Baidu is the number one and the most popular search engine in China, with an approximate number of 60 percent of the country’s market share. It was founded by Robin Li and Eric Xu on the 18th of January 2000. Baidu is ranked as the 5th search engine in the world and 1st for China and Chinese users, and is the first company to be included in the NASDAQ-100 index last December 2007.
Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
Search Engine Optimization or SEO is the process of getting traffic or visitors in a webpage on a search engine to obtain a high-ranking placement in the search results page. Basically, the goal is for your website to rank on the first page or ideally as number one in the natural results to give you maximum visibility. All major search engines, like Google, Baidu, Yahoo, Bing, have such results.
Baidu SEO is different from Google SEO
Baidu and Google are not the same. One is not just the Chinese version of the other, it doesn’t work the same way for ranking websites. These two have different objectives, as well as different techniques in working. It is especially important to study and understand Baidu SEO when investing in China, even though you already mastered Google SEO.
Baidu and Bing
Since Google’s exit in China due to censorship issues, Baidu held control in the Chinese search engine market. But, Microsoft’s Bing has always been present in the Chinese online market for the past few years, although holding only 2% market share. Recently however, Baidu and Bing decided and announced partnership, saying that some of the search results found on Bing will be in Baidu as well, and vice versa.
Having a solid top 3 ranking on Bing for both your English website and Chinese website could mean lasting visibility in the Chinese market.
Getting high rankings on Baidu is a crucial part to being noticed in the Chinese digital market, as Baidu is where the Chinese mass market gets their everyday information. Once proper Baidu SEO techniques are mastered, there’ll be a constant and notable increase in search engine rankings.
SEO on Baidu usually works for a long term strategy, but for short term goals, sponsored links or links via Pay per click (PPC) strategy, which we’ll talk about later, rank high.
Website/homepage and sitemap links in Baidu
One of the first important things in setting up a good Baidu SEO is a website submission to Baidu to get “indexed”. If a website is not “indexed” yet, it won’t appear in the Baidu’s search engine.
Submission of your website to Baidu’s open source platform can be found here.
Also, the submission of sitemap in Baidu can help them find all the pages of your website. Link the target webpage on your homepage properly. We advise you to maximize the links you put in the header and footer.
Sitemap submission for Baidu can be found here.
A website in Chinese
Baidu prioritizes 100% Chinese based websites as their main selling feature is that they only index simplified Chinese characters. A website and homepage in Chinese would be preferable. It is also recommended, but not required, to have the company registered to China to have a website in “.cn”.
Baidu also loves big and famous websites, with updates and regularly refreshed contents preferred.
Website hosted in China
Websites hosted in countries other than China tend to have slower loading time compared to websites hosted in China. Also, as the Chinese government is strict in controlling content and information on different websites, it is best to have a website hosted in China so the government could easily contact the Internet hosting service. Baidu gives a few penalties to the websites hosted in other countries. Of course that also means that the content of your website should be as clean as possible, avoiding topics prohibited by the government of China.
Onsite SEO: the meta data
Baidu gives a huge importance on the meta data or meta tag. This includes the meta keywords, meta descriptions, title tags, H1 and H2 tags, and Alt tags. Having these tags will hugely help with the rankings of the website. We mostly choose a meta tag according to what we researched as the most used keywords on Baidu and based on the competition, then choose good pages to optimize those keywords.
The Baidu Index and the Baidu Live keyword feed helps people to see which keywords are performing well.
When it comes to the keywords and the site text, the following should be considered:
- You should also anchor words on internal links, so there’s always a link on one of your pages to another of your pages. It can help a lot in rankings,
- The website should also have easy navigation with clear hierarchy,
- Minimizing Frame and iFrame is also a must, since there’s strong evidence suggesting that Baidu’s disregarding iFrame content.
- Content at the top is recommended as well, since Baidu often experiences poor connectivity and is notorious for only ready the first 100 to 120 kilobytes of your content,
- And like other search engines, always update your webpage as Baidu likes regularly refreshed content.
Promotion and marketing of your website across the internet in different relevant locations help in building the reputation and fame of your website. There are quite a few ways in promoting your website to Baidu through offsite SEO, some of these are:
- Promoting your brand in as many different Chinese websites as possible like posting relevant content of your website, videos, and images,
- Posting/ submitting news to Baidu News Protocol could gain higher ranks from Baidu and help more visitors see your website.
- Using Chinese characters for your entire post as an anchor text back to your website could attract Baidu even more, and
- Submitting pages of your website to Baidu Bookmarks could help these pages get indexed quicker.
Inbound links or also known as links to your website is an important ranking factor for Baidu. The more other websites linking to your website, the better. Baidu doesn’t mind if the quality of links are reputable or not, as long as there are many links linking to your website, the SEO will be affected. Chinese links however, are very important. Getting links from reputable and well-ranking Chinese sites are much more important for Baidu, than getting links from English sites.
Baidu consideration for this is quite different from inbound links as the weighing factor is hard to quantify. The most useful thing to do is to link your website to other sites if it is relevant to the reader.
Pay Per Click (PPC) Strategy
Baidu Phoenix Nest is Baidu’s pay-per-click platform, much like Google’s Ad Words, although Baidu’s platform ranks websites depending on the money transactions and Ad Words rank theirs through the importance of website content. The higher level of the money transacted, the higher the ranking in Baidu.
Baidu SEO for the Chinese market
With more than 641.6 million internet users in China today, China is the biggest online market in the world. It is attracting many businesses around the globe, and they are all trying to penetrate the Chinese web. With more than 80% market share in the Chinese internet, Baidu is the most recommended and required search engine to enter that will surely be seen by the target market.
As you may have seen above, the Chinese internet is very complicated with its administration, culture, and language requirements. We are an SEO agency specialized in the search engine Baidu, we’d like to help in any way we can.