Baidu is currently the principal search engine in China, and China is a huge country with over one billion people. That’s a lot of potential internet users doing a lot of searching. Here are some interesting stats before I start. In the year 2000, there were only 22 million people with access to the Internet. That’s just 1.7% of the population. By the year 2011, that number went up to 513 million, an astonishing 2,180% increase.
Baidu, with 78% share of the search engine market, had over 400 million users in 2011. Just to put this into perspective, that’s almost double of Google UK and U.S. users put together. If the amount of Internet users continues to increase at the same level as in the UK and U.S., China will have almost 1 billion internet users, with more than 700 million of these using Baidu. That’s a lot of searches on the same search engine.
Needless to say, Baidu is an essential growth area for any business hoping to maintain a strong global presence. In this video, I will be going through the basic on-page and technical SEO elements you will need to start dominating Baidu.
Compared to Google, Baidu’s crawler and ranking algorithm is still not as advanced, so it relies heavily on on-page information, which is why it’s very important to get this spot on. The first thing I’ll be talking about is domain name. Make sure you’re using a Chinese TDL. Baidu will rank these primarily. These are .cn and .com.cn.
Another thing is make sure of is that your website is hosted in China. I was actually in China last year, and I was trying to browse some UK websites, and they were painfully slow, almost to the point of unbrowseable. So it’s very important to be hosted in China locally.
Next up is Baidu webmaster tools. Baidu have their own webmaster tools, same as Google and Bing. It’s not as advanced, but you will be able to submit information such as your sitemap.xml, robots.txt, check your website for errors among other things. It is in Chinese, being that it’s from China, but Google does a pretty good job of translating it if you’re on Chrome. So give that a go.
Next up is Meta. Description and title tags are the same, they’re very important. Make sure they’re optimised for each page, they’re unique, etc. The key difference here is that Baidu still reads Meta keywords, so make sure they are present on your website and optimised for the keywords you’re targeting for those specific pages.
Next up is content. Baidu does rank English content. They have partnered up with Bing recently to display English results, but this is halfway down the page. So if you want to dominate Baidu, you will need to use simplified Chinese. You don’t have to learn Chinese. If you don’t know how to write Chinese, get a translator, translate your website, but make sure it’s in Chinese. It’s very important.
Just one more thing before I move on, actually. The government has placed a censorship on certain k eywords. Make sure you do your research. Check that there’s no sensitive keywords on your website, because it will mean your website will be de-indexed if there are.
Next up is the header. Baidu places the same, if not more importance on page elements, such as header and Alt tags. Like I said before, their algorithm is not as advanced, so it’ll rely on your website for information. Make sure these are optimised.
Next up is website code. This is the same as Google. Make sure you stay away from Flash frames, etc. Anything that the crawlers cannot read, you don’t want on your website. Make sure your website code is clean and is fast. It will help with your rankings.
Lastly is the website structure. Baidu’s crawlers will not crawl as many pages or as deep as Google’s crawlers. It’s not as advanced. So make sure the important pages you want to rank are on the top level. Make sure your menu is not going down too deep. Keeping it simple is really important.