Who Does It Better: Yahoo Japan or Google Japan?

Yahoo has been serving Bing’s organic search results in most markets since 2010, but Yahoo Japan, which is a separate entity from Yahoo.com, has been partnered with Google Japan, and serves Google Japan’s organic search results.

Between Yahoo Japan and Google Japan, they have more than 90 percent of the search market share.

This means that if you optimize well for Google Japan, you will also do well 90 percent of the time in the Japanese search market. However, the two search engine results are not made equal, and each still maintains its own unique features.

That may be one of the reasons why more people use Yahoo Japan’s search function than Google Japan – even five years into the partnership.

It is interesting to compare the search results for the same search queries to see how they are still different, and who is doing it better. Understanding this nuance may help marketers to maximize their audience targeting for optimal exposure.

While Yahoo Japan is using Google Japan’s organic search results, it is also injecting much of Yahoo Japan’s unique content, which is often placed prominently in the search result pages.

The type of Yahoo Japan’s unique content that shows up in the result pages depends on the search query category. Many of them have images, which is more likely to catch search users’ attention better than the text results on the page.

It means that if you want to maximize the opportunities in Yahoo Japan’s search results, you’ll need to optimize related content that is unique to Yahoo Japan such as News and Chiebukuro (Q&A).

Search Query: 頭痛 (Headache)

Yahoo returned search for ‘headache’:

Google returned search for ‘headache’:


For this query, Yahoo Japan added four unique elements (highlighted in the red boxes). The page titles in the blue boxes are the same pages, but Google has changed the titles.

Note the addition of the images in the Yahoo search, which all represent “headaches” and therefore potentially increase the searchers’ interest.

Search Query: 広島東洋カープ (Hiroshima Toyo Carp)

Returned Yahoo search for Hiroshima Toyo Carp:


Returned Google search for Hiroshima Toyo Carp:


The Hiroshima Carp are a professional baseball team in Japan. Here, you see Yahoo Japan added three unique content elements, specifically the upcoming game schedule, while Google Japan shows its own score information at the top of the page.

Google displays Wikipedia information in its knowledge graph on the right column, and shows news from different sources.

Search Query: お好み焼き (Okonomiyaki)

Returned Yahoo search query for Okonomiyaki:


Returned Google search query for Okonomiyaki:


Okonomiyake, commonly referred to as “Japanese Pizza,” is a common dish with a cult following in Japan.

For this query, Google shows many pictures of the dish with information from Wikipedia in the right column. It also shows news articles, which are different from what shows up in Yahoo Japan’s result page.

Yahoo Japan shows three unique elements. While Google shows site links to similar products under Wikipedia information, the site links on Yahoo’s Wikipedia page are linking to pages related to Okonomiyaki.


Similar differences between the two sites are evident in other searches. In general, Yahoo Japan seemed to use more pictures, and their unique content offered results from a variety of sources.

Another interesting fact to note is that the suggested search queries are different between them. For example, “headache medicine,” “headache causes,” and “headache pressure points” are the first three related queries Yahoo gives, and “hay fever headache,” “over slept headache,” and “pregnancy headache” are the first three related queries Google gives.

These simple comparisons demonstrates that the keyword targeting opportunities between these search engines are different, and that you should conduct separate keyword research to understand the content needs as well as to refine pay-per-click ad campaigns for each site.

Homepage image via Shutterstock.

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