Methodology of the
WorldPR Global Leadership Ranking 2018 ©

What Countries and Territories are Included?

The WorldPR Global Leadership Ranking 2018© includes the 193 officially recognised member countries of the United Nations, five recognised states that are not members of the UN (Kosovo, Taiwan, the Vatican, the Cook Islands and Niue), and Palestine, which although not a sovereign state was granted non-member UN Observer Status in November 2012. In recognition of the important roles they play in the world economy and their ability to compete successfully with sovereign states, it also includes fourteen non-sovereign economic and financial centres (e.g., the British Virgin Islands, Cayman Islands and Hong Kong). Since 2015, we have included Islamic State (also known as IS, ISIS, ISIL, or Daesh).   We do so for one reason only: the extraordinary worldwide salience it has achieved because of its extremist media campaign, brutal tactics and ability to disrupt established economies and challenge the authority of sovereign states across the Middle East and parts of Africa.

Since 2016, we have also included the European Union in the WorldPR Global Leadership Ranking in recognition of its prominence on the world stage as a powerful politico-economic union with an internal single market.

How was the WorldPR Global Leadership Ranking 2018© Created?

The WorldPR Global Leadership Ranking 2018© stems from a fundamental belief that global leadership patterns are best understood by comparing and analysing the salience, or international brand recognition, of different countries.   As a solid foundation upon which to build, we offer the following six key measures of a nation’s brand, which we derive from the most recent data available.

To access the WorldPR Global Leadership Ranking 2018©, please visit here .

[NOTE: WorldPR researchers compiled the data for this edition of the GLR during January and February, 2018, using carefully constructed and systematic advanced Google searches and other means.]

  • Western Perception Index (WPI):   Most countries want to know where they stand with respect to the West.   This is understandable given that, since the Second World War and up until very recently, the structure and functioning of many of the world’s financial, economic and political institutions – and even the language of international business – have been largely determined by Western countries.   However, defining the “West” is not an exact science. The definition used here is based on what we believe most people understand the West to be: a powerful configuration of cultural, political, economic and military allegiances that rank prominent in contemporary history, strongly influence the character of global institutions and privilege the English language. The Western Perception Index ranks countries according to their visibility and standing in the West.

    To create the Western Perception Index, we collated the number of Google hits each country garners in sixteen major Western countries: the US, Canada, the UK, France, Germany, Belgium, the Netherlands, Luxembourg, Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Italy, Spain, Australia, New Zealand and Switzerland.   We compiled these from web pages originating in the Western countries then calculated the average for each of the 213 countries, territories and other entities listed.   These average scores form the Western Perception Index. Note that for each major Western country, we excluded from the average those hits for that country on sites originating there in order to avoid heavily skewing the table in its favour.

    The Western Perception Index appears in two versions. The first is a ranking based on the cumulative number of Google hits a country has amassed in each of the 16 Western countries over time and regardless of when the website was last updated. The second is based on the number of hits it has gotten on sites updated in the past year. A comparison of the two versions reveals the impact of current events on a country’s salience, regardless of whether those events are perceived as positive or negative.

    This comparison also illustrates why our methodology places such importance on salience as a reliable indicator of brand recognition. Consider, for example, North Korea, which ranks 18th on the Western Perception Index when only those hits to websites updated in the past year are considered but 146th in terms of the number of hits it has amassed on all websites.   This difference is attributable to the worldwide attention focused on it due to its provocative missile tests and taunting of the American President.   Similarly, Yemen ranks 96th in terms of hits to recently updated websites but only 145th when all websites are considered, a difference that reflects the increased attention drawn by the bloody conflict there. In terms of its presence on websites updated in the past year, Myanmar ranks 79th but in terms of its presence on all websites it ranks 125th. In this case, the difference can be traced to the worldwide attention the brutal repression of its ethnic Rohingya population has attracted.

  • Trading Group Perception Index (TGPI): This index measures a country’s standing within its regional trading group (e.g., CIS, EFTA, ASEAN).   It is calculated as the average of a country’s Google hits on web pages originating in each of the other countries in its trading group. This year, for example, Canada tops NAFTA, Thailand heads ASEAN, and Peru leads in MERCOSUR.

    In addition to full members, we include countries that are currently suspended from their trading group, as suspension does not always incur a practical trade embargo within the group.   Some countries that do not belong to a recognised trade group are considered part of a similar regional institution (e.g., the Central American Parliament). Throughout the WorldPR Global Leadership Ranking 2018©, we treat these in the same way as a trade group. Other countries are not members of a trading group but have very close ties to one.   We include such countries in those trade groups as special cases. Angola and the DRC belong to two trading groups and are footnoted accordingly.

  • Major Trading Partner Perception Index (MTPPI):   This index reflects a country’s standing amongst its major trading partners.   It is calculated as the average of the number of Google hits a country garners in countries that are its top export trading partners.   Unless otherwise indicated, the top trading partners were taken from the CIA World Factbook (https:///www.cia.gov/library/publications/resources/the-world-factbook/).

    We include this separate trade measure because, although most of a nation’s trade tends to be with countries within its own trade group, its single largest trading partner may fall outside that group.   Important examples are China, Japan and India, which are members of the SAARC but have the USA, which is in NAFTA, as their largest export partner.

    The Major Trading Partner Perception Index differs from the Trading Group Perception Index in that major trading partners are not necessarily members of the countrys trading group.   Tourism does not factor in this measure and is included as separate index in our study.

  • Investor Perception Index (IPI):   This is a measure of how individual countries are perceived in the world’s three leading financial centres: the UK, the US and Hong Kong.   It is measured as an average of the number of hits a country receives aggregated by compiling hits for [“name of country” “investment”] on sites originating in those financial centres.   On this measure, the US, Japan and France top the list, in that order.

  • Tourist Perception Index (TPI):   This measure derives from the most recent data available from the UN World Tourism Organisation for each country (http://www2.unwto.org/or http://www.e-unwto.org/doi/book/10.18111/9789284416899) supplemented by the most recent data available from the World Bank (http://data.worldbank.org/indicator/ST.INT.RCPT.CD).

    We rank the countries according to two variables, one economic and the other social.   The first, which is by international tourist receipts (in millions of $US), ranks each country according to the amount of revenue it receives from international tourism.   The second, which is by number of international arrivals (in millions), ranks each country according to the number of foreign visitors it hosts.   Both are necessary to achieve a full picture of tourism’s impact because some countries are more expensive than others, which creates a disjuncture between tourism receipts and number of foreign visitors.   Switzerland, for instance, ranks 22nd in tourism receipts but 34th in number of visitors, whereas Greece ranks 23rd in terms of receipts but 14th in terms of visitors.

  • Historical Footprint:   This measure of the overall impression made by a country is derived from the total number of hits it registers on the Refseek search engine (http://www.refseek.com/).   This unique database references more than a billion academic and media publications produced over time.   At present, the USA, India, Canada, and France have the largest historical footprints.

What Challenges do Internet Searches Pose to Nation Branding?

WorldPR researchers encountered several logistical problems in first constructing the original WorldPR Global Leadership Ranking in 2013, and in developing the ranking in subsequent years.   Although largely unrecognised, these same problems confront countries, and very often to their detriment.   However, when viewed as challenges, these problems highlight new opportunities for nation-branding.

We identified the following major types of problem. For each problem type we note the specific challenge posed to countries, propose a solution, and describe how the problem was addressed in constructing the WorldPR Global Leadership Ranking 2018©Not every country faces every challenge and some countries face multiple challenges. However, as the WorldPR Global Leadership Ranking 2018© clearly demonstrates, every country must pay attention to its brand salience on the internet.

The Jersey Problem:   Some countries and territories have overlapping names — Jersey (bailiwick)/New Jersey (US state), Mexico/New Mexico (US state), Georgia (country)/Georgia (US state), Guinea/Papua New Guinea/Equatorial Guinea/Guinea-Bissau; Samoa/American Samoa (US territory), Montserrat (island)/Montserrat (Spanish peak), Sudan/South Sudan, Congo/Democratic Republic of the Congo.

  • Country challenge:   How to increase the country’s positive visibility on the internet as reflected on the first ten pages of results from a Google (or similar) search.
  • Proposed solution:   Devise an effective Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) strategy to move the country up the results list by increasing the number of relevant hits it gets relative to the number of irrelevant hits.   Pair this with a strategy to move the positive or desirable country-specific hits up the list and the negative, undesirable or irrelevant hits down.
  • GLR 2018 construction strategy:   Devise reasonable ways to limit results to those most relevant (e.g., “jersey” -“new jersey”; “georgia” -“state” -“atlanta”).

 

The Georgia Problem:   Georgia, Jordan, and Chad are common personal names, which inflates the number of hits.

  • Country challenge:    How to increase the country's positive visibility as reflected on the first ten pages of results from an Internet search.
  • Proposed solution:   Devise a SEO strategy to move the country up the results list by increasing the number of hits it gets relative to hits for personal names.   Pair this with a strategy that targets the positive or desirable country hits.
  • GLR 2018 construction strategy:   No solution found.

 

The Burma Problem:   Some countries were known by different names in the past — Burma/Myanmar, Netherlands/Holland, Zimbabwe/Rhodesia, East Timor/Timor-Leste, etc.

  • Country challenge:   How to increase the current brand's positive visibility on the first ten pages of results from an Internet search without significantly reducing the number of desirable references to the country's complex history and rich heritage.
  • Proposed solution:   Devise a SEO strategy to move the current brand up the results list and the obsolete brand down while retaining positive references to the country's history and heritage.
  • GLR 2018 construction strategy:   The current name reflects the present-day brand, therefore search by that name rather than by all historic names, which would inflate the number of hits.

 

The Cote d'Ivoire Problem:   Some countries are known by foreign language equivalents — e.g., Cote d'Ivoire/Ivory Coast, Tchad/Chad.

  • Country challenge:   How to increase the country's positive visibility under all foreign language name equivalents on the first ten pages of results from an Internet search.
  • Proposed solution:   Devise a SEO strategy aimed at linking different versions of the name so that a search for one will yield results for the others without generating irrelevant hits or duplication.
  • GLR 2018 construction strategy:   Since these are foreign language name equivalents, search for all the names using the ["country name" OR "country name"] format.

 

The Bosnia & Herzegovina Problem:   Some countries comprise more than one discrete territorial entity, each of which can appear alone on web pages — e.g., Bosnia & Herzegovina, Antigua & Barbuda, Trinidad & Tobago, St. Kitts & Nevis, St. Vincent & The Grenadines, the United Kingdom and its constituent parts.

  • Country challenge:   How to increase the positive visibility of the country and its constituent parts on the first ten pages of results from an Internet search.
  • Proposed solution:   Devise a SEO strategy to link the constituent parts with the country brand and to move the parts and the brand up the results list without creating hit inflation.
  • GLR 2018 construction strategy:   Since the constituent parts factor in brand salience, search for them all using the ["country name" OR "constituent part"] format rather than by the compound name.   To search by the compound name only would greatly reduce the number of hits.   (Exceptions: Sao Tome & Principe and Turks & Caicos Islands, which act as singular entities.)

 

The United States Problem:   Some countries are referred to by acronyms or shortened versions of their name — e.g., United States of America/America/United States/USA/US, United Kingdom/UK, United Arab Emirates/UAE, Democratic Republic of the Congo/Democratic Republic of Congo/DRC.

  • Country challenge:    When conducting an Internet search, how to capture the relevant hits associated with all permutations of the country name and thereby generate the most accurate number of hits.
  • Proposed solution:   Devise a SEO strategy to link the different versions of the name and thereby generate the most accurate number of hits for the brand without creating duplication.   Pair this with a longer-term SEO strategy to gradually create a clear association between one permutation of the name and the country brand.
  • GLR 2018 construction strategy:   Since different designations for a country appear on the same page, which can create hit inflation, search by the most commonly used name only.

 

The Turkey Problem:   Turkey (country)/turkey (bird); China (country)/china (dishes); Jordan (country)/Jordan (Michael Jordan, Air Jordan shoes by Nike); Palau (country)/Palau (various place name and Spanish-language usages); Jersey (bailiwick)/jersey (shirts, sweaters), etc.

  • Country challenge:     How to increase the country's positive visibility on the first ten pages of results from a Internet search.
  • Proposed solution:   Devise a SEO strategy to move the country up the results list by increasing the number of hits it gets relative to the irrelevant hits.   Pair this with a strategy to move the positive or desirable country hits up the list and the negative, undesirable or irrelevant hits down.
  • GLR 2018 construction strategy:   No overall solution found.   Reasonable ways to narrow results are difficult to find.   What works on one region's web pages does not work on another's.

 

The EU Problem:   EU tourism data can be vague and unreliable due to the open borders, especially within the Schengen Zone.

  • Country challenge:   How to compile accurate tourism statistics for strategic planning.
  • Proposed solution:   Develop and implement an accurate and effective country-specific data collection strategy.
  • GLR 2018 construction strategy:   No perfect solution found.   Use the best available data.

 

Google Structure:   Google has universalised its searches across all top-level domains (e.g., .com, .uk, .fr) since 2013, consequently a search on google.co.uk and google.fr generates similar results.   Google also personalises and geolocalises search returns.

  • Country challenge:   Any issues with a country’s internet presence are now also universalised, creating a more urgent need for their resolution.
  • Proposed solution:   Devise a SEO strategy to move the country up all results lists by increasing the overall number of hits it gets relative to irrelevant hits.   Pair this with a strategy to move the positive or desirable country hits up the list and the negative, undesirable or irrelevant hits down.   Analyse the content of all country-specific hits and devise a SEO strategy to alter the content, if necessary.
  • GLR 2018 construction strategy:   Narrow by host country using the Google Advanced Search region function.   Because English is the dominant but not only language on the internet, not limiting by language generates the greatest and most meaningful number of hits.   Strategies for addressing the issue of personalised and geolocalised search returns are currently being tested and will be incorporated in the next GLR release.