IDN Domains & technology compatibility
After reading the post on Outrider Australia’s Blog by Ian Lavelle about IDN Domains I decided to write a post about technology compatibility. His final quote made me realize many might think that these domains are not here yet, or that search technology is not already compatible.
“Google Webmaster Tools and Analytics are two great resources for webmasters to track diagnostic issues and monitor user activity on your site, but whether Google opens their services up to non-latin character based websites remains to be seen.”
Below I have started to list a very good resource of what is compatible with these IDN Domains.
For those who haven’t heard your clients will next year be able to have full domains in written in language scripts other than latin based alphabet. For example full domains in Chinese, Japanese, Russian, Korean, and/or Arabic. This will start with ccTLDs (Country domains .cn, .jp, etc). I will use .jp as an example since I’m in Japan. Currently you can already register IDNs in dot jp. For example if I own ダイヤモンド.jp (Diamond.jp) when approved people in Japan will also be able to own .日本 (Japan). The registry in Japan has already announced registered holders of the “Domain.jp” will be the ones who have the option of the “Domain.日本” for the same domain.
Since .日本 is not yet available I can go through what is already IDN domain friendly & how far technology has gotten to. I have personally been testing these domains for more than 4 years already for SEO & marketing value.
A) Search Engines
The search engines are fairly familiar with these domains & have been adding IDN compatibility over the last several years.
Search listings results show IDN domains already. Here is an example below. Keyword as an SEO factor in the domain is only an option for the Japanese market if the domain is in Japanese too. This is the same logic for Chinese, Korean, & Arabic etc.
If you search for the Domain plus extension there is a high possibility it will be the number one position in the search results. For example if a site ホノルル.jp & in English letters Honolulu.jp both have the brand in Japanese “ホノルル.jp”, if Japanese users search for the term exactly without quotes the IDN Domain only has to be indexed to beat out the Honolulu.jp because to a search engine “ホノルル” & Honolulu are as relevant as ホノルル & any other term in English.
Yahoo Japan is also already IDN compatible. Yahoo Japan & other Yahoo sites already display IDN Domains natively in the search results. One difference between Yahoo & Google that I have found is if a user searches for the domain & extension with or without quotes it is currently guaranteed first place position in the search results. I have tested this & no amount of SEO or links can make another domain get a better ranking. On Google another domain ranking higher is possible but not on Yahoo.
Live.com’s search results weren’t IDN compatible. With the revamp of Bing the domains are now shown natively in the search results. If you search for a keyword plus domain it does not have a great chance of showing up in higher positions in Bing. There still needs to be more testing.
Baidu does not show IDN Domain sites in native Unicode. It shows the domains in punycode. Even if you search for the domain plus domain extension it will most likely not show up in the search results. I also have only tried this from Tokyo.
Here is an example of the search results from Baidu.
The largest search engine from Russia seems to not be very IDN compatible as of yet. The domains don’t show in the results when searched for. If the domains show in the results they are in Punycode.
Daum (Korean Search)
The Korean search portal is already IDN compatible. By doing a search for a developed Korean IDN Domain without quotes Daum brought these results. This is in the middle of the page with the natural search listings. I have not tested Korea domains thoroughly.
Naver (Korean Search)
Naver does not display the domains in Unicode & even searching for a domain with extension does not bring up a developed Korean domain. Here is one Korean IDN developed site I found in the search results.
B) PAID SEARCH
Both Google Adwords & Yahoo Search Marketing can accept IDN in search ads. The Domain can not be displayed in Unicode yet. This is a paid search ad on Yahoo using an IDN Domain.
C) MOBILE SEARCH
1. Google Mobile Japan
The search listings for Google Japan mobile are IDN domain compatible & results show domains names natively.. The algorithm for mobile search is also different from PC search listings. There is a possibility that the domain name may have more value as a factor in the mobile search results. There is not much of any published data on this as of yet. All non Softbank cell phones in Japan have Google Mobile as the default search engine.
2. Yahoo Japan Mobile
Unlike the PC search results for Yahoo, IDN domains show as punycode in the mobile search results. Domains are indexed correctly & do show in results.
D) SEO TOOLS
1. Google Page Rank
Years ago IDN domains did not show Google page rank but currently IDN domains & Google page rank are compatible.
2. Google Webmaster tools
Google Webmaster Tools has been IDN compatible for a few years now. Domains can be used in native form.
3. Yahoo Search Explorer
Yahoo Search Explorer is also IDN compatible. This has been IDN compatible for a few years also.
4. Google Analytics
Google Analytics is IDN compatible. I have always put in the domain as punycode & named the profile with the Japanese domain name. There is only one current tracking issue. Browser stats show IE7 & IE8 as IE6. I have contacted Google about this issue. There is a code work around that I have yet to test.
This is just a really quick overview of tools we are all familiar with & their compatibility with these domains.