Global Search Marketing Numbers Are Shocking, Wake up America!

Last week I was in sunny Los Angeles for a domain conference tasked with talking about search marketing from an international perspective. It was time for me to brush up on my statistics and remind myself of the key numbers of international search -- and even I was shocked.

Since I last looked, things had moved on at speed. And despite the fact that I really didn't intend to talk about China this week, I find that I have no choice but to include some of its statistics here. I think when you see the numbers, you'll probably understand.

The main purpose of my column today is to send a wake-up call to anyone who's asleep and doesn't realize the sheer scale of the growth in the global Internet. Many Americans, (forgive me, but it's true) still think they can carry on doing business under the stars and stripes without realizing that a train is heading down the track toward them and it's already in sight.

There will soon be no such thing as "international search marketing" -- there will just be "search marketing" and a few people will still be working "locally" (i.e., in the 50 states).

Note: Many of these numbers were taken from sites such as Internet World Stats.

12% of Global Users

Once upon a time, the U.S. represented half of the global Internet. Today the U.S. represents just 12 percent of the world's iInternet users -- and it will shortly be dropping to one in 10! And when did this happen?

420 Million Users -- and That's Just Today

This is one crazy China statistic: there are 420 million Internet users in China -- a number which is advancing so rapidly that China will soon have twice as many Internet users as the U.S.

What's even crazier is that Internet penetration in China hasn't yet quite reached one-third (32 percent). If China had the same internet penetration as the U.S., for each American online connected user there would be four in China. Gulp.

100% Growth Year-on-Year in China

Growth in the fourth quarter of 2010 took the total value of China's search market to 3.85 billion yuan, according to Enfodesk. But that isn't even the scary statistic.

The scary stat is the fact that this number was 96 percent more than in the same quarter in the previous year. In other words, China's search engine market is virtually doubling year on year at the moment.

Now I remember the days when that was true of Google -- but it's certainly no longer true in that company's case. But consider that Baidu is wrapping up this market largely for themselves -- you can understand why their focus is principally on delivering well within China.

10th Place for Nigeria

What a shocker this is. We can no longer pretend Africa doesn't exist in our world.

With a whopping growth rate over the last decade of nearly 22,000 percent (no kidding!), Nigeria now has the 10th highest number of Internet users globally. Nigeria's 44 million users is more than South Korea, Mexico, or Canada -- and it's less than one-third of the population of Nigeria.

3x Internet Users in Asia

Some of us who've traveled in Asia will know this, but it's very easy to forget. Asia is vast. It's so vast, it's very difficult to even image the scale.

So forget the statistic that in the future there will be four Chinese users for every American, because even today there are three times as many Internet users in Asia as there are in the whole of North America.

280 Million IP Addresses

I've followed the growth in IP addresses for some years. For just about as long as I can remember, the U.S. has led the field, followed by the UK. We need to bear in mind that IP addresses don't correlate directly with volume of Internet use because there are many sites and activities which are U.S.- or UK-centric that demand IP addresses.

But all of a sudden, China is in second place with 280 million, coming from almost nowhere just a few years ago. Let's not forget, it's not that easy to host in China and there are other limitations too that restrict this.

The U.S. has 1.5 billion IP addresses still. When that figure is beaten by China, we'll be living in a very different world where Shanghai is the new New York.

Fastest Growing Language on the Web is...

No, for once it isn't Chinese with the fastest growing language on the web in percentage terms. It only comes in a poor third after Arabic.

Yes, that was a stunner for me, too. Only 19 percent of Arabic speakers are connected, but the rate of growth over the last decade is 2,500 percent, beating Russian at 1,825 percent into second place and Chinese after that with a 1,300 percent growth over 10 years.

5 Billion Mobile Phones

The number of mobile phone accounts in 2010, according to the Mobile World Congress: 5 billion! That's roughly 73 percent of the world's population, so somewhere around double the number of Internet connections.

Mobile phones aren't being used only as phones. They're also being used in many nations that don't have great Internet connections as an intermediate way of accessing the web. It also means that SMS remains one of the world's most important communication media!

Only 29% of the World Population is Using the Web

Imagine this: less than one-third of the world's population is using the web. Even if you assume that 100 percent is never achievable, you still have to factor that the web has the potential to double in size within most of our working lifetimes -- and that's without adding the rapid growth of smartphones.

At a very conservative estimate, more than twice as much business will be done in future as is done today. It's no surprise that international search marketing is becoming such a hot topic!

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