Outlook for Managing Global SEO Programs: Cloudy!

One of the challenges global organizations face when trying to do search engine optimization is having an efficient way of seeing how their brand is showing up in Beijing versus Frankfurt versus Sao Paulo.  It is tempting to go to google.de from a computer in New York or San Francisco, type in search queries, and see what the rankings are – assuming they are not that different from what one would get in Frankfurt or Munich.  Accurate studies on what the skew in natural search results are by locality are difficult to execute – and even more so on a continuous basis.

We just tested this concept, and this is how we did it.  The Covario Organic Search Insight(TM) technology recently started virtually querying the search engines for natural search results by using cloud computing.  The cloud allows us to make a query from a virtual server in London or Singapore or Mumbai.  We tested a set of 1,500 keywords to see how the search results would vary from a search query that originated from the U.S. (Dallas to be exact) versus locally in three major cities – Beijing, London and Singapore.  The results were astounding.

Singapore and Beijing

  • In total, 82% of the rankings stayed the same, but 18% or the rankings were different  in these two cities from queries conducted locally, versus those done from the US.
  • Bing had the most movement at 28%, while Yahoo had the least with 8%. Google was at 22%.  This means that Bing’s algorithm is actually more sensitive to localization than Google’s.
  • There were nearly identical movements up and down. However, 6% of the URLs we were showing as ranking in the Top 50 from Dallas “disappear in the cloud.”

The overall average rankings did not vary – BUT, there is significant chaos below the surface at the individual keyword level.

United Kingdom
The changes in the United Kingdom are even more significant.

  • Only 42% of the rankings stayed the same – the cloud produced different rankings for 58% of the keywords!
  • Again, the percent that increase versus decrease is roughly equal, however, an average of 26% of the keywords fall off the Top 50 results when analyzed locally.
  • And, Bing again has the most sensitive localized algorithm – 66% of the rankings moved.

For Covario customers, know that Covario’s Organic Search Insight is now “cloud enabled” – and we are leveraging the system to ensure accuracy in ranking results on a global basis.

If enterprises are not leveraging technologies that are using the cloud to obtain localized results, then the ranking metrics may be wrong more often than they are right.


Actionable Insight #1: For marketers looking for internationalized results, it is critical that they employ the methodology Covario is  using in Organic Search Insight – namely cloud computing to retrieve localized results.  Otherwise, advertisers are fooling themselves.  If rank reports are pulled from U.S.- based servers – they are going to be reporting success or failure incorrectly more often than not in the U.K., and one out of four times in APAC.
Actionable Insight #2: Bing is the most locally sensitive of the search platforms.  If we believe that the difference between the Dallas-based results and the cloud-based results is a sign of the relevancy of localized  (TBD), then Bing actually does a better job at localizing.  This is important for mobile SEO, as mobile is the most sensitive to local results.