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 2023 data on Search Engine Market Share in Japan by StatCounter.
As you can see from the graph above, Google is the most popular search engine in Japan for Desktop, Tablet, and Mobile (as of Jan 2023).
As of January 2023, here is the overall search engine marketing share according to Stat Counter.
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 to about 37% at the end of 2015, but it has been gradually decreasing in the last seven years. Google is now at 77% overall. One interesting trend is the rise of Bing in Japan. It is now up to 7.2% market share, which is catching up to Yahoo Japan at 15%.
As widely known, Yahoo Japan has been using Google’s algorithms since 2011. With their similar functionalities, optimizing your website for Google can also yield SEO results for Yahoo.
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 “Is Yahoo More Popular than Google?”, you will get a very mixed result. Some sources might say that Yahoo is the most popular site. For example, this 2022 report by Nielsen outlined the online user trends in Japan as shown below.
These data indicate 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’s 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.
Google is the most popular search engine in Japan with a 77% market share. Yahoo is #2 with 15% although it is decreasing. Bing is rising with 7% market share, perhaps getting a boost from the ChatGPT effect.
The Yahoo Japan Search Engine uses Google’s algorithms. So core organic search results are the same in terms of ranking. However, Google or Yahoo may insert its own unique search features such as Google Map Pack or Yahoo-Shopping / News. Also for PPC Ads specialists, the paid ads operation tools are completely different.
While Google is the #1 search engine, Yahoo is the most popular site in Japan.
Finally, it should be noted that Yahoo Japan is not owned by Yahoo in the US, and the technologies used are completely different. So no assumptions can be made between the Yahoo US and Yahoo JP search Engines.
Overall, understanding the search engine market share in Japan, including the similarities and differences of top search engines, is an essential piece to coming up with 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 & Yuto.
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).