Businesses today rely on their digital presence and an active online community to connect their products and services with consumers. And in the jungle of the world wide web, search engines provide an overview and guidance for those seeking information and answers.
This is why search engine optimization has become an integral part of online marketing. In fact, more than 60% of marketers name SEO as their top inbound marketing priority.
Since there are millions of articles on Google SEO, we shed a light on Baidu SEO in this Tenba Group article. First, we recap SEO as a whole and then look at the Chinese internet search engine environment in detail. We answer 5 of your most frequently asked questions. As always, we focus on the implications and benefits for your business and everyday work life.
A Short History of SEO in China
By now, you certainly know that SEO stands for search engine optimization. This means improving the content on your website and digital presence on social media and other platforms so that search engines can (a) find your business and (b) rank it as high as possible.
In the search engine world, Google is clearly the world leader with a market share of 73%. Bing (12%), Baidu (10%), and Yahoo (3%), and a few smaller ones like Ecosia (0.1%), the tree-planting search engine, share the rest of the cake among them.
In the Chinese search engine world, this picture looks a little bit different. Baidu is the search engine leader with a market share of 70%, followed by Sogou (20%), Shenma (5%), Haosou (3%), and Google (2%).
In the Middle Kingdom, Zhihu (Know?) and Baidu Zhidao (Baidu Knows), Q&A websites similar to Quora, together with the search function of the most popular social media app WeChat, also play a significant role in how consumers find information and buy online. Sogou can even search WeChat directly for information that people seek in the www.
It is also worth mentioning, that due to the strict internet censorship (the “Great Firewall of China”) and inaccessibility of information, and because Chinese don’t have much faith in larger corporations, the population of the Middle Kingdom prefers to get their news from channels like WeChat and Toutiao.
SEO vs. SEA
The common denominator of search engines is complexity. All of them have similarities, but also their own algorithm, which is undisclosed and continuously adapts. This, and because “every business” is optimizing their online information, is the reason why SEO is a constant work in progress and never finished.
Unlike PPC advertisements (SEA), where you pay-per-click, SEO is “free” and sustainable in the long run. Free in quotation marks, because if you do SEO yourself, you need to invest your time. And if you hire an SEO agency for China or your target market, you will have to pay them of course.
But, it is an investment well made! Because…if you only focus on paid search engine advertisements you will continue to pay for every potential customer, since you pay when the prospect clicks on the advertisement, regardless of whether you close the deal or not.
If you are still not sure, whether SEO is important for your business or not, we have a few more reasons in detail in this article.
SEO in China vs. the Rest of the World
Although search engine optimization goes beyond your business website, it usually starts there. So, first, we look at the main similarities when optimizing your website for Google and Baidu:
- Up-to-date quality content
- useful information and added value always comes before optimization
- Optimizing for mobile devices
- In China, around 80% of online traffic is on phones and tablets (vs. 50% global average)
- Keyword use
- based on an analytics tool – Google Analytics resp. Baidu Tongji
- Internal links
- to other relevant information, contact page, etc.
- External links
- to high authority English resp. Chinese websites
- from high authority English resp. Chinese sites
- Meta description
- with ideally 160 characters in the Google environment and around 78 simplified Chinese characters for Baidu
- Logical website structure
- intuitive and flat navigation so that the search engine spiders can crawl easily
And these are the most important differences between Baidu China SEO and Google SEO:
- Crawl frequency
- The Baidu spider crawls Chinese sites much slower and less often than the Google spider. Make sure to manually submit any updates on your website to the Baidu Index.
- Link quality
- Baidu values links to and from China-based websites much more than foreign sites. Aim for links to and backlinks from sites with Chinese content, a .cn domain and sites that are hosted in China or Hong Kong.
- Baidu has difficulties reading and evaluating subdomains. Therefore, ideally work with .cn domains for any linking activities. As a second option, choose .com domains.
- Social links
- Just like Google, Baidu takes into account social signals and links. But naturally, Baidu favors its own platforms like the Baidu Zhidao Q&A forum, and the Wikipedia equivalent Baidu Baike.
- Meta keyword tag
- Whereas Google by now ignores the meta keyword tag, Baidu still takes it into consideration for its ranking.
Now that you have a good overview of the global and Chinese market of search engines, let’s look at the most common questions around Baidu, we have received from you.
Baidu SEO – Answers to 5 Frequently Asked Questions
If you are new to marketing in China and our blog, you may ask yourself “What is Baidu and how does it work”? The basic information we have already explained in this Baidu article. To extend this Baidu guide, we answer the 5 most commonly asked questions around this Chinese search engine.
- Does Baidu have a social community?
- According to the Baidu China search engine, Baidu Tieba, similar to Facebook groups, is the largest communication platform with 300 million monthly active users. This platform is a mix between Quora and Reddit and mesmerizes internet users with its content-oriented and highly interactive appearance.
- How do I Create a Baidu Account?
- Yes. Before you can do anything with Baidu SEO, you must create an account. With this, you can use the various Baidu platforms and the Baidu Webmaster Tool. Click here and fill out the Baidu account registration form. Keep in mind that you need a Chinese phone number to do so. Check our blog in the future for a more detailed Baidu register tutorial.
- How do I Index Pages on Baidu?
- Although Baidu regularly crawls websites to keep their search engine users up-to-date, it can take 1-2 months until your site and updates are indexed. If you want to add your website faster to the Baidu Index (Ziyuan), you can submit your URL here. Submit your sitemap so that all sites are indexed (same process as Google).
- Can I Use SEA/PPC on Baidu?
- PPC advertising in China provides fast online promotion with instant results, just like in the rest of the online world. Of course, you can buy advertisements on the results pages (Baidu PPC aka pay-per-click) through the Baidu Ads Manager. If you’d rather outsource this task, a Baidu SEO agency can help you with this.
- Keep in mind that the online environment in China including search engines is closely regulated. For example, blacklisted terms include “best, no. 1, top class, guarantee, trustworthy”. And particularly highly regulated industries are the health sector, finance, and gambling (which is completely forbidden).
- Does Baidu have an Analytics Tool?
- Baidu Tongji is the official analytics tool of Baidu, similar to Google Analytics. It provides statistics and reports about a website’s traffic and sources, as well as conversions to sales.
- With the Baidu Webmaster Tool, you can index your site and have access to even more options for SEO settings and analysis. You will find a Baidu tracking tool to monitor your website’s ranking on Baidu and much more.
We hope to have answered your burning questions around the top Chinese search engine and it’s Baidu SEO tools. If you want to know more, feel free to call, WhatsApp or email us anytime.
Now that you have insight into the search engine market in China, Baidu SEO, and what all of this means for your business, get started! A smart SEO strategy for China, helps your business to draw consumer traffic to your website, and thus grow your sales and revenue. And keep in mind to avoid these 17 common SEO mistakes.