This article gives you an exact explanation on how to rank high on Baidu. However, before explaining how to do Baidu SEO successfully, let’s start with a short introduction to the most used search engine in China.
What is Baidu?
Baidu is a Chinese search engine. It was founded in 2000 by Robin Li and Eric Xu. Headquartered in China, the company is officially registered in the Cayman Islands. On August 5, 2005, the company was listed on the NASDAQ stock exchange, its first offering price was US $27 per share. Initially, the official name of the company was Baidu.com, Inc. but this was changed to Baidu, Inc. in December 2008
Baidu has two main activities, it has the largest internet search engine in China, similar to Google, and an iQIYI video channel, similar to YouTube. The Baidu Search search engine is accessible via Baidu.com or the Baidu app. According to Alexa, the website was the fifth most popular website in the world in 2020 by number of visitors and page views, with almost 90% of visitors coming from China. Some Chinese competitors are Alibaba Group, Tencent and Xiaomi. In the last quarter of 2017, iQIYI had around 420 million monthly active users and 126 million users using the platform daily. In January 2018, 9.2 billion hours of videos were viewed on the platform.
How to rank high on Baidu?
If the Chinese market is interesting for you with its huge potential for customers, it is important that you know how to apply search engine optimization for Baidu. Keep hereby in mind that Baidu is also used in countries such as Malaysia, the Philippines, Taiwan, Singapore, South Korea and the US, possibly by the many Chinese immigrants living there. So, by being indexed in Baidu you are not only catering to China which can be considered as an additional advantage of approximately 15% extra users.
Submit site to Baidu.
Open a Web Master Tools Account and submit your sitemap. Here is more information about this procedure.
A major challenge with this search engine is Chinese censorship. So make sure the content you publish is accepted and not censored. If you can’t adhere to this then the Chinese market is not for you and you’d better focus your attention on other strategies. In addition, your website requires an Internet Content Publishing License (ICP), with which the authorities approve your website for publication. We will explain more about this below.
CN domain, language and keywords.
To ensure that your website is easy to find in Baidu, you must first obtain a .cn domain and master the Chinese language well or use an interpreter. Then focus on long-tail keywords. The reason for this is that there is a lot of advertising on Baidu and your organic findability with short keywords is clouded by advertisements. With long-tail keywords you come out much better. It is also important to properly set your local findability. Due to the size of the Chinese cities, people mainly search locally, which is not illogical. On this website you can read how to buy a .cn domain name.
Domain names and hosting.
In China, there are 60 government-authorized companies that provide domain names. A Chinese domain name ending in .cn is preferred when it comes to Baidu SEO, however it is not a prerequisite. Remember here that a lot of latency by hosting in another continent (Europe) does not benefit the user experience of the visitor. To circumvent this problem, a Content Delivery System (CDN) can be used, in which the content is stored, as it were stored on the nearest server for the visitor. Read here more about getting CDN in China.
All websites in Chinese are given priority at Baidu. Websites are preferably equipped with a version in ‘simplified Chinese’ and in ‘traditional Chinese’. Both forms of the language are widely used, the difference is in the characters where Traditional Chinese contains more characters than Simplified Chinese. Traditional Chinese is more common in Hong Kong and Macau as Simplified Chinese is more common in inland China.
Optimize for mobile.
Okay, this is of course not different from Google (mobile first indexing), but according to internet research, 61 percent of all internet traffic in China was already on a mobile device in 2018 and this number increased to 75% in 2020. In addition, Baidu has greatly underestimated mobile traffic in the past and the search engine is now trying to make up for this by prioritizing mobile optimization more than ever. In addition, Baidu is investing huge budgets in the development of Artificial Intelligence (AI) and other forms of technical developments related to mobile internet traffic.
Launch a new website in Baidu.
For Baidu, it is important for a website to be able to be properly crawled from the start. So make sure the website structure is good from launch. Think of ‘crawl depth’ and make sure that all pages are findable for the Baidu spider. When launching a website, it is customary to submit a sitemap in Google Search Console in an .xml format. At Baidu, you need to be asked to do this by the search engine only after they have crawled and indexed your content. So you can expect an email from them.
The ICP (commercial and non commercial).
If you want to publish content from China you must have an Internet Content Provider (ICP) certificate. There are two different options, the ICP Bei An (non-commercial) that can be used when you only post informational content online or an ICP Zheng (commercial) that is needed when you allow commercial activities to take place through your China-hosted website. Without an ICP, there is a chance that your website will be ‘taken offline’ by the Chinese Government. Companies without a legally established Chinese presence do not receive a commercial ICP. There are several agencies that can help you obtain an ICP. Partnerships with Chinese companies are also possible. For a full explanation of ICPs, see the Quantil ICP Certification page that can be found here while you can read here about how to obtain an ICP License.
Baidu and content.
Baidu values the homepage more than other pages. In contrast to Google appreciating well-linked pages with independent and unique value, the content on the homepage is therefore the most important part of a website to Baidu. How can this work in your favor? By placing the right and most useful content on the homepage you make yourself findable and you can convince a visitor to read on while being appreciated by the search engine. Example, if you use WordPress, you could place full articles on your home page instead of excerpts.
Variety of content is equally important to Baidu. When the structure of your website is optimal, the Baidu spider will use the crawling budget to check for new content and index it, if applicable. This includes updating the content on the homepage and not just adding new content.
Meta title and meta description.
The ideal length for a meta title is 60 characters (30 Chinese characters) and for a meta description it is 155 characters (78 Chinese characters).
The old known meta keywords that according to Google have not been used for years as a ranking factor but are mainly known from the time of AltaVista are also NOT relevant for Baidu. Period!
Link building is a time consuming and difficult part of SEO but still important. Many webmasters and online marketers have become insensitive to certain link building options and most black-hat link building tricks no longer work. This also applies to Baidu. So there is only one thing left and that is making rock solid content that is worth sharing. On your website, on Chinese social media and also on other sites. This creates a strong link profile and will make your website rank better in Baidu. Please note here that the links should come mainly from Chinese .cn websites. Actively approaching websites that want to share your rock-solid content should be a regular part of your search engine optimization efforts. For more link building tips, check out the Dragon Metrics article: Link building guide for Baidu SEO.