Search Engine Landscape in Japan

Japan The search engine land scape has changed a lot in Japan. Considering how big and important Japan market is to many digital marketers and global corporations, it should be a common knowledge by now that Yahoo Japan is powered be Google, not by bing. But my conversations with digital marketers in US, Europe, etc. tell me that it’s not yet a well known information. So, to help clarify some of the confusions and mis-informations, here’s the latest on the Search engines in Japan.

Organic Search:
Yahoo Japan and Google Japan are two of the most popular search engines in Japan. Unlike in other markets, Yahoo Japan’s organic search results are powered by Google Japan. However, Yahoo Japan replaces Google’s content search results with their own, and you will get different results for: Video, News, Blog, Shopping, Local, Apps, and Recipes. Yahoo Japan also includes the search results from Q&A, Dictionary, and Auctions. These content results are mixed with Google’s web page results, so if your page is ranking in 8 or lower on the first page in Google, there’s a good chance that your content may be pushed to page 2 in Yahoo results.

Yahoo Japan still provide its own PPC and Display Advertising services, which are completely separated from Google’s services. If you would like to target Japanese search users through Yahoo Japan with PPC campaigns, you’ll need to create an account with Yahoo Japan, and set up campaigns there. There are some differences with Yahoo Japan’s campaign setting from Google AdWords, such as the max number of letters/characters allowed in title/ad creative so you may need to make some adjustments and edits to your AdWords campaigns before you put them into Yahoo Japan’s account.
You see different suggested search queries appear, when you start typing keywords in the search box. It shows that popular search queries used in Yahoo Japan may or may not be the same as what are used in Google Japan. Be sure to review Yahoo Japan’s keyword data so that you can better target your audience there.

Bing has a good user base in Japan, but Naver has discontinued its search engine services in December 2013. They are focusing on popular Matome (social curation service) and LINE services. Baidu still offers the search engine services, but continue to struggle increasing the user base.
The vertical search engines have always been popular and have their place in Japan. For shopping, travels, and auctions, there are several popular search engines such as Rakuten.