A small guideline on mastering the top Chinese search engine.
In mainland China, as the great firewall blocks most of the well-known western world websites such as Google, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, etc. companies whose purpose is to enter the Chinese market have to rely on Baidu search engine. Baidu, which is in compliance with Chinese government censorship, is fairly similar to the American search engine Google.com, although it has many differences which foreign webmasters have to acknowledge.
- Website Domain Name matters very much for Baidu’s algorithm, the Chinese search engine will usually rank .cn websites higher on the SERP (search engine results page). It is advised in this case to favor a .cn domain name.
- The domain has to be hosted in China, note that hosting it far from the Mainland may impact speed, which is also an important factor for Baidu (see below).
- The website has to have a “physical address” in China; meaning it is required to have contact details.
- You must make sure that your website is in compliance with Chinese internet restrictions if you do not wish your website to be de-indexed from Baidu or refused listing.
- An ICP license is required by the Chinese bureaucracy, which roughly takes up to a month. Without this basic requirement, ranking high on Baidu SERP will be nearly impossible.
Online Content & Meta-Tags
Quite obviously your content has to be displayed in Chinese, preferably in simplified Chinese. Baidu is not really inclined to rank dialects or foreign languages (Cantonese, English, French, etc.)
Search Engine Land has carried out an in depths study on Baidu’s algorithm. This research shed light on how primordial Meta-tags are.
- Title Tags should include your main keywords and display the companies name, preferably at the end.
- Meta-descriptions is key as Baidu ranks websites higher based on keywords.
- Alt-Tags is favored by Baidu; images should include alt-tags relevant to the page content.
- H-Tags (Heading Tags) are highly important for Baidu, similarly to other search engines. Every single page has to comprise at least a Heading 1 tag and the rest of the content has to be arranged with Heading 2 and Heading 3 tags. Including keywords in these H-Tags is wise.
As regards the content, the newest is favored over the oldest. Regular optimization and update are required. Posting fresh content on a daily-basis, especially news and press releases and engaging content is vital.
- Original content is favored by the Chinese search engine. This is fairly difficult as online bots are known to republish the content elsewhere on the web. When it comes to duplicated content, addressing plagiarism instances to avoid penalties from Baidu is advised.
- The Anchor Text is essential; Baidu is picky. Internal links (opposite of an URL) to your own website are taken into consideration by the search engine. Including your keywords into the Anchor Text will prove to be a clever strategy as it will ensure a higher ranking in the SERP.
- To the Top, according to many China-based SEO, Baidu bots are not as powerful as Google’s. Ensuring that your keywords are placed near the top of your pages will apparently make the bots rapidly move on instead of scanning the entire page.
As it is for most search engines, loading times and speed of your host is a ranking signal for Baidu. Make sure that your pages load quickly, by avoiding heavy content and unnecessary code. While adding and updating the content, you should monitor your website speed.
- Baidu does not favor multiple domains website. You should stick with only one .cn domain hosted in China and avoid sub-domains.
- A major difference here is that Baidu does not well support flash code. Flash content will not be indexed in Baidu’s database. Simply avoid it.
- Webmaster’s tools is provided by Baidu, although not as advanced as Google’s or Bing’s. Register with this tool will allow you to monitor and gather relevant statistics. You can find it here.
Baidu operates fairly differently from other search engines. You should be cautious while creating back links on your web pages. Baidu favors the number of back links included in your content, the more the better. Although, the quality of your back links is gradually becoming a crucial factor for the Baidu SERP ranking system. Choose your keywords wisely and find a common ground between quality and quantity.
All in all, companies that are willing to settle on the Chinese market have no choice. Mastering the Chinese search engine is a must, complying with the rules of the Chinese internet will ensure a good ranking on Baidu’s complex SERP. Keep in mind that Baidu does not simply work like Google.