China is often overlooked by businesses due to fears of red tape and online censorship. However the last few years have seen significant developments between the UK and Chinese governments in recognition of these barriers, with the aim to make this path easier to tread. If you are already targeting China, or are planning to, there are certainly rewards to be reaped if you spend some time getting your strategy right.
Singles Day is without doubt the biggest day in the Chinese retail calendar, with year-on-year record breaking online spend. and 2015 saw no signs of this trend slowing. Chinese retail site Alibaba reported that this one day alone accounts for a whooping 80% of their yearly share of China’s total online shopping. Three other mind bending facts included:
- 120,000 estimated orders each minute on 2015 Singles Day
- 73% of purchases in first hour made via mobile phone
- 12 hours – time taken to beat 2014 whole-day record of $9.3bn
When optimising a website, most SEO professionals will focus tailoring content to achieve results on the Big Three search engines: Google, Yahoo and Bing. But before you close the book on your target engine, consider this:
25% of internet users are Chinese, but only 16% of Chinese internet users do their web searching via Google, with the vast majority opting instead for Baidu.
For those looking into multilingual SEO and venturing into the Chinese market, the Baidu powerhouse will play an important role in how you approach the transition, as well as how successful it is.
Baidu, the Chinese language search engine, was established in 2000 and now provides an index of over 740 million web pages. Although Baidu is the clear winner in China’s search engine war, Google has held on to the number two spot. But this doesn’t mean it has been plain sailing for the U.S. service; in fact, Google has been blighted with issues regarding censorship in the communist country for several years.
Because of the grip Google has on search engine marketing, Baidu remains relatively unknown outside of China. However, if your company operates globally, and a significant proportion of your custom comes from China, you’d be a fool not to take note of this service. Optimising your website for China will help you to tap into a huge market and could potentially be a turning point for your business. Here are three steps to optimising for the Chinese market.
In many ways, Baidu’s algorithm is considered less sophisticated than those of the Big Three and has actually been compared to search engines as they were several years ago. But, in the same way that Google has made a shift to place more weight on high quality content, so too does Baidu. To get in its good books, you’re going to need reams and reams of Chinese content, even if Chinese isn’t the official language of your site. But before you get the Chinese copywriter cavalry in, it’s important to know that there are official guidelines you must follow over what is acceptable in China. Break the rules and you could find you fall out with Baidu…
Another similarity between Google and Baidu is that keyphrases remain pivotal to your search engine marketing campaign. Keyphrases are just as important to encourage good rankings but the process is slightly more difficult given that you are now working with Chinese keyphrases. When looking for a professional translation service, bear in mind that Pinyin is the preferred dialect for Baidu.
The ‘no duplication’ rule is nothing new, and is something you should be used to from your English SEM efforts. Not heeding this guideline could land you in trouble with most search engines, but fail to provide unique content for Baidu and you’ll soon see that they’re far less lenient over this policy than their English counterparts. You can safety check your content by using robots.txt to instruct indexing.