If you want to carve a spot for your website in the Chinese market, playing by Chinese SEO rules is a must, as well as getting to know the ins and outs of Chinese government policy online.
While Baidu is considered the Google of mainland China and the most popular search engine by Chinese consumers, the techniques for search engine optimization aren’t the same.
This is where our article comes in, shedding light on the differences in SEO practices and unique elements of Baidu’s ranking process.
Here are 13 insightful strategies to work into your Baidu SEO plan to achieve a higher rank on Baidu search engines or local search engine results pages, gain greater traffic and website ranking, and drive more business for your e-commerce.
Table of Contents
- 1. Understand What Baidu Is and How It Works
- 2. Move to a Chinese Server and CN Domain
- 3. Speak to the Audience in Simple Language
- 4. Pump Out Relevant Quality Content Marketing Regularly
- 5. Incorporate Inbound and Outbound Links
- 6. Get Specific With Your Keywords and Tags
- 7. Cater to the Smartphone Experience
- 9. Take Advantage of Baidu Webmaster Tools
- 10. Submit Your Sitemap
- 11. Don’t Overwhelm Baidu’s Spiders With a Too-Elaborate Website
- 12. Create a Presence Throughout Baidu’s Ecosystem
- 13. Stay on the “Safe” Side
- Final Thoughts
1. Understand What Baidu Is and How It Works
You’re probably wondering why we’re focusing on Baidu, which is why we chose to prioritize getting familiar with Baidu.
So what exactly is Baidu?
Baidu is the biggest search engine in China. It’s a product of a Chinese multinational internet and technology company that goes by the same name and is among the largest of its kind in the world.
Baidu dominates the Chinese market, boasting a market share of almost 70% in China. To put that into perspective, Google’s share of the Chinese search engine market is less than 2.5%.
If these numbers aren’t enough to prove how crucial optimizing for Baidu is when trying to break into the Chinese market through digital marketing strategy, having more than 663 million active monthly users will get the job done.
After recognizing the dominance of Baidu in China, you need to understand the main aspects of its operation.
Like Google, Baidu values up-to-date and practical information. It adopts keyword use and keyword research, short titles/meta descriptions, backlinking or link building, mobile optimization, and intuitive website structures.
However, Baidu’s crawl frequency is way lower than Google’s, and –as you’d expect– it favors China-based links especially when sourced from Baidu-powered platforms.
2. Move to a Chinese Server and CN Domain
As the most significant of Chinese search engines, Baidu differs from Google in favoring content sourced from websites with a Chinese domain name.
In other words, getting a Chinese server to host your website is the kickstart to putting it on Baidu’s radar. For most businesses, this means creating a separate website so it’s 100% Chinese and not somehow entangled with the brand’s English website.
Moving to a Chinese server also means that your .cn website will run faster for the average Chinese user, resulting in better user experience and brand satisfaction. Other suitable locations include Hong Kong, South Korea, and Singapore.
You don’t need to worry about the registration process if you partner with a Chinese business (it can then represent your company). You can also hire a local SEO agency or SEO service provider with SEO experts to obtain a business-level internet content publishing license (ICP License) on your behalf and well as plan and execute SEO strategy for your business including online marketing, for a stronger online presence.
3. Speak to the Audience in Simple Language
Since Baidu takes into account how well you address the needs of your target audience, you must consider the language of your website and content.
Yes, you’ll need to use Chinese, but not just any Chinese. Baidu mainly deals with simplified Chinese and even changes traditional Chinese characters to their simplified counterparts.
Presenting your website and content in Baidu’s preferred language format will enhance your standing with the search engine.
This is a good time to emphasize the importance of accurate translation. You’ll need it to improve your ranking as it makes your presence as localized as possible.
4. Pump Out Relevant Quality Content Marketing Regularly
One common factor between Google SEO and Baidu SEO is their stand on content quality and update frequency.
The Chinese search engine values useful, high-quality content that benefits users. Web pages that offer such content will receive higher scores.
Remember that your content should also be relevant to the Chinese user. Online hot topics in China are fast changing, so try to always be aware of the latest trends.
As for how often you should update your content, a good rule of thumb is twice a week posts and once a week for products. Roll out new, original content regularly and review product descriptions and prices.
Also, set up routine checks that your embed links for products within your blog posts are up and running.
5. Incorporate Inbound and Outbound Links
Creating a strong backlink structure for your website is a sure way to get Baidu’s algorithm to recommend it at the top slots of the SERP.
While the URL itself doesn’t need to be optimized, Baidu likes it when links are sourced from official and high-authority websites.
For outbound links (the links that redirect to other websites from your web page), it’s not so much the quantity as the quality of the links. Yes, the more links the better, but only if they’re relevant and useful.
As for inbound links (the links that redirect to your website from other websites), quantity is the major concern. You want as many as possible to link to your web pages, even if the quality of the links isn’t that high.
It also offers better results when the websites linking to your site are Chinese. Localization is always a charm for Baidu SEO.
6. Get Specific With Your Keywords and Tags
Like any search engine, Baidu’s SEO loves relevant keywords and well-planned metadata.
Researching for keywords starts by considering popular topics and associated terms. As with Google, look at the dropdown results and the keywords that your competitors are using.
Make sure your keywords are precise and detailed, which is yet another difference between Google and Baidu’s algorithms. To make your job easier, try using tools such as Baidu Keyword Planner and Baidu Index.
When it comes to metadata (such as meta descriptions, title tags, meta keyword tags, Alt tags, and H1/H2 tags), Baidu SEO is old school.
Contrary to Google’s current approach, Baidu still prioritizes metadata and crawls its components. To rank high on the SERP, take the time to fill in the metadata of your website and be sure to use simplified Chinese characters.
7. Cater to the Smartphone Experience
Did you know that the number of Chinese internet users whose online activity is mainly via mobile devices exceeded 1.08 billion in 2023?
This goes to show just how widespread the mobile experience is and how crucial it is to get on the wagon if you want to do well in the Chinese market.
Since the vast majority of Baidu users use smartphones for their search purposes, your website must be mobile-friendly to support maximum organic traffic. An efficient layout, an intuitive interface, and fast loading times are all essential.
Baido doesn’t support these platforms, which means it won’t crawl your website if you do use them. Consequently, Baidu won’t rank your website.
What Baidu does support is plain and simple HTML, so build your site accordingly.
Additionally, Baidu SEO heavily leans towards security. This is why we recommend switching from HTTP to HTTPS for your Chinese website.
To do so, a Chinese SSL certificate is required.
9. Take Advantage of Baidu Webmaster Tools
To help you monitor and maintain your website’s performance, Baidu Webmaster Tools prove to be highly beneficial.
It provides a wide variety of unique functions and insightful analytics, but keep in mind that it’s only available in the Chinese language.
You can view user behavior reports, site heatmaps, and positioning metrics from one convenient dashboard.
10. Submit Your Sitemap
This is a crucial part of backend maintenance as it allows Baidu to “see” your website by indexing it into its database. Without submitting your sitemap, it’s practically impossible to rank in the SERP.
Don’t forget to check for a .xml extension and robots.txt in your sitemap to ensure proper and thorough crawling/indexing. The process is quite similar to Google, but it takes longer (up to 2 months).
11. Don’t Overwhelm Baidu’s Spiders With a Too-Elaborate Website
We mentioned above that Baidu’s spiders already take a long time to crawl websites and do so at a lower frequency. Indexing your website and updates can easily take up to a couple of months.
The process will last longer if your website is too complex and illogical. The rule of thumb is 3 clicks, which means that the navigation back to the homepage from any page on the website shouldn’t need more than 3 moves.
If the website is too deep, you’re only making the spiders’ job more difficult and making the user experience less intuitive.
- Note that your website can seem fake if it’s too shallow or flat.
12. Create a Presence Throughout Baidu’s Ecosystem
We explained above how Baidu prioritizes websites from Chinese domains when displaying search results. If a website or page also shows on one of Baidu’s applications, the Chinese search engine will favor it and boost its ranking to top the results.
As such, we strongly recommend making use of Baidu’s affiliated platforms to give your website a competitive edge. Here are a few options to consider:
Although users in China can’t readily access Wikipedia, they’re not missing out thanks to Baidu’s Baike. This paid platform is a vast source of diverse information and is widely regarded as trustworthy and bias-free.
Investing in your website’s presence on Baike does offer a commercial advantage to Baidu, but it’s equally beneficial to your brand image and increases the chances of your website showing up high on the results page.
Keep in mind that you can’t directly purchase the ability to post content on Baike. It needs first to pass diligent screening and strict verification procedures.
If we were to compare Baidu’s Tieba to a Western platform, we’d probably go with Reddit. That’s right, Tieba is a discussion forum for Chinese users to engage online.
Tieba has dedicated sections for various topics with millions of communities. The app’s monthly active user count is almost 53 million, and the total registration volume is 1.5 billion.
If you’re familiar with how Reddit marketing works, you’ll know that Tieba –similarly– is a gold mine for generating organic traffic.
Look for opportunities to establish trendy and interesting topic sections (known as bars). As users participate in your discussions, redirection to your forum and, consequently, your pages becomes easier.
Another platform associated with this popular search engine in China is Zhidao, a Q&A forum similar to Quora or Yahoo Answers.
It’s characterized by high engagement among users who objectively share their knowledge and opinions.
Building a brand presence on Zhidao is a great way to raise brand awareness and boost your website’s Baidu SERP visibility.
13. Stay on the “Safe” Side
The last tip of the day is to keep your website in Baidu’s good books.
When we say stay on the “safe” side, we’re talking about avoiding practices that disrespect China’s policies related to internet activity.
For example, stick to the Chinese regulations regarding censored websites such as Facebook, X, and Instagram. Linking to these banned platforms on your web pages may or may not affect your ranking, so it’s best not to risk it.
Alternatively, you can link to Chinese websites for social media such as Douyin, Weibo, and WeChat.
Additionally, any mentions of anti-government talk are censored as per Chinese policy. This also applies to:
- Gambling content
- Adult content
- Culturally insensitive content
Violations of the Chinese online regulations will result in penalizing your web pages, which will hurt your ranking.
On the other hand, websites that keep it clean and respectful earn extra “safe” points that boost the content to the top of Baidu’s SERP.
As you can tell by now, the ranking factors for SEO require different approaches than what most websites are used to for Google and other Western search engines.
If you’re looking for experts in Baidu SEO who can handle the optimization of your website based on the Chinese market demand and trends, SEO North is up for the job.
Don’t hesitate to contact us today to learn more about what we can do for your ranking on Chinese search engines.
Published on: 2024-01-02
Updated on: 2024-01-24