I have need to launch websites aimed at Korean, Japanese, French, Spanish, and a few other markets. China is an unusual market in that search and website hosting are heavily controlled by the government. From what I gather, it's not the same for the rest of the countries we're headed into.
Originally I was thinking I needed to use hosting servers located within each country. That means I'll be looking for bilingual services (English and the language of the country). Do I really need to use in-country web services (other than China) or would a US based service work just as well. The TLDs for each country would be used and we'd target both paid and organic search.
For France..host in France..French speakers will almost always search in French and almost always use the .Fr version of Google ( Bing tends to default to "results from France" ( when I access it from here..unless I "force it" ) = meaning biased towards French language sites and hosted on servers here )..
The .Fr version of Google defaults to "biased / weighted towards French language sites hosted in France" also..the difference in position in the serps between English language pages hosted outside France, and sites and French language pages and sites hosted here, of both search engines, reflects this..
Beware..many hosting companies, who are supposedly ( according to their websites ) hosting in France are actually doing so elsewhere..
Bear in mind you will get enquiries / emails from your French visitors in French and will need to reply in French..and although Google translate is as good if not better than the paid for software ..it is still not up to customer service levels yet :)
You are more than welcome to sticky mail me if you need recommendations for hosting companies here.. :)
Korea ? ..haven't seen "Grendel" for ages here ?..Japan ? ..Bill ? :)
For many Asian countries, it's difficult (or near impossible) and/or expensive to get a country-specific TLD unless you have a physical presence in the country. Internet pipes between Asia and the rest of the world can be slow at times. Hosting in the country can alleviate these issue.
But there's also the cost and maintenance issues of using multiple hosting companies.
Another issue- are you trying to target the country or the language? A lot depends on exactly what you're trying to do and to whom you're trying to market.
I'm targeting the countries. Our initial forays in these market spaces are at a B2B level with a sales team meeting potential clients in person. The B2C sales are being driven by PPC while I work out the kinks in the organics.