India already has more online users than the US, and it’s just getting started. Here are the key considerations for getting SEO in India right.
While 59% of the population isn’t yet online, India has 560 million internet users. And internet penetration is on the rise, increasing by 21% last year. With rising incomes and eCommerce growth at 17.8%, it’s an excellent time to optimize for search in India.
SEO in India is a well-established discipline and standard procedure for many Indian brands. With relatively high English proficiency and lower workforce costs, the country boasts a large homegrown industry. Indian companies offer competitive outsourcing services to both domestic and global businesses.
While competition is high, there’s plenty of opportunity for growth in the region. Here’s how you can rank on the results page.
OPTIMIZE FOR MOBILE
Most Indians use Google on Android OS phones to search online. In contrast, Apple iOS only has 2% market share. Overall mobile internet usage is 24.7% ahead of the global average. So SEO-friendly websites must be mobile-first.
Although internet access reaches 85% in Indian cities and towns, it can dip as low as 16% in rural areas. Quick page loads and options for offline viewing will help your Indian consumers engage with your online content. You’ll be in good company, too. Both Netflix and Google have adapted their products for low connectivity.
USE LOCAL LANGUAGES
54.9% of the world’s top 10 million websites are currently in English. By contrast, Hindi-localized sites only account for 0.1%. However, this is set to change.
English-language internet users have been the minority in India since 2017. By 2021, 75% are likely to seek out localized content. While India has 19,500 languages to choose from, the most widely used include Hindi, Marathi, Bengali, Tamil, Kannada, Telugu, Gujarati, and Malayalam.
Consistent with the CSA’s “Can’t Read Won’t Buy” research, 68% of Indian internet users believe digital content in their local language is more reliable than English. And 88% of Indian consumers are more likely to respond to a digital ad in their local language.
While keeping content in English arguably makes localization and SEO in India much simpler, it likely won’t be effective. Instead, take the time to know your market and expand to one geographic location at a time. In-country expertise can provide valuable insight about local language trends and inform your SEO strategy in each locale.
SAY HELLO TO VOICE SEARCH
With 12 vowels and 36 consonants, Hindi can be tricky to fit onto a smartphone keyboard. Workarounds include using the QWERTY layout, but there are no standard phonetic translations. Many Indian languages have their own scripts, adding further complexity.
So it’s not surprising voice search in India is growing at an annual rate of 270%. Newer internet users are particularly uncomfortable with typing. They’re also less likely to use English over the languages they speak every day with family and friends.
But it’s getting easier to incorporate voice search into your Indian SEO strategy. Google Assistant supports nine major Indic languages. And companies like ride-share app Ola and food delivery service Zomato have built their own voice assistants. However, it’s important to consider how regional accents and usage vary. For more details, check out our blog post on the subject.
Relying on English to reach Indian consumers is ineffective. As more Indian users get online, the demand for local language will dominate. Because language is so diverse in India, you’ll need to develop a multilingual Indian SEO strategy to maximize your Indian market opportunity. It’s a challenge that’s worth the effort.