China’s #1 Search Engine – Baidu
As you likely already know, China’s search engine market isn’t dominated by Google like in the rest of the world. Google left the Chinese market way back in 2010 after it suffered from a cybersecurity attack that had originated within China. In place of Google several domestic Chinese search engines have risen up to dominate the market, with the most successful being Baidu. Baidu has maintained its leadership in the Chinese search engine market for over a decade and is the go-to search engine for most people in China. Chinese internet users turn to Baidu to answer their questions and when they need more information on a given topic, that makes Baidu SEO very important for companies in China.
This makes Baidu guide a powerful tool for brands to get the word out about their products and services, particularly for those in more niche industries. As social media has begun to consume more and more of the average internet users time, many brands have begun to get a bit lax in their efforts on search engines.
This can be dangerous for brands, as not every industry is well-suited to marketing on social media, particularly if the goal is to generate leads or drive conversions. B2B brands for instance aren’t going to get the best results on platforms like Weibo or WeChat.
What You Need to Get Started Ranking With Baidu SEO
A Locally Hosted Website
Before you even think about getting started with SEO, you we will absolutely need to ensure that your site loads quickly for users in China. One of the most common reasons for a slow website in China is hosting. Where you host your website is an incredibly important factor in the loading speed of your website. Just hosting your website in China isn’t some magical way to get your site ranking on Baidu, but it puts you on an even playing field with other sites in China.
Most foreign companies naturally have their websites hosted in places closer to their home markets to ensure that they maintain their quick load times in their primary markets. Combined with a content delivery network (CDN) this allows businesses to ensure that their site loads reasonably fast across the globe.
This strategy simply doesn’t work in China. Due to the great firewall and other factors websites hosted abroad tend to load very slowly in China. Not only does this deliver a sub-par experience to users of the website, it also has a drastic effect on search engine rankings.
In determining search engine rankings, Baidu crawls millions of websites to find the best sources of information for different queries. Given that the company needs to crawl hundreds of millions of websites it can only spare so much time per website. If you’re website fails to load in that given time frame, Baidu can’t accurately read what’s on your site. Without having Baidu crawl your site you have an almost zero chance of showing up in search engine rankings.
In a nutshell, don’t even attempt to rank on Baidu before ensuring your site loads fast in China, and if it doesn’t strongly consider hosting the site within Mainland China.