The significance of Search Engine Optimization (SEO) in Japan is comparable to that of other countries. Every business owner should carry out the important process of onsite and offsite SEO methods to improve their ranking in search results. However, Yahoo! Japan/Google’s algorithm is constantly evolving, making updates and tweaks almost 400 times a year. This means it can be challenging for SEO professionals to keep up with changes and adapt their strategies accordingly. In 2023, some trends in Japan to watch out for include.

Yahoo and Google will dominate search in Japan

It’s expected that in 2023, Japanese users will continue to utilize Yahoo! as their primary search engine. This search engine is very similar to Google and is in fact powered by Google. The 2nd most popular search engine is Google.

Yahoo! search results have sponsored items and snippets. Screenshot below translated by Google so readers can see how it looks.

AI assisted SEO will become more popular

AI can be used for SEO by analyzing keywords, optimizing content, identifying link building opportunities, analyzing user behavior, and generating performance reports. It can help improve a website’s ranking and user experience. Artificial intelligence (AI) in marketing is seeing exponential growth. There are also several ways in which AI can be implemented on your website, such as through the use of chatbots for customer service, email automation, content creation and website development. In Japan we expect new AI tools will arrive at a slightly slower pace than English language ones. Tools like chatGPT don’t currently work so well with the Japanese language.

Expect to see more featured snippets

The search engine results page (SERP) often features boxes of results above and to the side of top ranked results. These sections of information, known as featured snippets, are selected by Yahoo Japan! and Google as being the most relevant to the search intent. They may include bullet lists,photos, tables, or short bit of information.. Ranking in the featured snippet is referred to as passage ranking or indexing. Factors that may influence inclusion in these snippets include the use of images, the relevance of the tag, the length of the passage, and the use of anchor text.

Voice Search is on the rise

Voice search in Japan is not as popular as other countries, some surveys revealed how many Japanese people find it embarrassing. However, local voice search among adults and teenagers in Japan are being used daily. For example, keywords like “Italian restaurant Shibuya station” are used to find restaurants nearby. Smart speakers, such as Google Home and Amazon Echo, are predicted to become one of the  main search methods in the future. This is due to the advancement of artificial intelligence, which is able to recognize keywords and interpret the context of a search using language processing. Google’s LaMDA technology allows for casual dialogue with users and can discuss all topics. It is important to optimize content for these voice searches.

Semantically related keywords

Keywords related to the searched phrase can expand on the subject and provide more value to the reader by focusing on user intent. There are four categories of user intent: navigational, transactional, informational and commercial. “Topic clusters” involve considering the viewer and their questions to generate helpful answers through content related to semantically related keywords. This can improve search results.

More image Optimisation

Image optimization involves decreasing the size of images without reducing their quality. This method improves website speed, SEO rankings, and traffic. Most of consumers say page speed affects their decision to buy from an online store. Images should also be given a Japanese alt tag to improve their visibility for Japanese users.

Keyword Research

Keyword research is usually conducted to make sure a website would appear at the top of search results. However, things have changed recently. Nowadays, the goal is not always to rank number one in search engines. This is because Ads and other relevant articles can sometimes take over search engine results pages (SERPs). Therefore, keyword optimization is now focused on SERP marketing. It is important to use this strategy on all platforms, such as blogs, websites, videos, and social media.

Focus on local searches

Mobile searches with “near me” increased by 135% last year. Local SEO targets people within a specific location, and Google Maps list businesses with their locations marked on a map. Having a Google My Business profile can improve local SEO in Japan. Most Google searches have local intent, and incorporating this into your strategy can improve your website’s ranking for searches in your area. It also allows viewers to easily access your business’s information, such as contact numbers and the address.

Video Marketing SEO

Video platforms, such as YouTube, TikTok and Vimeo, can be great tools for businesses. Websites with videos are many times more likely to appear on the first page of Google results. Displaying a video on a landing page can increase conversion rates. For e-commerce sites, 90% of people say videos help them in their purchase decisions. Google is also developing ways to use videos to help searchers find information, such as clip markups and seek markups. Promotional Videos for marketing can take various forms, such as public reviews, demonstrations, tutorials, interviews, vlogs, presentations, and ads. While it can be more expensive and require more resources, 54% of people want to see more videos from the brands they support. You might want to consider looking into JapanBuzz, which is a Japanese Influencer Marketing service specifically for Japanese Influencer Marketing.

Optimizing for online shopping

The eCommerce market in Japan is estimated to be around $190 billion per year. The COVID-19 pandemic boosted digital purchases, encouraging many customers to try online shopping. Google has also recently made their sales platform free for all businesses which includes various AI prediction tools.

More Japanese users will use mobile

Over 78% of organic searches in Japan were conducted on mobile devices last year and this number is expected to increase. Having a mobile-friendly website is essential for Japanese SEO in 2023. Google’s Mobile Speed update made the loading time of mobile content an important ranking factor. AMP (Accelerated Mobile Pages) are also a good way to optimize mobile sites and help offer fast loading pages.

In summary

In 2023, Japanese SEO trends are expected to focus on technical and user-friendly approaches. Users will expect improved user experience, responsiveness, and optimised voice search. Video marketing and image search will also be important. To stay relevant, companies should keep up with evolving trends and aim to rank high in search engines.