The New Year is upon us and moving forward at full speed. If you’ve got plans to increase sales in China through website traffic, then a better understanding of the world’s second largest search engine should be on the top of your priority list.
If you’re not already familiar with Baidu, now’s the time to get better acquainted. Baidu is China’s dominant search engine with a market share of 80%. It receives an estimate of 3.3 billion queries a day, second to Google, with an estimate of 3.5 billion queries a day. There’s no doubt that ranking well on Baidu’s search engine can make a difference on your business’s web traffic and revenue.
However, as similar as Baidu may seem to Google, Baidu is a beast of its own, with rules you have to play by if you hope to rank well within its SERPs. Many brands make the mistake of using the same tactics they employ with Google and find themselves poorly ranked. How exactly do the two differ? Here’s a quick and comprehensive list you can use to ensure your company’s website stands a chance in the world of Baidu.
What the two search engines have in common
Get linked: Both Google and Baidu value trusted websites and take into account authority built upon external links. Being linked to high-quality and credible websites are important for both search engines, however, Baidu favors links from Chinese-hosted websites over international ones.
Be authentic: Similar to Google, Baidu bases its ranking through keywords. Although in the past, websites were getting away with “keyword stuffing” methods, Baidu has since updated its algorithm to be more selective. It now demands more natural keyword placements on the webpage and meta descriptions.
Go mobile: Mobile-friendly websites are a big factor for both search engines. Google has known for years that smartphones would be the future. In 2017, 65.1% of all website traffic in Asia were made through mobile phones, and according to an interview with Linda Lin, General Manager of Baidu, 80% of searches are now made on mobile phones. With rising numbers like these, it’s no surprise that websites without a mobile-friendly setup find itself ranked lower within the search results.
Notable differences with Baidu
Host your website locally: Although many foreign companies choose to forego this step, having your website hosted on a Chinese server will increase loading times and reduce user bounce rates, which in turn gets your website better ranked. In order to host a website in China, you’ll need to register for a Content Provider License (ICPL). There are two types of licenses you can register for: an individual license or a commercial license. An individual license will require you to have a state-owned identity card, and a business license will require a full Chinese business registration.
Register for a Chinese domain: Chinese citizens and Baidu prefer seeing domains ending in .cn. Having a Chinese domain name (ending in .cn) not only increase your ranking on Baidu’s search results, it also helps facilitate trust with users.
Get verified: Register and purchase a verification level to strengthen your site authority. There are 3 verification levels depending on your website’s trustworthiness (V1, V2, and V3). Your verification level gets placed on your meta description and will aid in better click rates. Studies show that Chinese consumers (60.8%) tend to do more research on products and companies before making a purchase online as compared to consumers in the United States (38.4%). Therefore, it would be wise to include detailed information about your company and products. Ratings and comments by other consumers are also highly valued by Chinese consumers.
Be smart with content: Place the most important content at the top of the page to make sure that your website’s content gets a higher page ranking. Baidu’s limited indexing only reads the first 100 KB of information on the page so use this space to include relevant keywords and important business messages. Updating your content frequently will yield better results when it comes to being better indexed and ranked.
Use the correct language: Baidu prefers websites with short URLs in pinyin. All of your website’s content should contain Simplified Chinese characters. This includes meta descriptions and title tags. Baidu’s indexing is able to understand and quickly identify Simplified Chinese over Traditional Chinese or other languages.
Key items and features to avoid
To exist or do well on Baidu, there are several things your website should avoid:
- Anti-government speech, inappropriate adult content, gambling material or any news or information that would be considered culturally sensitive. If any of this type of content is on your page directly or indirectly linked, it will affect the score of your ranking.
- Low-quality content, intrusive advertisements, and pop-ups. If Baidu’s Pomegranate Algorithm detects these types of content on your website, it’ll significantly affect your rank on Baidu.
Though it seems like there’s a lot to do in order to successfully rank high in Baidu’s search engine, it’s definitely worth it. Fine-tuning your Baidu SEO strategy with the right knowledge and tools can set your website on the right track for reaching your SEO goals this year.