When people talk about SEO, western countries like Canada and the US usually dominate the conversation. Most people neglect a huge market- China. But Chinese SEO, particularly Baidu SEO, requires skills and knowledge that foreign companies don’t always have. Here are 8 great tips to help you get better rankings on Baidu.
1. Get a Chinese Domain and Host
Chinese SEO favors local domains over foreign ones. Baidu prefers domains that contain “.cn” over “.com” and “.net”. Even when these standard “.com” sites rank on Baidu, the search engine will always promote local domains over it. Even if the “.cn” domain is hosted out of China, it will still get preference on Baidu over other domains.
Where your site is hosted also impacts SEO. Sites hosted in China, and even Hong Kong, get preference on Baidu. There are extra steps to having a Chinese hosted website though. All Chinese hosted sites have to obtain an ICP (Internet Content Provider) license, which is a permit issued by the government allowing the website to operate in China. Some companies get around this ICP license by hosting in Hong Kong where it isn’t needed, or just getting a foreign hosted “.cn” domain. Non-locally hosted sites don’t get as much preference, but they still can rank well on Baidu.
2. Write in Simplified Chinese
There are different dialects in China, but the main language used on the web is Simplified Chinese. Most people don’t use English or Traditional Chinese so don’t focus on that. Baidu doesn’t rank sites and content high that use foreign languages or other Chinese dialects.
If you are a foreign company trying to operate in China, make sure you hire someone to properly translate and localize your content. Like with any language, there is certain lingo and phrases used that digital translating services don’t always pick up on.
3. Avoid Censored Content
Anyone who is looking to operate in China should know that the government censors Internet content. Certain topics, phrases, and events are not allowed. Baidu operates with the government and is extremely intolerant towards censored content. If you want to rank high, make sure you avoid any controversial or censored topics. Do research beforehand to make sure that you don’t accidentally include something.
Look at content on sites you are linking to as well. Including links to sites that contain censored content can also get you in trouble and harm your Baidu ranking. Not following the rules laid out regarding censorship could result in government action, Baidu penalization, or being marked as a spam site.
4. Links Are About Quality, Not Quantity
Just like Google, Baidu values quality over quantity when it comes to links. Focus on getting quality links back to your site, and also be sure to include quality links on your site. Quality links will lead to increased site traffic and conversions, which in return fetch you a higher ranking on Baidu.
Baidu differs from Google in a few ways when it comes to links though. They don’t care as much about the relevancy of links. Internal and sub-domain links also carry far more weight for Baidu than they do for Google. Anchor text is also incredibly important. Baidu doesn’t look at keywords within the URL so the only way they can tell what the link is about is through the anchor text.
5. Use Appropriate Tags and Descriptions
According to Baidu’s ranking algorithm, they look at tags and descriptions. They pay careful attention to what meta-tags (including title tags, alt-tags, H-tags) and meta-descriptions are used. Make sure they include relevant keywords and descriptions. Baidu encourages sites to put the company name or important keywords on the top of every page on the site.
6. Keep Content New and Unique
More so than Google, Baidu really favors new and unique content. Make sure you are updating and posting content regularly. It’s important not to used copy content either. Like Google, Baidu penalizes or ignores, content that appears on other sites and pages. Content should be quality too. Thin content isn’t favored as highly as thicker, more researched pages. Like SEO anywhere in the world, original content makes for better rankings.
7. Put Keywords Near the Top and Use More of Them
Baidu has its own way of reading sites. Baidu site crawlers want to get as much information as possible, meaning they often only crawl the top parts of content on a page. Make sure you include important content with keywords near the top so that Baidu reads it. This will result in better rankings.
Keyword density is valued differently on Baidu. Google doesn’t typically care how often you utilize a keyword; in fact, they actually prefer sites that don’t stuff content full of keywords. For Baidu, keyword density should be higher. Try using around 12%, or higher, more keywords in the content than you would on Google. It’s still important that the keywords flow nicely and are relevant to the content and company.
8. Make Sure The Site is Mobile Optimized
Google recently made the shift to rank mobile optimized sites higher when people search on mobile devices. While it’s unsure if Baidu has yet to adopt this change, your site should definitely be mobile optimized. A large number of searching in China is done on mobile devices. Even if Baidu doesn’t favor mobile optimized sites, users certainly will. If a site looks and acts poorly on mobile devices than traffic will go down, which will affect your SEO ranking. Make sure images are formatted, that text is readable, and the site speed isn’t lagging.
The number one thing to remember when doing SEO in China is that Baidu isn’t Google. There are different rules and ways to play the SEO game on this search engine. Do thorough research before you launch into the world of Chinese SEO. The stakes are higher, not only because the government is more involves but also because China has a huge market to tap into. Contact us if you have any questions or want to get started on Chinese SEO.