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WebmasterWorld's European SEO strategy primer #3, part 2
Europe, region by region.
Alpine region - Austria, Switzerland and Lichtenstein.
15,4 million live in these three alpine countries and 5,4 million of them are online. None of them require local presence for domain registration and so provide a convenient backdoor to German search engines and directories, if you want a European domain name. Austria and the German speaking parts of Switzerland appear to be using localized versions of major German engines. Switzerland is officially quattro-lingual (German, French, Italian and Rätoromansch) and there are several engines supporting the first three, including Search.ch and Altavista.ch. Basic data can be found in the discussions for Switzerland [webmasterworld.com] and Austria [webmasterworld.com]
Balkans - Slovenia, Bosnia, Croatia, Yugoslavia, Albania, Greece, Turkey.
107 million live here but only 5,8 million are online so far. These countries have numerous directories and a few local search engines. There is huge number of directories in Greece, where "Robby" is the leading search engine with In.gr as the leading directory. Slovenia is a front runner for membership in the European Union and does have a credible search engine (Slovista) and several directories. Basic facts can be found in the country discussions for Slovenia [webmasterworld.com], Turkey [webmasterworld.com], Greece [webmasterworld.com], Bosnia & Herzegovina [webmasterworld.com], Croatia [webmasterworld.com] and Yugoslavia (Serbia & Montenegro) [webmasterworld.com]
Baltic area - Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania.
These three countries are small - just 7,4 million inhabitants put together - but the online population of 0,84 million is growing rapidly and so are their economies. There are several directories in each of these countries and at least one major engine with a spidered index - KTU at the Kaunas Technical University in Lithuiania. Basic facts can be found in the discussions for Estonia [webmasterworld.com],Latvia [webmasterworld.com] and Lithuania [webmasterworld.com].
Benelux - Belgium, Netherlands and Luxemburg
The Benelux has 26,4 million inhabitants and 10,1 million of them are online - 38%. Ilse.nl is the leading Dutch engine. Belgium is tri-lingual with only 58% of the population speaking Dutch. The rest speak either French (32%) or German (10%). So Dutch language will cover 4.5 million Dutch online and 1.2 million of the Belgians. The two biggest local engines are Advalvas and Skynet. Belgium does not require local presence for domain registration and dot-be sites seem to be accepted by Dutch engines, which also index dot-coms in Dutch. Facts on these countries are found here: Belgium [webmasterworld.com], Netherlands [webmasterworld.com], Luxembourg [webmasterworld.com]
British Isles - United Kingdom and Ireland
61 million live in the British Isles and the online population is 21 million - 34%. Neither country requires legal presence for a domain registration. The search engine scene is so lively here that UK & Ireland have their own forum [webmasterworld.com] here at WebmasterWorld.
Central Europe - Poland, Czech Republic, Slovakia and Hungary.
There is rapid growth of the Internet in all of the central European countries, which have major local search engines based on state of the art technology such as Google and Fast. The total online population is 4.6 million out of the 55 million who live here. Lots of data have been added in the ongoing WebmasterWorld discussions about these countries. Onet has 60% of the Polish market, Vizsla is the leading search engine in Hungary and Seznam is #1 in the Chech Republic. For more, see the discussions on Czech Republic [webmasterworld.com], Hungary [webmasterworld.com], Poland [webmasterworld.com] and Slovakia [webmasterworld.com]
Eastern Europe - Belarus, Bulgaria, Romania, Russia and Ukraine.
The Internet is growing by 100-300 percent per year here, but from a very low level. Of eastern Europe's 240 million inhabitants only 10.2 million are online so far - 9.2 million in Russia alone. The leading search engine is Russia's Yandex with Rambler as number two, but Google.ru is gaining rapidly. In Romania, Edison is the leader, in Belarus All.by and in Bulgaria Eurosoft. Facts on the numerous search engines and directories can be found here:
Belarus [webmasterworld.com], Bulgaria [webmasterworld.com], Romania [webmasterworld.com], Russia [webmasterworld.com] and Ukraine [webmasterworld.com].
A good strategy for France will have to involve not just the leading engine - Voilà, but also Free.fr, Multimania, MSN France and Yahoo France. Sites have to be in French, there is no way you can make it with English here. There are 9 million online, but that is only 15% of the 59,3 million population, so France is somewhat behind the rest of western Europe. France has rigid rules about local presence, but Switzerland and Belgium provide back-doors for local presence. I addition, 36% of all pages in French are in dot-coms and French engines usually offer "Web francophone" (the French speaking web) as the default search option, so dot-coms in French will work well. More here [webmasterworld.com].
Germany has 26 million of its 82,8 million population online. That is 40% of the adult population. To make it in Germany, you need Infoseek.de, Fireball.de, Google, Lycos.de and Altavista.de as a minimum. A dot-com is OK as long as it is in German. There are also numerous directories, the most important of which is Alles Klar. Neither Austria nor Switzerland require legal presence for their domains and that is the back-door to those German-language directories that require local domains. More here on German search engines [webmasterworld.com] and directories [webmasterworld.com].
Iberian peninsula - Spain and Portugal
50 million live on the Iberian peninsula. There are 8 million online in Spain (13,7%) and 2,2 million i Portugal (22%). The users tend to use engines geared towards each language, which also cover Spanish and Portuguese speaking countries in Latin America, another reason for targeting these languages. This also means that one can get by with a dot-com in the language. More: Spain [webmasterworld.com], Portugal [webmasterworld.com].
Arianna, MSN Italia and Lycos Italia are the most important search engines and Virgilio the leading directory. Local language is mandatory. Italy has 13,4 million people on line, which is 23% of the 58 million total population. One Italian page out of five is found in a dot-com, so a dot-it domain registration is not necessary. More on Italy. [webmasterworld.com].
Nordic area - Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway and Sweden.
The 24 million Scandinavians and other nordic people are the only ones that beat the US in surfing. 12,4 million, just over half of the total populations, are online. Iceland leads with 60%. These people all speak different languages and have different search engines. Altavista has a strong standing in Sweden with Fast-based Evreka.com and MSN.se as major competitors. In Norway Kvasir.no (Fast) is the unquestioned leader, in Finland its sister engine Evreka.fi but in Denmark it is a local directory - Jubii - that controls the market, with Kvasir.dk as the only serious competitor. English is widely understood here and dot-coms hugely popular even for local sites, so the only reason for translations would be to create a sense of local presence. More here: Sweden [webmasterworld.com], Norway [webmasterworld.com], Denmark [webmasterworld.com], Finland [webmasterworld.com], Iceland [webmasterworld.com].
Any objections, errors discovered, additions needed or comments you'd like to make? Post below.
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(edited by: rencke at 2:55 pm (gmt) on Aug. 23, 2001
this is amazing info, and just as i'm about to dip my toe into euroland,
Infoseek.de for example is no more.
I would also replace Fireball with T-online (FAST). Fireball is a spammers paradise but not many search there.
Of the directories, Web.de and Dino are imo more popular / important than Alles Klar.
Yahoo.de is also up there.
BTW, Germans are turning to Google in their droves. Altavista is losing ground rapidly. Espotting has made a debut in the PPC area with Overture Germany hot on their heels. This is likely to change the face of SEO in Germany in a few months (On the proviso that espotting and co. pull their marketing finger out).
Sorry to put a spanner in what is an excellent summary.
It is due to the functionality of a discussion board and to the ever changing nature of what we are dealing with that all posts discussing details get somwhat outdated rather fast.
The current situation in Germany is dealt with in the discussion on German search engines [webmasterworld.com] as well as in numerous threads in the European forum.