Content is Still King in Japanese Digital Marketing & SEO

SEO, copywriting, content marketing, content

Content is King. Or is it? It can’t be denied that despite Japan’s significant contributions to the world of technology, the country lags significantly behind its western counterparts in terms of digitalisation. A nation steeped in tradition, even today’s organisational structure appears to favour conventional marketing practices, and businesses themselves are amongst the first to admit that digital leaders are somewhat of a rarity. Just 8% of Japanese businesses believe that they have digital leaders onboard, compared to a global average of 19%, according to research by Google.


And yet content IS King. Campaign Asia confirms that content marketing is experiencing an annual growth rate of between 5% and 10% across Asian companies, and around 83% of all Japanese businesses are now opting to use content marketing, according to a Digital InFact report, primarily to boost awareness and acquire new customers. Why, then, is there a widespread belief that content isn’t as vital in Japan?


Debunking the Myth


The reason why you may have heard that content isn’t as important a consideration in digital marketing in Japan as it is in the west is because ‘content’ means something a little different in Japan. Content is still key to improving brand awareness, instilling trust, and engaging with customers, but the type of content that Japanese audiences want to see differs notably from the sort of content that we’d create for our local audiences.


For example, there is endless research looking at the impact that content animation — automated slideshows, for example — has on user behaviour, and it is generally agreed that this motion can distract from the ultimate goal. And yet moving content is rife in Japan. The same goes for information that we’d typically keep away from homepages, such as CEO messages and earning reports; they’re amongst some of the first types of content we see when clicking through to a Japanese website. The cluttered, busy, on-the-go design is familiar in Japan, and it works to instill trust in users, while when marketing to our local audiences we’d usually try and stick to a minimalist look.


Content & SEO


The importance of content for SEO purposes was solidified back in 2007 when Google — the most widely used search engine in Japan — announced major changes to its ranking algorithm for its Japanese SERPs. Google Japan announced that ‘low-quality sites that focus on displaying your page at the top of search results, rather than providing useful and reliable information to users’ will be penalised in the rankings, while, ‘high-quality sites with original and useful content will appear higher’ in results.


Getting it Right


So in terms of SEO power and digital marketing, content is still King in Japan. But it can be tricky to get right. Japanese audiences are, it seems, quite picky when it comes to digital content, with research by Adobe showing that bad copywriting is the top reason why Japanese web users steer clear of business websites, followed by irrelevant content, content that is not optimised for mobile devices, poorly designed content, and a lack of visual stimulation. But with some planning and a focus on SEO localisation, reaching Japanese audiences through content can be easier than it first seems.


Tags: SEO, copywriting, content marketing, content

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