Search Engine Marketing: building a strategy for Japan

James Lovell

SEO and PPC (search engine) ads in Japan

SEO and search engine ads together are SEM. When targeting Japan, you should always consider market localisation with a thorough understanding of language and cultural context.


The search engine market share in Japan – Google and Yahoo! Japan

How people use search engines and their market share is unique in Japan compared to the global standard. As of May 2019, Google controls 75% and Yahoo! Japan about 20% (Statcounter survey). Although more use Google each year, Japanese people still use Yahoo! Japan, especially the older generation. Then again, Yahoo! Japan uses Google’s search engine, so there is no problem taking the same strategy for SEO. Each one has its own service (Google Adwords for Google and Yahoo Promotional Ads for Yahoo! Japan) which results in different budget allocations.

Yahoo Japan

Yahoo! Japan - Top page

How to select the correct keywords in Japanese

One of the most important processes in SEM is the choice of keywords. Among other things, the following three points should be kept in mind in SEM localisation:

  • Language understanding Japanese has a linguistically special notation system.
  • Cultural understanding Selecting keywords requires an understanding of the country’s culture.
  • Market understanding Your country’s market characteristics change your keyword choices.

There are three main notation systems in Japanese: “Hiragana”, “Katakana” and “Kanji”. Each follow a different set of grammatical rules and contexts. It is important not to extract misleading expressions and there are words that need to be used depending on the market. For example, “dress” has many expressions in Japanese such as “ドレス” “衣服” “被服”.


Japanese PPC (search engine) Ads measures

PPC requires keyword extraction and copywriting localisation to be successful in Japanese. One has a limited number of letters to convey the message, so hold down the three points mentioned above firmly and create. In addition, be careful about the creation of the word that leads to CTA.


James Lovell

UK (Managing) Director


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