How to build SEM strategy for the Japanese market

SEO and Listing Ads in Japan

SEM marketing is built with SEO and listing ads. This is a worldwide truism. However, you should always consider the market localization with a thorough understanding of language and cultural context. This means a careful discussion of the strategy and content is required.


The search engine market share in Japan - Google and Yahoo! Japan

The market share of search engines used in Japan is unique compared to the global standard. As of May 2019, Google is about 75%, Yahoo! Japan about 20% (Statcounter survey). Although the percentage of Google is increasing year by year, Yahoo! Japan is still widely used mainly by the middle-aged and the old. Then again, Yahoo! Japan uses Google's search engine, so there is no problem taking the same measure for SEO. Each listing has its own service (Google Adwords for Google and Yahoo Promotional Ads for Yahoo! Japan) so budget allocation will be needed depending on your overall strategy.

How to select the correct keywords in Japanese

The choice of Keyword is one of the most important processes in SEO and in listing ads. Amongst other things, the following three points need to be kept in mind in SME localization:

  • Language understanding Japanese has a linguistically special notation system.

  • Cultural understanding Selecting keywords requires an understanding of the country's culture.

  • Market understanding Your country's market characteristics change your keyword choices.


With language comprehension, Japanese has three main notation systems, "Hiragana", "Katakana" and "Kanji", which are used according to grammatical rules and contexts. With cultural understanding, be careful not to extract misleading expressions. There are also words that need to be used depending on the market. For example, “dress” has many expressions in Japanese such as "ドレス" "衣服" “被服".


SEO Measures for Japanese Content

For the SEO measures of Japanese content, please refer to this blog article "How to handle SEO in Japanese and content production".


Japanese Listing Ads measures

In addition to keyword extraction, copywriting localization is also required for listing measures in Japanese. You have a limited number of letters to convey your message, so hold down the three points mentioned above firmly and create. In addition, be careful about the creation of the word that leads to CTA.

YUICHI ISHINO