Foreign companies pour money into Baidu search engine marketing (SEM) every year, and for good reason. The right SEM campaign can bring your company quick and effective results for marketing to Chinese consumers. Problem is – a lot of brands aimlessly set up ads, not knowing much about the process, and more than often don’t get the results they would like.
You’ve probably heard a hundred times that Baidu is vital for your Chinese digital marketing strategy, but even if you have a basic understanding of what it entails, you may still not have a solid grasp on how to get started with Baidu search marketing. If your brand is expanding to China and you are new to Baidu and Baidu SEO, you should be aware that doing SEO in China is different from doing SEO in the West. In order to make your Baidu marketing goals a bit easier, we’ve prepared a guide on everything you need to know for getting started on Baidu.
Things to Know before Understanding Baidu SEO
1. Registering for a Baidu Account
Before you can do anything with Baidu SEO, you need to create an account which can be used to login onto various Baidu platforms. This will enable you to follow up with what we’re introducing in this guide and move forward with your Baidu SEO effort.
First, head to this page and fill out the form. A working Chinese phone number is required to register.
2. Setting up a simplified Chinese site
Baidu is not very effective at reading languages other than Chinese. Even though it recognizes traditional Chinese (used in Taiwan and Hong Kong), simplified Chinese is preferred (used in mainland China) as Baidu’s algorithm is more effective in terms of reading what the website is about, as a result, is able to index and rank them accordingly.
Having a simplified Chinese site alone is not going to guarantee you Baidu success. Other than this, you will need an easy to catch domain name (usually your brand name in Pinyin), a well-designed and visually appealing layout that speaks to the Chinese audience.
3. Purchasing a good Chinese domestic hosting service
Loading speed is an important factor to consider for Baidu’s ranking process. It is especially the case for mobile sites. Compared to website speeds of the popular hosting destinations like Hong Kong, Taiwan, and the United States, website speed is much faster in mainland China. It is recommended to go with reliable domestic service providers such as Alibaba Cloud to optimize your website performance.
However, a business ICP License (Internet Content Publishing License) is needed to operate a website in mainland China. To acquire an ICP, either your company needs to have a physical presence in China to be qualified or you will need to work with a local partner/service provider.
Increasing your Site’s Ranking on Baidu
1) Creating high-quality content regularly
If your website has been ranking well on Baidu in the past, newly published content with simple keyword targeting can often outrank competitors, even if the content has fewer backlinks.
If your website has already ranked well on Baidu, it is easier to continue to do so if you have freshly published content with targeted keywords even if there are not many backlinks. But if your site is new, it will take around 6 months or longer to build up your web presence. Baidu favors new content more so than in comparison to Google. Although originality is not emphasized by the search engine, parallelisms from other sites and pages is punished by the search engine and unique content does make better rankings. To prevent your original content from being copied by other sites, make sure you submit new content to Baidu immediately after publishing via Baidu’s Webmaster Tool.
2) Defining a keyword planning strategy
Finding the right keyword list is the first step to defining a keyword strategy for your Baidu SEO campaign. Typically, search suggestion (autocomplete), related searches, Baidu keyword planner tools like Baidu Top Keywords – Live Keyword Feed, Baidu Index, Baidu Keyword Research Tool (available if you have a PPC account and the registration is free), paid search data, search engines’ webmaster tools (e.g. Google Search Console or Baidu Webmaster Tools) are common places to look for extra keywords.
After deciding on which keywords to use, the next step is how and where to allocate them.
Baidu tends to require a higher keyword density (around 8%-12%) than that of Google to rank higher. However, it only has a positive effect on Baidu SEO provided that the keywords flow smoothly and are relevant to the content and the brand. Keyword stuffing happens when some brands’ attempts to reach a high keyword density via unnatural stuffing of targeted keywords.
3). Use appropriate tags and descriptions
Baidu’s ranking algorithm looks at tags and descriptions as a way to process relevant keywords and descriptions. You are encouraged to place your company’s name or important keywords at the top of every page on your site by Baidu.
1). Baidu Webmaster Tools
Much like how Google has its key SEO and content tools for brands and marketers to use and monitor campaigns, Baidu’s equivalent is the Baidu Webmaster Tools. It has various features for webmasters under six categories including site management, data submission, site configuration, site analysis, site security, and other tools.
Some of the most useful features include validating an HTTPS site with Baidu, applying for brand terms protection, automatically submitting content to Baidu for indexation, submitting broken links to Baidu, minimizing negative SEO effects caused by site migration, etc.
2). Optimize backlinks for Baidu.
Creating great content will bring organic traffic to your site. However, to get the most exposure, you need to also proactively promote your content.
To optimize your promotion efforts, identifying the right websites to promote to will be very important for your brand exposure. Ideally, the desired website should be authoritative, relevant to your brand and contain a diverse range of content.
To jump-start link prospecting, here are 3 suggestions:
- Pick sites that rank well in your targeted keywords;
- Analyze the value of a backlink from these sites
- Reach out to the sites that backlink to your competitors’ site on related topics, they might be willing to backlink to your site as well. Furthermore, check if they have any broken links to competitor sites or content on your site that may work better than the competitor site they’re currently linking to, and try to get the link replaced with yours.
As with any Chinese digital strategy, there is a wide range of facets to consider, and we understand that getting set up with Baidu marketing can be overwhelming. If you have any questions about creating a Baidu account or want a better understanding of SEM and SEO marketing in China, contact us!