Web users speak English as a primary language. Yet, 56 percent of traffic to U.S. Web sites comes from international visitors.

Marketing experts tell us that non-English-speaking populations prefer to be addressed in their native languages, even if they understand English. When it comes to search engine use, these people are more likely to use search engines in their own language.

So if you want to market to international visitors, it's important to optimize your site for non-U.S. search engines and get listed in the top non-U.S. search engines and directories.

Many people in other countries have learned to search the Internet using American-based engines, such as Google, Yahoo! and Lycos. So you can use regular search engine optimization techniques, adjusting keywords for the various languages in your target market. The best place to start is with Open Directory Project, or ODP, because you can find all sorts of non-American directories there. ODP also has many regional sites, such as those for Germany, France and Italy.

But don't ignore the local search engines. They wield a lot more power than you think. We’ll start with European search engines this month and continue with Asian and Latin American sites in October.

Europe is Different

Many of the non-U.S. search engine databases are still compiled manually rather than by robot engines and software. So it's a good idea to hand-submit your site to the leading local search engines. It's best to use a native speaker for these submissions. Also be aware that it may take longer for these submissions to get indexed than it does in the U.S., especially during summer months.

It's also a good idea to invest in software that identifies the country your visitors are coming from, then automatically serves up a home page in that language with a text link to secondary language choices.

Translate at least three to five pages of your site for each non-English-speaking country in your target market. This is both for the convenience of your visitors and for search engine optimization purposes. It used to be that you could get by with translating just one page, but you must go deeper now, to get “crawled” by the robots.

French Search Engines

In France, people think of Voila in the way Americans think of Google—essential. Your next best bet is Yahoo! France, where more than 147 million French speakers spread over 37 countries can get Mon Yahoo! (start page), Yahoo! Courrier (e-mail), and Yahoo! Tchatche (chat). Also popular are Nomade.fr, Lycos France and LookSmart France.

If you're looking for a business-to-business directory, go to INDEXA (www.indexa.fr), which lists all the Web sites of companies doing business in France, foreign and domestic. You might want to try the new French search engine (www.kartoo.com), which has a very different design, as far as search engines go, and uses a little English.

The most up-to-date information on French search engines and directories is available on Abondance. You can find a listing of French directories at www.abondance.com/outils/annuaires.html, and a list of French search engines at www.abondance.com/outils/moteurs.html

German Search Engines

Germany and the U.K. dominate Europe in terms of Internet access, with Germany, the U.K., Italy, and France together accounting for two-thirds of European households wired with Internet access. Germany reports the greatest increase in the number of households with Internet access in the first quarter of 2001, according to a June report from Nielsen//NetRatings.

The most popular search engines in Germany are Fireball (www.fireball.de), WEB.DE (www.web.de), allesklar.de (www.allesklar.de), DINO-Online (www.dino-online.de) and Infoseek.de (www.infoseek.de). Also, Google Deutsch (www.google.de) is growing fast and becoming very popular. These are widely used for searches throughout German-speaking areas, including parts of Switzerland.

Many American search engines have German indices, such as AltaVista Germany, Excite Deutschland, Lycos Germany, msn.de, and Yahoo! Deutschland, to name a few. A sampling of German search engines is listed at http://apollo13.virtualave.net/search/de/index.shtml.

Currently, you don't have to pay for a submission on Yahoo! Deutschland, but some say it would be better to pay because it's impossible to get listed. You can get listed on LookSmart as a directory service from AltaVista.de at a cost of about 159 euros—around $145 U.S.

Spanish Search Engines

You'll want to get listed on Yahoo! Spain, if you can. Terra ( www.terra.es), an excellent search portal, is also big in Spain. Other popular directories include el�ndice (www.elindice.com), TUSPAIN, a Spanish directory in the English language (http://tuspain.com/sites/web.htm), and UGABULA, a Spanish directory offering free Internet access (www.ugabula.com).

European Search Resources

European Search Engines, Directories and Lists ( www.netmasters.co.uk/european_search_engines/) is an excellent resource maintained by industry enthusiasts. It claims to be the leading directory of European search engines and directories on the Internet; it is updated regularly and lists search resources that allow free registration.

Another good resource for international search engines in Holland, Germany, and France is at: www.viceversa.nl/search/.

Paid Placement

Pay-for-performance search engines like GoTo.com are hitting the scene in Europe. The pay-per-click German search engine, QualiGO (www.qualigo.de) has more than 13 million German pages gathered in its index since launching earlier this year.

It covers German, Swiss, and Austrian sites, and its keyword auction is open to other domains, such as .com, .net, and .org, as long as the site provides relevant content in the German language. It plans to include international domains and foreign-language content in the future. Another pay-per-click search engine, Godado.com (www.godado.com), serves Italy, France, and the U.K. and was recently launched. The network reports that it delivered more than 5 million page views per month, with 600,000 unique visitors in May.


September 3, 2001





Paul J. Bruemmer has provided search engine marketing expertise and consulting services to prominent American businesses since 1995. As Director of Search Marketing at Red Door Interactive, he is responsible for strategizing and implementing search engine marketing activities within Red Door's Internet Presence Management (IPM) services.






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