As a marketer or brand doing business in China, you know that succeeding in this market requires an understanding of the cultural context and using the right marketing tactics. One important element of any successful marketing strategy in China is SEO.
In this blog post, we’ll share our tips to help boost your China SEO strategy. By following these tips, you’ll be well on your way to ranking higher in Chinese search engines and gaining a competitive advantage over your competitors. Let’s get started!
Why SEO in China is so important for your business?
China SEO marketing is a cost-effective tool for branding and brand awareness. It can help your brand to have a good place on results pages on search engines. The higher you rank, the more clicks and traffic your site will have. This works especially well in China because Chinese consumers are very suspicious of brands that they don’t know. Distrust between customers and brands has been created due to lots of scandals that happened in the market.
If you want to enter the Chinese market and sell your products, you have to gain your target’s confidence and boost your brand awareness. Businesses that implement a complete SEO strategy in China gain an advantage over competitors. SEO in China is a long-term strategy that will consistently bring results over time, unlike paid advertising or KOL campaigns for instance.
Chinese search engine market overview
People in China are very connected to the Internet. Before purchasing certain products, they tend to search for as much information on the Internet as possible, so it’s very important to rank well so that they will visit your website.
Much like the alternatives to mainstream social media platforms, China has pioneered the production of search engines that provide an alternative to Google and Bing, as China’s Great Firewall has blocked most of the Western social networks and search engines.
China’s Most Popular Search Engines: Baidu, Sogou, and Shenma
In China’s search engine world, Google is at the bottom of the chain. Instead, local search engines take most of the cake. The Baidu search engine leads the dance, with market share oscillating around 70%. Other search engines such as Sogou and Shenma occupy a much smaller part of the Chinese market but have other benefits.
Expert Tips for SEO in China
Baidu SEO: China’s Number 1 Search Engine & SEM Channel
There are many search engines in China, but Baidu is the most popular search engine among them all, and the place internet users go first when looking for information. Thus, when it comes to search engine marketing in China, a chunk of companies’ efforts should focus on Baidu SEO.
Baidu, just like Google, has its own ecosystem and offers many platforms and tools to marketers:
- Baidu Keyword planner
- Baidu Webmaster tools
- Baidu PPC/Baidu Ads with the Baidu Phoenix Nest manager
- Baidu Baike, Zhidao, Baijiahao and son on
However, keep in mind that if you use Google’s optimization method to optimize your Baidu ranking, your website won’t do great on Baidu’s SERP.
Baidu SEO has its uniqueness. Differences such as complex language issues, cultural differences, user behavior, legal factors, censorship, and technical considerations should be well taken into consideration.
Creation of your Chinese website for Baidu SEO: a useful tool for your business in China
Baidu also has the world’s largest index of Chinese web pages, which is entirely Chinese. The user interface is only available in Simplified Chinese. Baidu gives priority to Chinese websites. Non-Chinese websites will struggle to even be indexed on Baidu
Therefore, developing your website is the first step in your Chinese SEO strategy. Not only because it can serve as a portal for your Baidu SEO, but your website can also help with brand credibility.
Baidu’s crawling and indexing of non-Chinese websites are also not very stable — it may crawl slower, less frequently, and not crawl so deeply, or even not crawl at all. It is thus very difficult for a non-Chinese website to get a ranking on queries in Mandarin.
As for why it does this, Baidu certainly has its reasons, and the biggest reason is user experience. Most of Baidu’s users are residents of mainland China. Of course, they are most interested in local content in Chinese characters.
Technical details about your website to optimize your brand on Baidu SEO
Your website should not only be in Mandarin if you aim at the Chinese mainland, but also it needs to be hosted in China or nearby such as Hong Kong, Malaysia, Singapore, etc. for a better user experience. If you host your website too far from China, it will take much more time to access it.
Mobile-Friendly Website: most internet users in China are on mobile. You can not afford a website not optimized for mobile.
Website domain name matters very much for Baidu’s algorithm, the Chinese search engine will probably rank websites with .cn higher on the SERP (search engine results page). It is advised in this case to favor a .cn domain name.
Legal factors about your website for Baidu SEO
An ICP License is an Internet Content Provider License. It’s a license issued by the Chinese government that allows companies to provide internet content in China. Getting an ICP license is required for any website that wants to be hosted in China with a .cn domain.
Why is it better for your Baidu SEO effort to have an ICP License?
Having an ICP license simply demonstrates that your company is a legitimate business within China and is authorized to operate a website. This helps to instill trust in users, which can lead to increased traffic and improve SEO results on Baidu.
Having an ICP License also means you can host your website in China (which Baidu prioritizes) and improve site speed.
What do you need to get an ICP License?
- To get an ICP License, a website foreign companies need a “physical address” in China, which means it is required to have Chinese contact details.
- You must make sure that your website is in compliance with Chinese internet restrictions
- Chinese business license
To Succeed With Chinese SEO, You Need a Keywords & Content Strategy
Search engine optimization always comes hand in hand with a content strategy, Google or Baidu, or anywhere.
To have a good website ranking on China’s search engines, you must have an important amount of content. New publications and updated information have a key role in referencing.
To create an editorial calendar keywords research is key and you can do that the same way you do with Google:
- Competitor’s observation
- Baidu Keyword planner
- Baidu SEO keyword ranking tools to access your site ranks in comparison to other sites
Relevant content creation is crucial to increase your organic traffic. When optimizing your content for Baidu, you’ll have to follow basic rules such as optimizing images (size and title tags), writing a compelling meta description, and so on.
When optimizing your content, target not only the top SERP results but also the snippets. Similarly, Google Baidu displays rich snippets. One of the most common is Baidu Baike.
A smart content strategy also means planned inbound links to further strengthen your relevant keywords in search results.
According to our experience, Baidu’s tolerance for duplicate content is much lower than Google’s. If a website is penalized by Baidu for duplicate content, it may take longer to rebuild the lost ranking.
However, duplicated content is still a big problem for Baidu, because content crawling is still a very common strategy with China SEO.
China SEO/Online Media & Censorship
The golden rule is to pay attention to sensitive subjects and avoid them. If it ever happens, you may receive a shadowban, or you can even be blacklisted and censored by the Chinese government (the same applies to social media marketing).
We are familiar with the situation and can help you with reviewing your website content, and establish an editorial calendar in line with Baidu’s guidelines!
Quality Backlinks: 70% of your China SEO Effort
Backlinks are very popular with Chinese search engines. Adding links to some websites allows a random website to be nicely placed on search engines.
Your webmaster can also use Chinese social media to share links. A nicely written and furnished article can be quoted by other websites or famous people, which will improve the natural referencing of the website.
Baidu believes that the value of backlinks from Chinese websites far exceeds that of foreign websites. When establishing a link for a website, you should take backlinks from a Chinese-based website (host in China, using simplified Chinese anchor text).
Baidu is still far behind Google in testing the quality of links. Google is already very good at spotting spam links, but Baidu is still vulnerable to the old-style spam link strategy. Because these black hat strategies are still effective, they are often used in Chinese SEO strategies.
Referencing Tags are Key for SEO
If Google no longer uses the keyword tag (Meta keywords tag) as a ranking factor, but only as a description of each result on the search results page that is not the case with Baidu. Baidu still uses keyword tags as a ranking factor, and there are some examples that support Meta descriptions that will also affect rankings.
These tags can be easily manipulated and designed to target some keywords, so it is puzzling that Baidu is still using them. Even if the impact of these tags on rankings is not huge, it is still a decisive factor in whether the page can be ranked in the target keywords.
These referencing tags allow websites to integrate the first choices of search engines
- The Title Tag
A great article must have a catchy title. You also need a good first sentence to detail the article’s content.
- The Description Tag
For SEO purposes, every page of the website must have a description of its content.
- The Keyword Tag
You must include keywords linked to the page’s activity and content. Then, the referencing will be much more efficient. Indeed, robots compare the keywords to the title of the page and to its description to establish some links between them.
Our China SEO Services
We are an SEO Agency specializing in digital marketing in China located in Shanghai, China. With more than 10 years of experience, we have already helped 700+ amazing clients develop their Baidu SEO.
We are the Reference for SEO agencies in China!
Need a smart SEO strategy for your China project? Contact us, ask for a quote, our case studies, and a free consultation with one of our SEO experts!
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- Understanding your Chinese customers with comprehensive market research
- Reaching out to your target audience through online marketing
- eCommerce strategy and social media operations