With an 80% market share and 3.3 billion daily searches, Baidu is indisputably the king of Chinese search engines. Like Google, its name is a verb. Their names may be similar, but there are significant SEO-optimization differences between the two, so if you want to be discovered, you’ll need to play by Baidu’s rules.
1. SPEAK THE RIGHT LANGUAGE
Short URLs written in Pinyin (a Romanized version of Chinese) are recommended, but for the website’s actual content, Baidu overwhelmingly favors Simplified Chinese.
While you may be speaking the right language, you need to also be conscious of what content you’re putting out there. Baidu censors anti-government speech, adult content and gambling material, so it’s crucial to make sure nothing on your website could be construed negatively.
2. GET TO THE POINT
Baidu has a limited time to index webpages, and typically only takes into account the first 100 KB of any page. To increase your rankings, you’ll need to make this count by placing the most relevant content and vital keywords at the top of the page so that they’re discovered. Posting frequent updates, such as new blog content or news articles, will also help boost your ranking.
3. MAKE PEOPLE STAY
High bounce rates (when users leave your website shortly after visiting) will make Baidu think your website is untrustworthy and thus neglect your content. Avoid this by making information easily accessible and engaging users quickly.
Chinese consumers typically do a lot more research than Western consumers. Although conventional marketing practices focus on benefits over features, Chinese consumers are, generally, put off by a lack of detailed company and/or product information.
4. BE CERTIFIED
It’s recommended to have a .cn domain name, but it can be tricky to attain one because you either need to be a Chinese citizen or own a Chinese business entity. Any website based in China must also have a Bei’An license, and if you are a commercial website, you’ll also need an ICP license. The red tape around these licenses often puts companies off, but it’s worth getting certified to secure top rankings on Baidu and increase web traffic.
Although .cn domain names consistently rank higher on Baidu, it’s not the end if you don’t have one. Baidu’s primary requirement is that a site loads well for Chinese users. While this is easier for .cn domains, .com and .net websites will still rank if they’re accessible from and optimized for China.
5. GO MOBILE
For the past few years, more users have searched on Baidu via mobile than desktop, a trend that’s expected to continue. Mobile SEO is essential if you want to be seen on Baidu since there’s a huge emphasis on mobile-optimized sites. In fact, Baidu takes this into account when ranking search results.
By practicing these five tips, you can increase your ranking on Baidu and reach more Chinese consumers as part of your global growth strategy. However, Baidu is only one part of the process.
Although organic Baidu ranking must be an important part of your strategy, an estimated 70% of Chinese marketers are focusing most of their lead generation budget on mobile and social networking sites (source: eMarketer). Therefore, it’s crucial that you focus your main marketing efforts on Chinese social media.