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How to Rank Your New Chinese Website on Baidu: 49 SEO Tactics

Last Updated June 15, 2017
Here's the honest truth about getting a high ranking on Baidu:

SEO success in China is not easy. In this post, I will teach how you can optimize your Chinese website to your advantage. Let's dive in and learn something today!
Table of Content

The Basic Rules

Before you spend time on Baidu SEO, please follow these 5 rules first.

  • 1. STAY AWAY FROM POLITIC & SOCIAL ISSUES

    Baidu operates at the discretion of the Chinese government. With this reason, you should not discuss or support any “sensitive topics”. Otherwise, Baidu and other Chinese search engines will not index your website.

  • 2. STAY AWAY FROM FREE WEB HOSTING

    Chinese consumers stay away because they think your business is not serious and legitimate.

  • 3. AVOID FLASH, JAVASCRIPT MENU, FRAME AND IFRAME

    A website using any of this technology will prevent Baidu Spider from indexing properly.

  • 4. LOCALIZATION IS MUCH MORE THAN TRANSLATION

    If you target Mainland China, you should use simplified Chinese. If you target Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan, you should use traditional Chinese.

    But wait, there’s more…
    By adding hreflang attribute to your web page, you advance local SEO effort tremendously. Moreoever, you tell Chinese search engine that you want your web page to display for that target region only.

    Taiwan

    <link rel="alternate" href="http://www.yourdomain.com" hreflang=" zh-Hant-TW " />

    Hong Kong and Macau

    <link rel="alternate" href="http://www.yourdomain.com" hreflang=" zh-Hant-HK " />

    Mainland China

    <link rel="alternate" href="http://www.yourdomain.com" hreflang=" zh-Hans " />
  • 5. IS MY WEBSITE ACCESSIBLE IN CHINA?

    Run your domain several time through the Blocked in China Tool to see whether your site is blocked or not.

    According to Baidu’s Official SEO Guide, Baidu indexes foreign and oversea Chinese websites and these are treated as equal to Chinese-based websites hosted in China.

The Chinese Keyword Strategy

To get relevant traffic from Baidu and other Chinese search engines, you need to know your customers and their search queries well. Let me show you how!

  • 6. LOOK FOR KEYWORD RELATED SEARCH FROM AUTOCOMPLETE

    Instead of searching on Baidu, many Chinese young professionals perform searches elsewhere. They go straight to TaoBao, Tmall and Weibo.

    Type any keyword on their search bar to discover your new Chinese keywords and synonyms.

    Chinese perform search on popular sites
  • 7. PRIZE CONTEST FOR KEYWORDS

    This contest uses Chinese people to submit new search queries for your product/service.

    Think about it...
    You are going to get a few hundreds of keyword submission and contact detail for future use.

  • 8. REVIEW YOUR CHINESE COMPETITORS’ WEBSITE

    Look at the particular areas like Menu Category, Meta Description, H1, Title and Schema Tags for clues.

  • 9. REVIEW YOUR LOCATION-BASED KEYWORD WITH BAIDU PRODUCTS
    Baidu Yun Bang Baidu Index 百度指数 (Chinese hot topics)
    Baidu Tuiguang (PPC keywords & long-tail keywords)
    Baidu Feng Yun Bang 百度搜索风云榜 (Chinese popular trends, popular keywords by location and category)
  • 10. HOW TO PICK YOUR TARGET KEYWORDS

    Ideally, your target keywords should be:

    • Low-medium search volume
    • Highly relevant to content and searcher’s intent
    • Keyword difficulty below 30

UX Design & Baidu SEO

User experience is a ranking factor in Baidu. Good design increases satisfactory user experience. Let’s dive right in!

  • 11. THINK LIKE CHINESE CUSTOMERS

    In 2017, Chinese consumer's habit is different and your website needs to reflect that. That's the key to win their loyalty.

    Famous brand Chinese and Western versions

    Tips to remember:

    • Lots of Chinese sites feature a QR code
    • Chinese websites tend to open new page in a new tab, but not always
    • Chinese accepts pop-up advertising to a degree
  • 12. CHOOSE YOUR COLOR EMOTIONAL TRIGGERS

    As you can see in this chart, many popular Chinese companies have used color to evoke a particular emotion for their brand.

    Chinese color theory explained
  • 13. BUILD A STRONG SEO SITE ARCHITECTURE

    Site architecture is about improving how Chinese users find ways around your website. It’s about getting the best, most relevant content in front of users quicker.

    The same applies to search engines; you can make potential gains as the number of pages generating search engine traffic and the number of pages in a Baidu index.

  • 14. APPLY A PURE CSS NAVIGATION

    CSS based navigation is super search engine friendly and lightweight. This should be coded in HTML and CSS, NOT Javascript and graphic!

  • 15. WHY A LOGO LINK MATTERS

    For branding and making your logo synonymous with your homepage is best practice. This helps Chinese users to navigate back to your home page.

The Best SEO On-page Tactics

In search engine optimization, on-page optimization refers to factors that have an impact on your web pages in organic search results. Let me tech you how!

  • 16. HOW TO HIRE A PROFICIENT TRANSLATOR IN SHANGHAI

    Our friend at HI-COM sent us an incredible tip:

    Make sure to hire a Chinese translator who familiarizes with local vocabulary and grammar. Even thought they are Chinese, different parts of the country have different vocabularies. This may affect your localization if your target region is very specific.

    To avoid embarrassments, you should get a focus group to read your finished translation.

  • 17. ADD UTF-8 ENCODING TO YOUR WEB PAGE

    For mainland China, Baidu recommends this tag for simplified Chinese

    <meta http-equiv="Content-Type" content="text/html; charset=gb18030" />

    For Hong Kong and Taiwan, Baidu recommends this tag for traditional Chinese.

    <meta http-equiv="Content-Type" content="text/html; charset=big5" />

    This tag helps Baidu to deliver your localized content to the right region.

  • 18. HOW TO CREATE A PERFECT PAGE

    Follow these tips to build about us and contact page:

    • Showcases the people behind the company to create trust
    • Avoid industry jargon and replace it with an authentic voice
    • Let customers / employee do the talking
    • Provide physical address and social media details

  • 19. EXTERNAL CSS AND JAVASCRIPT FILE

    The CSS should not place in an HTML file. You create an external for CSS. The main advantage is the small file, thus creating load time faster.

    The same applies to JavaScript.
    What’s more, the external file loads once and then cache in the browser. This prevents to download the files again.

  • 20. CLEAN CODE MATTERS

    You’d surprise to see many web developers are careless. Each page might show some errors and warnings.

    Guess what, this is not good enough. Without any thoughts of optimizing the code, this will hurt your web performance. Ultimately, user experience is not best.

    To check your website code:

    W3C's validation tool
  • 21. HAVE A PROPER IMAGE OPTIMIZATION

    The image optimization benefits everyone including Baidu:

    • Add primary keyword & synonym together in the first 6 word
    • Add secondary keyword to your image file name
    • Contain at least 100 words around the image
    • Write an honest description on ALT or Title attribute
    • Reduce image size for best quality
    • Add Caption tag as an extra bit of help to increase keyword prominence

    This establishes relevance, especially for Baidu Image Search, while also improving accessibility for human.

  • 22. AFFIX PROMINENT CONTENT TO THE TOP

    It’s widely reported Baidu Spider might not crawl everything on your page. I suggest you to place important content earlier in the body text and have a web template like this.

    Inside the source code:
    <!doctype html> <html lang="en">
    <body>
    <div class=”content”>Put PROMINMENT CONTENT HERE</div>
    <footer>2017 Copyright</footer>
    <nav>
    <ul>
    <li>Home</li>
    <li>Contact</li>
    </ul>
    </nav>
    </body>
    </html>
  • 23. WRITE A PROPER TITLE TAG

    Taking a note from Baidu’s office guideline, it suggests this format:

    Home - “Site Name | Description of Services | Main Product.”
    Blog post – “Content Page title | Category Name | Domain Name

    Give every page a unique Title.

  • 24. WRITE 110 CHINESE CHARACTERS

    Not only the Meta description is a ranking factor, but it can impact the click-through-rate to your website. Write a value proposition statement to get Chinese searchers to click your website.

    <meta content="Write your own description here" name="description">
    The Meta statement will display in Baidu search result.

    Give every page a unique Description. Remember this, write for your Chinese customers.

  • 25. PROVIDE PHYSICAL ADDRESS TO EVERY PAGE

    Baidu looks for websites with legitimate local address. Also, creates confidence, stability and credibility in the eye of local customers.

  • 26. WRITE BEST <h1> HEADLINES

    Baidu Spider identifies a headline when it's being marked with the header tag like this <h1>. With a keyword in the headline, Baidu is told what main subject the article is about.

    Use H2 and H3 tags to break your page copy into small paragraphs. Decidedly, this can improve experience for readability.

  • 27. WRITE A PROPER INTERNAL ANCHOR TEXT LINK

    Baidu places a lot of weight on keyword usage in the anchor text link. This can assist Baidu to establish the relevance of a destination link is about.

    Anchor text example
  • 28. USE AN ABSOLUTE URL PATH
    <a href="http://www.shmdesign.com">Home</a>

    Absolute URL paths are effective for SEO as they are better for optimization. Besides, when content scraper steals your content, the link in the content remains directing back to your site, no matter what. Protect your original content in China.

  • 29. ADD CANONICAL URL TAG

    In Feb 2013, Baidu prefers quality original pages only. If you have 2 duplicate pages, add canonical attribute to your web pages:

    http://example.com/china-seo/
    http://example.com/blog/China-seo/

    Inside the source code:

    <!doctype html>
    <html>
    <head>
    <link href="http://example.com/china-seo/" rel="canonical">
    </head>

    E-mail me and I will reveal another tip to you on how to protect your online content.

    .
  • 30. NAME YOUR FILE AND FOLDER WITH KEYWORDS

    Good naming convention improves keyword relevance to your Chinese SEO.

  • 31. ADD CHINESE SOCIAL SHARING BUTTONS

    Ask the Chinese users to share your page. Why? This will boost your page relevance.

    like button
    Baidu Cang (bookmark)
  • 32. SIGN UP CHINESE WEBMASTER TOOL ACCOUNTS

    These accounts assist you understand what’s going on with your Chinese website.

    Baidu Webmaster Tools
    Sogou Webmaster Tools
    360 Webmaster Tools
    Shenma Webmaster Tools

Page Speed

Site speed is a key search ranking factor.

  • 34. HOW FAST IS YOUR WEBSITE IN CHINA

    Chinese searchers prefer a fast loading website. To feed this demand, Baidu rewards any fast loading website a boost in site ranking.

    I use these 4 tools to test my websites:
    Qihoo Speed Test
    17ce Speed Test
    GEO Peeker
    Webkaka Speed Test
  • 35. MINIFY JAVASCRIPT, HTML AND CSS FILES

    Comments, white space, and un-optimized code can take up unnecessary load time and file size, so compress your codes when possible.

    Minfy HTML
    Minify JavaScript
    Minify CSS

    Your file size will reduce as much as 5%.

  • 36. THE BAIDU MOBILE INSTANT PAGE (MIP) PROJECT

    On March 7, 2017, Baidu launches their own version of the AMP project – Mobile Instant Pages (MIP).

    Demo
    Validator tool
    Submission tool

    Build your next website with Baidu MIP. Highly recommended!

  • 37. GET CDN – CONTENT DELIVERY NETWORK

    Baidu demotes slow websites. Good CDN can boost your page speed tremendously.

    Two best China content delivery networks:
    • Alicloud
    • Chinacache
  • 38. DO NOT LINK TO WESTERN SOCIAL MEDIA SITES

    Links to blocked sites such as Facebook, Twitter, Google or YouTube will appear broken. Broken links slow your website.

    Avoid these features:
    • Google fonts won’t load
    • Google map wouldn’t work
    • Any western news websites
  • 39. WHY DOES WEBSITE UPTIME MATTER?

    Uptime is a great measure of how good a web hosting provider is at keeping their network systems up. This system runs your website. 3 points to remember:

    • You will lose customers
    • It will absolutely affect your rankings
    • You lose customer trust when your site is down

    Baidu wants to keep Chinese searchers happy. Buy a reliable web hosting with 99.5% in uptime.

Mobile SEO for Baidu

Make sure Baidu recognize your Chinese pages so that it can rank accordingly. Let’s dive in and learn some proper mobile optimization techniques.

  • 40. MOBILE META TAG

    By adding this tag to your web page, you tell Baidu that your site is responsive designed:

    <meta name="applicable-device" content="pc,mobile" >
  • 41. WHY RESPONSIVE WEBSITE DOES MATTER?

    Source: Dragon Metrics
    As of December, 2015, China had 619 million internet users.

    Mobile stats for Chinese consumers
  • 42. BEST MOBILE DESIGN PRACTICE

    When designing your mobile pages, apply these best practices:

    • No horizontal scroll
    • No zoom need to view content
    • No annoying interstitials, pop-up ads
    • Make big readable text to 16px
    • Use mobile navigation and breadcrumbs when possible
    • Use short form
    • Have well-spaced of target links/icons to avoid selection errors
    • Make phone number as the auto-detect:
    <a href="tel:1-408-555-5555">1-408-555-5555</a>
  • 43. HOW TO INCREASE BETTER WEB PERFORMANCE

    Help Baidu to improve your intention. Add one of the Meta tags inside the <head> tag:

    Desktop: <meta name="applicable-device" content="pc">
    Mobile: <meta name="applicable-device" content="mobile">
    Responsive: <meta name="applicable-device" content="pc,mobile">
  • 44. HOW TO IMPROVE YOUR LOCAL SEO VISIBLITY

    Add this tag to your website. It will rank your website higher in SERPs where searchers’ location matches with your geolocation.

    <meta name=”location” content=”province=北京;city=北京;coord=116.306522891,40.0555055968″>

    Replace my geolocation example with your location.

CHINESE SOCIAL MEDIA & BAIDU SEO

Share your opinions, experience and skills to build relevance and brand authority.

  • 45. TOP CHINESE Q&A WEBSITES

    Baidu Zhidao (Baidu Know) –百度知道is the world’s largest Interactive Q & A platform in China. This is a fantastic opportunity to drive up your brand awareness and influence here.

    To be a Baidu Zhidao Expert of your product, you must have a copy of Chinese identity card. So for those who don’t have, you can’t sign up for Baidu Zhiado.

  • 46. CLAIM A CORPORATE PAGE ON BAIDU BAIKE

    Baidu Baike(百度百科 ) is the authoritative source of “unbiased” information.

    Baidu places the Wiki page near the top of the search result, much higher than an organic listing. This can essentially guarantee more business exposures to your brand.

    To claim the Baike page, your businesses must have an ICP license to qualify.
  • 47. FIND INDUSTRY SPECIFIC EVENTS ON WEIBO

    “keyword” + intitle: conference
    “keyword” + intitle: seminar
    “keyword” + intitle: expo
    “keyword” + intitle: trade show
    “keyword” + intitle: exhibition
  • 48. TOP CHINESE & ASIAN VIDEO UPLOADING SITES
    • youku.com – 260 million Chinese users
    • Ku6.com
    • Sina Video
    • 6.cn – good for product placement
    • QQ Podcast
    • 56.com
    • tv.sohu.com
    • Daily Motion – 112 million users per month
    • Rutube.ru – 14.5 million Russian users
    • Niconico.jp – 34 Million Japanese users
    • YouTube.com
  • 49. WECHAT MARKETING

    800 million active monthly.

    While Wechat content is not accessible to Baidu. Because of this, it might be useful to Sogou. Tencent owes this search engines.

What do you think?

Either way, leave a comment on my Twitter or LinkedIn account.

I will publish SEO Tactics Part 2 soon. It would be awesome if you could share this post. Thanks!

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