If asked to name a few of the world’s top brands, you might include names such as Coca Cola, Disney, Microsoft, Intel, or perhaps Mercedes Benz, Toyota, and BMW. These companies have been around for many years (35 in Microsoft’s case and 122 in Coca Cola’s) and have spent hundreds of millions of dollars establishing global brand recognition.
Interestingly though, sitting at number 7 on Interbrand’s 2009 list of best global brands is Google, a mere baby at 12 years of age. Google’s rise has been fast and the Google brand has been built with little marketing in comparison to its peers.
What can we learn from Google’s meteoric rise? Google has shown us that global brands can be built quickly and cheaply using the power and efficiency of the Internet. Knowledge of Google’s service spread quickly mainly through word of mouth and is now used by hundreds of millions of people all over the globe on a daily basis.
Attempting to emulate Google’s success is a rather lofty goal. However, piggybacking Google’s position as the world’s number 1 search engine can be a very effective strategy for building global brand awareness.
According to Internet World Stats and ComScore, 1.8 billion global internet users conduct an average of over 130 billion searches every month. Google is the world’s dominant search engine with approximately 70% market share. This equates to the potential of reaching up to 1.2 billion people and a total of 80 billion touch points per month. Numbers to make even the most successful marketers drool.
How can you use this to your company’s advantage? The answer lies in the ability to position your website for visibility in Google’s search engine results. Google ranks result according to relevancy, i.e. your site must provide information relevant to the keyword terms used and also be considered one of the most important results for that keyword term.
Are you relevant?
For international search results, language and location also factor into ranking. An English-language website will never rank well for a Spanish-language keyword search. Similarly, an English-language site designed for a US audience will be unlikely to feature prominently in the search engine results in the United Kingdom or Australia. In these cases, Google just won’t consider your site relevant.
Where does one start?
Many marketers turn first to content translation. This is a critical step but should not be the first. Before translating content, you should first understand your international audience. Where are they located? What are their needs? What are they searching for? What keyword terms are they using to acquire information?
Proper research, discovery and planning will identify the content you need to publish online in order to be considered relevant by search engines, and useful in the eyes of your target audience. Only once this stage has been completed does it make sense to bring in the translation experts. You wouldn’t roll out a major marketing campaign targeting a new market without first conducting in-depth research, so why would you skip this stage in your online marketing?
Now give it some juice
Publishing translated content is far from a guarantee of success. Your content may have achieved “relevance” but you now need to work on “prominence”. To achieve high rankings (and thus visibility) in your target markets, you need to localize and optimize your translated content. Localization is the process of ensuring search engines know your content is geographically relevant. Optimization is the process of developing authority – i.e. convincing search engines that your content is the most relevant.
It may seem complex but the rewards for successfully planning and implementing a global search engine optimization strategy are significant and the benefits long-lasting. Unlike other media campaigns, once you’ve achieved visibility in the organic search engine results, you pay nothing for each customer connection. That’s what I would call building a global brand on the cheap.