Would you like to learn how to rank high on Baidu and how it will help you increase your sales in China? If so, you’ve come to the right place. In this guide, we’ll teach you everything you need to know about SEO on Baidu, including how to optimize your website and get more traffic from China’s leading search engine. So whether you’re looking to improve your website ranking or simply gain a better understanding of Baidu SEO, read on for our top tips!
If your industry, company, or organization does business worldwide, there’s no denying how the Chinese market can influence how you go about your operations. China has got a large market with a substantial market share, so there’s really no escaping or finding your way around the giant from the orient — at least, not if you want to be successful or relevant.
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Speaking of which, we all know how the internet connects people worldwide. Businesses rely on it heavily in this age of globalization. Google is undisputedly the largest search engine on the planet, but did you know that it does not dominate searches in China?
Yes, China has IT industry giants, and sure enough, the country has its very own search engine with its own rules and SEO factors: Baidu. As a business wanting to thrive in the Chinese market, you have to learn how to play by its rules. Let’s get to know Baidu more and how you may take full advantage of its features to scale your business. Here’s your ultimate Baidu SEO guide.
What Is Baidu? A Brief Introduction
Baidu is actually known as the Google of China. Simply put, it’s the most popular search engine in China and the fifth most consulted site in the world today. It has a 71% market share in China. To give you a better perspective, Google searches only account for 4% of queries done in the most populous country in the world.
One can surely ascertain the strength and influence of Baidu, given the search engine’s reach. The 71% market share is definitely going to garner a lot of potential business opportunities.
Baidu is more than just a search engine; it’s also an AI company. In fact, it is one of the world’s largest AI companies. Baidu began in 2000 and is based in the Haidian District of Beijing.
Their features range from news, video, maps, and anti-virus software, to encyclopedias and internet TV. They have a system similar to Google when it comes to generating revenue from advertising.
Their top competitors are Yahoo! China, Google Hong Kong, Microsoft Bing, and a few other smaller regional players. Let’s talk more about SEO in China.
The SEO Status Quo in China
If you think that the Chinese economy is already one of the largest in the world then you’d be surprised to hear that it’s still growing and will continue to grow in size and strength for decades to come. That’s why a lot of businesses are strategically already making their way into this giant market. For example, look at how Hollywood film productions always make it a point to tap the Chinese market for box office gains.
There may be differences in how Baidu’s SEO works as opposed to Google’s, but fortunately the Chinese people — especially the younger millennial population — are already very tech-savvy, and online shopping and e-commerce websites are still effective ways to lure a huge part of the country’s population.
If that hasn’t changed, then the fact that you will need a website to stay visible and relevant on the Chinese internet is also very true. If you don’t have a website, you can’t do SEO, and you won’t be able to develop your online reputation. This renders your business invisible to such a large market share — especially if you are a B2B company since most of your lead generation will be executed through your website. If you are an SEO manager looking to conquer Baidu’s SERPs, we strongly suggest that you keep reading this as we are about to see the best practices for search engine optimization on Baidu.
Here are a few things to remember about Baidu and China’s SEO before you proceed:
- Please keep in mind that Baidu goes by the rules, regulations, and constraints imposed by the Chinese government. It is subject to censorship and political and legal constraints. With Baidu, you have to keep yourself updated on what’s going on domestically in China.
- You also have to obtain a localhost website “.cn” to be more visible in China through Baidu. You need to obtain an ICP from the MIIT or Ministry of Industry and Technology. Also, you need to secure two fundamental licenses such as a Business License and a Content Provider License.
- As a side note, please remember that Google’s ban is only on China’s mainland. Hong Kong, Macau, and Taiwan users use Google most of the time.
Google, Twitter, and Facebook are just some of the industry giants that are banned in China. The ban imposed on Google, specifically, is indiscriminate. Searches, Gmail, Images, and all of their products are banned. Of course, they can still be accessed through VPNs.
How On-Site or On-Page SEO Works in Baidu (Ranking Factors)
How can you rank on Baidu? Actually, you just have to keep it simple. There’s no need to churn out a complicated, strategized approach. All you have to do is to follow what Baidu web crawlers require, and you’ll see your rank increasing consistently.
Get a Chinese-Hosted Website
To look more friendly on Baidu, we suggest that one of the first things you do is to host your website in China. There are a lot of other benefits to this, like faster loading speeds and website authority for your site. Not only will your ranking improve on Baidu but also in China’s smaller search engines like Sogou.
The bottom line is that Baidu prefers sites that are hosted within the country. Moving your site to a Chinese server will be very beneficial for you. Securing a domain name with .cn as well as .com.cn should also help.
Don’t be surprised if a website hosted outside the country ranks better in certain keywords as there are a lot of other factors to consider.
Language Matters for Baidu SEO
Please be sure to take note that Baidu only indexes simplified (Mandarin) Chinese characters. As much as possible, make sure that your website is available in simplified Chinese. Baidu has difficulty reading several languages, so it prefers websites that are 100% Chinese-written.
Keywords in your URL actually matter very little in Baidu SEO. Please take note that Baidu is a search engine that will always prioritize Chinese websites.
Your website’s homepage is very essential to your ranking. Putting a lot of links in both your headers and footers is strategic for landing pages and very important to Baidu.
Make sure to find the right keywords in order to have a foundational advantage to rank on Baidu.
What About Content Optimized for Baidu?
Content SEO is also a welcome strategy when it comes to ranking on Baidu. It’s very important to promote your website across relevant sites on the internet. Baidu will recognize your:
- New posts
- Relevant content such as images, articles, and videos on as many Chinese websites as you can
- Chinese anchors
- Social marketing tools
Note that both on-site and off-site content matter. With the right strategy, you’ll have a lot of website traffic on your site, thus increasing your Baidu rankings.
Content Marketing in China and the Role SEO Plays
Relevant and meaningful content on your website will definitely play a huge role in increasing your Baidu rankings.
Take note that:
- Plagiarism is a serious problem in China, and Baidu struggles to actually penalize those who are utilizing black hat tactics.
- Please anticipate language barrier problems as English speakers find it hard to really get a grasp of the Chinese language — and vice-versa.
- Baidu’s graph does not really cover a lot of entities compared to that of Google. This is part of the reason why authoritative sites may rank higher even with irrelevant topics to their site’s theme.
Baidu SEO Content Good Practices
Once you are already a trusted site, your newer published content may still rank higher than competitors— even if it will have fewer backlinks. It’s important to build on your ranking and maintain it as early as possible in your tenure in Chinese search engines.
- Publishing new content every day will pay off. It keeps your website fresh and keeps users engaged. Even though Baidu’s algorithm is not as sophisticated in identifying duplicated content, we still implore you to publish only original content.
- Try and submit your URLs to Baidu as soon as possible after publishing them. Spammers may steal your content quickly, and if Baidu indexes theirs first, their web crawlers might think that it’s your content that’s unoriginal.
- When it comes to content length, good content should be around 200 to 800 words or Chinese characters. As long as your keywords or content flows naturally, Baidu does not really mind excessive keywords; although it’s not recommended to bombard your copy with them. Quality still trumps quantity.
- Do your own keyword research, so you can churn out relevant and meaningful content regularly.
- Lastly, as vast as the market is for China, please make sure to study your competition. This strategy is crucial for you to even stand a chance at making it on top.
In analyzing your competition, ask yourself:
- Who are your biggest competitors?
- What content ranks highest currently?
- What can you learn from these competitors?
Please take note that it doesn’t mean that a certain company is your biggest industry competitor; it automatically means that they are your biggest ranking competitor. You need to do a separate study for this. Remember that you are competing for organic SERP positions and not just dominance in the industry.
If certain sites or content is ranking highest, then they must be doing something right. Make sure to track and analyze these websites and their content, and see how you can harvest ideas from them and use them to your advantage.
How To Set Up a Content Creation Team for China
The last thing we want to talk to you about is creating a robust system for your content marketing, as well as how to set up an effective content creation team. There are a few formulas that you may try like the following.
Set Up an In-House Content Team and Hire Translators
This is perhaps the most affordable way to go about creating content for the Chinese market. You don’t need to hire Chinese writers, but you’re going to need reliable translators. The issue here is the context of the writing will then be in American English — or whatever country you are based in — and that’s going to create some challenges.
Have a Local Chinese Content Team
This is a very straightforward way to go about your content creation — but a very tough and expensive one. Once your system works, it will be worth it since you’ll constantly have content that will resonate with the Chinese public.
Local Digital Marketers and Freelance Writers
Instead of hiring a full-time local content writing team, just go ahead and set up a local digital marketing team that will take care of all your needs, including hiring some freelance writers. This is much more affordable, but if it’s not executed right, it may result in poor-quality content. Freelance writers are sometimes wildcards.
Hire a Local Agency
This is the most ideal system for larger businesses. You may hire a local SEO agency that has an international presence and let them handle all of your digital marketing needs. The downside, though, is that it’s very expensive.
Baidu SEO Tools and Analytics
Mining the right keywords will still be the center of your strategies for Baidu. You just need to know where to look for them.
Utilize the Search Bar
Where to start but in the search bar? Like Google, Baidu’s search bar will give you valuable insight into what people are searching for the most right now. You may use these insights to come up with potential keywords.
Baidu has its very own keyword planner that you may utilize. It will help you generate newer keywords or get the most out of your existing keywords. The planners will allow you to:
- Analyze keyword daily search volume
- Ascertain keyword mobile search volume
- Analyze the level of competition
- Have an estimate of the cost for top page bid
The planner should be available in your Baidu account.
If you’re a business looking into penetrating the Chinese searches/market, then you may work with a third-party company that will allow you to run ads to digital platforms in the country straight from a digital platform in English.
These companies will offer a full-on Baidu SEO service — and at an affordable rate to boot.
Lastly, you may take full advantage of Baidu Analytics. Baidu Analytics is a free web statistics tool provided by Baidu itself and will give you valuable insights into your website’s status quo.
It will give you data on the demographics of your website, where they come from, what content they’ve viewed on your website, and even a heat map report. They have tons of other useful tools too, so be sure to explore them.
The Importance of Backlinks in Chinese SEO
Now, let’s talk about links since linking is one of the cornerstones of SEO. For Baidu, backlinking is one of the most important factors in ranking.
Unfortunately, up until now, Baidu has had some issues countering some link spammers. The only way to get around that issue is to be a lot craftier than them. Even URLs in plain text are considered as backlinks on Baidu, so don’t be surprised if places like comments sections and forums will have them.
Link Building Tactics for Baidu
Take advantage of some of the most popular blogging platforms in China like Weibo, Tianya, Sina, 163, or Sohu and create high-quality blog content for link building. Just be careful to outmaneuver content scrapers since Baidu indexes posts from these platforms rather quickly due to their popularity.
A lot of the Chinese websites will be more than willing to accept plain text or no anchor tag content. This is one advantage for you since, as mentioned earlier, Baidu will still consider your links as backlinks.
Link builders even utilize multiple Baidu accounts to post content and links that will look natural, so they will be less likely to be taken out by moderators targeting user-generated content on Baidu’s own platforms.
Links Exchange or reciprocal linking is also quite a common practice to rank higher in Baidu’s searches. You will see dozens if not hundreds of them in the footers of some of the most popular websites in China.
Link Spamming Techniques
As mentioned, if you want to rank and be competitive in Baidu, you have to learn how to outsmart the content scrapers and link spammers yourself.
Link networks, paid links, buying expired domains, article spinning, low-quality directories, and comment spamming are all common link spamming techniques that you might want to explore and implement on your own.
Creating Effective Backlinks for Baidu Rankings
Through your content, you may create great-quality backlinks to benefit your Baidu ranking. Remember that:
- Self-promotional content will bore your readers, so make them more audience-focused. Write a piece that will resonate with them as opposed to only talking about you, your products, or your services.
- Make your content unique.
- Highlight how you can bring value to your readers or potential customers.
- Make it entertaining too!
- Make sure to write your content based on the right format and structure required for its niche.
- Make sure that the website is well-designed — not just something made out of a template.
Baidu SEO Versus Google SEO
Before we end our Baidu SEO guide, let’s talk about how it differs from the world’s largest search engine: Google.
HINT: They are actually pretty similar search engines, but there are quite a lot of differences between the two.
Perhaps where they differ the most is in the scope of their focus. Google is concerned about the worldwide market as opposed to Baidu’s focus on the Chinese market.
Baidu will also rank its own sites as compared to external sites, while Google does not prioritize its own. Baidu prioritizes keywords, tags, and meta descriptions, while Google has now shifted into the user experience when it comes to ranking factors.
Also, due to China’s billion active mobile users, they’ve had more emphasis on mobile as compared to Google. Baidu prioritizes internal linking more than compared to Google. Additionally, Google prefers quantity over quality.
Baidu SEO Guide: Conclusion
A lot of the general aspects or core concepts of search engines apply to Baidu, but they also have its own set of rules that anyone wanting to rank on their platform should follow.
A lot of the basic concepts we discussed will still need actual hands-on experience and implementation to perfect. No matter the path you want to take to accomplish your goals, just be sure to remember that by the end of the day, quality content, products, and services will still bring success to your endeavor.
If you need help in garnering success for your organization and ranking on Baidu, or you need SEO services, contact GMA now. We’ll guide you every step of the way.