What is Baidu, and can I optimise my website for it?
Stephen McCance June 28, 2016
Red Cow’s international SEO specialists share some points to consider when optimising your website for Baidu and the Chinese market.
Founded in 2000, just two years after Google, Baidu is currently the largest search engine in China and is second only to Google on a global basis in terms of number of active users. With many different components that correspond to well known Western equivalents, Baidu has its own, Chinese language versions of YouTube (iQiyi), Google Analytics (Tongji), Google Shopping (Youa) and even Wikipedia (Baidu Baike). No wonder then, with such a sophisticated system already in place, that UK companies wanting to move into the Chinese market are looking to take advantage of digital marketing opportunities on these channels, and specifically considering SEO for Baidu. The short answer as to whether you can optimise your website for Baidu is yes. How you do so, though, is quite different to SEO on Google or Bing .
If you’re considering optimising your website for Baidu, there are a number of things that you’ll need to consider aside from the obviously necessary translation work, we have tried to summarise some of the main points here. Each search engine in the world has their own algorithmic rules and methods in which they promote some websites over others. Whilst both highly sophisticated and complex engines, Baidu and Google have never really seen eye to eye in terms of what should be considered as a ‘quality’ website that’s worthy of high rankings. For example, Baidu was still considering spammy link tactics, including poor quality links, link networks and paid links, to be acceptable, even encouraged, long after Google had brought in strict link penalties for the same practices. This, obviously, would have a negative impact on your online presence on one search engine or another if you were approaching them both in the same way. Therefore, unlike some other approaches to international SEO, it benefits site owners targeting the Chinese market to have a separate top level domain as well as a separate SEO strategy. Using a subdomain like when optimising for multiple language variations of Google may still negatively impact your SEO in Google by sending negative signals through to the main domain – better to be safe than sorry.
Naturally, Chinese TLDs will benefit you massively when embarking on a Chinese SEO campaign, so ideally you’re looking for a fully Chinese domain. For example, if we were looking to optimise redcowmedia.co.uk in Baidu, we would create 红牛媒体.cn or 红牛媒体.com.cn. When creating your Chinese TLD, it’s best to use PinYin , or ‘simplified Chinese’ as this is the most widely recognised, combined with a Chinese domain suffix – either .cn or .com.cn. If you’re unsure about using a PinYin domain, writing it in English should be ok, as long as you still have the Chinese suffix.
Whist site speed is important for Google, Baidu places an even greater emphasis on this as a ranking factor. As such, you want to have your new, Chinese variant site hosted as closely as you can to China. For most Western companies, this can often present an issue. In order to host your website in China itself, you have to have a physical registered company and postal address there, otherwise your request won’t be granted. To get around this, consider using hosting companies that are as closely located to China as possible to keep load speeds fast. For example, Hong Kong, Southern Japan, Vietnam and some parts of Northern India are much easier to gain hosting packages in.
In terms of website content, if you don’t have Chinese translation capabilities in house, or are planning to take someone on for this purpose, you’ll need to be very careful about which translation services you use. Stay away from online generators and auto-translate tools such as Google Translate, as these can often be simplistic and inaccurate, as well as missing cultural nuances that make a huge difference when reading in your native language (if you don’t believe us, translate a phrase to another language and then use the same tool to translate it back to English – 9 times out of 10 you’ll see exactly what we mean!). Instead, opt for native speaker translations. It may take longer and cost you more, but in the long term it’s an investment well worth making to assist with both your Baidu SEO and the conversion rates of your site overall.
Whilst these are just the basics, we hope that you’ve found our introduction article useful if international SEO is something you’re considering. For more information, speak to one of our SEO specialists who are specifically trained in website internationalisation.