What Are Your Favorite Foreign SEO Information Sources

I have worked with some large multi-national brands who had multi-lingual sites, but they typically hired us for English optimization, and never really asked for much more than general advice and strategies (internal link flow, subdomains vs unique domains, etc.) when it came to other languages and cultures. I noticed a few differences between Google.com & International Google results while traveling, but I still only analyzed stuff that was published in English.

What are the best informational sources for SEO in Japanese? SEO in Chinese? SEO in Spanish? SEO in your language or region? How do you feel SEO in your area differs from the SEO advice you read from those of us who operate in the English US marketplace? I also would love to publish a guest article for each language.

Published: June 7, 2008 by Aaron Wall in seo tips


June 7, 2008 - 2:46am

Hi Aaron,

this has to be one of my favorite topics (foreign languages used to be my #1 passion until the web came into my life ;)).

I've analyzed quite a few German and French SERPs. I think it's hard to point out possible differences in the algorithms (I think the few times I asked this on English-language SEO forums people said they had never dealt with foreign language SERPs, but there was probably no difference - though I'm not sure how they'd know), but all in all the algorithm of google.de and google.fr seems very similar to google.com.

All I can tell from German SEO blogs, forums, etc. is that link building is big in the German SERPs, too.

One thing that sort of dissapoints me, however is this: I used to think the German and the French SERPs should be a great opportunity for me, because they have to be less competitive than the English language SERPs, as people don't know as much about SEO, here, yet.

I've found some very niche topics (that I'm not comfortable making a site about, yet, because those aren't my real interests) that would (hopefully will) probably be opportunities like that, but for most of the topics I've been interested in making sites about I did/will end up creating the site in English for two reasons:

1)sites in those fields often still have a high number of back links (people don't SEO like crazy, but they still link out to other sites) - relative to the search volumes for their main phrases - so in the end it's not really easier getting a lot of traffic, because yeah you need somewhat less links, but you'll also get quite a bit less traffic (and the ratio doesn't seem appealing most of the time I checked)

2)There are lower back link counts (okay I should probably say lower link authority to be correct) to compete with, but also less sources to get links from. So if you can create great content/link bait (instead of relying on forum signature links and the like), there are often waaay more sources to get links from in the English language SERPs.

So you might end up creating a great piece of link bait, but don't have many people to pitch it, too (especially not too many bloggers).

(I guess for e-commerce sites and not sites-about-a-topic-youre-passionate-about-about this might be different, though!)

Some more differences would be these:

1) keyword tools. There's just the adwords and the overture-tool (and if the overture tool is working right now/hasn't been taken offline, it's simply highly unreliable in a market like the German or the French market where Google has a market share of >90% and yahoo's market share is <5%).

2) Google has 90% or more of the pie so there's no need to care about other engines at the moment (or maybe this would actually be a nice idea, as nobody is really caring about yahoo, etc.? I think their market share is just way too small for that, though)

3) Social media sites...social media isn't as big in Germany as in the US, yet. We have sites that are pretty similar to facebook and linkedin and we also have German sites like digg (a couple of people seem to use digg and stumbledupon here, too, btw) but it isn't as popular as it is in the English language world...there are just not that many sites like that for link baiting, I guess...and blogs aren't that popular here, either..so there are less blogs...

I guess this is kind of the same thing that I said about not enough sources to get links from (not just aren't there as many sites by webmasters, but there aren't that many blogs/social sites to linkbait).

4) I cannot verify if this is true, right now, but I've read an article (by an author who knows his stuff), that using Google Analytics in Germany was a horrible idea, because of the law. We have very strict data protection laws here in Germany (not sure if more strict than in the US, though) and the policy of Google Analytics would allow them to do something with the data that would be against the German law (unfortunately it's been a while since I last read that article).

5) Speaking of the law, if you want to make sure G can't track your footprints, etc., this could be harder in the German SERPs (or in other European countries where this is also necessary), because you need to have all of your contact details on your website, otherwise you can get sued (even for having a non-commercial site - though opinions differ here, because of how the law is written and the web still being so new)

I guess all of that sounded like there are a ton of differences, but at the end of the day except for those minor differences, it seems to be pretty much the same. Make a good site. Get links. Optimize for your keywords. But sound and look natural.

Another thing I found rather interesting is this:

On an SEO forum I was told that hyphens in domain names were a sign of low quality to the search engines (not just not good for users, but I was told it had a bad effect on SE rankings, because there were no such domain names in the top10 of Google anymore).

However, in the German SERPs I still see plenty of domains with a hyphen between the words. Results with 1 (sometimes more) hyphen(s) between words are pretty much the norm in many German SERPs. Either this is a difference in the algorithm or it means that a hyphen in the domain name doesn't look good, but doesn't necessarily hurt your SE rankings.

Please keep in mind that I haven't done any actual SEO in German or French (other than analyzing SERPs and doing market research) so far.

June 7, 2008 - 6:43am

Hi Patrick
I have been told that hyphens are popular in Germany as well. Thanks for the great comment.

June 7, 2008 - 9:32am

Pls forgive my shameless self promotion :-) , but I have to say, the best information source of SEO in Chinese is dunsh.org, which contains a team blog, forum and we're working on a wiki. I'm one of the founders.

We learn quite a lot from fellow SEOers all over the world, especially English sites such as seobook, webmasterworld, seomoz, seroundtable, just to name a few.

There're unique things in Chinses SEO that we learn from practice and posts in the forum. Maybe we should write some post in English to share our experience in Chinese SEO with other in the future.

June 7, 2008 - 9:47am

Well, I can say that in South East Europe, or to be more precise Croatia, Bosnia & Serbia, situation is a bit different then in US market. First of all, you can't count on large number of backlinks(and visits) from sites like Digg - because, for some strange reason, 'digg concept' doesn't work here (there are many digg clones, but none of them managed to really make a difference).

So, writing a good linkbait article in our language is something that would probably went (almost) unoticed...

There are really few sources that could be mentioned here, like www.seo.hr, www.futuria.hr (lacks of fresh material lately) and my site (www.seekandhit.com) that are trying to cover some topics from the SEO/SEM world in our native language...

Another problem is that keyword tools for example, don't have exact data for our market as it is rather small, so you have to do some uber research to get the right keywords and data that will be valuable for sites...

Ofcourse, there are some good things (at least for seo guys), because you dont need so many backlinks to get things rollin'...

June 7, 2008 - 12:40pm

Hi Aaron,

Nice thread,

Some self promotion first. ;)
Asia SEO guru
I write about SEO in Asia. All in English but may publish in Japansese soon :). Recently interviewed folk that have previously been covered in The New York Times and The Melbourne Age.

I can also recommend some other great bloggers in the region.

Thomas Crampton is a Journalist based in China that covers new media and touches on SEO/SEM sometimes.

If you google "Singapore SEO" you see Larry Lim, a Malaysia based freelancer standing on top of the big boys. That is a Malaysia / Singapore blog worth following.

Glad you are covering international because I recently submitted some international topics to the youMoz blog and they didn't publish it. Like there is only one side of the world that matters?

June 7, 2008 - 4:40pm

Hi Aaron,

do you believe google uses different algorithms (well slightly) for different countries?

You said you saw a few differences in some international results while travelling (such as exact match domain names getting favored even more).

I assume that means you think those are differences in the algorithm and not just things that happen, because people SEO differently from one country to another (because of less knowledge about SEO, etc.) which then displays in the SERPs despite the same algorithm being in use? ..just curious, I have no idea to be honest

June 8, 2008 - 7:27am

I believe the algorithms have to be slightly different due to the amount of content in each language/region being different.

Content that might be considered spam in one language or market might be market leading quality content in another language.

June 7, 2008 - 9:50pm

Hi Aaron,
the french SEOs read english seo information website to stay on the edge of the industry, so for a french the mastering of english is a valuable asset. Myself i will run an english blog in the future. Here is a list of good french language SEO sites : webrankinfo.com, abondance.com, and secrets2moteurs.com for SEO related feeds.

June 8, 2008 - 3:32am

Hi Aaron,

I'm very excited at reading this post since I am a Japanese SEO. :-)

There are lot of informational sources for SEO in Japanese though not so many as that in the U.S.

Below are some of them;
(I've removed the first "h" intentionally.)

*My most favorite SEO blog

*Tied up with SEOmoz

*Can get prompt news about SE industry

*Social news site for SE like Sphinn

*This is my SEO blog. ;->

I also would love to publish a guest article for each language.

Do you mean you will post, say on my blog?
That's great!
I'm willing to translate your article into Japanese even if you write it in English.

June 8, 2008 - 5:05pm

thanks for the input Aaron. What you said sounds interesting. Reminds me of Rand Fishkin summing up that article "inside google's black box" and the French revolution thing from which he concluded that the algorithm wasn't even close to uniform (for every vertical) and that if your experiences from the past didnt match up with what youre seeing in the SERPs you might be dealing with a different set of criteria.

If he was right about that, then I guess it would be even more logical to have a (slightly) different set of criteria for different countries.

I also read a German SEO blog every now and then (by a German book author on SEO who works mostly (maybe exclusively) with German companies)...and it seems that English-language/German-language SEO tactics are pretty much the same - so the algorithm is probably not that different, but you probably knew that).

Not sure what to make of this, but Ive also read before that Google only had staff for adwords in Germany (not for organic search). So I guess that mgiht be a sign that they cant have an algorithm that's way different (unless they got a lot of German speaking engineers in the US? - not sure how many native speakers you'd need for that).


I think Aaron's phrase meant that he's willing to publish a guest article (by a guest author) for each language on his blog (possibly with a link to your site in return). Sorry for being a wise-guy lol. I'm impressed with your English and that you can read about SEO in English so well, though - as the sentence structure of the japanese language is sort of reversed to that of the English/German/etc. (or is it?)

June 9, 2008 - 3:59am

Hi Patrick,
Thank you very much for pointing out my misunderstaning.

How exciting if I could post an atricle on your blog!
I know a lot of techniques to enhance rankings in Japanese environment.

June 9, 2008 - 1:04am

Hi Aaron,
here's Federico from Italy.
First of all I want to thank you because I started with you and the SEObook of yours 9 months ago and I now work as SEO in an IT company Ikon Multimedia (websites, 3D and videogames).

As for me, I almost exclusively keep up with SEO news and opinions in English, not only from the US though.
Of course there is some material in my mother tongue but almost all the smartest Italian SEOs write in English too.
I didn't find any shared experiment regarding the Italian SEO market yet.
I want to mention Maurizio Petrone, who had a clever idea about how to convert hotlinked images into backlinks to your own page, actually he explains two different ways to do it.

I believe in Italy there are some differences with the overcrowded US market. For example I believe the SEO on-site has slightly more weight than in the US. I see you don't use the keyword metatag, guess to appear more natural and probably this isn't needed for certain niches in Italy.
I am doing SEO for some Slovenian companies too, and there this is even more true.

But I think the main difference between the European and the US markets is the SE share. As Comscore pointed out, In Europe Google squashed the competitors at the point that the second search engine is Ebay with 3.1% of the share and I believe in Italy Google has even more share because the Russian Yandex is out of the scene.
This has many consequences: one is that advertising on Yahoo or MSN is almost worthless apart for test purposes, another is that the Yahoo and MSN keyword statistics are highly imprecise and so meaningless. This isn't a good news for SEOs because you are stuck with the Google data and can't compare them with any other real data.

I want to take advantage of the topic and ask you something that has bothered me for long time:
I use your Rank Checker free tool and can't thank you enough for that. However I'm afraid the multilingual Google option misses the purpose. I mean, if I select google.it and run the tool from my home I get different results than you running the same search from the US. And this is a problem if you need to check the rankings for international Companies or simply companies that aren't located in your Country (in my case Slovenian companies).
I followed the link provided here above by stuart_mcilreavy
and read Larry Lim's blog (BTW: I think he has a quick brain and is honest). If you search here in Italy "SEO consultant" on google.sg he doesn't appear on the first page at all, while if you submit the same query on google.sg from Singapore he is first on SERP. Actually I did the research using https://adwords.google.com/select/AdTargetingPreviewTool.
So here is the question: a workaround seems to be using this adwords tool. But it was meant for other purposes and so isn't automated as your tool is. An option could be a proxy but you have to know that the server which provides it is located in the Country of your choice. Can you advise me a solution?

Last thing: In the keyword research process the search volume/competition ratio is one of the most important clues to consider. Nothing new, but why are everybody looking at the advertiser competition? OK I can answer myself, it is because usually the tools are like Google keyword research and they provide THAT data. But I wonder if for SEO (not SEM) it wouldn't be more adequate to consider the # of pages indexed for that keyword because THAT is the competition you have to fight against.
So the keyword value would be determined by Search volume/# pages indexed ratio.
Am I missing something? Am I totally out of tracks? Please give me feedback...

Very last thing: I searched for your opinion on it but didn't find any: what do you think of web CEO? I used the trial version a bit and found a ton of stuff I don't need but some tools that could spare me much time, even tough I'm not sure it is worth the purchase. I didn't regret the purchase of SEObook and so I strongly value your advise.

Thank You,

June 9, 2008 - 9:57am

The international feature is more for checking local rankings where you are if you operate outside of Google rather than being globally guaranteed...sorta hard to keep changing your ip address back and forth remotely while not tracking you.

This extension may help you, though you'll have to test it

In the keyword research process the search volume/competition ratio is one of the most important clues to consider.

In most cases I only look at the top 10 or 20 competitors, not the number of matching pages.

why are everybody looking at the advertiser competition?

Many affiliates do more PPC stuff than organic SEO stuff.

as far as that software product goes, read all the reviews on this page

June 9, 2008 - 5:32pm

Thank you for the answer Aaron,
I tried the tool you suggested but sadly it works only for some Countries (e.g. no Singapore, yes US), while the Adwords Adpreview tool which I mentioned is, for what I tested, completely reliable. However both of them miss the point of automatizing the rank checking process abroad. As for the rank checking in your own country I haven't find a tool better than yours. In order to reach my needs I guess I'll have to try and combine your Rank Checker with a proxy.

In most cases I only look at the top 10 or 20 competitors, not the number of matching pages.

Your answer gave me a clue: what about a tool which scrapes the PR of the first 20 results of the SERP for each keyword and gives you a report with that data associated with the relative keyword? It isn't a scientific method because a low PR can rank better for a particular query than a higher PR focused on other queries, but it can give you an outlook of the competition for a keyword and help you decide whether to pick it up for your list.
I'm doing this thinking because I feel uncomfortable on considering competition for SEO what it's in fact competition for SEM and on the other hand I don't have time to check manually the first 20 results for every eligible keyword.

Hope you or one of your readers can help me with this little brainstorming...
I can't figure out alone if it is a dumb idea or a clever one.

June 9, 2008 - 5:40pm

PageRank alone is of limited value. watch the video on the seo for firefox page and install seo for firefox

June 9, 2008 - 10:04am

Hi everybody,

I had been working as SEO for the US and UK market for about three years, then switched to less competitive, smaller market like the Hungarian.

On the US market I was using Wordtracker or KeywordDiscovery for doing the keyword research. Besides these two main tools there are a few others which are helpful even on tools.seobook.com website.

Such tools are not available for smaller markets like Hungary, and before building up a website the most important thing is doing a thourough keyword research. At the moment I am using Google AdWords KeyWord tool which also shows me trends if available. Another option is to run an AdWords Campaign (my opinion best set to exact match and only search results). Combining the two results I can figure out what would be the best keyword phrases. Of course, testing would be the next step as there might be seasonal keyword phrases which haven't appeared in my list.

My question is if there is someone working for such markets and what strategy is using for the keyword research. As far as I know, there is no such a tool available at the moment.

Many thanks

June 9, 2008 - 12:59pm

Hi Aaron,

in french there is Go Referencement

June 9, 2008 - 1:55pm

You cannot expect what you do not inspect...

I have made pages while traveling for 10 years, in 77 countries and all the continents. I see host squeeze my bandwidth, I continously find different index results, we know which continents are updating faster than others.

There are two aspect here, one is to optimize for these other languages and countries, however the million dollar question is how to test?

I am in Peru right now, I will be in Asia soon, then off to Africa for a few months.

If you need some testing of theories, just write me Aaron, and I will be glad to help coordinate test or inspections.

I speak French and Spanish, this truly helps, however Chinese and Arabic are my targets now.

Andy of HoboTraveler.com in Pucallpa, Peru on the Amazon River, trying to find these uncontacted tribes.

June 9, 2008 - 4:55pm


My China based friends are doing a good job where there's really very little information available on : http://www.culturefishmedia.com/news/

I once wrote some of what I know about Baido and China SEO and I think most of it still holds :

Would love to get to know more about the Chinese market.


June 10, 2008 - 3:28am

We follow the following spanish blogs:

And we also run our own where we also posted your SEO guide for bloggers translated here.

We would love to post a guest article. Just let us know if you have any particular interest in a subject regarding SEO or any requirements other than the obvious (not published anywhere else for example).

June 10, 2008 - 3:30am

Just a quick note Aaron. Though it's nice to publish comments without approval, I'd consider allowing authenticated users to preview the comment so we can make sure it's correctly formatted.

Drupal's filtered HTML works fine, but line breaks might not work as expected if we don't use the paragraph tags.

June 10, 2008 - 10:15am

I need to figure out how to add the preview button back.

September 12, 2008 - 1:04pm

Several of international SEOs hang out in http://www.multilingual-seo.com/. The interesting thing about this forum is that we can discuss local seo matters in the specific language or in English in the general forums. I welcome everybody to take a look and participate so we can all shed some light on different market.

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