As a Digital Marketing agency in Japan, we are often asked this question from our clients. This article introduces some of the latest statistics on Japan’s search engine market share. Understanding what is the most popular search engine will help formulate the best SEO strategies for optimizing your site to the Japanese audience.
Here is the data on Search Engine Market Share in Japan for 2022 by StatCounter.
As you can see from the graph above, Google is the most used search engine for Desktop, Tablet, and Mobile (as of May 2022).
The Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications indicates in this source that the search engine share in Japan is as below (as of August 2018).
When we examine the historical data, the results also show that Google has owned most of the market share in Japan over the past 10 years. Yahoo’s market share increased up to about 37% at the end of 2015, but it has been decreasing in the last five years. Google is now at 77% overall.
As widely known, Yahoo Japan has been using Google’s algorithm since 2011. With their similar functionalities, optimizing your website for Google can also yield results for Yahoo in terms of SEO.
However, Yahoo Search will often show different items in the organic search results. Take a look at the screenshot below for the similarities and differences. Yahoo JP is on the top, and Google is on the bottom. The keyword used for this example is オリジナルTシャツ (Original T-Shirts).
If you search this term, you will get a very mixed result. Some sources might say that Yahoo is the most popular site. For example, this 2021 report by Nielsen outlined the online user trends in Japan as below.
This data indicates that Yahoo is more popular than Google in Japan.
On the other hand, the data in the earlier section clearly indicates Google is more popular. How can it be? Let me clarify these 2 points.
In Japan, Yahoo is one of the most used news media. In fact, Yahoo is the number 1 visited news site in Japan. It is especially popular among users under the age of 30.
Besides the news, Yahoo has popular content such as finance, weather, and over 100 other services. These services as a whole make Yahoo the MOST VISITED SITE in Japan.
Most users consume content on Yahoo, but do not use Yahoo as a search engine. As the data indicates, about 77% of the online users in Japan use Google as their main search engine.
Google is the most popular search engine in Japan with a share of 77%. Yahoo Japan is the #2 search engine; however, they use Google’s core search algorithms. It should be noted, there may be differences in the search results pages due to Ads, local Maps packs, News items and more.
On the other hand, Yahoo is the most “popular” website in Japan, which sometimes leads to some confusion.
From an SEO point of view, it is safe to treat both engines the same. However, for paid search ads (PPC ads), the ads display tools are different. As a result, there are differences in what ads are displayed.
Overall, understanding the search engine market share in Japan, including the similarities and differences of top search engines, is an essential piece to devising the best digital marketing strategies for the Japanese market.
Original article by Shinaku “Shin” Ohno. Updated by Jeff Crawford with help from Kiyoto, Yuka & Mariko.
Jeff Crawford is a Digital Marketing expert, technologist and Manager. He has worked for technology companies in Silicon Valley such as Apple, WebTV and Microsoft. He has lived in Tokyo Japan since 2004, working for companies such as Microsoft KK and Adobe Systems Japan. Jeff is founder of Zo Digital Japan, an SEO and Digital Marketing agency based in Tokyo. Jeff started the Tokyo Digital Marketers Meetup in 2016, which now has over 2000 members. He has also presented about Digital Marketing at such events as Ad-Tech Tokyo, WordCamp Tokyo, Japan Market Expansion Competition (JMEC), and the Japan Association of Translators (JAT).