As we have already seen for SEO and Yandex, let’s go further south to the country of the pangolin and its search engine, Baidu. Indeed, there are important specificities to improve the SEO of your website for the Chinese public. You definitely cannot use the same approach as Google to optimize your site for Baidu. Baidu SEO creates inevitable problems, such as complex language issues, cultural differences, censorship, etc. But what are these differentiating elements for your Chinese SEO?
Use technical optimizations
1 – Optimization for mobile
Why should you optimize your site for mobile? China is a country that is constantly on the move, so nearly 98% of search is done on mobile devices. And Baidu will transcode websites that are not optimized for mobile. What does this mean? It will automatically change the layout of your site according to what Baidu considers best practices. And these new pages will appear on Baidu.
Recommendation ► Stay in control by adding “_applicable-device_” meta tags that help Baidu better identify desktop/mobile pages and avoid transcoding. And prioritize mobile-friendly design.
2 – Structured data snippets
Baidu’s indexed lists pages by and large contain a lot more organized information bits than Google. This implies that organized information is staggeringly important for SEO on Baidu. You can present this information by means of Baidu Open, which permits website admins to make their own SERP widgets.
Recommendation ► Submit your structured data through Baidu Open. This is especially important if you want to rank for rich snippets. You can only request a very limited number of rich snippets via Baidu’s webmaster tools.
4 – Secure URL
Like Google, Baidu switched to prioritizing HTTPS webpages more than HTTP webpages since the latter half of 2018. Many websites on China’s search giant are yet to make this switch.
Recommendation ► change your security certificate beforehand.
5 – Increase the speed
The page load speeds are one of the most important Baidu SEO factors in determining the rankings, far more than with Google. The slower your website, the lower your chances to rank well are.
Recommendation ► Hosting your site on a server in China will improve the page speed and your chances to rank on the Chinese search engine.
Creating content for SEO purposes
6 – Keyword Research
As with Google, keyword research is an essential part of ranking on this search engine. But don’t rely on Google’s keyword planner, as it doesn’t have complete data on China. Instead, use Baidu Keyword Planner or Dragon Metrics – a great third-party tool for finding Chinese keywords. Simply translating the keywords you found for other languages on Google will not help you find the best keywords to target for China.
Recommendation ► International keyword research will help you target the most relevant keywords for your Chinese audience (and any other market, for that matter).
7 – Freshness of content
Baidu thinks about content newness as a positioning sign. This implies that distributing new substances routinely is considerably more significant than it is for Google. Yet, all content should follow China’s restriction rules. Against government discourse, grown-up content, or betting are totally restricted.
This might be more troublesome than you might suspect. A few apparently guiltless words, for example, “toad” and “rubber ducky” are prohibited as a result of their political undertones. Also, an honest photograph of a person sunbathing on a deckchair in the sun or even a piglet could have your site blocked for showing excess skin. You need to be very careful and do your own research to ensure that you don’t inadvertently fall into the crosshairs of the censors. If all else fails, let it be.
Recommendation ► Publish new substance something like every 15 days. Be that as it may, be mindful so as not to get abandoned by new controls’ choices. Or then again present your substance straightforwardly to a Baidu delegate for endorsement.
8 – No duplicate content
From Google to Bing, from Yandex to Yahoo, all search engines penalize duplicate content, promoting uniqueness. But Baidu considers this aspect an extremely important factor, so while it is appropriate to avoid creating duplicate content, it’s also important to check frequently that content is not subject to scraping by third parties.
Recommendation ► In this case it is crucial to take action to solve the problem.
9 – Thumbnails
Thumbnail images frequently appear on the Chinese search engine SERP. Google is increasingly using image recognition technology to provide relevant image results. The Chinese search engine relies more on alt tags, image URLs, and related descriptions. This means that image content optimization has gained importance for SEO on Baidu.
Baidu Images results are also a familiar part of the SERP. If you have high-quality images, this is another way to increase traffic to your site.
Recommendation ► Image optimization carries more weight with Baidu than it does with Google. Make sure every image has optimized alt tags.
The external signs for Baidu
10 – The domain name
Baidu puts China first. It prioritizes .cn domains, servers located in China, and links from Chinese websites. For this reason, an Internet Content Provider (ICP or 备案) license is a profitable investment. This license is basically a permit issued by the Chinese Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (中华人民共和国工业和信息化部) that is needed to operate a website in mainland China. According to Chinese law, all websites must clearly display the ICP number on their homepage.
Although .cn domain names are always ranked higher on Baidu, there is no need to end up with one if you don’t have one. Your .com and .net websites will still rank if they are accessible from China and optimized for China.
Recommendation ► A website hosted in China is ideal, even if you have to get your paperwork in order first. The red tape involved in these licenses often deters businesses. But it’s worth it to ensure a good ranking on Baidu and increase web traffic.
11 – Baidu Webmaster Tools
Baidu Webmaster Tools is the official traffic management platform for Chinese website administrators. It offers a wide variety of tools, from dead link detection to speed tests. The platform also offers metrics that you can only get on Baidu. And a two-way communication channel between webmasters and Baidu.
Recommendation ► Submit your website to Baidu’s webmaster tools. This allows Baidu’s spider to index your content accurately. And gives you valuable tools to monitor and optimize your site’s performance. This service is only available in Chinese, but registration as a user is free.
12 – The trust system
The trust system is a credibility guarantee for search engine users. It displays badges next to the search results, to indicate a numbered trust level. Badges are available for purchase from Baidu. There is no official confirmation that they have any impact on Baidu’s SEO. However, a number of comments suggest that they can have a great effect.
Recommendation ► Invest in Baidu badges to give users confidence in your site. They can also help you reduce your bounce rates, which will further improve your organic rankings and click-through rates.
Improve your visibility in China
13 – Baidu’s own platform
Baidu has many digital platforms beyond the search engine, including:
- Tieba (贴吧) is the most popular online discussion forum in China
- Document sharing via Wenku (文库 )
- Baike (百科) is China’s answer to Wikipedia and one of the most trusted sources for information.
- Zhidao (知道）is a Q&A website that allows people to answer questions about their business.
This search engine is strongly favored content from its own platforms. This can be a challenge for brands and specific keyword themes. The good news is that most of Baidu’s platforms allow brands to upload content to them, which allows for indirect engagement with users. And they are considered reliable sources of information. All you need to do is register in advance.
Recommendation ► Creating content for Baidu platforms is a good way to be seen. Start by creating a company page there. Look at the potential results for the target keywords. Also, consider keywords that have less competition on different platforms.
14 – Layout of SERPs
The Baidu search engine results page is laid out differently than Google’s.
Baidu’s services and informative rich snippets can occupy up to 70% of the space on page 1. This means there is much less space for organic search results. Even if you rank well, you may only appear on page 2.
Recommendation ► Consider targeting long-tail keywords, where structured data is less common.
SEO on Baidu should be the top priority of your Chinese search strategy. It takes time and effort, but the rewards are worth it. Keep an eye on Baidu’s rivals, however. Indeed, we may be entering a new, more competitive era in the Chinese search. By staying current and optimizing your content, you could get a head start on the competition.