These years the Chinese market becomes more and more active and perspective, real titbit for any marketer. But for us, digital marketers, it’s even more delicious then for others.

As far as the Chinese market is an unmatched opportunity, it is also and a great challenge. In China, as in every other country, effective SEO is a key element in good positioning on a search engine, increasing traffic to your website and attracting new clients or customers. The challenge lies in the fact that there are different rules for SEO in China than in other parts of the world. If you are a Western SEO expert, your knowledge is a good starting point. But if you want to improve your positioning in search results and increase traffic to your website in China, you need to approach SEO differently.

While Google does not really exist in China, Baidu commands more than half of the market share. If you want to reach people here, you’re going to need to implement an SEO strategy that involves ranking for that search engine. By the way, rules and requirements are far from the same as Google.

We have prepared for you some tips and guidance to the Chinese SEO.

  • Go and get your licence

First of all, if you want to have a corporate website or official account, you need a Chinese business licence. Then you can get a Chinese domain name and hosting provider.

How do search engines know if you have a Chinese business license? They will definitely check this information in your website’s footer. Corporate websites approved by China’s Ministry of Information and Industry Technology (MIIT) always display what is called an ICP registration number in their site’s footer.

Obtaining an ICP license is paramount to maximizing your search visibility in China. Hosting on a local hosting provider informs the search engines that your site is approved and relevant to China. In addition, your website will load faster and this has a positive impact on user experience, which search engines account for in their page ranking algorithm.

  • No English but Pinyin

Baidu prefers Simplified Chinese pinyin. Avoid English, any other languages and even traditional Chinese characters. The interface of Baidu also is only offered in Simplified Chinese. No other languages are supported.

Baidu’s crawling and indexation of non-Chinese language sites are much less reliable as well — they may be crawled slowly, less frequently, less deeply, or potentially not at all. Similarly, it is very rare to see a non-Chinese site to rank for Chinese language queries.

By focusing on just one language, in the meantime, Baidu has gotten very sophisticated in parsing and understanding Chinese content. Baidu has a strong advantage over Google in Chinese natural language processing and typically provides more accurate results than any other search engine for Chinese queries.

  • Baidu Webmaster must-have tool

Google uses structured data from schema.org markup and crawled data for rich snippets, but Baidu provides its own platform – Baidu Open or Baidu Webmaster Tools. Here you can find all structured data. Most of the rich snippets on Baidu are custom-designed for Baidu’s own properties and manually submitted by website owners.

Need to be mentioned, that Baidu’s webmasters’ tools are available only in Chinese and Baidu places a big emphasis on the quality of the content. Poor translations of material will receive a flag as poor-quality content.

  • Be more mobile-friendly

Chinese people use smartphones for surfing Web much more frequently then laptops. Baidu takes it into account. So should you. While Google’s mobile search shares the same URL as its desktop version, Baidu uses m.baidu.com for its mobile search engine. If your site is not mobile friendly, your site may be transcoded by Baidu to make it load faster for mobile devices. When this happens, your content will be hosted on Baidu’s servers. This all happens automatically without any action or approval by site owners.

  • The fresher the better

Baidu gives huge importance to a constant update of the website content, particularly on the homepage. To improve Baidu ranking it is essential to add fresh content regardless of the originality. Websites that aren’t updated for a few months may see a drop in rankings.

Baidu is also much slower at indexing new websites than Google. During this procedure, it’s important to continue updating the website content as usual because once the website is indexed, ranking and traffic will rapidly increase.

While Google hates duplicate content, Baidu is more tolerant and doesn’t penalise websites with it. In China is very common to copy of the content to other websites. Keep it in mind! Try to submit your URL to Baidu as soon as possible, so you can prevent spammers from stealing your content and using it to outrank you.

  • Be careful about what are you posting

At the forefront, you need to keep the Chinese state-censorship in mind. Anyone running a business out of China, including running a Chinese site, needs to make sure they familiarize themselves with the laws and regulations pertaining to their business and content they distribute. Verify that your website does not contain anything that might trigger the communication regulations.

Be careful and don’t forget, that In Baidu one penalization can often mean the death of the domain, as it can take years to recover lost rankings. Some speculate that this may be why negative SEO tends to be a relatively more common tactic in Baidu.

  • Consider high preferences to Baidu’s own platforms and trust system

After starting work with Baidu you can discover that your biggest organic competitor is Baidu itself. That’s because, for almost all search queries, you can see at least one Baidu property ranking in the top 5 positions. This by itself make SEO on Baidu very different than in Google.

Baidu’s own properties can occupy up to 70% of real estate on the first page. Rich Snippets on Baidu can also be much dynamic and interactive than on Google. While many of the rich snippets are from Baidu’s own properties, some can be applied for by any site using the Baidu Open platform, while others are paid promotional deals only available to a select few partner sites. Baidu’s usage on rich snippets been a major challenge for China SEOs.

Also, Baidu gives more weight to a domain’s age than Google does. Generally speaking, it’s more difficult to rank well for a new site and much easier over time.

Many suspect Baidu directly manipulates their algorithm to favour their own properties. While this may seem obvious at first glance, it’s possible that Baidu’s claim that it does not favour its own properties is true. In the early days of the Chinese internet when there was far less high-quality content on the web, Baidu invested heavily in creating its own content hubs which quickly became very popular and attracted many backlinks. So it’s possible that Baidu’s dominance in organic search could be the result of deliberate manipulation, or simply that Baidu’s properties have accumulated so much content and links that they are now just impossible to beat.

But there is the way to bypass this problem. You can post your content (with links to your website, as far as you have one) on Baidu’s platform or other high ranking websites.

  • Useful platforms to Use

Here is the list of the biggest and most important. Try and choose a few, which will match your original content.

Baijia Hao 百家号https://baijiahao.baidu.com

Baijiahao is Baidu’s take on WeMedia, a platform for independent writers, bloggers, and journalists — some of whom produce valuable, insightful content; most of whom do not. When Baidu first launched the service in 2016, it was supposed to feature high-quality articles by well-known writers, but after repeated adjustments to its business model, it’s become just another content farm. The mission of Baijia Hao: Help content creators “affect the huge world from local”

Baijiahao supports content creators to easily publish articles, pictures, and video works and will support H5, VR, live broadcast, animation and other content forms in the future. Once submitted, the content will be distributed through Baidu, Baidu search, Baidu browser and other channels. Each article in the 100-page article has a logo in the prominent position in the upper left corner of the home page, guiding the user into the author’s personal homepage and paying attention to the author. The author can analyze the fan’s crowd attribute according to the tools provided by Baijia, and launch various operational activities for fans through the personal homepage.

Penguin Hao 企鹅号https://om.qq.com

Penguin is a one-stop content creation and operation platform of Tencent. It is dedicated to helping the media, self-media, enterprises and institutions to gain more exposure and attention, continuously expanding brand influence and business realization ability, and supporting high-quality content producers to do bigger things. Strong, establish a reasonable, healthy and safe content ecosystem.

Dayu Hao 大鱼号https://mp.dayu.com

Dayu Hao is a content creation platform of Ali Entertainment, which provides content producers with integrated services of “one-point access, multi-point distribution, and multiple benefits”. As the content creation platform of Ali Entertainment, Big Fish provides content creators with a multi-point distribution channel for Ali Entertainment, including UC, Potato, Youku and other multi-end platforms of Ali Entertainment, as well as creative income and original protection.

Sohu Hao 搜狐号http://mp.sohu.com

Sohu is a platform for the incorporation and distribution of originally created classified content on the base of the Sohu portal. Content providers (governments, media, group media, individuals, companies/institutions/other organizations) in various industries can apply for free to create content for Sohu; use the powerful media influence of Sohu’s three-end platform to obtain users.

Netease Hao 网易号http://mp.163.com

Formerly known as Netease subscription, Netease Media created a new self-media content distribution and brand-boosting platform after completing the “two-end” integration upgrade. Netease News or Netease Hao was officially released on April 19th, 2016.

It is a self-media development service solution platform based on Netease Media, which integrates efficient distribution, original protection, cash subsidy and brand promotion. The brand advocates rejuvenation as “all attitudes”, and strives to create an information platform that brings together a distinct and independent viewpoint and becomes a gathering place for young people with common interests and pursuits.

Yidian Hao 一点号https://www.yidianzixun.com

Another WeMadia platform is Yidian Hao. Launched by Beijing Yidian Network Technology Co., Ltd., it is an article-based website that meets the precise needs of users and provides high-quality content.

Yidian Hao uses its own index which is the account value score of the machine based on the content created by the author and the objective data of the reader’s reading behaviour records. The index consists of five dimensions: quality, fame, production, growth, and concentration.

Kuaichuan Hao 快传号http://kuaichuan.360.cn

Kuaichuan Hao is a WeMedia platform owned by 360. It provides the original author with a broad space to express himself and accurately delivers its high-quality content to the audience on 360 products.

The content published by the author in the Kuaichuan Hao will be distributed by more than 70 channels, including 360 mobile browsers, mobile guards, mobile assistants, free WIFI, etc., and can reach hundreds of millions of users.

The platform currently supports two different types of principal registration accounts for individuals and the media. Applicants are required to submit different materials depending on the type of application for registration.

Sina.com 新浪网http://mp.sina.com.cn

Sina.com provides global users with comprehensive and timely Chinese information, diverse and fast cyberspace, and advanced means of free and easy communication with the world. Sina’s portal network consists of four users serving the global Chinese community’s websites: China, Taiwan, Hong Kong, China, and Sina America, which serves North American Chinese. Each website contains sub-channel Chinese news and content, community and social services, and web navigation capabilities based on Sina search and directory services.

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At the same time, they  provide users with customized news and entertainment content for mobile users through mobile applications such as Sina News, Sina Finance and Sina Sports, as well as mobile portals.

Weibo 新浪微博https://www.weibo.com/

Weibo 新浪微博 was launched by Sina Corporation on 14 August 2009 as a Chinese microblogging website. Fastly became and one of the biggest social media platforms in China. At the start of 2018, it surpassed US$30 billion market valuation mark for the first time. At the same time, Sina Weibo’s active user reached over four hundred million.

Tianya Club 天涯http://www.tianya.cn

Tianya Club is one of the oldest and most popular Internet forums in China. As of 2015, it is ranked by Alexa as the 11th most visited site in the People’s Republic of China and 60th overall. It was founded on 14 February 1999. It provides BBS, blog, microblog and photo album services.

Jianshu 简书https://www.jianshu.com

Jianshu is a creative community where users can easily create their own works and communicate with each other. Jianshu has become a domestic high-quality original content output platform. In January 2019, the Shanghai Netcom Office conducted a patrol and found that Shanghai Jiji Information Technology Co., Ltd., which operates “Jianshu.com”, violated the rules and published news information without the qualification of Internet news information services.

Jinri Toutiao 今日头条https://www.toutiao.com/

Jinri Toutiao (“Today’s headline” in English) is a data mining-based recommendation engine product developed by Beijing Byte Beat Technology Co., Ltd., which provides users with information and provides services that connect people and information. We have already written about in our article “5 Most Popular Platforms for Social Media Marketing in China (2019 Updated)” [link]

Eastday 东方号http://mp.eastday.com/pageindex.html

The Eastday was launched in May 2015 as a news information aggregation website. Based on data mining, it provides users with today’s headlines, social hotspots, domestic and international news, and the most popular news information of all types, providing new types of users and information. service.

The Eastday is affiliated to Shanghai Yuheng Network Technology Co., Ltd., which is a new network media with regional influence, authority and credibility. It surpasses the limitations of traditional news media, based on personalized recommendation engine technology, the personalized recommendation based on multiple dimensions such as user’s interest, location, abandoning complex styles of content, and displaying rich content with simple information presentation form.

Baidu Baike 百度百科https://baike.baidu.com/

Baidu Baike is a Chinese-language, collaborative, web-based encyclopedia, could be considered as an answer to Wikipedia. Baike provides (theoretically) unbiased articles on every imaginable subject that anyone can edit. With over 16 million articles, Baike has far more content than the Chinese version of Wikipedia and has played a huge role in educating the population in China.

Xiongzhang Hao 熊掌号http://xiongzhang.baidu.com

Baidu Xiongzhang provides one-stop access to all Internet content and services in Baidu, and through this establish two-way interaction capabilities between partners, marketers and customers.

Xiongzhang Hao is a universal tool for searching to collaborations. Here users can upload content, manage search results, find accurate users, interact with fans. For enterprises, in fact, Xiongzhang is a channel for brand marketing, which can bring a more authoritative display than Baidu Encyclopedia. For the individual, Xiongzhang can help to build an internet card.

Baidu Maps 百度地图https://map.baidu.com/

Baidu Maps is the most popular online map service in China. The entire globe is not covered, before 2016, it offered maps only of mainland China, Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan. Currently, Baidu Maps also offers maps of various other countries. Although Baidu Maps does not offer as many features like Google Maps. Available only in the Chinese language.

Baidu Images 百度图片http://image.baidu.com/

Baidu Image Search enables users to search millions of images on the Internet. Baidu Image Search offers features such as search by image size and by image file type. Image listings are organized by various categories, which are updated automatically through algorithms.

By now it has the biggest index of web images from Chinese websites in the world. Although not as powerful as Google Images in many aspects, their preference in indexing Chinese content still allows them to provide useful results when searching for Chinese keywords or China-related topics.

XMT 新媒体管家www.xmt.cn

XMT is WeChat Channels or WeChat Official Accounts management tool, which use the telephone number of WeChat account to log in. Along with that allows multiple customers to log in to account at the same time, update content, interact with fans and check the key data.

As far as you are working with the Chinese market and the Internet, your keywords also should be in Chinese. So will be the keywords search. To optimize your website for China, you may need to call on a range of professional service providers to assist with content writing, translation, and keyword research.

  • Some keys to your ideal keywords planning

Try to always optimise your content for Simplified Chinese characters. While Baidu introduced English-language search results back in 2011 through a partnership with Bing, Chinese characters remain the dominant choice for Chinese netizens to search and read online information.

While some website owners choose to add a subdomain to their existing website to host Chinese-language content, it’s better to have a stand-alone site designed for users in China, including Chinese social media integration and design aesthetics. Competition in China is fierce and while local search engines won’t penalize you for hosting content on a subdomain, you will be handing your competitors an opportunity to one-up you with a top-level domain site which carries more weight from an SEO perspective.

Armed with a list of likely keywords, it is now time to head over to the Baidu Keyword Planner. Like Google, you have all sorts of opportunities to spend money on search engine promotions and advertising. You also can choose to use the keyword planner for volume research. It requires a Baidu account, but you don’t have to spend anything.

Inside the Keyword Planner, you can filter for metrics like:

  • Average daily search volume
  • Average daily mobile search volume
  • Level of competition for a keyword
  • Estimated top page bid cost

There are other keyword tools like Zhanzhang, Aizhan, and Ciku. Each has its own particular advantages and disadvantages, you need to try them, so you can say which will best suit you.

As for placing keywords in content, Baidu is a few years behind Google when it comes to algorithm sophistication. Some old-school technique could help here, to some extent.

The last but not the least are technical issues.

  • On-page SEO of Chinese websites

Well, whether you are talking about Baidu, Google, or any other search engine, the goal of on-site optimization will be the same. The point is to make it easy for the spiders to crawl and accurately index your website, hopefully resulting in higher positioning in the SERPs. Online entrepreneurs and SEO professionals accomplish this with orderly website structure, fresh content, and appropriate use of keywords.

When you start with Baidu, you need to forget some of favourite Google things.
One is Flash, which is not indexed by Baidu. Flash is no longer popular anyway, but if your website still uses it, this will not boost your ranking or help you in the Chinese market.

Second is JavaScript. As of the latest update, Baidu still doesn’t crawl Javascript. That’s eventually expected to change, but for the moment it’s best to avoid JavaScript on Chinese websites since it will not help you achieve better positioning.

Even though Baidu has used Python is some parts, C++ is used more overwhelmingly.

Try to avoid Social Sharing Widgets. Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and the like have one thing in common in China – they have been blocked by the Chinese government. Trying to use them will result in your website running slowly, and the local audience will wonder why you are not using the government-endorsed social sharing platform WeChat.

There are also some specific Baidu’s practices for internal linking. Here are some dos and don’ts from us:

  • For better on-page SEO you should consider, that the homepage should only link to main category pages. Sub-categories and other pages should be linked from the main category page. Every page also should link back to the homepage.
  • Don’t forget about good link description in anchortext.
  • To increase the importance of the page to Baidu give it more internal links and place it as close as possible (measured by how few clicks it takes to get there).
  • Attention! Orphaned pages (those not linked to) won’t be indexed.

By the way, you can significantly improve search engine ranking by cleaning broken or redirected links and, once again, be very clear with anchor text.

These are some of our insights for your smooth work with Baidu SEO. As you can see it’s slightly different from that in Google, but also has its own advantages along with many tricks. Nevertheless, as a foreign brand, you need experts with a deep understanding of the Search engine to design an efficient SEO and digital marketing strategy and increase your visibility and sales on your Chinese market. AICY Create hopes to help you if you need.


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