Japan is a major internet market and it has its share of regional search engines. Getting information on Japan search engines is little more of a challenge because most of them are written entirely in Japanese with no English option. They usually accept web pages written only in Japanese as well. Another factor that adds to the challenge is the limited amount of up-to-date English information about each search engine. However, some of them do utilize American search engine databases like Google and Yahoo so English search results are possible but limited. So what are some of the more popular Japanese search engines? Let’s take a look at a few.
Yahoo! Japan (http://www.yahoo.co.jp). This is the affiliate of the famous American Yahoo! However it is tailored for Japanese users and pages are displayed in their native language. Yahoo! Japan is reported to be the most popular search engine in the country. Users credit the popularity of this search engine because of its layout and its availability of several additional services. Getting a business website listed in its directory is expensive and costs around 52,500 Japanese Yen (about $600 U.S.). However, they do promote Internet advertising starting at 3,000 Yen. If you have a non-commercial site, you can have it listed in the Yahoo! Japan directory. Search engine experts suggest that you should focus on Yahoo! Japan as the primary place to have your web pages listed because of its significant market share in the region.
Google Japan (http://www.google.co.jp). While Google is a popular search engine throughout most of the world, it has not surpassed Yahoo! Japan in this area. Google’s popularity in other parts of the world comes from its simple interface but, in contrast, Japanese users seem to like having a portal like Yahoo! Japan with all of its additional services.
Goo Search (http://www.goo.ne.jp). Goo is a product of the Japan-based NTT laboratories and its name has no relation to Google. Some reports rank Goo as the third most popular in Japan behind Yahoo and Google. In addition to a being a search tool, it is also an index and you can register up to 10 key phrases within it. They have built an extensive portal which in some ways resembles that of the American Yahoo interface. Submitting your web pages to Goo’s search database or index requires one of their editors to review and approve them thus helping to achieve higher information quality.
Biglobe (http://www.biglobe.co.jp). This is another among the major search engine portals in Japan. In fact, it has an extensive range of information services to include a directory. It is one of Google’s Adword search partners so it is possible Japanese pages submitted to the latter will appear in Biglobe SERPs (search engine results pages). However, it appears that you can only search using Japanese text and the SERPs are returned solely in that language.
Sagool (http://sagool.jp). Sagool is a search engine innovation by Japan-based Team Lab, Inc. It advertises that it has a unique search algorithm that returns results based on the user’s interests. In other words, SERP pages will be listed in order of what it perceives to be the most to least interesting. It uses what it calls “Omo Logic” to weigh the interest level of pages. No doubt this requires analysis of what kinds of pages people are frequently reading.
Jword (http://jword.jp). Jword has a number of partnerships with other search engine and portal services like Yahoo! Japan and Sagool. Sagool entered into a partnership with them in 2007 and uses Jword’s database to feed search queries. Jword’s search is not provided by a web page but by a plug-in that you install on whatever browser you are using.
Alcarna (http://search.interconnect.co.jp). This engine is similar to Google in that it has a simple interface with a primary focus on searching. It also provides a simple interface for submitting your site for free. They advertise a turnaround time of 24 hours for accepting your site submission. It appears that Alcarna does not take its results from other search engine databases such as Google or Yahoo and submission is totally manual.
Excite Japan (http://www.excite.co.jp). Excite gets its feeds from Google’s database. So, if your web pages are indexed in Google, they can be also accessed from Excite.
Infoseek Japan (http://www.infoseek.co.jp). Infoseek has been around for quite some time and it is among the first Japanese counterparts of the U.S.-based search engines. It is said that if your web pages reside on a server with a domain of .com, .org, or .net, that you must request admission via email to Infoseek. The request should specify the URL where your pages are located.
Lycos Japan (http://www.lycos.co.jp). Lycos merged with Infoseek. Consequently, if your pages reside on Infoseek then they can be found here as well. An interesting touch in the Lycos SERPs is the screen image of the website to the left of each result.
Fresheye (http://www.fresheye.com). Fresheye is a search portal plus directory. The idea behind its name (Fresheye) is that only new or significantly changed sites are listed in its index. For a changed site to be listed, it must have gone through a 10% or greater modification. It takes 2 to 4 weeks to get your site listed and it will be deleted from its index after anywhere from 1 to 2 months.
Keep in mind that web pages submitted to these regional search engines need to be written in Japanese for best results. For this, you will probably need to hire a professional translator if your pages are in English or some other language. Also consider that Japanese characters take two bytes (two character positions) whereas an English character only takes one byte. This may require you to make significant layout changes to your pages.