China, being one of the highly populated countries, has become a leading international market many entrepreneurs covet to conquer. While the easiest way to build brand authority within the Chinese digital market is through Search Engine Optimization, using the guidelines you would usually use for Google would not make much of an impact, because China’s number one search engine is not Google, but Baidu.
Baidu, which claims 70% share of the search engine market in China, was founded by Robin Li and Eric Xu. Baidu’s main competitor in the market is Qihoo 360, although the former still holds much influence over the Chinese digital market. Therefore, if you are planning to promote your brand in China, you should focus your efforts on Baidu Search Engine Optimization. However, you should keep in mind that Baidu SEO is much different from Google SEO; for example Baidu prioritizes metadata when ranking a website whereas Google do not give much priority to meta descriptions and title tags. Likewise, Google tends to place much significance on the relevancy of inbound links while Baidu consider both quantity and quality of inbound links.
In order to drive in a qualified Chinese web audience to your website, you need to lay out a stable Baidu SEO strategy. The following SEO practices will help you achieve a top rank on Baidu search engine result pages, hence a robust web presence in the Chinese digital market.
Use local language
Most Chinese people do not speak English; therefore they feel more comfortable conducting their search queries in Chinese, which is why Baidu tend to prioritize websites which has content written in Chinese (most preferably in Mandarin). If you are not thoroughly educated in Chinese language, then you should hire a translator who should be a native speaker.
When it comes to translating, you should also pay attention to keywords; direct translation of keywords that you use for Google will not have a great influence on the Chinese market. It is essential to conduct research as to find which key terms the Chinese people use on Baidu. Once you make a list of keywords, you can optimize the content for Baidu search engine. Don’t forget to pay attention to the Chinese cultural elements when you are planning your content strategy.
Avoid censored subjects
The Chinese government does not take a liking to sources which publish content related to subject matters that have been censored. It is imperative that you avoid any element (written content or images) that may directly affect the interests of the Chinese government. Also you should be careful not to refer to any website or blog that may have explicit content that have been censored by the government, in order to keep your own website from losing a top rank on search engine result pages and from being marked as a spam site.
Maintain a good link profile
The quantity and the quality of inbound links matter when it comes to link building in Baidu. While many other search engines do not place much importance on the quantity of backlinks, in Baidu, it is a major ranking factor. This trend could lead to black hat SEO techniques such as buying off low-quality backlinks from spam sites; although it may have some impact on the progress of your Baidu SEO strategy, the impact will not always be a positive one. Hence, it is better to avoid such manipulative SEO methods and adhere to the accepted ones.
The Quality of inbound links also does matter in Baidu SEO; with the growth and improvement of Baidu, the importance of the quality of inbound links will increase substantially. The quality of the backlinks you get for your website is associated with the quality of your website and your brand; hence it is imperative to keep building on Baidu SEO to gain a top rank on search engine result pages and to drive in qualified web traffic that would convert to leads.
Pay attention to meta-tags
Unlike other western search engines, Baidu ranking algorithms place importance on the metadata of your website. The title tags, meta descriptions, and Alt tags should not only be relevant to the content of the web page, but they should also be optimized with the proper keywords or key phrases.
Check the speed of the page
The loading speed of your web pages is a very important ranking factor in Baidu Search Engine Optimization. In order to increase your page loading speed, you should remove unnecessary coding, images that have not been properly formatted or that takes time to load and have a local host. Faster loading speeds will not only get you a higher rank, but it will also provide your visitors a user-friendly web experience.
Although some of the Baidu SEO practices seem similar to that of other western search engines, most practices are exclusive and different; however with a proper Baidu SEO strategy none of the practices will be difficult to master. Adhering to the above-mentioned guidelines will not only get you a top rank on Baidu search result page, but it will also help you establish your business and build a loyal customer base in China.