Get to the top of Baidu with these tips...
If you want to get ahead and put your products and services in front of more consumers in China, then search engine optimisation (SEO) is one of the most effective techniques. Baidu is China’s most popular search engine, with more than 150 million daily active users and a 65% share of the search market, way ahead of rivals Shenma, Sogou, Google, and Bing.
Whilst the fundamentals of SEO in China are the same as those in the West, there are some differences to take into consideration. Baidu’s algorithm is less developed than Google’s, for example, which means ranking for particular keywords or terms requires a different strategy.
Below, we give you an introduction to Chinese SEO, and share some of our top tips on how to rank on Baidu, whether you’re a UK-based business wanting to expand into China, or you already have a presence in the country but want to increase brand awareness and sales.
Find a Chinese web host
One of the first things you should do when looking to boost your ranks on Baidu is switch to a Chinese-based web hosting provider. Mirroring Google’s approach in the West, Baidu favours fast-loading websites, so hosting your files in mainland China is the best way to offer that speed. There are hundreds of web hosts in China, most offering LiteSpeed technology.
However, in order to subscribe to a web hosting package in China, you’ll need to register for a Chinese business license and an Internet Content Provider (ICP) license. An ICP is state issued and allows you to host your website in the country. All websites must have a license before they go live, and most companies display their license number in their site’s footers.
Applying for a business license and ICP license is straight-forward, but they can take several months to be approved, so get started as soon as possible and host your website elsewhere temporarily. You could host your site in Hong Kong, which is close geographically and does not require a license, or consider using a Chinese-based Content Delivery Network instead.
Whilst we’re on the subject of web hosting, you should also consider choosing a Chinese Top Level Domain (TLD), which will increase your Trustmark. Choose .cn or .com.cn, and remember to install an SSL certificate which is known to offer a ranking boost on Baidu.
Build a responsive mobile website
77% of Baidu’s revenue comes from mobile, and with 80% of all searches carried out on a smartphone, it’s important that your website looks and performs as well on smartphones as it does on desktop computers. Similar to Google’s Mobile First Index, Baidu places weight on mobile responsiveness, so designing a site that offers great user experience on phones and tablets is critical.
Rather than considering a mobile-friendly website a ‘nice to have’, or adding responsiveness after you have designed your desktop website, you should design your website with mobile users in mind first. Mobile browsing overtook desktop browsing in China back in 2014, and with smartphone adoption in the country increasing year on year, the chances are that your customers are going to find you on their smartphones, rather than on their computers.
Use Simplified Chinese
Whilst Baidu allows users to search in multiple languages, including variations of Chinese, it makes sense to use Simplified Chinese when designing your site and writing content.
If you’re not native in the language, then hire a local copywriter to create content that speaks to your potential audience, but keep it short. Research shows that a couple of hundred words per page should be enough to rank, provided you include the right keywords…
Choose the right keywords
An effective SEO campaign requires you to seek out the right keywords, choosing phrases and search terms that receive enough searches but are also not too competitive. Spend time researching the best keywords for your business, and remember that long-tail keywords are often the easiest to rank for, particularly if you’re operating in a highly competitive niche.
Just as you would when working on a Western SEO campaign, follow white hat techniques and find ways to incorporate keywords into your content, titles, and meta descriptions, and avoid keyword stuffing, as Baidu will penalise your site if you don’t follow its best practices.
Build effective links
No good SEO strategy would be complete without building backlinks to your website from reputable sources, like news websites, niche blogs, and expert roundups. Although Baidu’s algorithms were slow to catch up, the search engine giant does now penalise websites using black hat link building, so focus on organic link building techniques to help boost your rank.
The best way to build links back to your Chinese website is to create lots of quality content on your website that other webmasters will naturally want to link back to. Hire a Chinese content marketing expert to write articles for your blog, and conduct blogger outreach to let people know about your new resources. Guest blogging and press releases can also help.
Ranking at the top of Baidu for a competitive search term will help to drive thousands of new potential customers to your website, but SEO can take time and requires the right strategy.
If you are looking for digital marketing assistance to get your business off the ground in China, then get in touch with the team here at Zudu China.
Call us on +44 (0)1382 690 080, or click here to send us a message on WeChat. We look forward to hearing from you soon.