Eli Schwartz



Home / Asia

Phillipines SEO and SEM Guide

Known for its highly educated but lower paid workforce that attracts western companies. Philippines is transitioning from an agricultural country to one based on services and manufacturing and is predicted to have one of the largest economies in the world sometime in the next 30 years.


  • Population size: 109 Million
  • Internet penetration: 43%
  • Most popular search engines: Google
  • Currency: PHP
  • Language: Tagalog
  • Time zones: GMT +8
  • Major cities:  Manila
  • Most popular Internet TLD. PH


What you need to know to run successful campaigns: While Tagalog is the native language of the country, people in the larger cities primarily use English. If your customer base comprises of more affluent people, there is no need at all to translate and localize into Tagalog. Modern banking has a very low penetration and anything that requires an exchange of goods for money will require alternative payment solutions like C.O.D. (Cash on Delivery)


Hong Kong SEO and SEM Guide

While Hong Kong is a part of China, it is considered a special administrative region. Hong Kong is a global financial hub and is in competition with Singapore to be the number one choice for regional headquarters of global companies. A British colony as recently as 1999; English is widely spoken and understood in business.


  • Population size: 7 Million
  • Internet penetration 81%
  • Most popular search engines
  • Currency: HKD
  • Language: English, Cantonese
  • Time zones GMT + 8
  • Major cities: Hong Kong
  • Most popular Internet TLD: .HK


What you need to know to run successful campaigns: Although there are many cultural similarities between China and Hong Kong, marketing in Hong Kong is very different than China. For starters, you can use Google in Hong Kong while in China, Google is blocked. Additionally, Hong Kong uses a traditional Chinese alphabet like Taiwan while China uses a simplified version. There is a fair bit of people that only speak and understand English, so it is not absolutely required to translate and localize just for this smallish market.


Singapore SEO and SEM Guide

This tiny island with only a few million people is an economic powerhouse and is the regional headquarters for many global technology companies. Singapore has an outsized influence on the rest of the region and the world. English is the official language and it is an absolute cultural melting pot with native populations of ethnic Chinese, Malays and Indians mixed in with a sizeable expatriate community from the rest of the world.

  • Population size: 5 Million
  • Internet penetration: 82%
  • Most popular search engines: Google
  • Currency. SGD
  • Language: English
  • Time zones GMT + 8
  • Major cities:  Singapore
  • Most popular Internet TLD


What you need to know to run successful campaigns: There is no special modification you would need to make just for Singapore, other than to use UK English. If you are already running campaigns in Australia, there’s no reason not to expand your efforts to Singapore too.


Thailand SEO and SEM Guide

While Thailand has been popularized by Hollywood and the media as a place to party, it is also a thriving place to do business. Thailand’s current government was installed by a military coup, and there are some remnants of martial law that include censorship of what can be written online. Mobile reception is widely available all across Thailand, but data reception can be pretty slow even in the capital city of Bangkok.


  • Population size: 68 Million
  • Internet penetration: 56 %
  • Most popular search engines: Google
  • Currency THB
  • Language: Thai
  • Time zones GMT +7
  • Major cities: Bangkok, Phuket
  • Most popular Internet TLD . TH. CO.TH


What you need to know: The Thai language has its own alphabet that is unique only to Thailand, so a decision to focus on this market will mean a serious effort at localization. If you decide to skip the Thai translations there are a pockets of native English speakers, but these will likely be in Bangkok and the tourist areas of Phuket island.


Taiwan SEO and SEM Guide

Interestingly, Taiwan is one of the only developed countries in the world that is not a member of the UN. They are quickly transforming from a country that produced low end goods to a high tech economy. Taiwan’s largest economic advantage is its geographic proximity to a massive customer base for their products in China.

  • Population size: 24 million
  • Internet penetration 84%
  • Most popular search engines: Yahoo, Google
  • Currency TWD
  • Language: Mandarin
  • Time zones: GMT + 8
  • Major cities: Taipei
  • Most popular Internet TLD .TW. CO.TW


What you need to know to run successful campaigns: Very similar to Japan, many people start their searches with Yahoo although this algorithm is also backed by Google. In order to run paid campaigns on Yahoo Taiwan you will need to create a separate account with Yahoo Taiwan.



Malaysia SEO and SEM Guide

Malaysia is a former British colony, and when they granted Malaysia independence, they left behind their language and lots of culture. While for the most part Malaysia has a strong rule of law, there have been some recent government scandals that have cast this into doubt.


  • Population size: 31 million
  • Internet penetration 68%
  • Most popular search engines Google
  • Currency MYR
  • Language: Bahasa Malaysia
  • Time zones: GMT + 8
  • Major cities: Kuala Lumpur, Penang
  • Most popular Internet TLD .MY, .CO. MY


What you need to know: Many people conduct all of their conversations on and offline in English, and you may not need to justify the cost of translating to Bahasa Malaysia. For English, use UK English spelling and sentence structure.


Indonesia SEO and SEM Guide

Many might be surprised to learn that Indonesia is world’s fourth most populous country in the world. However, this won’t be your only surprise. Indonesia is one of the few places in the world where companies like Path and Blackberry still have a significant customer base. Despite the potential of this market as the result of its large population, Indonesia is a very challenging country for Western companies to enter. Indonesia scores very high on many corruption indexes and brands like Netflix and Uber have found themselves on the wrong side of the law for perplexing reasons. Indonesia is also quite poor with a GDP per capita of only about $3,500. Despite these negatives, Indonesia is considered by many to be the next decades “China.” The infrastructure and corruption problems have been greatly improved over the last few years.

  • Population size: 255 million
  • Internet penetration 30%
  • Most popular search engines Google
  • Currency: IDR
  • Language: Bahasa Indonesian
  • Time zones GMT +7, +8
  • Major cities: Jakarta, Surabaya
  • Most popular Internet TLD .ID, .CO.ID


What you need to know to run successful campaigns: Indonesia is a place that lives in dichotomies. While there are millions of people living below the poverty line, there is a huge class of educated, high income earning people. These folks will understand English, but you need to first appeal to them in the local language. This requires building out landing pages and optimizing for Bahasa, but you might not need to go the extra step of localizing your products too. As a developing country, Indonesia is also a strong mobile first economy, so be certain that you are optimized for the mobile web.


Korea SEO and SEM Guide

Korea has the world’s fastest download speeds and sports technology innovations such as fully connected homes that have not yet been seen in the West. As a result of a fierce local loyalty, Koreans overwhelmingly buy Korean made smartphones like Samsung and LG which helps drive Android’s market dominance.

  • Population size: 49 Million
  • Internet penetration 92%
  • Most popular search engines: Naver, Daum, Google
  • Currency KRW
  • Language Korean
  • Time zones: GMT + 9
  • Major cities: Seoul
  • Most popular Internet TLD .KR, .CO.KR

What you need to know to run successful campaigns: While Google is not the leading search engine, they have a Trojan horse in that nearly all the people using their Android platform are slowly being introduced to the other Google products. The leading search engine is called Naver which is very much like AOL of the late 1990’s.  Naver is more of a platform than a search engine, so SEO might consist of creating content on Naver’s various content areas. For PPC, there is no broad match on Naver, so you need to develop a very comprehensive keyword list.


Japan SEO and SEM Guide

Japan is one of the most connected places in the world and using the Internet for everything from directions to shopping is native to most people. Japan is one of the very few places where people do not begin their Internet searches on Google. Even though the Google algorithm provides the results for Yahoo Japan, PPC marketing will still have to go through Yahoo’s engine to get started. It should be noted, that younger users actually do use Google, so expect Yahoo’s dominance to begin to slip.

  • Population size: 127 million
  • Internet penetration 91%
  • Most popular search engines Yahoo, Google
  • Currency JPY
  • Language Japanese
  • Time zones: GMT + 9
  • Major cities:  Tokyo, Osaka, Kyoto
  • Most popular Internet TLD: .co.jp, .jp

What you need to know to run successful campaigns: The Japanese have an affinity for local brands, and it is important to go the extra mile to be as local as possible. Use local designers to develop marketing, ensure that your Japanese translations are culturally up to date, and consider using a local TLD for your domain. Using Japanese design is critical and it is never enough to just translate your current site.


India SEO and SEM Guide

One of the fastest growing economies with a highly educated workforce. While Internet penetration is low and the technology infrastructure currently leaves a lot to be desired, the population of wealthy web users dwarfs the entire populations of most countries in the world. India, for the most part is still developing, but if you have a product or tool that could fit the populace, this country should not be ignored. Many people in the West were introduced to India’s economic prowess during the last decade as Western companies moved their back office operations to India. The high demand for educated employees has caused wages to rise and these educated well off people are flocking in droves to purchase Western products and services.

  • Population size: 1.3 Billion
  • Internet penetration 30%
  • Most popular search engines: Google
  • Currency INR
  • Language Hindi, English
  • Time zones:  GMT + 5:30
  • Major cities: Bangalore, Mumbai, New Dehli
  • Most popular Internet TLD .IN , .CO.IN

What you need to know to run successful campaigns: While Hindi is the official language many people speak English fluently and will conduct their search engine activities solely in English. India is very much a mobile first economy with huge companies like Flipkart (India’s Amazon) forgoing desktop websites completely in favor of mobile apps only. Mobile data is relatively expensive for customers in India, so customers will shy away from apps that require a lot of data usage.  India has many companies that simply copy services and products offered in the West, so you may find yourself competing against a clone of your own service

1 2 3