When it comes to Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) in a foreign market, brands should always look for the best search engine to reach their target. It is known that Google Hong Kong does not own the biggest piece of the search engine pie in China because of its Chinese doppelganger: Baidu. According to Bloomberg Industries, Baidu Inc. owns more than 80% of China’s online queries. Many marketers would assume that both behave similarly but they’re actually rather different.
Know Your Baidu From Google
Baidu prioritises websites hosted inside China and takes into account the meta description, whereas Google does not. Moreover, the Chinese search engines do not take social links into account when Google does. This is why brands should work on a ‘link building’ strategy when advertising in China. Thus, content marketing is very important in China and an efficient way to invest time, money and energy. Creating content like blog posts, infographics, slideshares and so on remains the best way to improve your search engine optimisation in China. Link building refers to making or getting external links which point to your website. A search engine measures your website’s search ranking based on how many external links they have, in addition to other metrics. The more links you have, the more popular a site will be. Google on the other hand increasingly gives precedence to social links to account. In addition, Baidu gives a priority to homepages and focuses on how many links you have than how high quality your links are.
Baidu, headquartered in Beijing, did not succeed by good luck but because it was Chinese. Baidu gives SEO priority to websites hosted in China with a Chinese ICP registration. Compare this to Google and you will notice a big difference. Google does not consider geo-location a major factor but rather site-speed, relevant content and repetition of keywords. Baidu emulates many of the features of Google, but with Chinese characteristics. For example Baidu Maps is extremely similar to Google Maps and Google Shopping is similar to Baidu Shopping. They have a similar design and function quality but are aimed at different markets. The areas of different functionality are due to difference in culture. For example, where a westerner would consider advertising and popups in apps intrusive, they are culturally more accepted in China.
In conclusion, if you are a foreign brand attempting to enter the Chinese market and sell your product or service, you have to familiarise with Baidu and other Chinese search engines and their requirements. Be familiar with Chinese culture and its social and cultural browsing behaviours. This must be done by adapting branding and marketing strategy, as you would to any new foreign market.