Japanese Search Engines

There are now only four major search engines used by Japanese that make a serious effort to crawl and index the Japanese web. They are as follows:

  • Google. Google not only operates under its own domain at google.co.jp, but also is starting to provide most of the search results for Yahoo! Japan. In addition, it provides search results for goo, Biglobe, @nifty, Infoseek, Excite and Mooter. Nevertheless, sometimes the search results served up by some of these sites will vary a bit, because of the insertion of paid results or the tweaking of Google’s results.
  • Bing. Bing is now a distant (see below) number 2 in Japan, after “Goohoo.”
  • Naver. Naver is a Korean search engine that does a good job of crawling and indexing Japanese pages and has a Japanese language interface available. Naver supplies search results to Livedoor and Fresheye.
  • Baidu. Baidu is a Chinese search engine that years ago made a full-court press to enter the Japanese market, establishing a local company, but later pulled out. They still offer a Japanese localized interface.

So in practice the main thing you really have to worry about is optimizing your Japanese websites for Google.

Japanese Search Engine Market Share

With Google taking over Yahoo’s search results, Google serves an overwhelming proportion of Japanese search queries. Using some Nielsen NetRatings data from early 2010 and making some reasonable assumptions and extrapolations, I came up with the data in the graph above. Google controls five out of six Japanese search sessions, Microsoft, one out of six. I didn’t include Naver (with “Powered by Naver”) and Baidu because they each only serve a small fraction of 1 percent of Japanese search queries.

Some other miscellaneous services that serve up search results are JWord Search (which supplies paid advertising results) and the IPS portal sites So-net Search (I’m not sure whose results they use) and OCN Search, which is “Powered by Goo” (in turn, powered by Google).

Here’s another (undated and probably outdated) take on the same information presented here.

Offsite Links

The Korea Times on Naver’s 2009 entry into the Japanese search engine market.