Japanese SEO – Link Building and its Specifics

It is well-known that Japan has its own, pretty unique culture. It is true for every aspect of the society, including ways to do business.

My personal feeling, after a few years of doing SEO for Japanese companies, and examining tactics of hundreds of different websites, is that the way Japanese people see and do SEO is actually a remarkable reflect of their culture.

For example, there is strong culture of networking and in particular exchanging Japanese business cards (εεˆΊγ€€- meishi). I often noticed that when businesses needed a service done, they tended to pick someone in their network, regardless of the price or quality that they could get with other businesses.

Well, link profiles of Japanese websites remind me a lot of that. In westerner countries, you would preferably try to get in touch with businesses that have some relation with the service you offer and try to exchange links, or do some guest blogging, these sorts of things. In Japan, it’s more like “Ok, I have a site, I need links. I’ll grab my business cards book and call all my contacts who happen to have a site, and I’m sure they’ll be happy to link to me.”. And it works! I’ve almost never been refused a link from businesses that were in my company’s network, but rarely got sollicitated for link exchange from relevant -but out of my network- websites. And my attempts to perform this kind of link building were a lot less successful than they would have been for a site in any other country.

It is interesting to see that link profiles of Japanese businesses are often a very accurate representation of their business network. You can pretty much say who works with who just by looking at their backlinks.

And since these businesses are interlinking, they actually become pretty strong link networks. Entering these networks allow you to get stronger backlinks that you would by swapping links with relevant sites that are not supported by other businesses. It’s not so much about how much your site is relevant, but rather how strong of a network you are participating in. That’s pretty much what defines “link authority” here.

Have you every had experience building links in Japan and calling huge lists of clients/partners to build such links? What’s your feedback?