We couldn’t possibly have an international SEO video series without touching on the great firewall and Chinese SEO, could we? Especially as it seems to be a very current topic in the world of SEO. So, based on our interview with Kun Tang and Marcus Pentzek, here are their expert tips on how to master Baidu SEO.
Why is Chinese SEO so popular?
You’ve probably noticed that Baidu SEO has become quite a hot topic over the past few years, and there’s a good reason for that. China is a massive market with so much potential. There are currently over 1 billion internet users in China alone, which is like having access to the whole of the USA and the EU combined. Even though social media is where many Chinese consumers search for products, there are 2.9 times the number of search engine users in China than in the USA.
Forget Google, China has its own search engines
In China, you need to forget about the world of Google and start thinking about Chinese search engines instead. The most popular search engine in China is Baidu, which is what we’ll be covering, but it’s important to remember that Sogou and Haosou are also growing in popularity.
Baidu has very different ranking factors from Google, so keep this in mind when planning your Chinese SEO strategy.
Mobile-first is a must
In China, the buyer’s journey revolves around mobile phones. Even brick-and-mortar stores intertwine digital experiences, which is why mobile is so important to be at the forefront of everything you do. This is especially true in rural regions, where people have skipped the desktop stage completely and gone straight to mobile phones. So, when optimizing your websites, you need to ensure you’re mobile ready.
Google vs Baidu SERPs
If you look at Baidu and Google, their SERPs are similar. Baidu’s a bit more colorful as you can see keywords highlighted in red, but feature-wise, you can see both have paid search at the top, then organic results underneath. Baidu also has a lot of links to related Baidu products, like Baidu Baike (Baidu’s Wikipedia).
If you look at regular snippets, titles are, on average, 21 characters long, and descriptions are 72.
And on mobile, they’re a bit shorter, at 16 for titles and 39 for descriptions.
Baidu SEO ranking factors
If you’re looking to improve your Chinese SEO, you’re, of course, going to have to look at ranking factors. Although there’s much more to it than meets the eye, you can break these into three useful categories.
This involves making sure that your website is easy to access for Baidu.
You need to ensure you’re providing the high-quality content people are looking for.
Building reputable Chinese backlinks will help increase your site’s level of trust.
Technical SEO for Baidu
Ensure that your website is hosted in China to help with page speed, and that you’re ICP registered.
Although having a security cert isn’t mandatory, better ranked websites tend to have one.
- Internal links
Internal linking is still important, so make sure you build good quality links that make sense for your business.
- Silo structure
Just like Google, silo structure will help Baidu understand your website better.
- Sub domains
When you have different topics with totally different search intent linked to them, it’s a good idea to house them on different sub domains so that Baidu can understand the search intent behind each section (e.g., shop on one sub domain and forum on another)
- Flat URL structure
Flat URL structure is a myth – it won’t help your Chinese SEO efforts.
Content for Chinese SEO
As Baidu is a Chinese search engine that caters to the people of mainland China, it’s important that you write your content in Simplified Chinese. When you compare two identical Chinese and English texts, you’ll notice that the Chinese content is about half the length of the English. But Chinese web pages contain more text that their English counterparts! That’s because the Chinese love context, so rather than having lots of white space where your English content used to be, fill this with lots of descriptive text in Chinese. Plus, Baidu prefers websites with many images, so make sure you’re breaking up texts that get too long.
You also need to make sure that everything you write about remains legal. Chinese internet laws are very strict, so it’s important that you don’t write content about anything that could possibly get you banned. It’s even illegal to call your product or service “the best,” for example, as that’s very subjective.
- ICP license
As we touched on quickly in the technical section, ensure you have an ICP license for your Chinese website.
- Make use of Baidu services
Just like Google, Baidu really likes its own services. So, the more you use, like paid advertising or Baidu Baike, the better chance you have with your Baidu SEO.
It’s important to remember that backlinks are there for user experience. That’s why you need to ensure your Chinese SEO efforts include Chinese backlink building to get relevant visitors finding your Chinese site. It’s pointless having English backlinks pointing to your Chinese site, because, let’s be honest, it’s very rare an English speaker will want (or be able) to check out a website in Chinese.
- Public Relations
As part of your Baidu SEO strategy, ensure you’re investing in Chinese PR, too.
Unfortunately, algorithm updates aren’t just a Google thing; you will come across them with Baidu SEO, too. So, ensure you’re keeping up to date with Baidu, so you’re not left out.
Again, one of the biggest mistakes we see in China is people having links to their Western social media channels. You really don’t need Facebook or YouTube in China, so make sure you’re considering WeChat, Weibo, and the like.
As you can see, the world of Chinese SEO is fascinating but something you shouldn’t embark on lightly. If you’re looking for a partner to help you with Baidu and Chinese SEO, get in touch.
About Kun & Marcus
Kun Tang is the founder of Jademond Digital, a digital marketing agency based in China that specializes in all aspects of APAC digital marketing. When he’s not busy helping his clients, he co-wrote one of only three books on Amazon about Baidu SEO with Marcus.0
Based in China, Marcus Pentzek is the Director of SEO at Jademond Digital. He has 20 years’ experience in web design and SEO, and published the first ever Baidu Ranking Factors Correlation Study.