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Japanese SEO: how to meet your customers’ needs in Japan

SEO in Japan

The basic methodology of on-page SEO in Japan

Before we talk about SEO in Japan, let’s briefly discuss the current situation of Japanese search engines. The share between PC and mobile is as follows:


On PC, Yahoo! Japan is 16% while Google is 76%. On mobile, Google is 74%, while Yahoo! Japan is 25%.

Search engine share in Japan

Search engine share in Japan


Yahoo! still has a higher share in Japan than in the United States and the United Kingdom. But don’t be fooled! Yahoo! Japan uses Google’s search algorithm, so essentially they are the same when it comes to SEO. PPC advertising is different between Google and Yahoo! Japan, however, so you will need the advice and knowledge of local agencies when carrying it out.


Now for the main topic: search engine share shows Japan’s uniqueness, but what about SEO measures? ‘English SEO’ and ‘Japanese SEO’ are very similar in mechanism and methodology. Firstly, people in both languages use Google as a search engine the most. Secondly, the best way to use Google for SEO purposes is the same in both languages. 


How to choose keywords for Japanese SEO

Japan has three different writing systems; Hiragana, Katakana and Kanji. So at times, you need to put at least three expressions for just one word (and sometimes more depending on the words). This makes it very difficult for a non-native Japanese speaker. Often it would be quicker and easier to use an agency that has both a skill for Japanese and a knowledge of SEO, like TAMLO.


Understanding the market is also very important. Same as with English SEO, you should do detailed research of the new market. We, at TAMLO, use Google Search Console, Keyword Planner, Google Trends, SimilarWeb, social listening tools, surveys and customer interviews to understand our clients’ competitors. After doing so you can map your competitors and analyse the intentions of their content. This, along with the other market information from your research, is key in setting up the right keywords. Setting up keywords correctly will lead your project to success.


Website copy, PPC ad copy and blog writing in Japanese

For on-page SEO strategy in Japan, it is essential to continuously create useful content for your potential customers to discover. As Google writes on Search Engine Optimization Starter Guide, “Optimize content for your users, not search engines” is the fastest way to achieve a higher ranking on the SERPs. So, keep asking yourself,  “what is useful content for our Japanese customers?” Considering this, you should choose the right authors, copywriters and agencies. 


The format of your content is also critical. infographics interviews, testimonials, lists, tips are all useful tools depending upon your objective. The choice is definitely distinctive by location. For example, Japanese people love illustrations and manga.  


We have bilingual (Japanese and English) SEO specialists, editors, analysts, designers, journalists and PPC ad managers all working within the TAMLO network. Contact us if you need help with your SEO strategy and content creation for the Japanese market.


Wrap-up: What you need for your SEO strategy in Japan

  • Consider both search engines: Google and Yahoo! Japan 
  • Be careful that the Japanese language has three writing system 
  • Find the right agency that has a bilingual team and SEO specialists
  • Keep creating useful content to solve your customers’ problems
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