As is common knowledge, the vast population of over 1 billion in China paves the way for fantastic consumerism which we Westerners should become involved with. All company’s need is to be recognised in order to succeed, and the best way to do this is through Search Engine Optimisation. However, when looking to heighten your company’s SEO in China, there are a few things you need to be weary of.
Although Google is a large percentage of the world’s favoured search engine, this is not the case in China. Quite separately, only about 16% of Chinese internet users search the web via Google. Instead, the Chinese prefer to use the search engine Baidu.
*Baidu held around 78.3% of the 500 million users in China during the first quarter of last year (2012). This works out to around 391,500,000- now that is a huge number of potential customers and it would be almost foolish not to get involved.
[*data from a research firm based in Beijing called Analysys International]
Here are four important steps to ensure that you are maximising your company’s potential and heading in the right direction with regards to exposing your company to the vast Chinese community.
1. Always Use Keywords
When you start looking into the world of Chinese SEO it is first vital to understand what keywords are going to be acknowledged and should be used on Baidu.
Firstly there needs to be an understanding of the common language used in China; simplified Chinese.
You must make sure you are always using this form of Chinese as this is what Baidu will recognise and therefore also much of your target audience. It would also be a good idea to employ a native Chinese speaker to write or check over any content that is written on the website. This will ensure that you are delivering the correct information that will be recognised by the masses and reach out to as many potential customers as possible.
Now, you’ll be happy to know that although there are a number of differences between Baidu and Google, keywords isn’t one of them. The same system applies to that of your local company website. Title tags and meta descriptions are still recognised and extremely important when dealing with Baidu.
What is vital to remember is to make sure you use the same keywords on and off your website, Baidu can react quite aggressively to those who choose to ignore this piece of advice and can actually penalise you.
Baidu has a keyword research tool, put in place for you to familiarise yourself with what current users are looking for when they browse on the search engine. This allows you to see which are the most popularly searched trends, and you can then get these keywords into your website’s content for heightened exposure.
2. Local Hosting
It is extremely important that you make sure your Chinese website design is as accessible to as many users as possible within the Chinese market. If you localise your page then the website will run much smoother and faster, making it much more appealing to the viewer. When websites are set up outside the Great Wall of China, connections tend to be slower and less efficient.
[Image credit - keithroper - flickr]
To opt for local hosting you will need to be in touch with an agency that can help you with all the legislation and rules and regulations of China, so as to make sure your website is running in a strictly orthodox fashion.
3. Stay in Tune with Chinese Social Media
Do not be fooled for one second into thinking that although China’s censorship laws have restricted citizens from using Facebook and other networking sites, they don’t use social media. China does have social networking platforms, the most popular being Sina Weibo (used by around 30% of the Chinese who actively use the internet.)
Sina Weibo is the Chinese equivalent of Twitter, and is as important as Twitter for company exposure. Much of Chinese digital marketing is made possible through forums like Sina Weibo and it is greatly important that you get yourself onto the site and start making your company’s voice heard.
Baidu has recently teamed up with Sina Weibo and now posts that are made on the social media site can be linked directly to the search engine. This will certainly help increase your reach within the SERPs.
As well as using Sina Weibo there are a range of Baidu products that are interesting to take note of in terms of expanding your Chinese website’s coverage;
- Baidu Tieba - One of the biggest communication forums in China which consists of a vast online community who type in keywords and then start discussions. If your Chinese website was extended to this site and gained attention by the Chinese public, the advantages speak for themselves.
- Baidu Baike – Web based encyclopaedia very similar to Wikipedia. Chinese censorship plays a part in what can and cannot be shown though, so make sure you are complying with the tight restrictions that are set in place.
- Baidu Zhidao – Allows the community to ask Questions and Answers. A fantastic opportunity for your company to come into the public eye
4. Beware of Some Technical Differences
So there you have it. Of course there is a huge amount to learn and come to grips with when it comes to the world of SEO for the Chinese population, but we hope that these basic tips will get you on the right path to success. The main points to remember are; always use appropriate keywords, locally host your website, involve yourself with Chinese social media and remember that Chinese marketing strategies can differ from what you are used to here in the UK.