With a market share of over 70%, Baidu is China’s biggest search engine, attracting over 195 million active users a day. Enough reason for you to focus on Baidu SEO if you are ready to start selling in China.
As such, Baidu presents a huge opportunity for international businesses looking to target Chinese consumers at the very start of their customer journey.
But what’s the best way to target users on Baidu?
Well, just like with Google, one way is to invest in Baidu SEO.
Optimizing your site for Baidu will increase your chances of ranking high in its search results, and improve your visibility on the platform. In order to optimize for Baidu, though, you need to actually understand it and how it operates… which is where we come into the mix.
In this article, we’ll be breaking down the most important elements of Baidu SEO, and guiding you through what it takes to build a Baidu SEO strategy that delivers.
But first, here’s how to open a Baidu account
Before we dive into the ins and outs of Baidu SEO, we’re first going to show you how to open a Baidu account. You’ll need this to take full control of your Baidu SEO strategy.
If you’ve already got a Baidu account, feel free to scroll down to the next section, but if you don’t, you’re in the right place.
Step 1: Go to the Baidu registration page
First things first, click this link and head over to Baidu’s registration page.
Step 2: Translate the page into English
Simply right-click on the page and select ‘Translate to English’.
Step 3: Fill in the necessary information
Next, fill in the registration form and verify your account via your mobile number.
Your Baidu account should then be up-and-running.
But wait, I never received my verification code…
Unfortunately, it isn’t uncommon for international users to experience problems when trying to register a Baidu account.
One way to overcome this is to register via Baidu Cloud. This is a very long process, however, and doesn’t offer any guarantees.
If that doesn’t work, get in touch with us and we’ll open a Baidu account for you on your behalf. We’ll also give you access to a whole host of Baidu SEO services, which we’ll be breaking down a little later.
Getting started with Baidu SEO — understanding the basics of Baidu
Now you have a Baidu account, you’re ready to start learning more about Baidu SEO.
First, let’s take a look at Baidu’s SERP
To optimize for Baidu, you’ll need to know what you’re actually working with… or on.
So, here’s a screenshot of Baidu’s first SERP for the keyword ‘mobile phone’ in Simplified Chinese:
You’ll notice that the page is divided into two columns, with the left containing the most relevant results, and the right featuring related results. Both columns include paid-for ads, just like Google.
In fact, at first glance, Baidu doesn’t look all that different to Google, at all.
So, what is the difference, exactly?
Well, look a little closer, and you’ll see that rich snippets take up a far larger amount of space on Baidu than on Google. This means that there’s a lot less room for high-ranking, organic search results, as paid results tend to dominate the available space.
Keep scrolling, and you’ll also notice a whole host of keyword-related web pages from Baidu-owned websites, such as:
- Baike: Baidu’s answer to Wikipedia
- Tieba: Baidu’s answer to Reddit
- Zhidao: Baidu’s answer to Quora/Yahoo Answers
Unlike Google, Baidu prioritizes its own websites. So, instead of ranking external sites that feature particular keywords, Baidu prefers to send users to websites it already owns. This, too, can make it very tricky to organically rank on Baidu.
Don’t worry, though, there are ways around these problems — but, for now, let’s stick to unpacking the basics.
Introducing Baidu’s trust score system
Some sites on Baidu have a small ‘V’ icon attached to their SERP snippet. This is part of Baidu’s domain credibility system, which essentially marks ‘trusted’ sites with a ‘V’ badge.
Although these do not directly influence a site’s ranking on Baidu, they do help to optimize click-through rate, as users have come to recognize and trust these badges, over time.
There are three badges available:
- V1 (trust core of 0-40)
- V2 (trust score of 41-90)
- V3 (trust score of 91+)
The catch here is that these badges come at a cost. Site owners have to apply for a badge themselves, and pay a yearly fee to keep it. They also have to have an active ad account with Baidu.
The all-importance of a Chinese website
As you might expect, Baidu prioritizes Chinese websites — both in terms of .cn domain names, as well as websites that have a Chinese host. If you don’t tick these boxes, your Baidu SEO strategy is unlikely to deliver results.
Baidu Vs. Google SEO — what’s the difference?
Google and Baidu are similar, yet very different search engines. Here’s a quick overview of some of their key differences, in terms of SEO:
Google is focused on the worldwide market, whilst Baidu primarily focuses on China. As such, optimizing for Baidu requires a Chinese website, as well as an understanding of Chinese users, language, and trends.
Baidu ranks its own sites
As we’ve already covered, Baidu likes to rank its own sites more than external sites. This is very different to Google, which doesn’t usually prioritize its own products in SEO.
Baidu prioritizes meta descriptions, tags and keywords
Ever since its Panda and Penguin updates, Google has shifted away from meta descriptions, tags and keywords, and instead prioritizes content based on quality and relevance.
Baidu, on the other hand, is still very much focused on those simpler elements of SEO, as it is not as advanced as Google.
Mobile optimization is important to both search engines, but Baidu is particularly focused on serving a mobile audience because it has over one billion active mobile users. In China, mobile is the most common way to access the internet.
Baidu prioritizes backlinks from Chinese websites and focuses on internal linking more than Google. It also puts a heavier weight on the number of links, not just their relevance.
Time it takes to rank
New websites can rank on Google quite quickly, whilst ranking on Baidu usually takes much longer. That’s why Baidu prioritizes aged domains more strictly than Google.
Keywords for SEO
Both Google and Baidu rank websites according to keywords, but Baidu’s crawler is less savvy when it comes to keyword stuffing. As a result, it tends to prioritize websites with a higher keyword density, regardless of quality.
Baidu doesn’t have the capacity to process images as well as Google. Therefore, optimizing an image’s alt text is crucial to ranking in Baidu’s image results.
Baidu favors websites that frequently update their content more than Google does. This requires sites in China to keep on top of their site data far more diligently than international webmasters are used to.
Baidu Vs. Google SEO — the bottomline
Ultimately, Baidu is a simplified, Chinese version of Google. As such, Baidu SEO requires a different but familiar approach to what you’ll already be used to. Just remember that Baidu ranks according to signals that Google no longer does, so try not to outsmart it too much!
How to do SEO for Baidu — Baidu SEO best practices, top tips and advice
Now we’ve covered the basics, and how Baidu compares to Google, let’s dig a little deeper into the exact strategies you can use for effective Baidu SEO.
Setting up a .cn, Chinese-hosted website
A non-Chinese website on Baidu has very little chance of ranking well. That’s why top of your Baidu SEO list should be setting up a Chinese website.
You can check out our guide on this for a closer look at what this entails, but as a quick overview, you’ll need to…
To set-up hosting in China, you’ll need to apply to China’s Ministry of Industry and Information Technology for an ICP (Internet Content Provider) business license.
If you don’t have a physical presence in China, you’ll need to team up with a local third-party who can get a license for you. These can be costly, but it’s absolutely worth it for Baidu SEO.
Always optimize for mobile
Almost 900 million people in China access the internet via their mobile phones, and Baidu is, by far, the most popular way to search the internet in China. Baidu mobile SEO, then, couldn’t be more important.
If you don’t have a custom mobile site, you should customize your desktop site using Baidu’s Site App feature, which will optimize it for mobile in a few simple steps.
If you do already have a mobile site, make sure Baidu can recognize it by adding the necessary meta tags, such as:
<meta name=”mobile-agent” content=”format=[wml|xhtml|html5]; url=url”>
These will make sure that your site is optimized for mobile Baidu users.
Avoid a deep website structure
It’s a well known-fact that Baidu’s spiders struggle to index sites that are too deep. In other words, if your website is structured around too many sublevels and webpages, change it! Otherwise, you could struggle to rank on Baidu.
By the same token, you don’t want a website that’s unnecessarily cluttered with too much content on one page. So, find a balance between a flat (fewer pages) and a deep (more pages) website structure for optimal SEO results.
Build a strong linking strategy
Just like Google, Baidu SEO factors in both internal and external links.
For external links, or backlinks from other websites, try and secure as many as you can from Chinese websites. This will show Baidu that your website is trusted by Chinese users, and should be ranked accordingly. And remember: quantity overrides relevance on Baidu, so the more backlinks, the better.
Internal links are also very important, too. Here are some Baidu SEO best practices for internal linking:
- The homepage should only link to main category pages
- Sub-category pages should be linked from the main category page
- Every page should link back to the homepage
- When hyperlinking, make sure anchor text is relevant to the link itself
- The more internal links a page receives, the more important it is to Baidu
You should also make sure that all internal links are working correctly. A broken link can be seriously detrimental for Baidu SEO.
Invest in trust score badges
Although these don’t directly contribute to good SEO, trust score badges can increase click-through rate, which is a metric Baidu prioritizes.
Use Baidu Webmaster Tools
Baidu Webmaster Tools is Baidu’s equivalent to the Google Search Console. It’s the official management platform for webmasters on Baidu. Submit your website to it, and Baidu’s spider will be able to index it more effectively.
You can access Baidu Webmaster Tools straight from your Baidu account, hence why we wanted to help you create one at the beginning of today’s guide.
Add alt-text to your images
Baidu likes to include thumbnail images on its SERP. Problem is, it relies on alt-text to process and recognize those images. So, make sure you’re adding alt-text to your images to tell Baidu what your image is. That way, it’s more likely to pick up on it, and add it to your SERP snippet. This could increase click-through rate, and encourage high rankings.
Make sure your Mandarin is up to scratch
For your Baidu SEO to work on a technical level, you’re going to need to make sure your keywords are in Mandarin. You’re also going to need Chinese users to understand your keywords, too. That’s why it’s imperative to make sure your use of Mandarin is perfect. Avoid online translation tools at all costs! You’ll need the help of a native speaker to get this right.
Frequently upload content
Content freshness is an important ranking signal on Baidu. Update your existing articles, release new articles, and make sure you never miss an opportunity to keep your website as fresh as possible.
Use keywords strategically
Just like Google, long tail keywords give you a better shot at ranking well on Baidu, as competition isn’t as high. It’s also worth remembering that, unlike Google, Baidu still ranks according to keyword density. So, whilst you don’t want to create a clunky user experience, you will find some value in popping in keywords more often than you might be used to.
Create content for Baidu-owned sites
Remembering that Baidu likes to rank its own sites more than most, it’s absolutely imperative to extend your Baidu SEO strategy beyond your own website. Make accounts on sites like Baike, Tieba and Zhidao, and create content around relevant keywords to your business that aren’t already ranking high on the SERP.
The key here is to use your posts on these sites to link to your own website. This’ll help your site’s SEO and will also generate organic traffic.
Make good use of meta tags, descriptions and keywords
In the back-end of your website, make sure to take every opportunity you have to tell Baidu about your site’s content. On each page, provide relevant, keyword-rich meta tags, titles and descriptions that’ll encourage Baidu to index your site for specific keywords.
Baido SEO tools — how to find keywords to target in your Baidu SEO strategy
Keywords will be at the absolute center of any Baidu SEO strategy.
You’ll need to find high opportunity keywords that your website has a shot at ranking for, and generating organic traffic from.
There are a few ways you can do this…
First, use Baidu’s search bar
Just like Google, Baidu provides automatic search suggestions when you start typing in its search bar. These suggestions provide a brilliant insight into what other users are searching for. Take a note of what appears, and put together a list of potential keywords.
Then, use Baidu’s Keyword Planner
The Baidu Keyword Planner is a direct equivalent to what you’ll no doubt be familiar with on Google. You’ll be able to generate new keywords, dig deeper into keywords you’ve already generated, and start running Baidu search ads whenever you’re ready.
In the planner, you can analyze a keyword according to:
- Average daily search volume
- Average daily mobile search volume
- Level of competition
- Estimated top page bid cost
You can access Baidu’s Keyword Planner directly from your Baidu account.
Or use a third-party platform, like AdChina.io
AdChina.io is an all-in-one platform that makes advertising in China easier than ever before. On it, you’ll be able to run ads on each of the main digital platforms in China, straight from an English platform you can trust.
We also offer a comprehensive Baidu SEO service for international businesses looking to increase their exposure on Baidu. Our team of native Baidu SEO consultants will work with you to carry out keyword research, before making sure that your website ranks for them.
The best thing about using AdChina.io in your Baidu SEO strategy is that the platform is in 100% English, which means you’ll be able to research keywords and monitor your progress without any language barriers. Our SEO performance reports are in English, too.
Click here to learn more about our Baidu SEO service, and how it could help your business.
Baidu SEO cost — how much should you spend on your Baidu SEO strategy?
There are no set fees for Baidu SEO.
Just like with Google SEO, it’ll be up to you how much you spend on your strategy.
It’s always worth investing in expert support, however, especially if you aren’t very experienced in managing Baidu SEO. Our Baidu SEO service costs $1499, plus a fixed cost for each new keyword we rank for you on the first page.
Baidu SEO KPIs — how to measure the success of your Baidu SEO strategy
To judge the results of your Baidu SEO strategy, you’ll need to keep track on the following KPIs:
- Conversions (clicks, sales, leads)
- Organic Visibility
- Organic Sessions
- Branded vs. Non-Branded Traffic
- Keyword Rankings
- Organic CTR
- Bounce Rate
- Average Time on Page
- Coverage Issues
We’ll track our performance in detail, and keep you up-to-date with English reports.
Ready to get to work on your Baidu SEO strategy?
Get in touch to learn more about our Baidu SEO service. We’ll get you to the front page of Baidu, without all the hassle.