India is the second-largest online market in the world after China. Did you know that India now has 560 million online users, and this vast country is just getting started? Because a significant percentage of the population is not yet online, there is room for tremendous growth. With rising incomes and a high rate of e-commerce growth, India represents an unrivaled opportunity for international marketers. It’s no wonder that many global brands have adopted an India-first model and are paying attention to search engine optimization (SEO) for that country.
- India’s emerging middle class is strong and growing rapidly. While it’s true that the country’s business environment can be challenging for all businesses catering to consumers, companies such as Unilever, Colgate, Samsung, and Honda are doing spectacularly well.
- India has been investing heavily in it’s infrastructure requirements in order to sustain its economic growth. However, there is a shortage of indian companies who have the core competencies needed. This provides unparalleled opportunities for global industrial companies involved in such fields as CT scanners, turbines, jet engines, and satellite communications.
- One big reason why India will continue to attract innovative global tech firms is the opportunity the country provides to participate in one of the richest tech startup innovation sectors in the entire world. India’s startup ecosystem is now ranked third among all countries and is growing rapidly.
SEO in India
In India, SEO is a well-established discipline that many Indian brands understand the importance of. If you want to succeed in competing with Indian companies and other international businesses, it’s crucial to examine the key considerations for getting SEO in India right and ranking on the results page. Your brand won’t be visible to Indian consumers without a strategic SEO approach to your content marketing efforts.
Mobile Should Be First
In India, overall mobile internet usage is well ahead of the global average, so SEO-friendly websites must optimize for mobile. When searching online, most Indian citizens are conducting searches using Google on their Android OS phones. This contrasts with Apple iOS, which only has a 2% market share. Internet access is very high in major cities and towns but correspondingly much lower in more rural areas. Pages that load quickly and options for offline viewing will help your Indian users to engage more fully with your online content. Note that both Google and Netflix have adapted their products for low connectivity conditions.
- Your e-commerce site should be Android-compatible, responsive, and quick to load.
Use Local Languages
Well over 50% of the world’s top websites are currently in the English language. By contrast, sites localized in Hindi only account for 0.1%, although Hindi is spoken by over 551 million people. This, however, is set to change. It is projected that by 2021, a majority of Indian internet users will be looking for localized content. India has an astounding 19,500 languages, but your choices can be narrowed down to Hindi and several other languages that are most widely spoken – Bengali, Gujarati, Kannada, Malayalam, Marathi, Tamil, and Telugu. To read more about the languages spoken in India, click here.
Why Using the Local Language Is Vital
As an international marketer, you should accustom yourself always to have the phrase can’t read won’t buy at the forefront of your mind. Research shows that most Indian internet users regard digital content in their native language as more trustworthy than content written in English. Also, the vast majority of Indian consumers are more likely to respond to a digital ad in their local language.
- Going down the English only path will likely be nowhere near as effective as localizing your content in Hindi and several other of India’s main languages.
The best way to proceed is to take the time to really know your target market and expand into one Indian geographic location at a time. Seek out in-country expertise to provide you with valuable insights about local language trends that will influence your SEO in India strategy. The best place to begin is in major cities such as New Delhi and Bangalore. These locales have young, affluent internet populations and dominate e-commerce in India. The next 100 million or so users are likely to live in smaller cities like Jaipur (population 3 million) and Lucknow (population 2.8 million).
Say Hello to Voice Search
Hindi comes with 36 consonants and 12 vowels, making it tricky for a smartphone keyboard to cope with. Workarounds include making use of the QWERTY layout, but no standard phonetic translations exist. In addition, many Indian languages come with their own individual scripts, adding further complexity. Also, newer internet users tend to dislike typing. All of this makes it unsurprising that voice search in India is growing at an annual rate of 270%.
The good news is that it continues to get easier to use voice search as part of your India SEO planning. Google Assistant now supports a total of nine major Indian languages. And companies such as food delivery service Zomato and ride-share Ola have created their own voice assistants.
- When setting up voice search in India, it’s essential to understand how regional accents and usage vary.
SEO in India: Conclusion
To succeed in India, you first need a strategic and long-term commitment to the Indian market. Second, you need to evolve your business model to produce products or services that appeal to the country’s emerging middle class. They should also be affordable and accessible. Third, you need to build solid local teams in your targeted regions and move decision-making authority and resources there. Finally, you should not rely on English to reach Indian consumers; doing so will not give you the best results. As more Indian users get online, the demand for content in the local language will only increase. Because India is a country with many languages, you need to put together a multilingual SEO in India strategy to optimize your chances of success in the huge and growing Indian market. It’s a challenge that’s worth the effort and can bring great rewards.