SEO Tips from International Experts

Does search engine optimization differ for sites in languages other than English? This article combines two mini articles: One with guidelines to promote the visibility among search engines with the best reach of Italian users. The next part talks about keyword optimization, with tips from a well know SEO expert for both English and Spanish language sites.

Good positioning in SERP and targeted keyword promotion are the most important things for the success of any business’ activity online and in the Italian net too. Three factors emphasize the importance of an efficient search engine optimization: the increase in the number of Italian Internet users, the importance of search engines acting as doorways to the net, and the continuous growth of services and products offered online.

Presently Italy’s online services are still underdeveloped by a 5-7 years lag if compared to North America, and consequently it is already possible to obtain good results without investing the same amounts it would have been necessary in the USA (Google and Overture adwords bid rates being far less expensive than in USA).

Of course also in Italy search engines optimization will have to be coherent with all promotional activities and especially with back office service and content management (as in all mature market economies).

But let’s now see which SE have to be primarily considered to reach the highest number of Italians Internet users.

Most visited sites by Italians (unique visitors in February ‘04 compared to May ’03 “home + office users”)

Web portal Property Rank
03-04
Reach
2004
Visitors 2004 Visitors 2003 Absolute
difference
Diff.
-7%
virgilio.it Telecom Italia - 51,58% 8.059 7.537 +6,5% -0,5%
libero.it Wind - 50,13% 7.833 6.933 +11,5% +4,5%
google.it Google - 46,05% 7.196 5.460 +24,1% +17,1%
msn.it Microsoft +5 40,57% 6.339 2.483 +60,8% +53,8%
microsoft.com Microsoft -1 37,36% 5.838 4.630 +20,7% +13,7%
tiscali.it Tiscali -1 27,07% 4.229 4.181 +1,1% -6,1%
yahoo.it Yahoo! -1 24,53% 3.833 2.962 +22,7% +15,7%
msn.com Microsoft -1 24,22% 3.785 2.891 +23,6% +16,6%
supereva.it DADA -1 19,58% 3.060 2.751 +10,1% +3,1%
yahoo.com Yahoo! +1 16,67% 2.604 2.263 +13,1% +6,1%
passport.com Microsoft +2 14,90% 2.328 1.787 +23,2% +16,2%
windowsmedia.com Microsoft +4 12,58% 1.966 1.462 +25,6% +18,6%
geocities.com Yahoo! -1 12,30% 1.922 2.206 -14,8% -21,8%
passport.net Microsoft - 12,15% 1.899 1.787 +5,9% -1,1%
tuttogratis.it Tuttogratis - 11,44% 1.788 - - -
kataweb.it Kataweb Network -1 11,31% 1.767 1.504 +14,9% +7,9%
lycos.it Lycos Europe -7 11,30% 1.765 2.357 -33,5% -40,5%
google.com Google -1 11,27% 1.761 1.261 +28,4% +21,4%
repubblica.it Kataweb Network +1 9,84% 1.537 1.054 +31,4% +24,4%
rai.it Rai +2 9,48% 1.482 1.086 +26,7% +19,7%

In the last column the difference in unique visitors’ number has been diminished of the gross general growth ratio of users in Italy between 2003 and 2004, quoted in about a 7%.

Analyzing the table it is clear that the most important SE to reach a good visibility on the Italian market are four:

  • Google, used among the others by Virgilio, Super Eva, Kataweb, etc.
  • Arianna, used primarily by Libero
  • FAST, used by Tiscali, Lycos and other minor engines
  • Yahoo-Inktomi, presently used by MSN

Especially this last engine is likely to break the Google dominance in the next future in Italy too. The comparison with last year’s data specifically underlines the excellent performance of Microsoft sites, only partially explained by the strong image positioning due to their leading OS.

If we consider that Microsoft tried openly to buy Google itself and is going to release in the next future its own spidered database, this growth is to be taken in serious account for any promotion action.

All internationally renowned SEO techniques are successful in Italy, too, and therefore it is not useful to analyze this any deeper.

Only one action is to be seriously considered if your offer is a business to business (B2B) one. In this case you should promote your business in Virgilio’s directory through Italian Yellow Pages Company (Seat Spa).  Unfortunately this promotion is quite expensive (also because you will need a point of reference/distributor in Italy) but it guarantees an excellent visibility return for B2B offers.

For B to C (business to consumer) offers you should necessarily use proper Italian language to have a chance of success, because in Italy (as in Germany and France) English is used and well known only in business activities and a very small part of the population is really able to use it in a commercial evaluation).

Beside the Search Engine friendly “textual image” of your pages, it will consequently be really important to take care of contents and language used.

This rule is even more important for email activities. A well structured email action will have no possibilities of success if targeted to final consumers and written in English. Moreover in Italy from January 2004 has been approved a very strict privacy code which considers opt-out actions and spamming activities exactly on the same level and punishes all people responsible for these practices very seriously (even with arrest and other severe penal consequences).

As final general statement we can say that a site optimized for the indicated SE, possibly written in Italian (with serious concerning to contents) and with a good refreshing rate will have in the medium period a good chance of success in Italy (as in all the rest of the world).

This article was written by Italian SEO expert, Gianpaolo Lorousso. His website is http://www.gplorusso.it/index_eng.htm and he can be reached at: g.lorusso@vodafone.it

Most articles about search engine optimization say that you should optimize for as many keywords as you can, meaning that every new page you create must have a different title, optimized text, etc. This is not entirely accurate, especially when optimizing small sites.

If you have a small site, it probably doesn’t have much information, and maybe about one or two themes. If you check Overture’s Search Term Suggestion Tool (http://inventory.overture.com/d/searchinventory/suggestion) you’ll notice that most of the traffic goes to one to four keywords for each theme people search. If you are planning to create or you have a small site, you’ll want to get the best results for the most searched terms.

Don’t waste your time optimizing each page for a different keyword; you’ll end up with a lot of optimized keywords that do not get any heavy traffic despite having a good rank, and the ones that could get you tons of visitors per day won’t rank well at all. How do you get around that? Optimize the site for a few keywords. Don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying that every title, text, etc. must be identical in each page of your site. What I’m saying is that those keywords must be in every page.

Let’s take an example: if the most searched term is “Art”, the title of the main page should be optimized, for example, “Art”. All other pages must have the word “Art”. As a result, Dali.html should be optimized like this: “Dali – Art”; Picasso.html: “Picasso – Art”.

Here’s a brief example. Your new site is about an online museum of art, focused on the keywords “Museum of Art”.

Main page title: “Museum of Art. The best museum of art online.”

Picasso.html title: “Pablo Picasso – Museum of Art”

Dali.htm title: “Salvador Dali – Museum of Art”

This might look simple, but keep in mind that most people would place “Museum of Art” in the index and not in the other pages. By placing the phrase “Museum of art” in every page of the web site, you are giving it more power. You can even rank higher than a web site with thousands of inbound links that forgot this technique.

This article was written by Julian Yanover is a well recognized SEO expert from Argentina, with hundreds of optimized web sites and the owner of the Spanish SEO Firm SEOHome – http://www.seohome.com/. Contact him at info@seohome.com

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