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One of the most common queries we get at Nanjing Marketing Group concerns Baidu Search Engine Optimization. It seems that there are plenty of Western marketers out there that want to understand how to optimize for Baidu.

Any company that would like to enter the Chinese market by employing SEO to improve their website ranking on Baidu most definitely needs to optimize and follow Baidu’s search engine guidelines.


Baidu SEO best practises

In this article I’m going to point out some differences between Google and Baidu SEO. I’ll only talk about the big differences between Baidu and Google, as anything else you might think of is pretty much the same as Google SEO.

I spoke to Nanjing Marketing Group search engine optimization specialist Elsa, and picked her brain about all things Baidu SEO. Below are seven major Baidu search engine optimization tips to help you optimize your website to reach a Chinese audience.


1. The site homepage

This might sound strange as it’s not a big deal with SEO on Google, but Baidu pays a lot of attention to the website homepage. More weight is given to the homepage in search results and it is often indexed by Baidu, even if other parts of the site aren’t.

One really important feature to consider on the homepage is your keywords. Optimized keywords on the homepage will help the site rank better in the Baidu organic SERPs, especially highly competitive keywords.

Therefore it’s best to use highly competitive keywords or the most important suitable keywords that you want to rank for on the homepage, rather than spreading them throughout the website.


2. Baidu’s own products

Much as Google has it’s own products that are neatly held together by Google+, so Baidu has it’s own products such as Baidu Zhidao, Baidu Baike and Baidu Tieba.

The difference with Google is that Baidu massively favours keyword searches that appear in its own products. Often you’ll see that the first page of the SERPs is full of results that link to Baidu’s version of Wikipedi (Baike) or Baidu’s own forums (Tieba).

What does this mean for SEO? Rather than seeing this as unfair, think of it as an opportunity to rank higher for certain keywords by using Baidu’s products to promote your website.

For example, why not use Baidu Baike to share information about your brand and link to your site. Use Baidu Zhidao – which is a platform to ask questions and get answers from other users – to teach people about your products.

If you can subtly use Baidu’s own products, much as SEOs use Google+ to improve PageRank, then ranking highly in the Baidu organic results is more likely.


3. User behaviour on SERPs

Something that Western marketers often don’t consider when doing SEO for Baidu is user behaviour. Chinese search users are very different in their habits compared to say American search users.

Chinese searchers on Baidu will usually sweep the contents of the search results from the beginning to the end. The image below of Baidu users versus Google users shows this pretty clearly.

SERPs user behaviour Baidu v Google

What does this mean? First, we can say that Baidu’s search accuracy is lower than Google’s. But this also means that users will spend more time searching on Baidu.

The benefit is that not only the first three search results are the be all and end all. SEO on Baidu gives a higher chance that users will more likely click lower results in the SERPs, or at least view results lower down the page.


4. Website indexing – crawling speed

Baidu is very different in how it indexes new webpages.

For a start, Google is much quicker at indexing new websites than Baidu. Even with few external links in the periphery Google can still follow these and climb a new webpage to index it.

With Baidu, new sites are not indexed immediately and in fact the crawling process can take quite some time. Sometimes a new website will be indexed after passing an examination period set by Baidu.

In general when it comes to waiting for a new website to be indexed by Baidu, patience is key. During this period it’s important to update the website content as normal and not to partake in any black hat operations.


How Baidu and Google judge inbound links is almost completely different.

With Baidu inbound links from social platforms are not counted as external links, whereas with Google inbound links from social are very important.

Another major difference with link building on Baidu is the fact that Baidu will accept a link that can’t be clicked, whereas Google will not. The external link tool from Baidu Zhanzhang (Baidu’s Webmaster tools) count plain text links as inbound links and these links can help keyword ranking.

In general these differences are good if you are doing Baidu SEO. It means that time is better spent doing on-page SEO, which is more efficient to manage as opposed to doing external link building.

Overall Google gives more attention to inbound links than Baidu does.


6. Website content

Baidu puts a lot of emphasis on adding new fresh content to a website, especially on the homepage. To improve rankings on Baidu it’s best to update the website or webpage continuously with fresh content.

But whereas Google is looking for long articles of original content, Baidu is looking for content that is fresh to that particular website or webpage.

Therefore adding fresh news content regularly to a website, even if it’s not original, will help SEO on Baidu.


7. Duplicate content

Google hates duplicate content, but Baidu is less inclined to penalise websites for duplicate content around the web. In general reprinting and copying original content and using it is fairly commonplace in China, and Baidu seems particularly bad at recognising the use of duplicate content.

The screenshot below taken from the Baidu SERPs is a good example of this.

Duplicate content in the Baidu SERPs

So what does this mean for SEO on Baidu? Well it means that a company can produce some original content of their own and post it on their website. But this same content in exactly the same form can be used on another platform a few days later (maybe one of Baidu’s own products such as Baidu Baike).

Although this might seem like black hat tactics on Google, it is perfectly acceptable on Baidu. The website can even insert their own inbound links in the ‘original’ content and post this on other platforms helping to drive traffic to the site, although as I mentioned earlier the SEO benefits are not as significant as Google.


Final thoughts

So there you have it – seven practical SEO tips to help improve your website ranking on Baidu. In this article I haven’t mentioned things such as Chinese language, Chinese law requirements like an ICP license or things such as Chinese hosting and domain types.

This is because to rank well on Baidu, first and foremost you need to improve on-page SEO. Hopefully these tips will give you an idea of how SEO on Google and Baidu differs and may set you on the path to ranking as high as possible in the Baidu organic SERPs.


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Do you agree or disagree with these seven search engine optimization tips? Let’s start a conversation in the comments below.

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