China has the widest netizen population in the world. There are about 2-3 hundred million people using the internet to find information and solutions to their problems every day.
In the near future, there’ll be more native Chinese speakers than there are native English speakers online. Internet access in China is soaring (for instance, last year 233m Chinese accessed the web using their mobiles alone), the Chinese middle class is growing all the time, and so is their disposable income.
Baidu is the most popular search engine in China with around the 70-80% of the market share and gaining. Other search engines are 360, Sogou, Google China and others which reach barely the 10%.
With more and more Chinese enterprises understanding the importance of e-commerce, Internet Marketing is becoming more and more important in the Chinese industry, with many companies hiring Internet marketing professionals and agencies.
The Internet Marketing in China mainly includes Baidu SEO or Baidu PPC. Many Chinese enterprises export goods to European countries and the United States, so they train English SEOer staff. English SEO is for Google and Chinese SEO mainly is on Baidu.
Baidu ranking algorithms values the TrustRank (TR), which is similar to Google PR. PR upgrading also needs more links, so Baidu SEO usually uses link building, content construction and link trading. Recently, according to the adjustment of the Baidu algorithm, the link trading has been restricted a lot.
Baidu – as Google does – officially advocates good content building for good user experience.
If at all possible, locally hosting website in China is recommended. This allows for increased site speed, making it a positive aspect for the user experience, and correspondingly, your site’s rankings. Further, Baidu also appears to place more weight on URL extensions, so utilizing a .cn or .com.cn URL extension off the TLD is important.
The reasons put forward for Baidu’s supremacy are many and varied; it may be due to the engine being optimised for Chinese characters, or perhaps it’s due to Chinese patriotism, or it could just be as simple as the fact that Baidu links directly to illegal MP3 downloads (and more than half of all Baidu searches are for MP3s).
Baidu actively censors its content in line with Chinese government regulations, so be very careful with what you put on your site. Your best bet is to buy a Chinese top level domain and host it on a server in China. Luckily domains and hosting services are relatively inexpensive in-country.
You must translate your page into simplified Chinese/Mandarin. This is extremely crucial to building out an effective campaign in the China market. There is an 85% drop off rate on Baidu, when users hit a page in English. If you provide a Mandarin landing page, you have a much better chance of campaign conversions.
Baidu still loves metadata. Your metadata should be in Simplified Chinese, not English. Ensure you have a keyword rich title tag with your main targeted keywords as H1 and Hs as well as alt attributes for images. Also use the keywords tag as this is important for Baidu.
Another on page SEO factor is unique content. Much like Google, Baidu rewards unique quality content. It is also important to remember that China censors their content so be careful what you are putting on your site that you want to rnak on Baidu. Make sure there is nothing adult or gambling related. Many social networks have also been banned such as Facebook and Youtube.
Link building is a strong Baidu ranking factor however they look at purely the quantity of links instead of both the quantity and quality. Link building within the Chinese market is important and will help with Baidu rankings. Anchor text is also used at Baidu as a ranking factor. Overall Baidu is very different to other search engines like Bing or Google. It also has dominant market share in a country where their culture is very different to the English world, however if you are looking to market and penetrate the Chinese market you will need to think about ranking on Baidu and using their products. If you follow the above Baidu SEO best practices you should set yourself up for strong ranking in China’s biggest search engine.
Finally, as you might be aware of, some websites are not allowed in China, even though many geeks claim to be able to visit any websites – such as twitter, facebook or youtube – through VPN.