Web

Baidu: an intro to China's online search giant

25 March 2018

With more than 600 million of queries each day, Baidu is the dominant force in the China search engine market.

Founded in Beijing in 2000 by Robin Li, the company rode the wave of China’s internet boom to become synonymous with internet search in the country. Underlining its search engine, Baidu offers a number of other online tools for individuals and businesses, such as mobile-optimized platforms, map services, and a social networking service.

Thanks to a combination of its China-focused service and the global dominance of Google, Baidu has made little progress abroad with 93% of its users based in China. Domestic success has driven the company forward and 59% of search engine activity in the country still goes through Baidu, this despite increasing pressure from emerging rivals like Sogou and Shenma.

Despite deriving its popularity almost exclusively from one country, Baidu ranks 4th globally on the Alexa internet ranking, trailing US websites Google, Youtube, and Facebook, none of which are accessible in China.

Its position as the top search engine in China means exploiting Baidu’s potential can bemake-or-break for companies looking to build brand recognition and attract customers through search engine marketing (SEM) in China.

Baidu VS google – How do they compare?

As is the trend to compare tech services and platforms in China with international equivalents, Baidu is commonly referred to as China’s Google. Apart from the obvious—that Baidu is accessible in China and Google isn’t—there are other important differences between the two, particularly for companies looking to use Baidu as an advertising platform.


Google VS Baidu's  algorithm

To over-simplify, Google and Baidu theoretically share the same algorithm, but Baidu is less effective than its counterpart in executing it. This is especially true when looking how Baidu handles backlinks; while Google can easily differentiate between high and low quality backlinks, Baidu is less effective in this area.


Baidu’s strength: China-focused

As a Chinese search engine, Baidu is much more effective than Google in crawling and indexing Chinese content. When it comes to your server location, content language, or backlinks, being in China and the effective use of simplified Chinese will help you make the most of Baidu.


The impact of Baidu properties for your SEO

One of the most important feature unique to Baidu is the way it integrates its other services and features, known as Baidu Properties, into the search engine. These include Baidu Baike (their Wikipedia-like site), Baidu News or Baidu Zhidao (China’s version of Quora), to name a few. This integration creates unique opportunities and challenges for those using to optimize their ranking on the platform.


Top tips for optimizing for Baidu ranking

A well structured and informed approach to your search engine strategy is vital for optimizing your Baidu ranking, and it needs to be set up properly from the start.

Localizing your website for the Chinese market is a necessary first step toward developing a presence on Baidu. This begins with translating and adapting your website into Chinese—something that is worth doing professionally as Baidu has systems that detect bad content and effect your ranking—and redesigning and redeveloping it for the Chinese market.

Baidu judges the loading speed of your website as an important factor for your ranking. Below are some tips to speed up your website:

  • Your code needs to be clean. It should not contain any content linked to forbidden platforms such as Youtube embedded videos or Facebook API.
  • Your images have to be well optimized for web. As a rule of thumb, your images should be between 30 and 150ko, depending on the situation.
  • A hosting in China will help. This requires that your company owns a Chinese business license in order to apply for an ICP License. For companies without a Chinese business license, a nearby hosting (in Hong Kong, Japan or Singapore) is a good alternative. 

Keyword strategy is of vital importance to optimizing your brand or company’s presence on Baidu’s search platform. Understanding keyword demand and analyze your competitive environment will help you prioritize your targeted keywords.

Fresh Content should be frequently uploaded. Baidu’s algorithms tend to prioritise sites that are updated on a regular basis. In addition, new content should be submitted to Baidu immediately to prevent it from being ripped off.

Mastering Baidu Properties is also important for getting the most out of Baidu search. Because content channeled through Baidu Baike or Baidu Zhidao is displayed above organic search results, understanding and building a presence on other Baidu platforms is a good way to optimize its visibility on the Chinese search engine.


Search engine advertising on Baidu

Advertising on Baidu through a pay-per-click (PPC) account is a great way to increase traffic to your website. As the country’s leading search engine, establishing a good presence on Baidu is an important part of any digital strategy in China.

Baidu offers incremental PPC options ranging from simple text ads that allow a title line and an 80 character description, to multi-image ads optimized for companies wanting to advertise multiple products or services. Baidu also offers a number of optional add ons, such as a direct phone link on mobile ads.

In addition to PPC ads, Baidu also offers flat rate options that are charged per month. With both fixed price and PPC options, there are advertising solutions for every strategy and budget.

For PPC accounts, a base fee of 7,000 RMB is due up front. This comprises of 6,000 RMB to buy keywords and a 1,000 RMB registration fee (renewed annually).With more than 600 million of queries each day, optimizing your ranking on Baidu can be a great way to make your brand, products or services stand out. Whilst it is very important to get your Baidu advertising strategy right, it requires knowledge and patience.

Contact Creative Union to help you develop a search marketing strategy that works best for your company.