So, you have your Google SEO totally under control. You’re drawing in plenty of free organic traffic from many places in the world, except China.

Now, you’re trying to figure out how to get more organic traffic from China too, right?

This post is for people experienced in Google SEO who want to get straight to the point on what to do for Baidu SEO.

If you know very little about SEO, this may be a little advanced for you, so it might be worth starting with Baidu SEO Basics instead.

For those of you who are seasoned Google SEOers, let’s start with a bit about Baidu first. 


Understanding Baidu 

Baidu is like Google in many ways

Good news. Your background in Google SEO means you’re well on the way to understanding Baidu SEO. 

Baidu, like Google, also wants to serve useful and relevant content to its users. 

Baidu is focused on CHINA

Baidu doesn’t focus on users other than Chinese-speaking users from China.

Therefore, for starters, you’ll need to use Chinese-language content on your website.

Baidu is selfish

Well, although Baidu cares about its users…it doesn’t care quite as much as Google does. Baidu pushes many of its own properties into the top search results, making it more difficult for other players to gain organic search traffic.

Baidu is not as good at assessing newer, smaller websites

If you have a smallish website (under 50 pages, for example) on a niche and even have great content, Baidu may still be slow to index your site and give you decent organic rankings.


Where Should Baidu Sit in Your Overall Marketing Strategy?

I’m not a focused SEOer. Instead, I run teams that do search ads, content marketing, social, SEO, video marketing, etc.

If you’re trying to do holistic digital marketing, there’s a 90% chance Baidu SEO should make up a lower proportion of your marketing mix than Google SEO does in the rest of the world (RoW). For example, in NMG, one of the many platforms we use to get a head start on organic search is Zhihu.

The exception is if you aren’t really doing any marketing in China, but simply want to pick up on Baidu organic search traffic for free. By “free,” we mean you will make some changes to your SEO to scoop up more traffic from Baidu. This can work, especially for big sites with many pages.


Baidu SEO Checklist

Before I list these, remember that this is not a comprehensive list of ALL the SEO you need to do. It’s merely a list of things to do if you already have mastered Google SEO and now want to take on Baidu.


1 – Be extra careful to avoid Javascript to display content

Your website needs to show content to users in HTML and CSS. Even if Google is indexing some Javascript content, that doesn’t mean Baidu will.


2 – Use Chinese-language content

You need to get your hands on as much Chinese content as possible. That’s really what Baidu wants to index. 

Ideally, you’ll have all pages in Chinese, but I realize that isn’t always feasible.

Baidu will still index some English content, but only for websites it thinks are useful for Chinese users.


3 – Set up your hosting and domain

It’s key that your website loads quickly and is accessible to users in China.

If your current website already ticks both boxes, you do not need a Chinese (.cn) domain, ICP license, or hosting in China.

Depending on your current situation, budget, and any restrictions or limitations you may be facing, here are my recommendations:

  • A .cn domain name that is just like your English name. For example, if your English domain is use The Chinese domain is not to impress Baidu. However, it shows a commitment to providing Chinese users with an experience.
  • Host in China, which will require an ICP license. Although, this might even require you to have a business entity in China.

If you don’t want to mess with your current website, this is a good plan:

  • Keep all content on the same domain. Chinese-language content can be placed on a subdomain like, or (second best) Chinese-language content can be placed in a folder like Baidu views the subdomain as part of the main domain.
  • Use a CDN to help make sure content loads quicker in China.
  • If there are resources that do not load in China, replace them, or completely remove them from the Chinese site.


4 – Use HTTPS

I know you’re almost definitely using it already, but I have to mention this because some people think Baidu can’t handle HTTPS. Actually, for several years already, Baidu has preferred HTTPS. If you don’t use it, Baidu will also show that as an error in Baidu Ziyuan.


5 – Use the Baidu “Ziyuan” tool to monitor for problems and submit webpages

Baidu Ziyuan is like Google’s Search Console. It’s a useful tool for finding problems on your website and submitting web pages to Baidu. But you will need a Chinese phone number to sign up.

Baidu Ziyuan can help detect the following:

  • Problems with robots.txt. 
  • Number of pages indexed
  • Crawl rate/crawl errors

SEOers often use Baidu Ziyuan to submit pages manually to Baidu. Why do so? We often publish content, for example, a blog post, for new websites in multiple places— the website, WeChat, Zhihu, Sohu, and several other sites. This could result in duplicate content issues, so it’s best to submit to Baidu Ziyuan first, then publish off-site later. 

We continue to do this for websites that might otherwise have problems with indexation. If your website is already indexed fine and you aren’t risking running into duplicate content issues, you can skip this step.

Baidu can submit new URLs via an API. Once you have a Baidu Ziyuan account, you have access to submit the URLs. Read a translated version of Baidu’s API support documentation here.

What if you don’t have a Chinese phone number? 

Unfortunately, in that case, you can’t use Baidu Ziyuan.

Another tool we use is Dragon Metrics. It offers a suite of SEO tools in one place:

  • Keyword rank tracking.
  • Backlink analysis.
  • Detection of problems: missing meta-description, broken links, etc.
  • Reporting that can be shared with clients or connected with Google Data Studio.

Dragon Metrics can also easily be shared with partners, and the interface is available in English. If you sign up, use “NANJING” at the checkout to get a 5% discount.


6 – Post fresh content

If you can afford it, keep the new content coming. 

The websites that often have a hard time on Baidu are small static sites without much action going on on-site. By “small,” I mean less than 50 pages, and by “static,” I mean the kind of website a small business will set up and just leave as-is for months or years without updating.

A small Chinese website was poorly indexed and had poor rankings. To fix this, I increased the frequency of the content to three posts per week, which were linked from a teaser on the homepage as well. The posts weren’t even very long or in-depth, but the website became fully indexed and then reached the #1 ranking for its main keyword. It also achieved high rankings for many long-tail keywords.

It still seems Baidu cares a lot about the freshness of the website.


7 – (Maybe) Learn More

If this blog post has whet your appetite for Baidu SEO and you want to know more, consider the book SEO For China by Marcus Pentzek and Kun Tang.

Here’s Baidu’s official guidebook for SEO, although it’s in Chinese only.

You can also check out our guide to digital marketing in China, with 50+ blog posts about Baidu, WeChat, Zhihu, website transcreation, and other topics.

Start With a Free Consultation

Contact us for a free initial consultation. Whether it’s through email, chat, or a scheduled video meeting, we’re here to help.

We’ll identify the potential obstacles hindering your expansion in China, and we’ll recommend the best course of action based on your individual needs.

If you think we’re a good fit, you’ll receive a proposal within a week.

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