BIG BIANG THEORY – working within the Chinese market

The difficulty of the translator’s job can sometimes be measured by how challenging a language can be, even to its native speakers. One example in the news recently concerns a university professor in the Sichuan province of China, who punishes students arriving late for his class by making them copy out Chinese characters by hand. It’s hard to imagine a stronger incentive to be punctual. The Chinese character known as “biang” comprises 56 separate strokes of the pen. Copying it 200 times as one student was asked to do is a very unkind way to treat the wrist, let alone the mind.

chinese smybol

The Challenges of Trading with China

If China presents us with linguistic challenges, what about the challenges to trade? The number of internet users in the country is now estimated at 720 million, with an overall penetration rate nudging to just over 50%. But there are rules to navigate, and this week we’ve seen further evidence that China’s government will strictly regulate internet content with the shutdown of Apple’s online book and movie services.

It’s a challenge worth meeting, and specialist support makes all the difference.

How can we face these challenges head on?

A fully localised website is a prime sales tool, but consumers in China won’t find it with a Google search.

Baidu dominates China’s search engine market, claiming 80% of all advertising revenue in 2015.

How can your site make a mark? There are boxes to tick, and many don’t correspond with best practice for Google optimisation.

Know your biggest selling point

Baidu gives far greater weight to the content of your site’s homepage than Google, particularly your keywords. Anyone chasing a good Baidu ranking should consider a targeted allocation of keywords on the homepage, instead of a more even distribution.

Know your audience

In contrast with Google searchers, Baidu searchers spend longer analysing their search results. It’s not unusual for users to work through a list from top to bottom, improving your chances of a view even if you’re not right at the top of page one.

Know your products

Using products such as Baidu Baike, Baidu Tieba and Baidu Zhidao notably increases your chances of success. If you spread the word about your products in Baidu Baike (a Chinese variation on Wikipedia) then the chances of the engine picking up on the keywords you’ve used will immediately improve.

Know your content priorities

Google tends to favour original long-form content. Baidu rewards frequent updates that don’t have to be original at all, as long as they are new to your site.

The right Language Service Provider won’t just simply translate words on a page. They’ll help you work towards your commercial goals in your chosen target country. Even when that country’s language is so complex and demanding that its own native speakers see its transcription as a punishment.

At Capita we believe teaming up with like-minded partners will help you get where you want to go. And teaming up with communication partners who understand your target markets is your surest route into them.

You might call that our Big Biang Theory.


Lydia is developing new business in the Retail, Travel and Marketing team and has taken fitness to a new level by exercising twice a day.


Share this story

Sign up to our newsletter

Sign up