Baidu is most popular search engine in China. Google China is second to Baidu. Lots of Internet marketers in the West do not know much about Baidu, and assume its ranking algorithm is similar to Google China. It is purely based on the assumption that when it can beat Google in a large market, its ranking algorithm should be comparable to Google. Unfortunately, it is wrong. Baidus search result is mixed up with lots of paid links and natural links. It is difficult to distinguish them. In addition, the natural ranking algorithm is not very sophisticated and many spamming and illogical results can be found. According to a study by China Internet Network Information Center (CNNIC) in year end of 2006, Chinese users perceived that Googles search relevancy is much better than Baidu.
Why Baidu can be No.1 in China?
If its ranking algorithm is much inferior to Google, how come Baidu can be more popular in China market? There are 4 possible reasons I can think of:
1. According to CNNIC, Google China has server down time and frustrated users.
2. Baidu is developed by local Chinese, driven by patriotism and language friendliness, general Chinese users tend to use Baidu.
3. Baidu was established before Google entered into China market. Thus, Baidu has first mover advantage.
4. Baidu is famous for its strong MP3 search and lots of young internet users are searching for songs in MP3 format daily.
However, CNNIC also revealed that white-collar urban professional in major China cities, and citizens with overseas study background tend to use and love using Google China. Usually, their spending power is much higher, and Google China has advantage in this niche.
1. Title and Meta Tags
Like Google, Title tag is also very important. Unlike Google, Meta description and Meta keywords tags are still very useful in improving ranking in Baidu. As always, we do recommend clients add meaningful Meta description and keyword tags because they are still important for some popular localized search engines.
It is similar to other popular search engines. Your website copies should have keywords you want to optimize. The higher the keyword density, the better is the result. If your keyword density is too high, it can adversely affect search engine rankings in other search engines, however. Therefore, we recommend 6-12% for Baidu optimization.
Unlike Google, Baidu does not have a sophisticated algorithm to determine link relevancy and link quality. Quantity seems more important than link quality. Incorporating keywords in internal anchor text has some positive effect on Baidu ranking.
4. Content Language
Since Baidu is developed in Mainland China, if your site has simplified Chinese, you are easier to get exposure in Baidu.
People may also wonder if English keywords are used in China. From our experience, it really depends on your industry and targeted visitors. For example, English keywords are used by high income office workers, manufacturing and trading firms, or banking professional. If your target is general mass market, Chinese keywords are dominant in frequency of use.
5. Alt Tag
Alt tag with keywords incorporated into Alt text is good for Baidu optimization. However, it is not advised to stuff too many keywords inside.
If your site is mainly targeted for Mainland China, we recommend you hosting your site in Mainland China. It helps your Baidu ranking significantly.
It is not essential to get .com.cn or .cn domain names, however.
7. Geographical Market
China is a very big company. Internet marketers are difficult to target every province and city of China. You must determine the location of your high value customers. If they are mainly based in Mainland China, your site should use simplified Chinese. If you are targeting Hong Kong and Taiwan, your site should use traditional Chinese.
Of course, it does no harm if you include both Chinese versions. If the wordings can be more localized to the city or province you target for, it can yield better conversion rate.
Also, Baidu is only popular in Mainland China, particularly in the northern part. In Hong Kong and Taiwan, Baidu is an insignificant search engine player.