So you’ve got plans to expand your business in China and you just heard about Baidu. Alternatively, you already have a search marketing strategy, and on the top of your list sits Baidu. However, your business is not going in the anticipated direction.

Whether you’re just hearing about Baidu or have already implemented a search marketing strategy, if you plan to expand your business in China, it is time to ask yourself “How can I improve my SEO on Baidu?”.

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Brands that have an eye on Baidu and expect to rank number one, must analyze and master its unique practices first. With our Baidu SEO Guide, we enlighten these practices and show you how to rank high and increase your sales in China.

Baidu in a nutshell

Baidu is the most popular Chinese search engine and the fifth most-used search website in the world today. To give you a better perspective, Google searches only account for 4% of queries done in the most populous country in the world. Baidu’s penetration rate in China is close to 70% so it’s definitely important to take care of good Baidu search engine optimization to gain visibility in China.

Baidu SEO

The reason Baidu has been so successful in the Chinese market is not a secret. Baidu can parse and interpret Chinese text more effectively than other search engines and cater to Chinese Internet users better.

It has the world’s most extensive Chinese web index, and it is entirely Chinese customer-focused. The user interface is only available in Simplified Chinese, with greater emphasis on Chinese language sites. Only a few non-Chinese sites are indexed or displayed in search engine results.

Why you should take care of a good Baidu SEO strategy?

You already know that the majority of sales won’t come from your website, as it’s not the purpose of it in China. However, it is a necessity to create your online reputation. If you don’t have a website, you will be virtually invisible on the Chinese internet. If you are not visible to the consumer you simply do not exist.

Also keep in mind that if you are in B2B, most of the lead generation will be done through your website.

Is Baidu the Chinese equivalent of Google?

Though Baidu is commonly seen as a mere Chinese counterpart to Google, there are several key ways in which the two differ.

  • The search engine has the world’s largest index of Chinese web pages, and it is entirely Chinese-focused.
  • The user interface is available only in Simplified Chinese, with a priority given to Chinese language sites.
  • Hardly any English websites are indexed or come up as results from a search engine.
  • On the other hand, just like Google, it does not limit its activities to search.
  • Baidu also derives the bulk of its income from selling advertising on search result pages and ad networks, just like Google, but the ads are a bit different.

But it’s important to understand that Baidu is different from Google in many ways. It’s a whole ecosystem of platforms and websites with different focuses and different tools, so you can’t expect to have the same SEO strategy that will work for both search engines.

Baidu's search engine ecosystem
Baidu ecosystem of platforms and websites for different purposes

How to create content that works for Baidu

Essential guidelines for creating successful Baidu SEO content:

Create and publish your original content

Although Baidu is not as skilled as Google in identifying duplicate content, it penalizes websites much more harshly. The risk of stealing others’ content is definitely not worth taking. Don’t do it.

Keep the length of each article between 250 – 1000 Chinese characters. Baidu pays attention to article length. Articles that are too short, under 200 words, can be difficult for Baidu to understand. While articles with too many words will take longer to write.

Quality over quantity will always reign supreme when it comes to content strategy. Such a fact likely won’t ever change as long as search engines keep prioritizing quality in their algorithms.

Keep your site fresh with new content to please both search engine algorithms and human readers. You can also use Baidu tools to keep up to date with trending topics and niche keywords. We will mention the tools that will be helpful below.

Update your website content frequently

We often see improvements in overall rankings, crawling, and indexation performance just by updating website content frequently. 

To keep up your website’s freshness, we recommend having at least one piece of content published on your website every day.

Use image results & image alt text to your advantage

The alt text for an image is a brief description of the image. To make sure that your images are correctly ranked on Baidu, you need to write accurate, unique, and high-quality alt text for each one. This includes using relevant keywords that sound natural in the context.

Google’s image search is based on the company’s main search algorithm. This means that popular web images will be more likely to appear in your results, regardless of whether they are relevant to your request.

However, Baidu’s photo results are powered by a separate algorithm that is tailored to Chinese users. It’s more probable to display pictures that are relevant to the user’s search and location. The algorithm also considers the image’s dimension, format, and resolution, and the website where it’s posted.

Starbucks on Baidu

Handle sensitive topics with care

All websites must follow the regulations of the Chinese government to remain visible to users. According to a government-issued document, prohibited online content includes sensationalist language; gossip; and inappropriate comments on terrible events, as well as sexual and violent material.

Avoid contents like this at all costs, as they are classified as unacceptable. Baidu’s search results, like any other Chinese search engine, could remove your site from their listings entirely. Comply with the regulations.

Keep in mind: content with ads will always come first

Baidu prefers advertising, therefore the primary page on a Baidu search is often filled with sponsored material. This differs from Google, which still primarily shows organically produced content.

Baidu users are more interested in organic material and frequently bypass the top page of search results. With this in mind, do your keyword research and don’t worry if your website isn’t on the first page of Baidu.

Ads in Baidu search results

Baidu Technical and On-Page SEO 

Apart from taking care of the content, there are multiple other factors that you need to focus on in order to rank high in search results.

Get a .cn Domain

If you want your content to show up in the Baidu SERPs, it’s worth investing time to get a .cn domain to secure top rankings. A .com site does not stand a chance. Chinese sites loading from outside of China can experience problems while loading due to the country’s Great Firewall.  it’s not only preferred for Baidu but for all Chinese browsing experiences in general to have a .cn domain.

To have a .cn domain, you need to either be a Chinese citizen or own a Chinese business. That said, it may be difficult to get a .cn domain outside of China. Working with a local Baidu SEO agency from the start to overcome such obstacles may be the key.

Local hosting is necessary

Baidu ranks pages based on speed, so if your site is hosted on servers outside of China, it’ll be a struggle to maintain good speeds. 

The simplest solution to this issue is to host your website locally in or near China. This method can create significant improvements. Those websites are also favored by Baidu and will always come before foreign ones.

Vitabiotics health supplements website

Use simplified Chinese

Even when searching for international topics, Chinese users still prefer using the Chinese language on Baidu. The use of the Chinese language is the only way to connect with your targeted customers. Make sure you use simplified Mandarin characters on your Chinese website and in meta descriptions. Baidu only indexes Simplified Chinese.

When it comes to URLs, Baidu favors URLs that are created in Pinyin (the form of writing in Chinese using Arabic letters). The rest of the content should be written in Simplified Chinese characters. That being said, note that URLs don’t have the greatest impact on Baidu SEO.

Optimization for mobile devices is essential

Chinese consumers are more mobile-oriented than any other nation. Mobile-optimized sites have a strong emphasis in China. When assessing search results, Baidu considers this factor.

Google’s mobile search platform operates on the same URL as its desktop version. Baidu conducts mobile searches through, which is a separate application for mobile users.

Baidu will transcode non-mobile-friendly websites to make them load more quickly. It will host your content on their servers without needing approval from the owner. The disadvantage of this automatic transcoding is that it may significantly alter the UX/UI of your website. This might result in unhappy audience members and many people quitting your site before they are ready.

To minimize the impact of these problems, choose mobile-optimized development from the beginning. This will enable you to create higher-quality website experiences, encouraging your audience to stay on your sites longer.

Stick to the standard coding

It is not advised to implement any site content in JavaScript for Baidu. This includes AJAX material, JavaScript links, and language switches in JavaScript or anything else that hides or connects content with JavaScript.

To be visible to Baidu, avoid using JavaScript for your website content. Stick with HTML instead, as JavaScript might not load correctly for the Chinese audience.

Use Baidu Webmaster tools

If you’re experienced in optimizing sites for Google, then Baidu’s Webmaster Tools platform will be very familiar to you. It serves the same purpose of helping webmasters track their site’s performance and rankings.

Baidu Webmaster is an invaluable tool for optimizing your website to help it climb higher in the Baidu SERP. With this platform, you can analyze important data that will shape and improve your online presence including performance tracking and mobile SEO compatibility.


Obtain ICP License

Google and Baidu vary in how they rank websites based on licensing. Google doesn’t need a license to get indexed or appear high up in ranking results. Baidu does index sites without an ICP license, but it gives preference to China-hosted sites, which do require the ICP license.

In China, you must have an internet content publishing license (ICPL) to legally host a website. The ICP license must be bought from the Chinese government and it’s crucial that it’s seen in the footer of websites.

There are two types of ICPLs: individual licenses and business licenses. Individual licenses can only be issued to Chinese citizens with a valid state-issued ID.  Businesses must be registered in China to apply for a license.

The IPLP licensing may be challenging for foreign businesses to obtain. Setting up as a Chinese firm is usually your best option before attempting Chinese hosting.

Do not underestimate the power of keywords

Following a SEO plan without conducting adequate keyword research is like driving around aimlessly. Your customers can make their search queries in an endless variety of ways. It’s critical to ensure your website ranks for as many relevant keywords as possible. 

The first step in any SEO effort should be to figure out the best keywords for your site. You can also use Baidu Webmaster Tools to find the best keyword alternatives.

Use long-tail keywords

Baidu displays non-organic results (ads and Baidu’s own websites) together with search results, often with very few visual differences. Long-tail keywords are a more successful way to lead people to your website. If you are worried about not generating enough traffic when using only long-tail keywords, remember that you are targeting a region with a population of more than 1.4 billion. 

Place your keywords at the top of your website page

The Baidu crawler bot is not as powerful as Google. It may miss keywords that feature at the bottom of your website page. Find the most targeted keywords, then develop new content for each group of keywords with similar search intent. Use optimization to inform and engage end users.

Other ideas for your keyword strategy:

  • Use Baidu Webmaster Tools and Baidu Keyword Planner to find the best keyword alternatives (similar to Google Search Console)
  • Make lists of possible stem words and expand them by adding similar options
  • Determine the demand, value, and difficulty of word lists
GMA Case Study: Balance water Baidu SERP

Focus on link building

Link building is a must to rank high on Baidu. Baidu’s past focus on quantity over quality for backlinks has changed with their most recent update. Now, high-quality external links are the key.

It’s crucial to focus on securing backlinks from dependable and popular websites in China. Given that most international businesses don’t have many ties in the country. This can pose a challenge. To create a successful link-building strategy on Baidu, focus on well-respected Chinese websites. Leave those from other countries.

Furthermore, don’t forget to utilize internal and external anchor text in your writing. For internal links, confirm that each page on your website links back to your home page and that the homepage only connects to the main category pages.

Work on your meta descriptions and metadata

Baidu, unlike Google, uses meta tags for ranking purposes. A strong meta-description provides a clear and comprehensive explanation of what a user may discover on the site. 

To improve your ranking on Baidu, make sure to write a unique description for each page of your website and include 3-5 meta keywords. You can use up to 80 characters in a title tag and 200 characters in a meta description. The character count for meta keywords is 100. Make sure to optimize Alt tags and heading tags in Chinese as well.

Domain age matters

Baidu places a higher value on websites with a long track record. This is most likely because these websites are more established and have more backlinks. This indicates to Baidu that they are high-quality.

It’s critical to concentrate on developing a website that will last. This might be tough for new websites, but it is worth the effort if you want to rank highly on Baidu.

The Baidu crawler bot is not as powerful as Google. It may miss keywords that feature at the bottom of your website page. Find the most targeted keywords, then develop new content for each group of keywords with similar search intent. Use optimization to inform and engage end users.

We are your local Baidu SEO agency!

If you are determined to succeed in China, Baidu’s search strategy is a must-have for your SEO in China!

Baidu has many of the basic elements and foundations of search engines, but it also has its own set of regulations that must be followed by anyone wanting to rank on its platform.

We have discussed a lot of useful concepts though you need actual hands-on experience, effective marketing tactics, 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, high-quality and unbiased content, products, and services will bring success to your endeavor.

We offer many Baidu services, including:

If you need help garnering success for your organization and ranking on Baidu, or you need SEO services, contact GMA now. With our Internet Marketing Experts, we will guide you every step of the way.

We offer a free consultation, where our experts will learn about your business and the ways we can help you grow in China. Let’s keep in touch!

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