The 2 day SES conference in Xiamen 2007 was full of information for the participants. There were panels on buying search engine advertising, marketing research, link building, case studies, domain strategies and lessons from spamming.
I wasn’t able to go to all of them but there are certain points that I picked up that can be useful for anyone thinking of entering the Chinese market and that wants to target Chinese internet users should take into consideration.
Search engines take into account where you host your website (based on IP) and what country code you use. In China the extensions, com.cn and .cn are the ones to use.
The location of incoming links also play a role. For China you like links from trustable, Chinese hosted websites.
Stone Chen mentioned that instead of only using mail, Instant Messaging can be used to do link building. And don’t forget that by going into the whois of a website you can find a real phone number that you can call.
There are no commercial keyword research tools with real metrics available yet in China to help you find out what users are searching for. Rand from SEOmoz suggested to use Google Trends which can help you to find the popularity of a keyword compared with related words. Other tools that were mentioned where Baidu’s keyword tool which gives an indication of the search volume. You can also go into the Adwords admin to get a feel for volume. Keep in mind that they use simplified Chinese in China. Also don’t forget that in Chinese there’s no difference between plural and single.
I like to add on of my own here and that is to localize the look and feel. Just making a Chinese copy of your design may not work as well as expected. Users in China like a website to feel Chinese, which can result in a crowded, busier website. It will depend on the industry, a Bank site may need a cleaner look, but it’s something to think of and test/research instead of just translating your website into Chinese.
Gemme van Hasselt is an Internet Marketing Consultant, living in Shanghai, and owner of Tiger Internet Marketing.