If you’re looking to improve your website’s search engine ranking, Chinese SEO may be the answer. However, it’s not as simple as copying and pasting some keywords into your website header – successful Chinese SEO requires a nuanced and strategic approach. Here are some tips on how to get started.
How Does SEO Work in China’s Digital Landscape?
All businesses, especially the ones that are based outside of China, should know that SEO in China works differently than how it does in the rest of the world.
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Sure, there may be a lot of similarities, but there are also a lot of differences in how China’s search engines go about ranking websites and making brands visible to the public. So, if you’re thinking that you can just conquer the Chinese search algorithm since you’ve been working with Google successfully all this time then you’re in for some challenges. Being able to adapt to how SEO works in China is key to your success.
We should recognize how China’s SEO market has significantly grown in just a short period of time in recent years. Yes, Google is missing in action in China. Google has been unwilling to work within the government’s rules and laws so they are blocked by the great firewall. That’s why the locals utilize their very own search engines, and there are a lot of search engines in China competing for online traffic.
Even if Google works within the boundaries of the Chinese government, it’d be too late for them to catch up with the search engine giants of the republic.
So yes, SEO is vital to your success if you want to do business within the country.
How Will SEO Boost Your Business in China?
Yes, SEO will help your ideal client find you but there’s more to it once you’re operating in China. Just imagine, about two-thirds of online users in China only click on the top five results of search engines.
It’s a very competitive landscape but it will be worth it once you rank in the top five.
Second, China has the largest e-commerce industry in the world. To harness the potential of this market you have got to be seen by your customers online. That’s why it’s very important to build a solid e-reputation in China. International businesses are well-aware of this fact, that’s why everyone is trying hard to penetrate the walls of this country.
If you observe good SEO practice, the web crawlers will find you and index you first so you’ll always come up on searches. But there’s still a lot of work to be done for that to happen. Let’s move along.
You Have To Get To Know Baidu
Since Google practically does not exist in China, something else ought to have taken its place, and that would be Baidu, famously known as the Google of China. We mentioned that China has got a lot of search engines but Baidu owns 80% of the market share as far as China’s online traffic is concerned, so its reign is undisputed.
Since you want your business to be seen, then you have got to get to know Baidu and play by its rules. Baidu works differently than Google.
Baidu has owned the search engine space since 2013 and, naturally, a huge chunk of the SEO market too. If you don’t utilize Baidu, you will lose access to about 700 million users.
So, just how different is Baidu from Google? Let’s compare.
Baidu vs Google
We’ve established that Baidu is not Google and the former differs because its search algorithm is designed to cater primarily (or only) to the Chinese online users. Now, that makes a ton of differences in your mindset or strategies going into China’s digital space.
Google is much more accommodating. It adapts and so even has local SEO parameters in place. Someone searching in Malaysia, for example, gets tailored-fit search results to their needs and it’s quite friendly to foreign brands too with not many restrictions.
Baidu takes China’s cultural, political, and language into consideration first before returning search results. Now, from that, you’d already know that if you’re a foreign business vying for China’s digital real estate then it’s going to be challenging.
Baidu is also still inferior to Natural Language Processing so you have got to be more precise with your keywords on the platform. The search engine will return search results with the keywords from your query but will it be as relevant compared to your Google searches? Not quite.
You can also say that Baidu’s search algorithm is also a bit biased toward its affiliates. What it will prioritize will be different from what Google will prioritize. So, as a business, you have got to be on Baidu’s side so you’ll also show up on searches.
Challenging? Yes, but not impossible. Here are our tips.
Expert Tips on How To Get Results in China’s SEO
Get Your ICP License
We already know that the internet in China is tightly controlled by its government. For you to improve your Baidu SEO performance then make sure to secure an ICP or Internet Content Publishing license.
This way, a Chinese hosting company will be able to host your website and you won’t be blocked by the great firewall. You will also avoid a ton of penalties and your website’s loading speed will be very much improved which will, in turn, improve the visitor’s experience on your website and keep them coming back for more.
Use the Local Language
If you want to operate and make it big in China you have got to use simplified Chinese on your website. Google translation is far inferior as compared to having a native speaker do your write-ups for you.
Your posts should be grammatically correct and translating will not be enough. Make sure to invest in this.
Keywords Are Still Important (As Well As Tags)
At least some semblance of familiarity, keywords, and tags are still very important in Chinese SEO. To not face any penalties from Baidu, ensure that your keywords on-page match the keywords off-page such as in your meta description and title tags.
As mentioned, you need to have precise keywords to give your website a chance to rank higher. Baidu also values CTR or click-through rate. This means that you have got to encourage your visitors to click a lot on your site. You can also take advantage of the keyword research tool provided by Baidu. This tool will allow you to check on current trends.
With Chinese SEO, Content Is King
Content is still king even in Chinese SEO and most especially in Baidu. But, a word of caution, plagiarism is rampant in China’s digital landscape and its search engines are not sophisticated enough to stop them.
There are even instances where the rightful owner of the content is the one penalized because the site that stole their content was the one who got their web page indexed first. A lost ranking due to duplicate content is hard or rather slow to recover from in Baidu.
That’s why you have to be extra vigilant if you upload content on your website.
Apart from that, you need to have a lot of content that resonates with your target audience for you to rank in Chinese search engines. Always follow the trends and always put up high-quality and relevant information to be relevant.
Backlinks Are Essential
Did you know that Chinese SEO is about 70% dependent on backlinks? That’s why backlinks are very important. This way, your content can be visible on other websites and vice versa.
Baidu values articles with backlinks to Chinese websites more than foreign websites. Take note that Baidu is once again not as sophisticated compared to Google when it comes to detecting spam links so the web pages are still prone to the old spam link strategy.
Backlinks are essential to building a reputation online and ascertaining domain authority. Chinese consumers also do significant research before they buy something so be sure to take advantage of that.
Back up your Chinese SEO effort with Forums & Social Media
Last but not least, social media in China is massive. Everyone must have a social media profile and you’ll be wise to take advantage of these platforms. Weibo, Wechat, TikTok, etc. will help you boost your business if you play your cards right.
Go for influencer marketing or create short-form content that has the potential of going viral. Integrate social media on your website or recycle content on these platforms. As mentioned, Baidu will prioritize local platforms on search rankings, so if you are visible on Chinese social media then you’ll have a chance to show up in the top five.
Similarly, Forums and Q&A content will rank high on Baidu. Not only actively participating in these forums will give you visibility on Chinese search engines but also help you build your brand credibility.
To conclude on Chinese SEO:
An active SEO strategy in China, combined with social media and forums marketing will give you full control over your brand narrative on the mainland. SEO, with PR, is indeed one of the most efficient tools for ORM (online reputation management) in China. Furthermore, SEO in China is more cost-efficient than every other marketing tool available. Although you’ll have to be patient to see results, these results will last in time and give you visibility for far longer than a paid ads campaign.
Need help with your SEO in China?
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