SEO for Baidu

Now that Google is pulling its search and advertising from China, and its over 1.3 billion people, there's only one significant platform remaining available for Web dominance and that's the Baidu search engine. If you've considered getting into China (as much as you can get into it) then we've put together a quick guide to SEO (search engine optimization) for your review.


Keyword Research


Any sophisticated search advertising or search engine optimization campaign is going to start with an in-depth round of keyword research. While it is probably best to hire a vendor/company with both translation and interpretation experience, there are fortunately some free online keyword research tools that you will be able to bootstrap with and use for Chinese translation.

Baidu's PPC management platform Search Marketing Pro (also known as Phoenix Nest) should be your first step in conducting Chinese keyword research. Baidu's platform is similar to others you are likely familiar with, offering daily budget features, keyword (and negative) keyword matching, ad rotation, geo-targeting, day parting and of course a keyword suggestion tool and bid estimator. The keyword tool from Baidu offers related keyword suggestions based on the core keywords you submit and provides them for download in a spreadsheet.

You may be saying to yourself, "Hey, what about Alibaba?" and you'd be wise to do so. Alibaba is a leading trade portal and one of our secondary focus points as it should be yours. Its keyword suggestion tool (Alibaba Wangxiaobao) is particularly useful for those in wholesale and trade businesses as Alibaba users tend to buy in bulk.


Editors Note: Install East Asian Language Files on Your Computer
I quickly learned that most of those in the English-speaking world, myself included, are not able to view Chinese characters without modifying our systems. The solution for Windows users is to install supplemental language support from your control panel. Doing so will enable you to see Chinese, Japanese and Korean language files, but at a cost of 230MB of disk space. Should you choose the install, open Regional and Language Options, click Start, click Control Panel, click Date, Time, Language, and Regional Options, and then click Regional and Language Options.



SEO Techniques


Unlike the complexity of search engine optimization for Google, Baidu offers a much more accessible challenge. Some of the core differences are that Baidu places more emphasis on meta information such as titles, descriptions and keywords. Alt tags are also weighted heavily, but the quantity of links is the key difference, as Google focuses more on the quality. Other techniques, including the use of heading tags and internal/external anchor text, should also be an area of focus.

If you just can't seem to get your site added by the baidubot, you are able to submit directly using the Baidu Site Submit. For those interested in speeding up the process even more and getting some universal content into the index too, then it will be the Baidu Search Open Platform that will warrant your attention. Baidu's open platform accepts XML data submission that may appear among the organic search results. The open platform requires developers/webmasters sign up and verify ownership (through file upload or meta tag verification) of the site, and submit a personal identity document.

One quick note on content and usability: Due to some speed and performance issues of the Baidu crawler, it has been suggested that writing in the reverse pyramid style (i.e. most important information at the top, preferably with a strong call to action) will result in higher positions, as often one the first few hundred kilobytes are indexed. This means you should keep design elements and content separate through CSS.


Chinese Domains, Hosting & Web Design

There are several important considerations when it comes to designing a website for Chinese users. In a perfect world you would have a Chinese domain extension as well as a Chinese hosting provider. Unless you've got some internal connections in China, however, it is best to start your search for hosting in Hong Kong, Taiwan or Singapore.

Finally, you'll want to make sure your pages have the appropriate content type indicated (see an example below) and avoid the use of robots.txt, focusing instead on modifying the .htaccess file instead.

ZH Character Set

This is far from a comprehensive guide for search engine optimization for China. What it does provide is quick but key insight into what you'll need to consider if one of your objectives is total Chinese domination. Keep it light (no porn or gambling) and informational and you'll make your mark in the land of the rising sun.