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Learn the ins and outs of SEO marketing in China with our pure value Baidu SEO guide.

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Digital Marketing in China

Being the world’s most populous country, China is home to more than 640 million internet users who are consumers of numerous products and services. In the ever changing digital sphere, this presents an excellent opportunity for businesses to flourish. That alone is plenty to be excited for.

Thus far, both international and domestic businesses have been very much aware of this fact. However, there has also been obstacles for the digital world when it comes to China: the internet censorship, cultural differences, language difficulties complexity and more. Therefore it is important to identify certain aspects that are key to promptly navigating through the maze that the Chinese internet has come to be. There are ways to tackle this market and obtain proper visibility, whether it is through  localised content marketing campaigns or Baidu SEO optimization.

This guide has been created to assist anyone who aims to enter the Chinese digital sphere. This consists of comprehensive details regarding the structure of Baidu, including important insights into marketing and content research in China as well as how to get good rankings on Baidu. Besides the main concerns, we have also included the prevalent cultural considerations that should be taken into account. Due to the dominance of  Baidu in China, below is a set of introductory points:

  1. The name “Baidu” (百度) comes from a Song Dynasty poem where the term is used to describe “a persistent search for the ideal” and it was launched in 2000 in Beijing by Robin Li.
  2. Baidu possess around 80% total share of China’s search engine market, they acquired dominance after Google’s exit of the market in 2010
  3. Handles reportedly more than 3.3 billion queries each day

Obtaining a Baidu account:

This is the first step. Visit this page and fill in the necessary parameters. Once you get a confirmation email from Baidu you can activate your account.

Introduction to Baidu Serp:

Like Google, Baidu features a two column structure. SERP typically displays a range of related results as well as paid results. This includes some organic results on the left and paid results on the right. Note that SERP incorporates Baidu’s own products, which is something that one should take into consideration when embarking on an SEO journey in Chinese digital world.

Google’s products such as News, Maps and YouTube do appear in the overall SERP. However Baidu employs relatively different approach which allows such sub-products to roam free in the SERP space to a certain extent. As a matter of fact, almost 30% of queries of Baidu are redirected to one of their own products, given the level of trust their users have in them.

In fact, it is estimated that around 30% of Baidu queries are redirected to one of Baidu’s own products, with the overall strength and trust of the domain resonating with Chinese users who often opt to rely on a trusted, dominant brand to find what they’re looking for. So what are these products, which ones deserve your attention, and crucially, how do we leverage them for optimisation? Let’s take a dive in.

Just like Google, Baidu has its own video search, maps service, documents and news tabs. Amidst the many things that have taken their claim the Baidu SERP there are three that stand out: Tieba, Baike and Zhidao.

Tieba

This is a keyword-based discussion forum that allows users to follow certain bars that are actively used by around 300 million people monthly. This also presents the opportunity to add a brand into your target demographic, owing to organic participation and discussion. Additionally Tieba enables you to create your own Bar and redirect users to your forum. This is ideal for those already having a good level of brands awareness in this country, without having an established presence on these online platforms.

Baike

This is China’s version of Wikipedia. The opportunity lies in the fact it does not have the depth and breadth that Wikipedia does. Since a Baidu SERP displays around two Baike results with sub-links to related results, there is plenty of SEO opportunity lying in the entry of product or bran related articles as well as in the editing of content, links, images and keyword tagging.

Zhidao

This is a major Q&A platform serving as an advanced form of Yahoo answers, allowing people to start and participate in conversation covering almost every topic. It allows users to obtain points and establish a reputation as experts in various fields. It is a powerful platform for SEO, if handled with a good level of subtlety.

Main SEO and Algorithm differences

Being familiar with the ranking factors of Google as well as on-page SEO measures is not sufficient to tackle Baidu. Althoughthe raking algorithm of Baidu is not very different form that of Google, there are some key dissimilarities to bear in mind:

  • Page Titles & Meta Data

  – Title tags and meta data should be unique and in simplified, yet keyword optimized Chinese.

 – Character limit for a title tag is 80, meta keywords is 100 and meta description is 200.

 – Meta keywords and descriptions do affect the Baidu ranking.

  • Site Architecture And Functionality

– Since Baidu’s crawl power is not as strong as Google’s, it favours sites with a basic structure with easily accessible content.

 – Baidu does not support JavaScript or Flash, therefore it is important to provide HTML content.

 – iFrame and Frame should not be used.

– It is best if the URL structure is kept short.

  • Link Building

This is key to getting a good Baidu ranking. The recent spam-combating algorithm updates demands quality content in websites. Key things to consider include:

  • External and internal link anchor text are of high importance
  • Target links from industry-relevant, high-authority Chinese-based sites are highly useful.
  • When it comes to internal linking, each URL should have at least one on-site link that points at it.
  • Non-hyperlinks URLS are counted as links by Baidu.
  • Tags
  • In addition to canonical tag, Baidu also supports noarchive and no-follow tags.
  • It requires you to incorporate the HTML lang attribute.
  • On-Page Content

The content should be in simplified Chinese and optimized. One should never use Google translate to create content that is properly localized. The sites that keep their content up-to-date are favored by Baidu. Therefore, having a news section or a blog makes it possible to have fresh content frequently.

Algorithm updates

Given the new direction Baidu is taking with its algorithm updates and ranking factors, it is a wonderful time to start performing SEO for Baidu. Gone are the days when black hat SEO tactics proved to be fruitful in getting a good ranking on Baidu: the release of two am-battling algorithm updates has made it difficult to survive with such tricks. Namely these two updates are Money Plant, which penalizes link farms and combats links spams and Pomegranate which punishes sites that have an excess of ads including pop-ups.

Content Marketing in China

With a dynamic variety of content, the Chinese internet is a hotbed of opportunities. This rapidly evolving platform boats an increasingly-savvy demographic in addition to some enhanced functionality  and content format. This essentially makes it possible to apply our content strategies for the Chinese market. However, to do this properly, there are some tools that can be utilized:

  • Baidu Index

This is similar to Google Adwords platform in its enabling of users to harness data on certain keyword searches and identifying opportunities that lie in your target market.

  • Baidu Feng Yun Bang

This is the ideal place to visit to discover the things that are talked about and trending in the Chinese internet.

  • Baidu Keyword Research Tool

Since Google AdWords has a minimal share in the Chinese search engine market, we have no choice but to rely on the very own research tool of Baidu. Once you sign up for access, you’re good to go. Note that this tool does not operate like AdWords and it requires you to type keywords one by one to get recommendations or search volume.