Seo strategy

Main differences in SEO strategy

When it comes to search marketing in China, Baidu is an essential component.

In fact, as of this writing, Baidu represents 78.4% Google’s 1.9% Chinese search engine market share (Sogou is 13.8%, Haosou 2.2% and Bing 2%).

However, to be successful in the world’s most populous country, your strategy must go beyond SEO and how Chinese users interact with the internet.

Due to differences in user behavior and Baidu preferences, developing a work strategy will involve stepping out of the SEO silo and working with other players in the marketing channel (which is not a bad thing! ).

Before embarking on a Chinese marketing strategy, it is essential that you define your measurable goals and how you are going to follow them. A key part of this is to properly install Baidu Tongji and Baidu Ziyuan on your site.

In this article, we’ll talk about developing your China search marketing strategy and the main differences between the two major search engines, Google and Baidu.


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(If you are interested in Baidu SEO in general, I wrote this article previously and for the most part not much has changed.)

The extent of Baidu’s influence

The first step in developing a Chinese search strategy is to understand how Chinese users interact with Internet services, and we are not just talking about website design considerations – although I will talk about it later.

Baidu operates over 50 different products ranging from Search to Maps, Encyclopedia and Antivirus.

In fact, Baidu has dived into many markets ranging from Baijob (a job meta-search), Qunar (a travel meta-search), and IQiyi (a large entertainment streaming site) over the years.

It is therefore important to understand that some users could, in theory, only interact with Baidu assets online, apart from visiting third party sites.

You should also note that Baidu search results pages often tend to increase sharply with their own properties, so getting high levels of traffic and engagement isn’t as easy as ranking in Linear 1 through. 10.


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Google vs. Baidu

There are a number of differences between the two search engines that will affect your strategy, and your Google strategy is not universal when it comes to China.

Before we get to the bigger differences you will need to make to your strategy, there are some smaller ones to consider, including:

  • Baidu’s image AI is not yet on par with Google’s, although Baidu is a leader in machine learning. You should rely on alt text and metadata in your images to improve understanding of Baidu images and your chances of ranking in image search.
  • Baidu can still be influenced by meta keywords, so they should be optimized the same way you would optimize a page for keywords (no site-wide spam in order to increase relevance ).
  • Content must be in Simplified Chinese. While it should be a no-brainer, also take note of translating structural content such as widgets, sidebars, menus, footers, and important text in the image.
  • Baidu is notoriously bad at crawling JavaScript, so make sure all of your important content and links are served in plain HTML on both mobile and desktop versions of your website.

Use marketing and public relations to speed up Baidu indexing

A key difference between Baidu and Google is in the way Baidu crawls and indexes websites.

For the record, Baidu’s bots can be aggressive bots, but when it comes to indexing, the search engine differs from Google.

Google will slowly index a website as it finds URLs, but in Baidu you can influence and speed up this process through marketing and public relations.

It increases demand for your brand / website by generating positive user searches and signals.

The impact of social media on Baidu SEO

I am usually asked at the start of a campaign for companies wishing to enter the Chinese market the impact of Chinese social media on SEO.

While WeChat and Sina Weibo are the most popular social networks in China, users also frequent online communities, including LinkedIn and Tencent QQ.

They also (more) use platforms owned by Baidu, including Tieba, Zhihu and Douban.

When it comes to SEO, I recommend investing in Baidu platforms with unique content, as well as aiming for a good presence on Sina Weibo.

All content on Sina Weibo is indexed by Google and is used by the search engine to create rich-snippet-like content items in its search results pages.

A strong Sina Weibo strategy can help your brand rank for topical and real-time queries (much like the Twitter carousel), but can also help take up more SERP space for your brand searches.

It is also important that you:


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  • Update your Weibo page frequently, and not just by sharing / copying content from other social media channels and your site.
  • Gain as many followers as possible because the data correlates that for unbranded queries, Baidu takes the page’s actual subscriber count into account as a sign of authority.
  • Follow Sina Weibo’s guidelines for your page to be verified as official, as they tend to perform best in finding branded and unbranded phrases.

Google vs Baidu mobile website design

Mobile search (and indexing) has been important in search for a number of years, with more and more of the SEO industry taking action since Google announced and rolled out its Mobile-friendly update.

However, internet adoption has been slower in China (compared to a number of western countries) and as internet penetration increased, technology had already advanced to the point where the smartphone was equally accessible. .

China achieved 66% mobile Internet access share in 2010, rising to 90.1% by 2015 (unfortunately there are no more up-to-date data for this statistic).

Therefore, it is essential that your mobile site performs as well as your desktop site in terms of technical and user performance.

It also means that your website should work for the modern mobile user.


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For example, in e-commerce, a user will likely want to checkout without having to take out their wallet.

You must support Google Pay / Apple Pay and be optimized for various manufacturers including Oppo.

If your website isn’t mobile-friendly, or your mobile models are a watered-down version of your desktop, you can take advantage of Baidu’s app transcoding.

This takes your page content from non-mobile-friendly pages and converts it into a mobile-friendly “experience”.

Now, I say experience and not version, because Baidu will remove all the elements that it deems not suitable for mobile.

This means that you could lose keyframes, pieces of content or, most importantly, CTAs and conversion elements. It can also be bad for your performance reports and conversions, as Baidu overlays a prominent back button on the user’s viewport, which in any case I’ve seen is more visible than navigation. of your site.

Technically, these pages are served by *, so they will not trigger your analytics tracking codes or event triggers.


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International SEO requires a thorough understanding of each of the markets in which you want to do business.

Learn more in this 9-point international SEO checklist.

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