Hanging Out With Google Japan

Hanging Out With Google Japan

As many of the readers of Search Engine Journal may know, I am currently living outside of Tokyo, Japan and have been working on connecting with Japanese search engines and bloggers. Last year at a CNet Search Technology conference I had the chance of meeting with representatives of Yahoo Japan, Technorati Japan, Livedoor, Goo and of course, Google Japan.

Today I took a trip into Tokyo to meet up with v7n’s John Scott who was in town and had the chance to drop by Google Japan’s Tokyo offices in Shibuya.

Googleplex Japan is not the mammoth campus like Google has in Mountain View and its other research centers. It is however one entire floor in Cerulean Tower, which is the tallest building in the Shibuya area at 41 stories tall with 6 underground floors – remember this is Tokyo where space is limited and breathing room sparse.

Google Japan does have a similar feel to what Google offices are popular for : airy workspace, a pool table, well stocked snackroom, and those Google colored stabilizer balls you always see rolling around the Google offices.

Making full use of their wall space, Google Japan has the largest “smart wall” Internet browser I have ever seen.

Kaori Saito & Angela Lee of Google Japan took an hour out of their busy schedule to discuss local & mobile search initiatives (Google.co.jp just added the Local tab to home page & search results – and is a hit), social networking, China & censorship, RSS (and the lack of it on Japanese sites), AdSense, search engine privacy issues (yes, the Japanese Government and Police force have also requested search usage information from Google Japan, which has replied in the same fashion as in the US – with a NO), Matt Cutts, Google News Japan, and blogging – which is extremely popular here in Japan.

We also discussed the branding of Google in Japan (which is overshadowed by Yahoo Japan – which more or less IS the Internet in Japan) and where Googlers from the US like to hangout while visiting Tokyo; Akihabara.

Recently there has been an obsession with Google’s snackrooms. Google Japan may lack the 5 gallon jugs of water which the Google Plex sports, but more than quenches the thirst of their hard working staff with these vending machines along with drink & snack bar (snack bar like in American English; “a selection of snacks”, not the Japanese meaning).

John prays to the Gods of SEO that he won’t get kicked out of Googleplex Japan.

While Google is facing copyrighted image problems back in the United States, Google Japan may want to take a trip a few blocks down the street to see what this Gift Shop is doing with the Google logo.

It was a fantastic day and I thank Google Japan for hosting us. I’ll also be reporting from Search Engine Strategies Tokyo this April. If you have any questions for the Japanese search market, please feel free to post.

Loren Baker
Loren Baker is the Founder of SEJ, an Advisor at Alpha Brand Media and runs Foundation Digital, a digital marketing strategy & development agency.
Loren Baker

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33 thoughts on “Hanging Out With Google Japan

  1. Cool Post! Do you have any valuable insight you’ve gained from them on the below items?

    “Kaori Saito & Angela Lee of Google Japan took an hour out of their busy schedule to discuss
    1) local & mobile search initiatives (Google.co.jp just added the Local tab to home page & search results – and is a hit),
    2) social networking,
    3) China & censorship,
    4) RSS (and the lack of it on Japanese sites),
    5) AdSense,
    6) search engine privacy issues

  2. We discussed this a bit on Thursday at Google. They said that their algorithm shows no preference over Kanji, Katakana and Hiragana when ranking page content.

    They did say however that a large factor is anchor text. For example, if you search for a word like Tokyo (in hiragana) a page with Kanji in the title and in the context may get high ranking. There may be anchor text in hiragana that says “Tokyo” pointing to that page, which is why it would be served in the search results.

    Also try doing searches for Japanese words that are commonly shown in Katakana like Busai, Sugoi, Ichiban, Daiichi or Yakitori, you may see similar results.

    They also gave an example of Stanford. Search for “su-ta-n-fo-du” in katakana and the US English Stanford U. page is the top result. Why, because it’s Stanford, and the amount of katakana text pointing to it… you may want to take a look at the backlinks on Google.jp or Stanford backlinks with “.jp” or “.co.jp” domains.

    Oops, forgot for a second Google hiding lots of backlinks, try these Backlinks on Yahoo:

    Not too sure about this, because I’m on a US computer, but other common katakana English phases mayserve similar results from Google.jp; “di-su-ni”, “nu- yo-ku” or “ra-su-be-ga-su”… give it a try Stephen and please feel free to share your results with us.

  3. OK. What about this situation: I know a company is called Sanyo, but I do not know the particular kanji the company I am searching for uses for their name. How do I find them with a keyword search? If I use hiragana or katakana, the sounds are right, so you would think that would be the ideal way to bring up a bunch of companies called Sanyo. Unfortuately, in the actual pages, the katakana and hiragana are never used – only the actual kanji that that particular company uses to write its name. So how do I find Sanyo? Well, what about having a Google.co.jo algorithm that can bring up all pages with the kanji that have a particular combination? Possible, except for the fact that the same kanji in combination can have different pronunciations depending on context.

    Now, about anchor text, well that is a great idea. Except for the fact that (despite the impression Google gives of being cool towards SEO), the anchor text in many Japanese web sites does not help you very much – unless you are looking for the phrase “kochira ni kurikku kudasai” (please click here).

  4. This is great Loren. Thank you for posting this.

    If I want to have Google AdSense ads (in Japanese) on my Japanese-language site, do I need to sign up at google.co.jp? Or is it exactly the same as signing up at google.com (easier to read for me)?


  5. Wow. What a letdown. Only this from the country with the second largest GDP in the world? From the sound of it, Google Japan is a miserable failure.

  6. This was a really cool read. I’d love to go to Tokyo. I’ll visit there sometime.
    The comments were cool too, except for the weird post asking to meet around “Tokio” and the last post, which I think is someone asking something like “Is it Tokio?” or… well, IDK. I’m just now learning Japanese, and I don’t know Kanji, but I’d like to use a computer in Japanese.
    Anyone know a kana only language pack that can be used? internet searches turn up a bunch of random forum posts…
    Any help is appreciated, though I’m not sure why I’m asking here 😛

  7. hi, im just wondering if some one can help me to find this person hiroshi ishidera from yokohama

  8. I am looking for a friend in the name of Mr Kondo Daisuke around 39/40 years old. I met him in 1988/89 in Tokyo, we became very good friend. Kondo has been graduated from Tokyo University in 1988/89.
    I have been looking for my this friend for ages.