Understanding Cultural Characteristics & How They Impact Your Web Presence
Ryan Buddenhagen, March 12, 2012
Culture is a dynamic, living thing. This may be an exaggeration of sorts, but the point is culture is an evolving entity that impacts just about every aspect of our lives. It impacts the way we experience our days, structure our time, share with friends, work at our jobs, and - how we experience the web. Cultures adapt as time passes, but core elements of cultures can and do remain unchanged. These core elements account for cultural tendencies that exist from culture to culture influencing the way people behave and, for our purposes, experience the internet.
As a result, it is important for international SEO companies to recognize such differences and optimize accordingly, presenting unique culture or country-specific strategies. Culture is a relevant and recurring issue that I discuss on this blog, but for good reason, its reach and impact on internet marketing and SEO is undeniable. Today, I'm going to look at one cultural characteristic in particular and how it can impact marketing efforts.
One important cultural characteristic is called power distance which addresses how a culture negotiates power and status in relationships. As a concept, it is the extent to which those in less powerful roles accept and expect that power is distributed unequally. Superior roles are thus respected and revered to a greater degree. In lower power distance cultures, everyone is seen as more equal, whereas with high power distance, more social rank and distance is put between subordinates and those higher than them.
So in terms of web design, if a company is catering to a lower power distance culture, they want to think about how they present their management. If transparency is an element of the company culture, for example, a company may have a desire to put the direct contact information of management on the site or provide a feature for connecting with the CEO or C-level executives. The company may want to seem accessible to customers. This may present a disconnect though with the local culture as people may question the professionalism of the company.
A business in tern should weigh their own culture against that of the audience they are targeting when deciding which should dictate practices. As such, businesses may want to override local influences with elements of their own organizational culture to present a certain identity. There is no correct "one-size-fits-all" solution, and decisions need to be made on a per-country basis.