Immanuel Simonsen

5 Tips From The 2012 International Search Summit In London

This week’s International Search Summit in London brought many interesting search and social media marketing topics to the table. Over the next couple of days key takeaways from the summit will be posted here on Multilingual Search, so stay tuned. Here are 5 tips to start off with (and sorry about the lack of spacing, unfortunately it’s not working the way I’d like it to):

1. Find Your Local Hairdresser

So what has this got to do with international search and social? A lot actually. Bas van den Beld did a presentation on the Global Collision of Social, Local and Mobile (and won the medallion speaker award) in which he included a bunch of stories to prove his points.

Social has always been around, but we now have all these new tools to fully realise this behaviour. However, surprisingly many marketers still don’t get how social works and Bas pointed out how the outdated traditional one-way marketing communications model – if you don’t listen to what I’m saying, I’ll just scream louder – has in many cases been applied to social networking platforms. The reality, though, is that we live in a world where the power of peer recommendations far outweigh that of brand communication. So instead of always focusing on the end-consumer (or worse even, on yourself), identify and influence your local hairdresser (your brand advocate) who’s likely to talk about your product or service to the circles where it’s relevant and have her spread your message. This is not only more cost-effective, it’s also infinitely more powerful.

  • See State of Search for more detailed write up of Bas’ presentation at the ISS.

2. Targeting the Middle East? It’s NOT all Arabic!!!

The Middle East is a region that is slowly starting to appear on the radars of foreign corporations. When seeing some of the figures presented by Lee Mancini at the International Search Summit in London you understand why companies should begin to care about this region. Search and social are both growing at a phenomenal pace but beware that it’s not all Arabic when targeting the MENA region. According to Lee, 54 percent of Google searches are now made in Arabic, 34 percent in English, and 8 percent in French.

Language use varies significantly within the region and even Arabic has outspoken regional differences, i.e. Arabic in Egypt and Saudi Arabia is not identical. So, keep in mind that the Middle East is far from a “one size fits all” region, meaning that replicating marketing strategies across Middle Eastern countries is likely to be just as effective as trying to solve an algebra equation by chewing bubble gum, as Mary Schmich once wisely said.

3. Avoid using generic TLDs in Germany

It’s a global world indeed. Germany, however, is still largely relying on its own resources since there’s a vast amount of information available in German, meaning that the necessity for foreign inputs isn’t as prevalent as is often the case in smaller countries.  As a consequence, searches are conducted in German and there’s generally little ‘interference’ from other countries in SERPs – only companies like Facebook can get away with a .com domain, Andre Alpar stated during his presentation. Use instead a .de domain and also beware that German’s are fond of using the dash symbol in their domain names, e.g. search-engine-land rather than all in one go.

4. Playing “all white” in Germany is an uphill battle

Germany is arguably the most competitive market within the EU. The country has the highest amount of domains in Europe and these domains rank for the lowest number of keywords. For this reason, link acquisition strategies are very aggressive, where buying/renting links up until now has often proved a necessity to ranking high – as Andre put it, you either need deep pockets or a lot of time to succeed in Germany’s highly competitive search landscape. Whether Google’s Penguin Update will change the code of conduct will be interesting to follow.

5. Treat online reputation management like brand/PR spend

According to Google’s Shopper Sciences study, in 2011 the average shopper used 10.4 information sources to make a purchasing decision, up from 5.3 sources in 2010. This ever growing power of online feedback and research in shaping consumer purchasing decisions has made online reputation management one of the most crucial battlefields for business success. Social proof, i.e. what people are saying about your brand/company, often is the tipping point between buying from you or taking business elsewhere. But since social proof’s impact on conversions is more difficult to quantify and track, marketing budgets are often assigned to areas with higher accountability.

In his presentation, Nick Garner advised companies to identify the hot spots where potential customers go to seek information and validation about their services and products – what Nick referred to as “Zero Moments” – and then influence, shape and manage the course of conversation happening on these important customer touchpoints.

Immanuel Simonsen

Immanuel Simonsen

Research Manager at Webcertain
As the Research Manager of multilingual web marketing agency Webcertain, Immanuel heads up the company’s global market research activities and large content marketing projects. He is the author of several reports and guides, including ‘The Essential Guide to Rel-Alternate-Hreflang’ and ‘The Webcertain Global Search and Social Report 2013’. Apart from being a tutor at the International Marketing School -- teaching online marketing professionals on business opportunities around the globe -- Immanuel is a regular speaker at the International Search Summit, a leading event series dedicated to multilingual search and social media marketing.
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