Why you need to do SEO on Baidu in China
Introduction : the situation of internet in China
What place does Baidu have on Chinese internet? Let’s see some figures about this subject.
China had 591 million internet users in July 2013, but it’s always increasing. (source BBC ) , and there exists 242 millions of Chinese Internet users who go shopping online , with business transactions of 1.25 Trillion RMB in year 2012.
Moreover, 90% of professional buyers start their research on the Internet. So internet and the search engines are very important when someone wants to do marketing in China.
There exist several search engines in China, but Baidu is the leading search engine in Chinese internet. It is ranked 5th in the world, and first in China, which is the biggest market of internet users.
Baidu’s main competitor is Qihoo 360, who partnered with google in January 2013, to help to sell search ads. It may also take a part in Bing, and acquire Sohu.com‘s Sogou search engine. It has now 15% of the search market. So it is an important competitor of Baidu, and it has a very aggressive strategy.
But to counter that, Baidu created its own anti-virus, which used to be the strength of Qihoo, and it introduced a mobile browser for Android devices late last summer. So Baidu is probably going to stay the leading browser for now. It is then important to know how it works.
When we compare western and Chinese use of internet, it seems that westerners have a more professional use of internet, while Chinese users prefer to use is for entertainment. Baidu understands this very well, and created music search, movie search, mobile search, and other products, which helps a lot to keep it as a leader. This is the main strength of Baidu: it understands the Chinese market and needs, which are not the same in other countries.
Chatting and communicating is also very important, this is why Baidu has also Baidu Knows (or Baidu Zhidao, a Q&A style site), and Baidu Post Bar (a User generated content website).
Source China Internet watch
SEO on Baidu
SEO, Search Engine Optimization, is the art of trying to rank the highest possible a website on a search engine, possibly without paying. So it is a work on keywords in the content and in the code of the website, and on special tools like linkage coming from other websites, inner links, a sitemap, etc…
There are several things to know when someone wants to create a website in China and have a good place on Baidu, when we want to do SEO on Baidu.
SEO is different from PPC (Pay per click), which is a form of sponsored online advertising where the advertiser pays only if a web user clicks on his advertisement. SEO on Baidu usually works better for a long term strategy. But for a short term, sponsored links rank high. You can see the difference with these words following the link: 推广 (tuiguang : sponsored) or 百度快照 (Baidu kuaizhao : the natural ranking).
To know what is better to rank high, it is important to know what the competitors are doing: if they all are focused on sponsored links, it can be smarter to concentrate on SEO.
Let’s focus on SEO!
Baidu and Google don’t work the same way for ranking websites.
In fact, for example, the several Baidu websites make the SEO on Baidu different from Google and very special: Baidu refers 27% of the search traffic to its own web properties, with Baidu Zhidao (knows) and Baidu Tieba (Post bar). Baidu’s own properties and partners are ranked higher in general, while it is not the case on Google. You have to understand this to do SEO on Baidu, because then the Baidu pages such as Zhidao and Tieba are also very important: you have to work on these pages to be mentioned there in order to be more visible
This is Baidu Tieba 百度贴吧 for example, the largest Chinese communication platform
Online SEO (everything done ON the website to rank higher)
Baidu gives importance to the title tag and the meta tag, and the repetition of keywords.
Meta tags are invisible html commands on top of documents. The important ones are the meta keywords and meta description. The meta keywords contain keywords related to the website, and meta description describes the content of the webpage. Baidu gives a lot of importance to these tags to evaluate and rank the webpage. The keywords have to be repeated a lot.
On Baidu, the homepage of a website is also very important. In fact, it has more weight than the inner pages. You have to link the important webpages to the homepage. On Google the inner pages can also have good rankings. more information here
The website has to be hosted in China to have a better place. Baidu gives penalties to the websites hosted in other countries, because then it is harder for the Chinese government to control the content (a web host is a company allowing everybody to see your website).
It is also much better to have the whole website in chinese language.
It prefers interesting and quality content, with a lot of webpages, well organized, and often updated; with a flat site structure if possible. In fact, Baidu prefers big and popular websites. The updates are also very important. Baidu likes regularly refreshed contents.
On the opposite, Google prefers original and unique content, whatever their size and circulation, so small websites can also rank high, which is very rare on Baidu.
Baidu prefers websites with a lot of backlinks (links coming from other websites), and if possible links from popular websites and government websites. But is has to be Chinese websites! Links coming from websites in other languages, blocked websites (like Facebook, Youtube and Twitter) or competitors of Baidu are not usefull. (It has to be noticed that Baidu and Sina Weibo , the Chinese twitter, used to be competitors and eventually made a partnership).
Google prefers high quality backlinks, reliable external links. So Quantity is more important on Baidu, while quality is more important on Google.
The internal links, or anchor links, are not so important to rank high on Baidu.
The url is important on Google, with special keywords, but not on Baidu. However, it is usually better to have a url in pinyin rather than in English (Pinyin is the transcription of Chinese in Latin letters).
It is also very important to keep in mind that the Chinese internet is censored, so some words should be avoided, such as sensible political subjects, as well as pornographic contents.
SEO on Baidu needs some work, but a journey of a thousand Li starts with a single step! 😉