Baidu SEO: How to rank on China’s largest search engine?
China is a huge market with a population of over 1.3 billion people. Out of this mammoth 1.3 billion approximately 160 million chinese consumers have purchased a product or service and this number is rising very rapidly. Baidu has over 83% of the China search market and serves 4 times the number of queries of the nearest competitor. Baidu is the search giant of China. If you are looking to market your products in China you need to take notice of Baidu and how to use Baidu to get your products and site in front of the right people.
Baidu is very different to other prominent search engines such as Google or Bing. When looking to promote your site and rank on Baidu you need to approach SEO in a very different way to the other search engines.
Get a local Chinese domain and host your site in China
If you are looking to have any prominent presence in China and Baidu you must get a local Chinese domain, either a .cn or .com.cn. Make sure your URL is in PinYin rather than English (PinYin is the official system to transcribe Chinese characters into Latin script). The Chinese market trust PinYin and local Chinese domains much more than foreign domains.
You can register your Chinese domain name here - http://www.onlydomains.com/country/domain/China/
You can use SINO hosting to host your Chinese site in China - http://www.sinohosting.net/
Just like any other SEO campaign you would run for Google or Bing you must also do keyword research when optimizing for Baidu. It works in a similar way with looking at keywords that have high search volumes and relatively low traffic. Here are two tools by Baidu that shows just that - http://index.baidu.com and http://top.baidu.com/
Baidu also have a tool which is part of their Paid Search product. You can use this tool when looking for keyword to taregt from a PPC perspective. You can use this for SEO for Baidu as well. Here is the tool: http://is.baidu.com/keyword_tool.html
Translate your site to simplified Chinese
You must translate your page into simplified Chinese/Mandarin. This is extremely crucial to building out an effective campaign in the China market. Ensure the translation is done by a human who is competent in the Chinese language. Don’t use any automated translating services like Google Translate. Make sure the page is translated properly and communicates to the Chinese in a clear and effective manner.
If you are promoting certain products or services to the Chinese market you can simply create a Chinese translated landing page as opposed to translating your entire site.
This comes straight out of the horses mouth (Baidu) – “There is an 85% drop off rate on Baidu, when users hit a page in English. If you provide a Mandarin landing page, you have a much better chance of campaign conversions.”
Baidu SEO – On Page
Baidu concentrates quite heavily on meta tags. Make sure you have them all filled in. Ensure you have a keyword rich title tag with your main targeted keywords as H1 and Hs as well as alt attributes for images. Also use the keywords tag as this is important for Baidu. This is very different to Google as they never used the keyword tag as a ranking factor.
Another on page SEO factor is unique content. Much like Google, Baidu rewards unique quality content. Make sure it is Baidu crawlers want to get as much information as quickly as possible so make sure your most important content is higher above the fold as possible. A well known international SEO, Bill Hunt wrote regarding Baidu SEO, “Put the most important content at the top of the page. Due to poor connectivity, Baidu’s crawlers want to get as much content as they can and will often simply crawl only the first 100 to 120k of content on a page.”
It is also important to remember that China censors their content so be careful what you are putting on your site that you want to rnak on Baidu. Make sure there is nothing adult or gambling related. Many social networks have also been banned such as Facebook and Youtube.
Baidu SEO – Off Page
Just like at Google Baidu also look at off page SEO factors. Link building is a strong Baido ranking factor however they look at purely the quantity of links instead of both the quantity and quality. This opens Baidu up for potential SPAM which may be an issue as they penetrate into other markets. Link building within the Chinese market is important and will help with Baidu rankings. Build links from similar and industry related Chinese sites to show Baidu that you are important in the industry to the Chinese people.
Anchor text is also used at Baidu as a ranking factor. Make sure you develop and implement campaigns that encourage keyword rich anchor text. Remember keywords will be in Chinese so ensure your anchor text is too. Baidu does not put as much weight into anchor text as Google but it is definitely a factor.
Here is a great table from Code That which shows the difference in on page and off page ranking factors between Google and Baidu.
Baidu PPC to keep rankings
Baidu have 3 different advertising products that they offer. They are:
- Paid Search
- Banner Ads (Baidu Content Network)
- Brand Zone
Banner Ads are served throughout Baidu’s content network. Baidu has a network of over 300,000 websites and offers advertising banner advertising opportunities that can contain:
- Description with in-text links,
- Brand logo,
- Category links,
- Image (which is animated but could also have launched a video in the banner frame).
Submit your site to Baidu search engine
Overall Baidu is a very different beast to other search engines like Bing or Google. It also has dominant market share in a country where their culture is very different to the English world however if you are looking to market and penetrate the Chinese market you will need to think about ranking on Baidu and using their products. If you follow the above Baidu SEO best practices you should set yourself up for strong ranking in China’s biggest search engine.
For more information about Baidu and Baidu SEO & SEM follow @BaiduEnglish. This is aTwitter account I have created to help people learn more about Baidu as a website and search engines as well as learn how to better optimize their sites for Baidu.
Feel free to ask me questions by commenting on this post, asking a question on the right hand side question widget or by tweet me at @BaiduEnglish