Search is sim­ple, right?  Every­body always has and always will use Google (because it’s Google) and occa­sion­ally Bing (because it has pretty pic­tures).  Game over.  And that may well be true for you, if you are a work­ing pro­fes­sional sit­ting in front of a PC some­where in the nether-regions of cor­po­rate Amer­ica cubi­cle land.

But what about those 25 mil­lion new Chi­nese inter­net users who’ve jumped online in the past six months (a major­ity of whom only know the web via a mobile device)?  Or those supremely (overly?) wired denizens of the inter­webs in South Korea, brows­ing while nav­i­gat­ing Seoul’s sub­ways?  Turns out that “just Google it” is not a uni­ver­sally accepted solu­tion for answer­ing life’s ques­tions.  In fact, search—and mobile search in particular—can get pretty messy.

As part of Adobe’s Dig­i­tal Index team, I recently ana­lyzed 2.5 bil­lion vis­its to web­sites in Asia-Pacific, hop­ing to get some insights on search trends in the region.  The analy­sis led to some inter­est­ing find­ings that you can  check out through the full report here, but let me give you a cou­ple of the headlines:

  • While Google dom­i­nates in many APAC coun­tries, it strug­gles might­ily in sev­eral others—namely China, South Korea, and Japan.
  • BUT, Google is doing bet­ter in the mobile arena across the board—for exam­ple in China, Google’s share of mobile search is 5X big­ger than its share of PC search (and tra­di­tion­ally dom­i­nant Baidu has appar­ently taken notice).
  • DOUBLE BUT, Android does not appear to be the only dri­ver of Google’s mobile search suc­cess, as Android device pen­e­tra­tion and Google’s share of mobile search aren’t cor­re­lated.  (Yeah, I was pretty sur­prised too – check out the report to see why this is the case).

So what does this all mean?  Well, APAC search ≠ US search, for one thing.  But also China search ≠ Sin­ga­pore search, China PC search ≠ China mobile search, and even Bei­jing search ≠ Hong Kong search.  For dig­i­tal mar­keters try­ing to reach a global audi­ence, it’s clear that tak­ing a one-size-fits-all approach to SEM and SEO just won’t cut it.  Country-by-country and device-specific strate­gies are a must!

If your head isn’t spin­ning enough already, bear in mind that this messy sit­u­a­tion is noth­ing if not dynamic.  See for exam­ple Apple cozy­ing up to Baidu or Microsoft and Google get­ting into the mobile hard­ware busi­ness (with their respec­tive search engines securely in tow) as evi­dence that things are not going to get sim­pler any time soon.  So those coun­try and device-specific strate­gies will need to be reg­u­larly  adapted to account for new tech­nolo­gies and shift­ing alliances.

So what do you think?  How well is your com­pany doing at tai­lor­ing its SEM and SEO strate­gies to spe­cific geo­gra­phies?  Are you ready for the incom­ing wave of mobile search traffic?

If you just can’t get enough, check out what my col­league Tamara Gaffney (@tama­rag) has writ­ten about her expe­ri­ence with our report here.

And please, look for me on Twit­ter: @scottneuner