One of the reasons why the Chinese market is so daunting for western marketers is that its online environment is totally different, it developed in unique, Chinese specific state controlled conditions. How can you then operate in a world with no Google, is its Chinese counterpart really that different?
What is Baidu?
Baidu is China’s largest search engine. The biggest fear for SEO specialists is that when it comes down to it, all their hard-earned knowledge could be worthless. Be reassured that this is not the case. To say that Baidu is “inspired” by Google is a really an understatement. Not that they are to blame for it, learning from the best is always beneficial.
Search Engine Optimization Tools: Google is that you?
When first looking at Baidu you might have the strong feeling that you have seen this before. Indeed, the search engine’s basic visual concept is pretty simple and is not fundamentally different when it comes to the front end. However the technology behind it and the services they provide are another story.
Baidu Webmaster Tools are very similar to what Google provide you with. This gives you the ability to register your site and your site map to be tracked and indexed. It also gives you precious data about the searches relevant to your site and the average speed at which your display loads for the end user.
Search Volume or Baidu Tuiguang is different than most research tools we know in one key sense: it displays search volume on a daily basis instead of monthly. With China traffic being so unbelievably large there is enough data for even long tail keywords to show up. More info here and here in French.
Search Engine Page Results are probably the place the two search engines appear the most similar but yet there is more than meets the eye. For instance, organic and paid results are purposely not distinguishable from each other on Baidu (which recently stirred very bad PR for the company and an inquiry from the authorities over a medical scandal). Moreover, articles, products and forums post are also displayed.
Link Building is historically the way search engines have determined how successful a website is. It quickly led to spam, a lot of it. And while Google was on top of the issue, it is one of the areas where Baidu didn’t do well. They now have algorithms in place to fight it, but their technology is behind Google’s.
Research Tools are here to help website owners and marketing professionals choose what keywords to aim for. In this regard Baidu is somewhat generous, providing detailed information about the specifics of a users’ profile and geographical location.
Baidu undeniably resembles its western big brother. Having said this it is now the norm for Chinese tech giants to diverge significantly when they develop. The Chinese search giant now has its own technology, specifically geared toward Chinese users and market. It increasingly requires real expertise, not just the copy/paste strategy which still proves surprisingly effective to rank highly on Google.