A Practical Guide to Baidu SEO Marketing

Brands that aim to attract, engage, and convert the Chinese market can use the power of the internet to develop cost-effective marketing campaigns. However, there is one critical difference in localized efforts toward Chinese users: marketers won’t reach large audiences through Google. The Great Firewall of China blocks access to select foreign sites, including the search engine giant. 

The solution lies in Baidu search engine optimization (SEO) — the dominant browser in the country. If you want to capture this market, understanding Chinese SEO is the first step. This article serves as a practical Baidu SEO guide. Read on to learn how to SEO for Baidu.

Introduction to the Baidu search engine

Baidu is the leading search engine in China, with a daily active user population of 620 million or a 62.94% market share. It works the same way as Google, but it’s focused on the Chinese market. 

This platform has the right to block and censor search results based on government regulations. It offers a wide range of services, including maps, news, antivirus software, and internet TV. There are 57 different sub-platforms and tools that make the experience more enjoyable and convenient for Baidu users.

Introduction to Baidu SEO - Baidu statistics

It also has a revenue stream similar to Google Ads, where advertisers bid on keywords to display their ads in front of relevant searches.

Baidu is not only a search engine but one of the most valuable tech companies in the world. It’s one of the world’s leaders in AI advancement, especially when it comes to smart driving and machine learning, with many ongoing projects meant to move us one step toward a smart future.

We invite you to check this short video summary of Baidu in 2022 to understand how the company actually performs and what are other aspects of its work in China. Baidu’s search engine is unlike any other Chinese search engines. Often called Chinese Google, nowadays it goes beyond its core focus.

Baidu ecosystem

Just like Google, apart from being a search engine, Baidu is also a whole ecosystem of apps and platforms providing different types of services for its users.

Baidu offers a comprehensive digital ecosystem featuring services such as Maps, Videos app, online encyclopedias, and cloud storage. By leveraging its well-known search engine capabilities to drive traffic to its sub-sites without the need for installation on users’ phones, Baidu provides tailored experiences across multiple platforms in an integrated way — creating one super app, a phenomenon very popular in China.

If you want to be good at your Baidu SEO strategy, it’s advisable to get familiar with Baidu platforms and features, because they can also contribute to your success in the platform. Unlike Google and other search engines, Baidu favors its own websites over other sites, which means that it will always show results from those sub-platforms on top of the rest. If you appear on those platforms, you will have a higher chance of getting the attention of Chinese internet users.

Benefits of having a Baidu SEO Strategy

Most U.S. marketers are familiar with Google, but it’s not the ideal platform for Chinese SEO. The world’s top search engine is available in China, but it has limited capacities in this territory. Over the past years, the Chinese government put restrictions on freedom of speech and free access to information, causing several problems for the company. 

We recommend studying Baidu SEO marketing strategies if you’re serious about tapping this audience. Below are some reasons why doing so would benefit international companies.

Why do you need Baidu SEO and Baidu SEO agency

High usage rate among Chinese users

Baidu is the largest search engine in China. Like Google, Baidu also processes billions of searches daily, translating to a massive pool of potential audiences. For this reason, we would compare SEO efforts with Baidu in China to programs with Google in the U.S. Baidu has other Chinese search engine competitors like Sogou, Shenma, and Haosou, but it dominates this space with a market share of almost 63%. 

The SEO model

SEO is the process of enhancing your website to improve its search engine visibility. It’s one of the most cost-effective, long-lasting digital marketing strategies you can implement. Once you establish your SEO ranking, you will benefit from its effects for a long time — even without running ads. 

It’s even more important for foreign businesses in the Chinese market, that are not familiar with the digital ecosystem, simplified Chinese and marketing tools. A good Baidu SEO strategy is the key to reaching out to a Chinese audience and building trust and credibility around your company in China.

Hyper targeting strategy

A hyper-targeting strategy involves identifying potential clients and delivering relevant messages that resonate with them. You can use a Baidu SEO plan to achieve such a feat. The right keywords, content, and website features can help you captivate quality leads and improve your return on investment (ROI). 

Baidu SEO vs. Google SEO

Using Chinese SEO to grow your business requires a deeper understanding of how Baidu works. Learning its preferences can help you develop ideal strategies. Let’s go through some similarities and differences between Baidu and Google below.

Baidu favors native websites

Baidu strongly favors .cn domains in its algorithm. Don’t waste your resources trying to rank a .com site in this territory. We recommend using the same domain prefix you currently have and buying its .cn version. The first step in boosting your SEO in China is to set up a website hosted in Mainland China.

Don’t spread your content over several subdomains for whatever reason. Baidu prefers top-level domains (TLDs) and will penalize you for breaking up your site. 

Websites in simplified Chinese will be prioritized

The only way to improve your online presence in China is to use simplified Chinese on your site, from widgets to menus to in-image texts. Be careful with the language you use, as your English content might get lost in translation. 

Google takes time to crawl and index any website, and no third party can affect its algorithm. However, with Baidu, you can use public relations (PR) and marketing efforts to speed up this process. 

Baidu also values links from Chinese websites more than foreign sites. Aim for external and internal links to and from .cn domains to boost your ranking. 

Baidu puts more focus on mobile

Mobile-friendliness is necessary to rank in Google and Baidu alike. The high mobile internet penetration level in China requires Baidu to address the needs of the modern consumer. 

Prioritization of own ecosystem

Baidu, just like Google, works as an ecosystem and owns several social media sites & platforms such as Baidu Zhidao/Tieba/Map and so on. Just as Google prioritizes YouTube content over other video streaming sites, Baidu does the same for its partner platforms. If you’re looking for other non-Baidu-owned sites, we recommend Sina Weibo. 

Like Google, Baidu offers various products, such as an encyclopedia and antivirus software. The Chinese search engine has ventured into several markets like job and travel searches. Baidu tends to boost its online dominance through its other digital properties, so its algorithms work differently than Google’s. 

Baidu is not good with JavaScript

Baidu doesn’t crawl JavaScript well, so we recommend serving your content in plain HTML for mobile and desktop versions. 

Despite Baidu being a machine learning (ML) expert, it hasn’t reached the same level as Google’s features. In Baidu SEO, it’s essential to use image alt texts and metadata to boost your chances of ranking on image searches. 

Meta descriptions and keywords are essential for high ranking

Meta keywords play a critical role for Baidu. For this reason, we recommend optimizing keywords the same way you would any page — not too spam-filled.

Paid ads can help with your SEO efforts more than on Google

While Google separates SEO and pay-per-click (PPC) efforts, Baidu puts more emphasis on the latter. For this reason, paid ads from Baidu-owned platforms like Zhidao, Zhihu, Tieba, and Baike can help you reach more potential consumers. 

Baidu SEO: Must Do

  • No Google API: thankfully, you’ll find an alternative to all Google APIs that will work with China’s Great Firewall
  • Hosting in China or neighboring countries: for loading speed. You can try Hong Kong, it’s a common practice among foreign companies.
  • Use simplified Chinese: both for users’ comfort and for Baidu’s algorithm
  • Smart content & Keyword strategy: In order to rank on search engines like Baidu, you need a strong keyword strategy. This means selecting the perfect words for your content in Mandarin and then posting regular updates with those keywords so that Google knows what they are looking at when ranking sites overall If done correctly this can help produce higher rankings than if there was no plan or agenda behind it at all! Baidu SEO takes time, be patient!
  • PR, Backlinks a UGC: Chinese press releases are a great way to build credibility and boost your website ranking through backlinks. Chinese Forums and Q&A are great places to build community and encourage people organically mention your brand name in their posts or comments on these forums. They’re called UGC (user-generated content). The more people talk about your brand on the Chinese internet, the higher is chance that these discussions will lead someone else to find out about you when they search Baidu. Don’t be afraid of using 3rd party websites! (Plus backlink increases website authority, thus your general ranking!).

Baidu SEO/SEM: Frequently Asked Questions

Can I register a Baidu account outside China?

Yes, international companies can register a Baidu account even if they don’t have a physical presence in China. Once you’re ready to boost your online presence in this territory, the first step to reach your goals is to register a Baidu account. You have the option to translate the page into English.  

However, many people receive error messages using this method. If you don’t receive a notification from your chosen device, we recommend creating an account through Baidu Cloud. You will again go through forms and verification processes. 

Do I need an ICP License to run Baidu SEO campaigns in China?

The Chinese Ministry of Industry and Information Technology issues Internet Content Provider (ICP) licenses to allow China-based websites to operate. You need one to host your site in China. 

The good news is you don’t need an ICP license for your Baidu marketing efforts in the country. You only need one if you prefer to host your site on Chinese servers. However, it’s worth noting that choosing local servers does have some advantages, like quick loading times. 

How long does it take to index Baidu pages?

Baidu regularly crawls websites to update its search engine, but the indexing process usually takes anywhere between one to two months to complete the process. As mentioned earlier, PR and marketing efforts can speed up this process. 

Does Baidu offer API?

Yes, Baidu offers Application Programming Interface (API) services that allow brands to interact with Baidu servers directly. With a developer on your side, you can build applications to manage your marketing efforts. 

Boost your Chinese SEO efforts now

With China’s population reaching an astounding 1.4 billion and its middle class increasing its spending, the country has become an ideal market for international companies. 

However, entering this market has a deep learning curve. The country’s non-English-speaking population and rigid government policies make it challenging to capture potential clients. If you don’t have a Chinese-speaking member on your team and you’ve never attempted to boost your digital presence in the area before, we recommend working with experienced professionals

As we explained throughout the article, one core difference between other countries and China is that Google is not the top search engine in the latter. It’s essential to learn the basics of Baidu SEO marketing to boost your digital presence. 

At Gentlemen Marketing Agency, we know what it takes to get you in front of the ideal audience. We can help you develop groundbreaking content, keywords, backlinks, and press releases to take your business to new heights. 

Request a free consultation now to discover what it takes to elevate your Baidu visibility. Our Chinese SEO specialists will be happy to discuss custom solutions for your company.

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