver in Korea.

  • Yahoo and Bing in Japan, Hong Kong.

In most countries Google has taken over the market, however, there is a notable exception in Southwest Asia and brands need to take that into consideration for their digital marketing strategies.

The Best Practices

SEO encompasses all aspects of a website. Globally, website technical features and creative design affect traffic, retention and conversation rates. Web content, design and coding plays a vital role in search engine ranking.

In Asia, SEO is mostly multilingual. Asian websites reach users in different languages, countries, and regions. For instance, if you wish to establish your business in Hong Kong, your platform must be available in three languages, traditional Chinese, simplified Chinese and English, which will influence your SEO strategy and your organic reach.

A business operating on a global scale needs the right multilingual SEO approach by:

  • Offering content in more than one language to be able to communicate the right way to the right users.

  • Running a country-based keyword research, both in English and in local languages. E-commerce platform in Asia needs to carefully select SEO keywords to rank highly on any search engine. Country-specific keyword research comprises local keyword and SEO keyword translation.

  • Setting up the geo-localization, which includes the right approach for the domain name and the URLS. To help users find the right page, use different URLs for different language versions, and allow the user to switch the page language are among the best practices to boost the SEO and the UX strategy.

  • A localization of the Title Tags and the texts, since Google and other search engines might take local information like the currency or the phone number to understand the targeted markets.

  • Having a communication plan which includes local websites, both to improve the brand exposure locally, as well as to get links from high-quality localized websites that will improve the rankings of the pages in search results.

Differences between SEO in the West and in Mainland China

When optimizing your websites to target the Asian market, it's important to bear in mind that Google is the most important search engine in various countries. For instance, doing SEO for the Chinese market is different and that will affect your business.

That include:

  • Baidu is in Chinese only (Simplified Chinese) and it is mandatory to translate the whole website since users will mostly search in their local language.
  • Whereas Google Search Console is a must-have tool in the West, validating your website in Baidu Webmaster Tools is mandatory to speed-up the indexing process, which is longer than Google, as well as to monitor various technical metrics.
  • Baidu gives a priority to websites hosted in China or Hong Kong while Google does not really use that in their ranking algorithms.
  • Having an ICP (Internet Content Provider) license will allow you to have a .cn domain name, which can be an asset to rank in Baidu.
  • Baidu gives more weight to detailed pages and while Google will prefer to have a semantically optimized page, Baidu is more about length. For instance, Taobao pages are extremely detailed and while it provides a better user-experience because Chinese users prefer to have more details about the products and services they are browsing, it also helps web-pages to rank better.
  • While Googlebot is more and more advanced when it comes to tricky technologies such as JavaScript, Baidu is still backward so make sure your pages are fully crawlable.
  • Get links from local websites and use KOL (Key Opinion Leaders), which is a bit similar to the Western influencers. They will help your pages to rank higher and note that the backlinks are still extremely important for Baidu. While you can still be a bit pushier with links in Baidu, do not have over-optimized your link profile since Baidu tends to fight that technique, more and more.
  • Baidu still censors some results, while Google does not. If you are in the adult, pharmacy industries or tackle touchy topics the Chinese government does not like, your website might not rank as expected.

For the rest, Baidu SEO is quite similar to Google but the key is to adapt your website and your whole development strategy to the Chinese habits since users tend to use services in a different way. Do not neglect the impact of mobile as well. Mainland China is a highly mobile-friendly country and, as a business owner, you might need to pay attention to the mobile version of your website as well as to develop a powerful mobile marketing campaign by targeting local social network as well, like WeChat and Weibo.

Killian Kostiha

Founder, Get Clicks


Killian Kostiha started to work on SEO in 2008, in France. He has more than 10 years experience in digital marketing and has worked in various countries (France, Spain, Bulgaria, Hong Kong).

He works in Hong Kong since 2014 and was SEO manager in iProspect Hong Kong (digital marketing agency) and Lane Crawford before starting in own agency, Get Clicks, where he offers customized SEO and content marketing solutions for SMB, start-ups and larger groups in France and in Hong Kong.


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