China as a country has established itself in the online shopping industry. It boasts of a 21% share in the overall percentage of Internet users From all over the world. A quick comparison will show you how China is at the next level when it comes to online spending.
For example, on 11/11/2019, Alibaba made $ 25.3 billion in a flash sale that lasted 24 hours. Across the world in the United States, during a Black Friday sale, the highest amount spent was $ 3.5 billion.
However, despite the enormous market strength and online presence in China. To be successful as an online entrepreneur in China requires a thorough understanding of search engine optimization (SEO).
The current state of SEO in China
The first step in performing SEO requires an understanding of search engines. Unlike other parts of the world where Bing and Yahoo are the most commonly used search engines. In China, local search companies such as Baidu and 360 are used the most. Also be aware that Google does not work in mainland China.
Although these search engines are similar to Google and Bing, they have complex algorithms. Most of them have been adapted to identify content suitable for China. You will be surprised to know that these search engines can tell whether or not your business is registered in China.
What are the requirements for registering a business in China?
If you haven’t registered your business in China, there’s a good chance your SEO tactics will be unsuccessful. It is mandatory for you to have a Chinese business license in order for your business to rank higher on the local search engine results pages.
It is quite simple for these search engines to know whether you have registered your business or not. All sites that have been licensed by the Chinese government have an ICP registration number at the foot of the site.
You will need the following conditions to obtain an ICP license for your site in China:
- A physical address in China
- If you are a foreign company, you must indicate this during your license application
- Approval of competent authorities
- Other necessary requirements
Only after acquiring an ICP license can you start your SEO tactics in China. Not only will local search engine bots perceive your content as relevant to China, your pages will load faster and your customers will benefit from an improved user experience.
What if you can’t get an ICP license for your site?
As you can see above, registering a business in China comes with its fair share of challenges. There are a lot of requirements to be met and having to register a business just in order to rank higher on search engines is not the right way to go.
If so, you should focus more on the other SEO strategies that we have listed below. Note that if you find it difficult to host your site in Mainland China. You could host your website in Hong Kong. The latter option does not require ICP registration, and it is very affordable than hosting in neighboring countries.
Below are some of the best SEO strategies you can implement in China;
Optimizing your website for mobile users can make a huge difference. This is due to the fact 52% of consumers in China rely solely on their mobile devices for online shopping. You can achieve this by registering both a mobile and desktop sitemap on local search engines. Note that you do not need any license to accomplish this strategy. You can use tools like Baidu Webmaster to submit sitemaps. The biggest downside to these local search engines is that it can take a while for your site to fully index.
Like Google, Bing, and Yahoo, local Chinese search engines have the same goals. That is, to present only relevant and useful content to users. That’s why you should focus on SEO tactics on the page below.
Keywords: Using the right set of keywords can help you rank higher on Chinese search engines. You must first research all the keywords before adding them to your main content, meta-tags, titles as well as subtitles. Since the keywords will be in Chinese, you should hire a translator if you are unfamiliar with the language.
Url: Chinese search engines, such as Baidu, rely on Pinyin. Therefore, you should stick to Chinese characters when creating your website URL.
Friendly links: One thing Google has in common with Baidu is that the two have changed their approach to using backlinks. They both favor user-friendly backlinks. In this, if you are running an online clothing store, you should get backlinks from relevant sites such as fashion and design. And not the backlinks from restaurant sites. You should also link to RELEVANT authority sites.
Bounce rate and time on page: China has a bounce rate of over 80% for websites. This is mainly because most of the users prefer mobile devices and therefore can be easily distracted. To improve your visitor’s visit time to the page, you should use media content that caters to a massive population of Chinese users. The trick is to come up with top-notch content that will ensure that your visitors spend more time on your page.
Language: As mentioned earlier, if you are not familiar with the Chinese language. You should seek professional translation, writing and research services. This will help you optimize your content for China. Pay attention to the following;
- Chinese characters – Always stick to simplified Chinese characters, as they are the dominant choice for most Chinese.
- The language is different – When researching keywords, you will find that in China there is little to no keyword variation. For example, in the West, “hotels in New York” and “hotel in New York” mean two different things. In China, when a person searches for reviews of the best hotels in Hong Kong, they use the keywords “Hong Kong hotel”. And they’ll always use the same keywords when they finally look to book a hotel. You have to understand that there is a lot of competition when it comes to keyword optimization.
Translation – It is advisable to stick with professional translation services. Because, if you decide to use translation apps or sites. It can be difficult for Chinese search engines to index your site.
Move away the subdomains: From an SEO perspective, you will have a better chance of ranking higher if you have a standalone site than hosting on a subdomain. As we approach the Chinese online world, note that the competition is fierce. And hosting your content on a subdomain will keep you one step ahead of your competition.
Meta descriptions: Meta descriptions do more than help you rank higher on search engine results pages. But, they also give end users a preview of what they can expect to find on that webpage. Baidu allows you to write 70 characters as a meta description.
Although it may seem complicated, it is possible for a foreign entity to be successful in the Chinese online market as long as you incorporate the above SEO strategies. Implementing an effective SEO strategy in China takes dedication and patience.
Hosting a server on the mainland should be your number one priority. If you are having trouble acquiring an ICP license, Hong Kong is your next best option. With the help of a Chinese speaker, you can do in-depth keyword research and analysis. Do not hesitate to also consult an SEO expert who is familiar with the Chinese online industry.