10 things you need to know if you want to do SEO in China

There are almost 600 million Chinese netizens this year and 420 million of them have Internet on their phone as well. On the e-commerce side, China just overtake United States in number of transaction and on volume with over 300 millions of Chinese that already buy something online and this number is far from stoping its race.

90% of Chinese People use Internet

Chinese are very connected and 90% of them are present on social media. Sina Weibo is the biggest of them all with 500 millions users. With 80% of market share, Baidu is the leader in the search engine sector. What does that tell us ? If you want to be seen on the Chinese Internet nowadays, you need to be present on social media platform and on Baidu. Neverthless, there are other tricks you need to be aware of :

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SEO in China in 10 points

1- Be careful to censure

Chinese government is reigning on the Internet. They decide who stay and who leave. For example, Facebook, Twitter, Youtube or Google don’t have their place in the Chinese virtual world. So how do Chinese can survive ? Well, thanks to other local giant such as Sina Weibo or WeChat (blogging platform) or Youkou (similar to Youtube). Therefore, you need to adapt your strategy.

Moreover, sometimes, website hosted abroad are ban randomly.

2- Have a Chinese website

There are only 1% of the Chinese population that speaks English enough to understand your website. This is the reason why your site has to be in Mandarin. Written with simple character and easy to comprehend.

For foreigner that lives in China, don’t worry for them, a partnership has been establish between Baidu and Bing that any English language search on Baidu is automatically associated to search on Bing and vice-versa.


3- Baidu gives priority to Website hosted in China

If you want to have bonus point from Baidu and be better ranked on the search engine, you have to get your website host in China. If your website stays abroad, Baidu will give it a strong penalty. You can still compete on less popular key works and get good position but it won’t be optimize.

We advice you to host it in China for one reason and one only. There are 600 million people connected 24/7 in this country so the Internet speed is quiet slow. If you are hosted in China it will already be 10 times more faster than if your site isn’t.

4- Respect syntax

Such as Google, Baidu gives a lot of importance to « on-site » optimization which is the pages titles and also gives advantage to meta description and meta keywords. It is far from what Google does so you need to know that these two search engine are very different from each other.

5- Baidu Advertising omnipresence

One important thing is that Baidu Advertising (such as Pay Per Click) will cover easily the first and second pages on the most competitive query. Thus, before you take position, it is essential to analyse results and choose longer queries but still not monopolized by Baidu’s add.

6- Give priority to long keywords that are more qualified

Because of the outrageous number of publicity, it is important to understand that it is better to look for longer keywords that are not competitive and less universal. This trend is better anyway especially as Chinese search method is like this.


7- Baidu is dominating the market

Baidu is similar to Google. It also has other website (such as Baidu Tieba, Baidu Zhidao, Baike…) that always appear in the first pages of any query.

If we look over the keyword « wine » we will get:

  • Baike (the Wikipedia Chinese version)
  • Baidu Shopping
  • Baidu News
  • Baidu Zhidao (similar to Yahoo! Answers)
  • Baidu Images
  • The first natural result arrives in the end of the page. 

Chinese are not going to search for « wine » though. They will adapt to what they really want by using longer keywords and try 4 or 5 times to get the most relevant result. Therefore, they will use more « Which is the best French wine brand ? »

Baidu also developed a « Brandzone » which gives the opportunity to a brand to get its personalised space. This spot is very expensive and increase according to the notoriety of the brand. When a brand is already ranked in first position on its keyword, commercial team of Baidu still found a way to make foreign brand pay for their spot.

8- Backlinks

Baidu is way less evolved and way much more selfish than Google is. Their technique are absolutely not the same, especially when Baidu is promoting its own websites first, in order to have more backlinks, then the government news and official sites.

Baidu developed two algorithm in the past 3 years that were supposed to regulate those link but the reality is far from that. It does not include backlinks from small sites which make them very unlikely to be ranked in the first pages.

9- E-reputation

It is important to make sure that you have a strong reputation. Why ? First for winning customer and second because if your website is considered to be harmful, the Chinese Communist government will penalise it or even ban it.

Baidu gives manually estimation to sites. For example, it will give advantage to partner such as Amazon that suddently appears on the search engine pages, and penalty to ennemy such as Alibaba or every Taobao shop that lose ranking because of the launching of Baidu Shopping.


10- Respect Baidu

We advice you to submit your website to Baidu, avoid to publish illicit content, attack against the government and get register in China to show that you are serious. Basically you need to adapt to Baidu’s update.

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One Comment

  1. we must be brothers!!! ha ha … I am a real estate agent in Melbourne, Australia and certainly interested in networking with Chinese INVESTORS and ENTREPENEURS. I have recently sold a large land holding to a group of 4 Chinese investors 2 Melbourne-based and 2 China-based) but always looking for more contacts.
    Let me know your price level and your skype, we might collaborate together

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