While everyone desires to get a top ranking on the major global search engines, doing so takes a lot of time, effort, and expense. However any business wants to reach its target market quickly thus regional search engines become very important tools for achieving this goal. The competition is significantly lower when you submit your website to these regional search engines. There are other advantages too such as being able to pinpoint the kind of incoming traffic you want because of niche specialization. Doing search engine optimization (SEO) for regional search engines is not much different from doing it for the major global engines. The main difference is that the geographical region must be considered in all aspects of the SEO process, hosting, and design. Here are some areas that should be covered when doing SEO for regional search engines.
Before you start anything, get the right top-level domain (TLD) name for the region if you can. For example, Baidu is the main regional search engine of China and will only index domains suffixed with .cn. Getting a regional domain name oftentimes means having a physical business address within the geographical region of your target market. This presents complications when a business owner physically resides outside of a region but wants to target its customers. In any case, check the rules of the regional domain name registrar beforehand.
If you cannot get a regional domain name, try registering for a .tv or .fm TLD. The .tv TLDs are sold by the tiny island in the Pacific named Tuvalu and .fm comes from the Pacific Island region of Micronesia. Both of these regions sell their domain names with no restrictions. You can also try applying for domain names covering large geographical/continental domains such as .asia.
Content should be crafted so as to use regional keywords and vocabulary. Likewise, content should be written in the local language and dialect in order to successfully connect with the target market. This is important even if you are targeting only English-speaking customers in the target region. One advantage of writing web content in the local language is that there is no risk of getting penalized for duplicate content as is the risk if only writing in one language.
Keywords should also be carefully researched and chosen based on what users would typically search for in their region. This is where the SEO consultant must be careful and get a thorough understanding of search habits local to the region. Obviously, this could get expensive if targeting multiple regions but the benefits more than likely will pay off in the long run.
When there is not a regionalized TLD, other factors are considered when a site is crawled for indexing. For example, if Google crawls a site it will look for information such as physical addresses in HTML pages, the physical location and IP address of the server hosting the pages, and the source locations of all incoming links. Google has as one of its objectives the prioritization of regionally-relevant results in search engine results pages (SERPS). Thus, there are regional versions of Google such as google.co.th for the country of Thailand and google.ca for Canada. In the latter example, if Google determines that a website is located in Thailand or Canada using these other factors then it more than likely will list it in its regional areas as well as the overall global index.
Part of this process is finding the available entry points into the regional search engine world. SearchEngineWatch.com is a good place to begin when analyzing the regional search engines available. It has information on all of the various regional search engines plus helpful information when it comes to optimization of your site. Google also has its Webmaster Tools that allow a website to be submitted with a country association.
You should also consider some of the large regional search directories like Yahoo!, BTLookSmart, and LookSmart. However these options are not free and you should carefully analyze if there is a good potential for return on investment. The advantage of these directories is that they have very large communities of users who search them each day and their populations continue to grow.