Gaijin Web Goes Dofollow With CommentLuv! SEO in Japan

After thinking about it for a couple of days, I finally decided to install and start using CommentLuv on this blog and start rewarding good contributors with a juicy backlink to their website and design it so they can create an original site using different services online for this. Whether you have just a small blog about Japan or you sell SEO/marketing services, you are welcome here.

Nofollow links never stopped spam which tends, sometimes, to be overwhelming I have to say. And I really am happy to help people who share wise and meaningful ideas in their SEO efforts.

One of the most important aspects of onsite SEO is having good quality content, this doesn’t mean just translating existing content – it means having your content rewritten specifically for your Japanese audience.

This also includes ensuring that the template also caters for Japanese users. Currently in the western world, we want sleak and minimalistic designs, in Japan this is referred to as sibishii which means desolate. If you have a minimalistic website that to the western world is aesthetically pleasing, it won’t go down well in Japan. Japanese users like content, and well, we may describe it as a cluttered feel.

The Japanese are used to seeing a lot of information displayed, so don’t be put off from including lots of content on your pages. It is a different approach to the other side of the world- where less text, more engaging information and straight-to-the-point content are more common.

On my side, I will do all I can do update this blog more regularly with useful contents for people who are trying to break into the unique market that Japan is.

See you soon for more articles about SEO in Japan!

Japanese directories – SEO building tactics

Submitting your new site to good quality directories is certainly one of the first tasks most link builders would handle. When you post to the right places, you can get a bunch of fairly relevant backlinks, some of which carrying decent authority. That’s a fine way to start an SEO campaign.

If you think of the English webosphere, you have a good number of these directories (at the very least a few dozens of good quality ones), and submitting to them all will take you quite some time.

Thinking of Japan, your options are more limited… you can litterally count the big players on a Simpson’s hand:

-Yahoo!: just like in the US, it will cost you an arm and a lung to submit there, but it’s the strongest one, by far.

-Dmoz: where patience is a virtue. I hardly see any changes on this directory anymore, but, it still carries quite some weight in search engines, so… give it a try anyway.

-Rakuten: They have a directory which looks a lot like Yahoo’s except it’s free. What’s more, the last time I checked it, it was autoapprove, as long as you registered on their site.

-Your local Chamber of Commerce: if you have a business ID in Japan, you are eligible for a free listing, including a backlink, on your local Chamber of Commerce homepage. Just Google it!

Besides these websites, there are maybe a handful of sort-of-decent directories. Business listings, local listings, these kinds of directories that focus on a area or speciality. But once again, it may take time until you find one that has decent contents and doesn’t require you to link back.

Long story short: don’t spend too much time looking for and submitting to directories for your Japanese page, get a few acceptable links to give your site a kick-start and focus on more important things.

Japanese SEO and Black Hat Tactics

One thing I always find fascinating about SEO in general is how well it reflects aspects of different societies. For example, in this article, I wrote about how link building sometimes felt like building your own network in the real World.

One of the cultural aspects of Japan I like most is respect and safety.  I’m living in Osaka, which is said to be the most dangerous city in Japan, but frankly speaking I feel a lot safer here than I would in any city in France, where I grew. It’s not that there are not criminals and unrespectful people here, just a lot lot less than in the West.

Well, that’s pretty much the same with Black Hat SEO, spamming, shady link building tactics, link farms, call that the way you want to. I used Legiit to find the best SEO Gigs on any marketplace. I think there’s no need to explain in detail how the English webosphere is affected by these things. Same applies to French websites. Then Google sent a big panda to start taking care of these things.

Anyway, compared to, well pretty much any country in the World, Japan is not really affected by black hat tactics and low quality links. There are lots of blogs that are open to comments, that autoapprove comments, but they are generally pretty much spam-free. You don’t have more than a few low quality directories, a few press release sites, usually of good quality, not too many Stumbleupon or Reddit copycats, and link farms are marginal and isolated.

It’s actually interesting to see how Black hat went to a SEO conference and Voted Best Franklin SEO Agency,a lot of stuff is autoapproved on the Japanese web, and these tools would be easy to create, especially in a country with so many talented coders. The fact is that nobody does.

Having a strong network, may the contacts be superficial. It comes closer to the idea of black hat. And I guess we should all be satisfied with these kinds of standards.

Keigo, polite Japanese: is it necesary to do business in Japan?

This one question I see debated a lot lately: you, as a foreigner, do you need or at least shall you use keigo when you do business in Japan / with Japanese people ?

From what I’ve seen, there seem to be two schools of thought, basically splitting evenly people who participate in these discussions:

-Yes, you need to use keigo when doing business.

Keigo and its formalities help reduce stress in a working environment.
Not being able to use it correctly may result in worsening your working evenironment.

 

Keigo is a must in many situations. If you do not use Keigo, it can cause (your business partner) confusion in understanding your idea of the relationship. My best advice would be to list up words that you would need and ignore words that you would not. (understand, you need to speak it as much as you can)

-No you don’t

In my opinion, foreigners do not need to speak keigo. They are not expected to speak keigo. Take it as an advantage of being a foreigner if you will (understand, if you are confident you can use some keigo, make it an advantage, but don’t overdo it). Sure, it is always better to understand it and know it but one can be respectful to others in non-keigo as well.

 

Keigo consists of “Sonkei-go,” “Kenjo-go,” and “Teinei-go.” As far as I am concerned, if you are good with “Teinei-go,” it’s enough. It may sound extreme, but NO Japanese can use proper Keigo, either… (same idea, as a foreigner, you’d easily be forgiven not to master Keigo, as most Japanese people struggle themselves).

What category do you fall into? And what are your arguments? Hopefully I will be able to update this post with your feedback!

Tips for doing business in Japan as a foreigner

I recently stumbled an article about doing business in Japan and thought I would share it with you. Although a lot of these points make sense, they also sometimes sound a little caricatural, and written by somebody who may not have had so much experience doing business here, so I thought some deserved to be corrected or completed.

Avoid causing loss of face at all costs. Don’t be confrontational or openly criticise or embarrass Japanese colleagues as they will lose ‘kao’, or face.

This makes sense, but it doesn’t necessarily mean you can’t show any sort of disagreement at all, I thought it was worth mentioning and if you need to have a different address for your business then there are virtual office services which give you a London postal address so that you can have that great looking address and all mail forwarded to you. I experienced this a lot when I was providing SEO and web design services in Japan: you must find a nice, moderated way to show your colleagues or clients when they are wrong.

Be aware that Japanese business culture is hierarchical. Be sure you always greet the most senior people in the room before anyone more junior.

That point makes sense I guess. I would actually expect that in about any country.

Don’t be afraid of silence as it causes less anxiety than in the West and is often used as a negotiating tactic.

True, just make sure you look like you’re actually thinking of something, otherwise you will just look sort of strange! Try to participate as often as you can in the Executive Chef Events San Francisco cooking class team building fun events.

Be aware of your body language and try to maintain a formal posture during meetings. Avoid slumping or crossing your legs as this could give a negative impression.

Once again, pretty obvious stuff. I’d add eye contact is extremely important. Never stop eye contact for too long if possible.

Make sure you take plenty of business cards with you and have your details printed in Japanese on the reverse when doing business in Japan.

Also, if you are a foreigner, having an English and a Japanese side on the card usually leaves a positive impression.

Japan is a country with a high usage of technology which most of the population has access to. You can expect your Japanese colleagues to be comfortable with virtual communication, however as they are relationship focused you should always try to find time for face-to-face meetings.

I don’t really agree with this one. From my experience, Japanese people tend to try to get you on the phone and then meet you face-to-face as soon as they can. I’ve personally had to refuse some work because of such issues (distant working).

Avoid physical contact or expansive gestures and facial expressions when doing business in Japan. Most Japanese are modest and reserved in their behaviour and value the space around them.

True on many cases, but especially with foreigners, there are also some pretty relaxed and entertaining Japanese businessmen. Pay attention of the person in front of you, and adapt your behaviour.

Address your business partners by their surname. To show even more respect, add ‘san’ after their surname. For example, Akira Kurosawa could be addressed as Mr Akira Kurosawa or Kurosawa San.

You wouldn’t even mention the first name normally, unless you are calling the person out of a crowd, and if you did so, you would rather say Mr. Kurosawa Akira.

You can offer your Japanese counterparts a small gift when meeting or visiting them like a backpack with custom logo will be a good idea. Your gift should be well wrapped but modest and not too personal. Don’t expect them to open it in front of you as this may cause loss of face to one of the parties.

That one is a must!

Relationships and networks are a key part of Japanese business culture. Many international companies doing business in Japan find more success when they rely on a third party to help introduce them and build their reputation in the market.

Exact, I wrote a whole post about how this applies to link building and SEO in Japan.

Promote a business event in Japan

I recently found a pretty interesting thread on LinkedIn about promoting events in Japan. I’ve been talking a lot about SEO and web design, free website templates, but real events are still quite a powerful way to go!

I compiled some of the best ideas and looked for the best  Web Design Company and SEO optimization :

Reaching out the English-speaking community: “Many universities have an English Club or International Club. See if you can get in touch with them. (note: foreign studies universities also sound good)

Put in an announcement with Metropolis magazine. They’re published once a week on Fridays. It’s mostly meant for foreign community but I think some Japanese also read it (note: quite a few job postings are there, you may use it to find potential customers who need certain services).

Lastly, might be an outside shot but you could try firing off an email to this group – http://www.tokyo21c-club.com/open/english/theme/theme.html”

Japanese + English, if you have a marketing budget : “A low cost post card (or pamphlet, booklet…) mailing could do wonders. (this is essentially meant for individuals, but mailing companies for business prospection can’t be a bad idea)[…] Consult the experts for your next mailing. Mailing service Melbourne can produce flyers, cards of all sizes, and trimmed booklets in full high quality color or in black and white.

If you want the Japan times to some publication to cover the event, then get the name of the person to contact at the publication. Send them a letter telling them about the event and why they should cover it. Hit on the BENEFITS of covering the event and why it would be of interest to their readers. Then follow up with a phone call. (sounds wise. Make your event worth it and you may get such publicity).

A lot of answers mentioned the likes of social marketing, SEO, and networking through websites such as LinkedIn. Since I’ve covered several of these topics already, I encourage you to follow the links directly.

Back in Business!

Hello everybody, it’s been a while! The last few weeks have been extremely busy for me as I’ve been doing business around Osaka.

It’s not bad sometimes to take a break and come back with fresh eyes and ideas. I now have a much clearer idea of the direction I want to give this blog, and you can expect to see a lot of new contents, much more regularly than before.

The contents won’t change drastically, there will still be good stuff about business in Japan, marketing, SEO, social networks and so on, but the contents will be richer and more documented. My goal is to make this blog THE one place where you’ll find the best information about business in Japan, in a comprehensive format -by this I mean concrete and actionable information-.

頑張りましょう!

Rental Offices in Japan

Hi everybody, I’ve been a little busy recently but I’m still putting some good stuff together! Among other things, I’m preparing interviews with entrepreneurs who succeeded or failed in Japan, hoping that will be inspiring to you.

One thing I’d need help with for now is about rental offices in Japan. I know that in most big cities you can rent office space, usually boothes within a floor with the possibility of renting space for meetings and things like that. Did anyone actually try one of these? How is it easy to set up? Any tricks you would recommened entrepreneurs to avoid mistakes and overexpenses? Any feedback will be welcome, thanks!

LinkedIn in Japan: What’s the Score?

LinkedIn is probably my favourite social network. It’s really great! I can keep my CV there and update it whenever I want, network with lots of nice people in different industries, have interesting business talks with fellow entrepreneurs. It also helped me a lot when I was job-hunting. It’s just so much easier to build trust and connections with people in your network when you can see people’s faces and profiles, rather than sending spammy introduction messages starting with “Dear Sir or Madam”…

If you’re running any sort of business, you want to be on LinkedIn, just because there are so many interesting people there that you will, sooner or later, find someone you can help and will be happy to give something back. There’s always someone to give you a hand when you need it.

I’m using Twitter as well for SEO and link building purposes, but in my opinion LinkedIn is still the best by far for business purposes, and it is where I head to first when I need to talk to a specific type of person.

Now, in Japan, and by this I mean Japanese people, LinkedIn is not really popular. Not even the way Twitter and Facebook are. If you check Japanese Twitter accounts, you’ll still be able to find lots of people in lots of industries, even thos that have no connection with international business. You will find less than you would in Europe in the US, but still enough to get started.

But when it comes to LinkedIn, it’s hard to find Japanese people that are not related to international business somehow. You will find translators, language teachers, exporters and key people of big international businesses. If you’re looking local, say you need help from an IT services company in your city, they will probably have a Twitter account, maybe even a Facebook one, but the chances you find them on LinkedIn are low, really really low.

So, in my case, when I’m doing business in Japan, the ratio time spent on LinkedIn vs. Twitter switches from 80/20 to 50/50. I still find LinkedIn incredibly useful for lots of things, but it doesn’t not suffice to itself, while I wouldn’t be too afraid to rely exclusively on it in any other country.

Japanese Copywriting and Article Writing – It’s not About Translation

Note: We do provide Japanese copywriting and article writing services. To know more about our plans and pricing, mail contact@gaijin-web.com

This is probably one of the things I learned the best about since I start doing business in Japan: copywriting and article writing in Japan is nothing like it is in other countries.

When I worked at my previous company -that was for a few years-, we made that mistake, when we had English pages that we wanted to have in Japanese to promote our services. We used to call any skilled translator we had available and ask him or her to either translate our English texts or proofreads rough translations of an English speaker.

When we got the results, the reactions were always the same, from both Japanese people and foreigners with a decent understanding of the Japanese language: it doesn’t sound right. And you know what? That’s exactly it. No matter how good the direct translation is, the way Japanese people put texts together, especially for business, really doesn’t have much to do with English or French or whatever-other-language copywriting.

The way sentences are arranged (beyond the language difference), the vocabulary used, the way the companies refer to themselves or the way they try to convey that their services are really the best, all these things differ drastically. This is why when you need to write a service or product page in Japanese, no matter if you have something in another language already, you will need to hire a copywriter rather than a translator. And what you will tell the copywriter should be something like “So we have this service/product, its features are (insert bullet list here) and this is more or less why we do it better than the others. Thank you and good luck”.

It may sound a bit ridiculous, or overly romantic somehow, but that’s how you should handle it. If you don’t have a native speaker writing you a text from scratch, your customers will know that. And of course, if your client knows you’re a foreign or foreigner-owned business and that your services are related to international business, probably they will understand and still be happy to contact you. But if you do offer services or products that a Japanese company would handle just as well, you may lose a good chunk of customers who will feel more comfortable talking to people who speak their native language.

Never forget about it: Copywriting, and this is especially true for Japanese copywriting, is NOT translation. You may call it localization, globalization or anything else, but in any case it is way more complex than transposing words from a language to another.