Search Engine Optimization (SEO) in China : Chinese Baidu
Chinese SEO Expert
The SEO rules for the Chinese Internet market (Baidu and Google China) are a bit different than that of any other country. The Internet market works differently due to various social, political and technological reasons. Itâ€™s quite remarkable that Google China has so far failedÂ to take over the Chinese search engineÂ market which is still dominated by Baidu – maybe the only company in the world still beating Google in their own niche.
Most of the websitesâ€™ incoming traffic comes from search engine queries, so Google is extremely importantÂ for any site out there thatâ€™s interested in getting traffic, and the Internet is full of SEO experts with advice on how to help Google better understand your site, hopefully resulting in higher Google rankings and increased incoming traffic.
Baiduâ€™s dominance in the enormous Chinese online market holds a whole new world of challenges and opportunities for websites.Â AskingÂ online-colleagues and browsing through the Internet itâ€™s quite surprising how little information is available on the topic in English. Most western SEO professionals I know assume that Baiduâ€™s behavior is just the same as Googleâ€™s, but Iâ€™ve always felt thatâ€™s just the easy response and probably quite far from the actualÂ truth. I had a chance to rethink this subject while discussing “English Taiwan : The websphere, the blogosphere, traffic, SEO and the need for a profound change” and the lacking connection between the Chinese and English blogospheres in Taiwan and China. I was happy to see the wonderful Onemanbandwidth: An American Professor in ChinaÂ promising to discuss his SEO experiences in China on “SEO CHINA” :
As many of you know I have been doing search Engine Optimization and Search engine Marketing for about six years. [â€¦] This will be the start of an Internet Marketing Tutorial for those doing general cyber-business or blogging in China.
SEO services in the U.S. and China are vastly different. Chinese companies usually charge by the keyword. A top ten listing for a â€œcool wordâ€ (one with low result returns in Google) might cost you 8,000 RMB a word per year; a â€œhotâ€ word/term like English School China with 85,000,000 returns could cost you 20-30,000 RMB per year. If that were the case for me I would have someone ghost-writing this blog and I would be having my feet massaged in first-class on Singapore Air.
This could turn out to be a great project, starting a western discussion on China SEO technics and tips, but Iâ€™d like to see that focus more on whatâ€™s unique for the China market. So, although Iâ€™m not aÂ big SEO expert, especially not when it comes to SEO in China, I thought Iâ€™ll share the little that I do know about China oriented SEO with special reference to Baiduâ€™s search engine.
Baidu is extremely sensitive to some information, so totally avoid mentioning or writing adultÂ content, pornography, or Chinese government forbidden keywords. Having any of those will not onlyÂ affect the page the content is on but alsoÂ the entire website.Â
Naturally, optimize your pagetitles, your headings and try to achieve optimal keyword density for important keywords in your website pages (5-8%), same as Google.
Anchor-texts for incoming links are, like in Googleâ€™s case, a very important SEO factor, but it seems Baidu attributes a little more importance to internal anchor-texts. Note that unlike Google, Baidu still doesnâ€™t have a very advanced authority mechanism, so thereâ€™s less importance to where your anchor-text is coming from, and you can imagine the consequences of this problem.
Since weâ€™re targeting China, itâ€™s important that we have Chinese text, and to be more precise – Simplified Chinese text in the right encoding.Â Not many Chinese search in English (although IÂ was getting quite a few Baidu hits in both English and Chinese for posts like “the story behind the Chinese zodiac”). It doesnâ€™t have to be much, say a sub-heading of the title in Chinese.
ConsiderÂ using automatic tools to translate your blog/website as those might give you a better first exposure in the Chinese market than you think. Some bloggers are using automatic translations with self-reported relative success, like quickonlinetips.com and itâ€™s advisable to read his tips for automatic wordpress blog translation and the importance of caching to avoid being locked off by translation services. Some of the big blogs even have Chinese bloggers manually translate their content to target the Chinese audience.
Site location and domain name
If you are opening a Chinese website/mirror/translated-mirror, then you should know that it seems Baidu would love you more if you have a China domain, like .com.cn or .cn, or if youâ€™re hosted in China. Domains and webhosting in China are amazingly cheap, though extremely slow for outside access.
Translated SEO parameters
Make sure itâ€™s not only content and text that are written or translated in Chinese, but also other important SEO parameters like the image “alt” field that describes the images in your blog etcâ€¦
â€¦ Thatâ€™s also true forÂ metadata, namely metatags like keywords and description. While Google lowered the importance of this factor to almost nothing, Baidu still loves metadata.
Make sure your site is crawlable by using a text browser like Lynx.
Tweak your .htaccess and try to avoid 403/404/defected-links pages. Note that Baidu doesnâ€™t care asÂ much for robots.txt and content duplication.
SubmitÂ your site to BaiduÂ through http://www.baidu.com/search/url_submit.html . Baidu is a bit slow to start crawling the site, so hang in there and wait patiently.
The “open Internet news”Â is equivalent to a websiteâ€™s news search engine subscription. Through the worldâ€™s largest Chinese search engine Baidu, you can haveÂ greater exposureÂ with aÂ higher frequency of visits to your websiteâ€™s news, thus increasing the potential for traffic toÂ your web site.
So, youâ€™ll have to adjust things a bit to fit their standard and submit it to : http://news.baidu.com/newsop.htmlÂ . If youâ€™re using WordPress then you might want to check out Hong Xiaowanâ€™s Studioâ€™s The WordPress Plug-in of Baidu News ProtocolÂ with the detailed instructions on how to set it up. I havenâ€™t tried this, but Iâ€™ve heard itâ€™s pretty straightforward.
Obviously, keyword research using Googleâ€™s tools wonâ€™t help you much, and youâ€™ll need to use what Baidu has to offer. You can start off by checking Baidu trends on Baidu Index. Hereâ€™s an example for the keyword ä»¥è‰²åˆ— (Israel)) :
Baidu also provides live updates for Baiduâ€™s top keywordsÂ :
There used to be a keyword analysis tool for Baidu, but the links I once used donâ€™t seem to work anymore. You can alsoÂ use Overtureâ€™s Chinese keyword suggestions toolÂ as well as SEOQuake Firefox extension that displays Baidu stats on search results.
Thatâ€™s a quick guide on Baidu SEO. Other fantastic SEO tips can be found on fiLiâ€™s tech.