China’s largest search engine, Baidu is also known as “the Google of China.” Baidu has become a major player in China’s Internet sector, offering services such as web searches, ecommerce, and mobile applications. And now, they want to take their place as a global leader in search engine optimization (SEO). How should you approach it?
With its massive user base and high-quality content, Baidu is a great option for companies looking to expand into the Chinese market. If you want to get ahead of the competition, however, you’ll have to master the art of SEO. This guide to Baidu SEO will teach you how to optimize your site.
Introduction to Baidu: What Is It?
Baidu is a completely Chinese-focused search engine. As such, it can interpret Chinese text much better than any other search engine, and it has the largest index of Chinese websites in the world. The Bindu UI is solely available in Simplified Chinese, and it gives priority to Chinese websites. Only few non-Chinese websites are even indexed and shown in SERPs.
Just like Google, Baidu isn’t only a search engine. It offers other services such as maps, cloud computing, translation websites, music and video platforms, a Chinese clone of Wikipedia, an Android-based OS, etc. So, it’s pretty much Google’s Chinese counterpart. If you want to expand your business into the Chinese market, optimizing your website for Baidu is a must.
Overview of the Baidu SERP: The Differences Between Google and Baidu’s SERPs
If you’ve decided you want to enter the Chinese market and rank your website on Baidu, you should know how the SERP is different from Google’s. These are some major differences you should be aware of when optimizing your website for Baidu.
- The language: Baidu’s SERP is exclusively in Chinese and it doesn’t support any other languages.
- Ad disclaimers: Ads are often not marked clearly, making it hard to differentiate between organic and paid results.
- Click behavior: Unlike Google, Baidu opens links in a new window. This way, the Baidu page stays open while users browse the pages they’re interested in.
- Thumbnails: Baidu’s SERP is very image-heavy as most organic results have thumbnail pictures. Most searches also have image-based related searches on the right side.
- Snippets: Baidu’s snippets can take up up to 70% of the result page. They are much more interactive than the ones on Google. Some snippets are even paid promotional deals. The large number of rich snippets can be challenging when trying to rank on Baidu.
- Mobile browser: While Google has the same URL for desktop and mobile versions, Baidu’s mobile URL is m.baidu.com.
- Non-mobile-friendly websites: If a website isn’t mobile-friendly, Baidu will transcode it to make it load quicker on mobile devices. If this happens, the website is hosted on Baidu’s servers.
Differences between Baidu and Google’s SEO
Now that we’ve covered the fundamental differences between SERPs on Google and Baidu, it’s time to take a closer look at Baidu’s SEO and how it differs from Google’s.
Compared to Google’s spider, Baidu’s spider crawls websites much slower. So if you make any updates to your page, make sure to manually submit them to Baidu’s index.
When it comes to valuing links, Baidu much prefers links to and from Chinese websites. So, acquire backlinks from websites with Chinese content, .cn domains and websites hosted in Hong Kong or China.
Baidu does take into account social signals, but it values its own platforms the most. For example, their version of Wikipedia Baidu Baike or the Baidu Zhidao Q&A forum.
Because Baidu can’t read and evaluate subdomains well, it’s best to stick to .cn domains when linking. Alternatively, you can use .com domains.
Meta Keyword Tags
Though they might not be important to Google, meta keyword tags are still an important factor for Baidu SEO rankings.
Baidu will be the main organic rival for most websites. This is because at least one Baidu property will be found in the top 5 results for practically all search queries. This makes Baidu’s SEO much different from Google’s. Some of these properties are Baidu News, Baidu Maps, Baidu Images, Baidu Tieba, Baidu Wenku, Baidu Baike, Baidu Zhidao, etc.
Baidu and Google SEO Similarities
Though there are some major differences between these two search engines, they’re not entirely dissimilar. In fact, they have quite a few things in common. Here are some examples.
Content Over Optimization
The main focus should always be up-to-date and useful content over optimization. Keyword stuffing should not be your go-to practice.
Because a vast amount of online traffic in China is on phones and tablets, optimization for mobile devices is a priority.
What would SEO be without keywords? Baidu also values the use of keywords, and they have their version of Google Analytics called Baidu Tongji.
Both internal and external linking is taken into account. When it comes to external links, it’s important that they are URLs of Chinese websites. The same goes for backlinking.
Meta Description and Title Tags
Write meta descriptions for your pages, but make sure they are up to 120 characters in simplified Chinese characters. Title tags on Baidu should include around 20 Chinese characters.
It’s important for your website to have a logical structure in order to make crawling easier. Try to implement flat and intuitive navigation on your website to make Baidu’s spider’s job simpler.
Although Google doesn’t tolerate duplicate content either, Baidu is even stricter about this. If you get penalized for duplicate content, it can take much more time for your rankings to recover.
Factors Determining Rankings on Baidu
When getting ready to optimize your website, you should be aware of the key factors that will impact your ranking on Baidu. These are the things you should pay attention to:
- The number and quality of inbound links
- The age of the domain
- The level of traffic
- Social media engagement
- Anchor text
- Keywords in title tag, Meta description, h1 tag, etc.
- Content quality and quantity
- Website loading speed
SEO Optimization for Baidu
Now that you know what Baidu values and what some main SEO factors are, we’ll explain how you can optimize your website to get a good ranking.
Domain and Hosting
The domain name is one of the most important factors for good rankings. Choose a .cn or .com domain that’s short, easy to remember and relevant to your business.
Baidu often prefers everything Chinese because its audience is mostly from Mainland China. This includes the hosting location of your servers.
You should host your website in Mainland China if you want to achieve the greatest SEO results on Baidu. While it’s not a guarantee, having a site hosted locally has a distinct advantage over having one hosted elsewhere.
- Website speed: Website speed is a very important ranking factor, so make sure your website loads quickly, especially on mobile devices.
- Implement flat and intuitive navigation: Your website should be easy to navigate and all the pages should be easily accessible from the homepage.
- Optimize your title tags and meta descriptions: Make sure they’re the right length and contain relevant keywords.
- Optimize your images: Optimize your images by using relevant keywords in the file names and alt tags.
- Optimize your website content: As we mentioned before, content is one of the most important ranking factors on Baidu. Your content should be up-to-date, relevant and useful for your audience.
- Avoid duplicate content: Make sure all the content on your website is unique and relevant to avoid getting penalized.
- Use h1, h2 and h3 tags: Use h1, h2 and h3 tags to structure your content and make it easy to read.
- Link internally: Internal linking is important for two reasons. First, it helps Baidu crawl your website more easily. Second, it helps users find relevant information on your website.
- Link externally: As we mentioned before, it’s important to link to Chinese websites if your target audience is in China.
- Promote your website on social media: Social media engagement is a very important ranking factor. Promote your website on popular social media platforms in China, such as Weibo and WeChat.
- Keep an eye on your backlinks: Monitor your backlinks and make sure they’re coming from high-quality websites. You can use a tool like Baidu Link Checker to check your backlinks.
Submit Your Website to Baidu
The first step is creating a Baidu account. Once you have an account, you can submit your website to Baidu Webmaster Tools. To do this, log in to your account and click on “Add a site.” Then, enter your website’s URL and click “Submit.”
Baidu will then crawl your website and index your pages. This process can take a few weeks, so be patient.
The Bottom Line
Now that you understand the key factors that Baidu considers when ranking websites, it’s time to start optimizing your website for better rankings. Keep in mind that SEO is an ongoing process and you should always be trying to improve your website’s ranking.