Google's Appeal to South Korea, Its Fate in Korean Market in the Balance
Ryan Buddenhagen, February 15, 2012
Operations become more dynamic when they expand into international markets, complete with new and different structures and regulations. I touched on this over the last two days regarding Google Maps in France and the Street View functionality in Germany. Essentially, nothing stays the exact same from country to country and Google, maybe more than any other company in the tech industry, is experiencing this in a big way. Just recently, the Korean Fair Trade Commission (KFTC) made weighty accusations against Google alleging they interfered with the commission's antitrust investigation regarding potential limiting of access to local search engines on Android. Moving beyond this tension, Google engineer Matt Cutts made a presentation to roughly 80 South Korean government officials, lawyers, webmasters, and journalists in an appeal to allow Google's bots to crawl prominent government websites.
The success of this meeting directly impacts international SEO in the Korean market. In short, Google is not the dominant search engine in the country and in an effort to gain market share, Google needs to resolve road blocks, among them being the fact that many prominent websites are not indexed by Google and thus cannot be seen using the search engine. As The Wall Street Journal points out, if the search engine cannot provide prominent Korean sites in its SERPS, then Koreans and those interested in content relating to Korea will use the search engine much less, thus all but eliminating Google from the country's search market.
If Google Wins, International SEOers Win Too
The issue of non-indexed sites is a hold-over from a declining practice in the country that saw government agencies building websites and blocking global search engines over the previous two decades, utilizing the Korean-based Nave and Daum search engines instead. Enter Matt Cutts, who was in-country to make the case for allowing the Googlebot to crawl and index the many sites that are still not available on Google. If Goolgle gets these sites, then the search engine has a chance to secure a foothold from which they can grow in the future. SEO companies that offer international SEO and multilingual services will be taking notice because if this appeal is successful, then Google can grow and open up the market further as well as increase opportunity for SEO and paid search there. We will be keeping an eye on Korea and see just how positive the response is to Mr. Cutts' appeal.