I once heard a wise young American English teacher compare the Japanese, Chinese, and Korean national characters to ceramic pottery and tea cups they produce in particular.
A Japanese teacup is an extremely delicate, refined, and proportionately symmetrically formed china teacup. The cup’s edges are smooth and aesthetically pleasing. The cup might be so perfectly crafted that you’d almost not want to pick it up and drink out of it for fear of breaking it.
The Chinese teacup would be slightly different, aesthetically pleasing, and almost as well-crafted, and there might be a hairline crack or chip in it.
The Korean teacup would not be a cup at all — it would be a roughly molded mug, but it would be the one you’d likely want to pick up and drink from.
So what does fine China have to do with search engine algorithms? In their pursuit of perfection, my Asian friends express angst about optimizing their pages. They want their sites to be as symmetrical and as well crafted as their teacups and more important, they profess that Japanese/Chinese/Korean websites are different, therefore SEO tactics used must be different than Western ones.
“What is the most important tactic to focus on to rank well in search engines?”
“Is it most important to be able to write our own tags with the relevant keywords?”
“Is it getting good inbound links or meta descriptions?”
“Should we be writing blogs and participating in forums?”
My Asian colleagues, (not to mention Western colleagues) want a precise answer so that a set formula can be plugged into a template, implemented, and measured. Google will never share its algorithm, so we need to test, refine, and test some more. This makes most of them feel very uncomfortable.
To set the record straight, I am in awe of and deeply respect Asian culture. I am married to an Asian. Are the Asian search engine algorithms vastly different than Western algorithms? There is one big difference: Asian search engine algorithms are not influenced by keywords in the URL. Take that variable out of the equation Asian search engine algorithms are dependent on the exact same elements as Western ones. How unique can the Asian search engine algorithms be? Yes, Asian searcher behavior may be different, but I still think the algorithm reflects how double-byte character keywords are used in H1-6, meta description, meta keyword tags, and link text.
So short of worrying about keywords in the URL, Asian search engine optimization should focus on the same things we worry about here. We all need to focus on providing users with good, fresh, accessible content, keywords in H1 – H-6, meta description, meta keyword tags, and link text. What else can it be? As for social media, more time needs to be spent writing, linking to, and participating in Forums for sure. One of the best articles I’ve ever read is one on SEO Basics by Rand Fishkin.
Which culture do I like best? My English teacher buddy and I celebrate diversity. We both love different aspects of all Asian cultures – from the politeness and meticulousness of the Japanese to the assertive and friendly Chinese nature, to the aggressive and warm-hearted Korean culture. I could drink from any of their teacups.