Tapping into the Chinese market with Baidu SEO
Baidu is China’s answer to Google and your solution to getting to the other side of the Great Firewall. In this post, we’re going to look at SEO techniques for Baidu and how simple processes can help set you apart in the Chinese search engine.
Baidu SEO & Life online on the other side of the Great Firewall of China
With a lockdown on international internet access in China, reaching the Chinese market can be a challenge worthy of any marketing army. Search engines are local, rather than global, with users looking for information on Chinese websites specifically. Google doesn’t cross the minds of Chinese internet users, and while there are other options, Baidu has dominated the market in China.
Local content for local people
Breaking into Baidu SEO is met with a few challenges that every marketer needs to overcome initially to make any progress. When you attempt to optimise your website for Baidu, keep in mind the following caveats that may hinder your ranking:
- Baidu shows a bias for content coming from a Chinese source, or written in Simplified Chinese
- Local results in China load more quickly than international websites; Baidu’s preference for quick websites will affect their decisions about which sites will rank highly in their results
- Users in China have tended to focus on local information
The solution to all three problems is straightforward in theory. Setting up a dedicated website written in Simplified Chinese, hosted on a Chinese server and using a Chinese domain name, and addressing the needs of ‘local’ people will enable you to rank higher on Baidu.
Acing Baidu SEO with images
Baidu is an image-heavy search engine. Best practices in Baidu SEO suggest the utilisation of images across all content, keeping in mind a number of important details that make tactics to Baidu SEO different to those used for Google ranking.
- At present, Baidu doesn’t have the same image recognition capabilities as Google
- Baidu SEO values the use of correct alt tags on images to help the search engine recognise what’s in a picture
- Creating contextually appropriate content around an image helps Baidu to recognise what’s important
Image ranking on Baidu is more important relative to standard search results than it is on Google. The treatment of image search results on the Chinese giant means that a well-placed image in the search results can drive a lot of organic content to your website.
Standing out on Baidu
Baidu has some issues, like any website that’s corporately minded. Distinguishing between paid advertisements and organic search results can be difficult on Baidu. Marketers should keep in mind that there will be some difficulties standing out in the search results because of this – though good content will always stick out in the user’s mind when it comes to word of mouth later.
It’s also worth noting that, like Google, Baidu is part of a larger website. The biggest competitor for most search results is Baidu itself, with the group’s other websites usually placing in the top five search results. The most reasonable explanation for this is that Baidu existed online before most of the competing results, and has had a lot more time utilising the Chinese internet to develop content, which in turn assists in Baidu SEO.
The consolation to all of this is that Baidu’s preference for regularly updated websites means it’s still possible to rise through the ranks on the search engine. While older sites are said to have a preference, if they fail to update regularly – in Simplified Chinese, targeting the local audiences on mainland China – they will slip down the ranks, and will face an upward battle to recovering their discoverability.
Our Chinese Takeaways
Good content is always the way forward when it comes to ranking on a search engine, so long as proper SEO techniques are used. Baidu is no different in principle. Remember these key points as you move towards marketing in China:
- A dedicated Chinese domain will help you rank better than a translated .com website
- A server based in China will load more quickly on the other side of the Great Firewall
- Simplified Chinese is valued higher than other languages
- When using images, alt tags and contextually appropriate content help Baidu recognise their value.
- Chinese users search for content that matters to them, from China and about China
- Baidu is a business, like any other, and understanding the costs of using it as it develops is important towards improving your odds of success
Have patience, create great content, and remember the wise words of Confucius, ‘Life is really simple, but we insist on making it complicated.’
If you’d like to learn more about Baidu SEO, get in touch. Our Chinese marketers will help you with everything from keyword research to implementing a full SEO strategy for China!