Why Coming In Second Can Be A Good Thing

Sometimes being European can be very frustrating. Let me rephrase that: when it comes to internet, tech and search, being a European is very, very frustrating. Why? Because Europe always comes in second. Cool new things like Google’s Nexus phone, the iPad or even Bing are invariably launched in the US and Europeans have to wait to get them. This may sound like I just want your pity, but I don’t. Far from it. Though as a consumer it would be very nice to get those things earlier, there are also a lot of benefits in coming in second, as an online marketeer. Coming in second also gives Europeans an advantage over the US.

First, lets take a look at some of the differences between Europe and the US. What do Europeans miss out on compared to US users? Let’s take Bing and Google’s universal search as examples. In Europe only the UK has the “updated version” of Bing. The rest of Europe is still looking at Live Search, only with a Bing logo placed on top. According to Microsoft, France and then Germany will soon get “true” Bing search, but other countries might be forced to wait even longer.

When Google launched universal search it took a while before Europe was able to enjoy its pleasures. Slowly but surely universal search results have appeared in European versions of Google, but there are still many queries which do not have universal search results. And what’s more important: most Europeans haven’t optimized for it yet.

So, what does it matter that Europeans sometimes have to wait for developments to reach the old continent? So they wait a little, who cares. Well, waiting for a development which is already out somewhere else can also offer some benefits. Benefits which US sites focused on Europe can also use for their own good. Two of these benefits are learning and being first.

Learning. When a product is launched in the US but not in Europe it’s important to keep your eyes open and learn. You can actually learn from what happens in the US and use it for your own benefit: what works and what doesn’t? When the product then comes to Europe you can immediately do the right thing.

Be the first. If you know something works in the US you gain a huge benefit—the benefit of being first. Since some updates, products or possibilities in search engines are not yet available in some countries most website owners won’t bother with optimizing for them. But that’s the wrong attitude! Optimize for them now and you will most definitely benefit from it when the new features are rolled out in Europe. You’ll be the first who will have optimized and therefore will gain the most.

A few of things to keep in mind

It is important that when you want to be the first or want to implement that what you’ve learned in the US in Europe to consider the following:

  • Some things never get to Europe or Europeans just don’t like or get it. It could be that some of your efforts won’t get the wanted results because Europeans react differently than Americans.
  • If you decide to wait for the service to actually land in Europe, be sure to figure out which countries do have the features. That the UK has them almost never means the Netherlands has them too.
  • Be sure to look at legal issues. You have to know what the legal consequences could be. For example Google now has some issues with Google Analytics in Germany and with Streetview in Denmark. If Denmark really decides to ban Streetview any investment you make will be useless.

But in general it really comes to this: the early launch in the US offers chances to get the head start in Europe you don’t have in the US.

Opinions expressed in the article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Search Engine Land.

Related Topics: Channel: SEO | Multinational Search


About The Author: is a Web/search strategist, international search specialist, trainer, and well-respected blogger. Bas is well informed about what's going on in the world of Internet and search marketing worldwide and especially Europe. Bas is the owner of Stateofsearch.com and also posts regularly on his personal blog.

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  • http://www.thedigitalconsultant.co.uk thedigitalconsultant

    Great post Bas, it’s an interesting point. Often you’ll see Americans commenting on how they get all the latest gadgets and online technology first. But as you rightly say it is a great opportunity to get rid of those teething problems and use some of the data to see how things can be improved.

    I have to comment on the use of the term “European”, whilst many of us in Europe enjoy the benefits of such diversity of language and culture, it can mean Europe wide campaigns can be a headache. That’s because each individual country in Europe is its own country with its own history and culture. You do mention this in your post, but I thought it necessary to being this to closer attention.

    What will work in the UK may not and probably won’t work in Germany or Spain. It’s really important, when dealing with these countries is not to think of Europe as a whole!

  • http://www.searchcowboys.com Bas van den Beld

    Hi digitalconsultant, thanks for your comment. I couldn’t agree more on your “European” comment, one of my first columns actually was all about that topic (http://searchengineland.com/european-seo-is-more-than-just-using-different-languages-25561).


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