Last month, Chinese search engine giant, Baidu, announced a 95% surge in profit. It attributed this spike to its ever-increasing popularity.
And not only is it making good money, it’s one of the few search engines to topple the almighty Google in terms of popularity, with a mammoth 84% market share in China.
With over 444 million Chinese-speaking Internet users and fast-moving technology, growth in Chinese use online has also surged, by almost 1,500%. In fact, this rise means Chinese-speakers now account for nearly a quarter of everyone on the Internet.
Indeed, it won’t be long belong Chinese overtakes English as the most common language online. And search marketers all over the world need to start taking advantage of this fact if they want to attract Chinese customers.
Take Your First Steps To Baidu Now
The logical move is to create a Chinese-language site. If hundreds of millions are searching in their own language, you’re going to have to speak their mother tongue. But as readers of this blog are aware, unless you get your optimization right, nobody’s going to find your site, whether it’s in Chinese or not.
And optimizing a site specifically for Baidu can be a lucrative move indeed. Not only will your site stand out amongst your English-language competitors, but it’ll be easier for you to rank higher because there’s less content on the foreign language Internet.
And, according to a report by the Localisation Industry Standards Association, every $1 spent on localization returns a massive $25. That’s a respectable ROI.
It comes with a caveat, however, in that Baidu differs from Google in a number of ways, so you’ll need to take a different approach when optimizing for Baidu.
Optimizing for Baidu
To gain priority, you need your site hosted in a local domain. This means purchasing fairly inexpensive top-level domains (like .cn or .com.cn), and hosting on a server in China.
It’s no secret that Internet content in China is heavily censored, with Facebook and YouTube infamously being banned. To avoid getting banned yourself, monitor your content carefully. Read up on isn’t allowed, and tailor your content accordingly.
Make sure you optimize in the right language! Simplified Chinese is favored over English or traditional Chinese not only by Baidu, but by hundreds of millions of Internet users. Getting this right instantly increases your chances of being clicked on.
Remember that people search in different ways in different countries (consider, for example how an American might search for sneakers while a Brit would look for trainers). Simply taking your English-language keywords and translating them word-for-word isn’t a great idea. Having a native speaker on hand will help you to translate and brainstorm relevant keywords. You can see which keywords are popular on the Baidu index, or by using its handy keyword tool.
While Google has significantly reduced the importance of metatags for SEO purposes, Baidu still loves them. Keyword and description metatags will definitely need to be optimized, as well as all of your image titles and, in particular, your image alt text. Baidu’s crawlers are also not as powerful as Google’s, so put the important information and keywords at the top of your page, and, certainly, in the title.
While Google takes into account the credibility and importance of in-bound links, it’s widely accepted that Baidu less attention to them. While new measures have been put in place to try to avoid link farms from contributing to your Baidu SEO clout, links from less-popular sites will certainly help your optimization efforts. And as with Google, internal links from your own site are just as important.
While Baidu’s algorithms are constantly changing, at the moment, the difference between paid and organic search is dubious at best. By spending on PPC campaigns, you may well see your site shoot instantly to the top slot.
Once you’ve taken all of these into account, don’t forget to submit your brand new Chinese-language site directly to Baidu, and watch your rankings rocket!
Learn what your site’s reputation is in a different language.