Baidu is the dominant search engine in China, with over 69.52% market share. Ranking high in Baidu can drive tremendous amounts of traffic and customers to your Chinese website. However, Baidu’s search algorithm differs greatly from Google’s, and optimizing for it requires an entirely different approach.
In this article, we’ll cover everything you need to know about Baidu SEO and how to improve your Baidu rankings.
All About Baidu
- Founded in 2000, Baidu is the largest search engine in China and one of the biggest AI and technology companies globally.
- September 2023, Baidu has over 663 million monthly active users.
- Baidu operates a search advertising platform similar to Google Ads called Baidu Zhanzhang. Advertisers bid on keywords to show text, image, and video ads.
- In addition to web search, Baidu offers many services including an encyclopedia, news, videos, maps, mobile apps, and more.
- Baidu’s search results blend organic and paid listings, with 3-4 ads typically showing above organic results.
Core Baidu Ranking Factors
1. Keyword Usage and Relevance
- Keyword density: Target keywords should appear in page titles, headers, content, alt text, URLs, etc. But over-optimization looks unnatural.
- Semantic relevance: Content should be topically relevant to the keyword, answering searcher intent.
- Keyword prominence: Keywords appearing early in titles and content are weighted more heavily.
2. Page Authority and Trust Signals
- Domain age and history: Older sites with long histories tend to rank better.
- Backlinks from authoritative sites: Quality backlinks from reputable Chinese sites are extremely important for authority.
- Government approval: ICP license and other government approval signals trust.
3. Page Speed and Technical Factors
- Site speed: Faster sites rank better. Optimize pages for performance.
- Mobile optimization: With heavy mobile usage, a mobile responsive site is essential.
- SSL certificate: Switch to HTTPS for better security and SEO.
- Use Cache Plugin: If you use WordPress you need to use WordPress Cache Plugins like WP Rocket, W3 Total Cache, LiteSpeed Cache, WP Fastest Cache or WP Super Cache
4. Original, High-Quality Content
- Content length: Long-form, in-depth content ranks better than thin content.
- Plagiarism: Duplicate content must be avoided. Baidu penalizes copying. You can use tool like Grammarly, quetext, and quillbot.
- User engagement: Content that attracts social shares, links, and user interaction performs better.
Advanced On-Page Optimization Tips For Baidu
Now that we’ve covered the major ranking factors, here are some pro tips for advanced on-page optimization.
Use Chinese Keywords and Content
- Target keywords should be in Simplified Chinese characters, the written script used in mainland China.
- Website copy should be originally written or localized into Chinese. Don’t just rely on Google Translate.
- Adjust SEO targeting to terms with high local search volume informed by Baidu Index and keyword tools.
Optimize for Baidu’s Algorithms
- Use Baidu’s semantic analysis tags like <by> and <er> to help it better grasp content meaning.
- Take advantage of Baidu’s NLP and dialog-style content with Q&A and conversational wording.
- Follow Baidu SEO guidelines and best practices, which differ from other search engines.
Enhance Page Authority Signals
- Get reputable .cn domains when possible to signal being a Chinese site.
- Display Chinese trust badges, awards, certifications, and compliance seals.
- Get mentions and links from major Chinese websites to build citation authority.
Powerful Link-Building Strategies for Baidu SEO
In addition to on-page optimization, earning high-quality backlinks is enormously important for Baidu SEO. Here are some of the most effective link building tactics and strategies:
Leverage Directory Listings
Submit your website to Chinese directories like Baidu Directory, Sogou, and 360. Manually build these directory profiles with keywords, descriptions, and everything filled out.
Participate in Industry Forums
Find active forums in your industry and participate by sharing advice and content. Include a link to your site in forum profiles but avoid overt self-promotion.
Guest Post on Niche Blogs
Reach out to industry blogs and offer unique, valuable guest posts related to their audience. Aim for contextual links back to your site.
Utilize Baidu Zhixin
Baidu Zhixin is a special social network focused on questions and answers. Users can post questions and those who reply with the best answers earn a high reputation. Participating provides opportunities to link back to your content.
Build Local Citation Listings
Create and verify listings on Chinese business directories similar to Yelp and YellowPages. Consistent NAP citations help search engines confirm your business information.
Develop WeChat Official Account
Having an official WeChat account allows you to attract followers, promote content, and link to your website. Collaborate with KOLs in your industry to cross-promote.
Baidu Webmaster Tools Setup
Registering Baidu Webmaster Tools gives you valuable data insights and opportunities for improving SEO. Here are the key features to leverage:
Upload an XML sitemap so Baidu can discover new pages. Manually submit new or important pages for faster indexing.
Check Indexation Status
Use the URL inspection tool to see if pages are indexed or have errors. Fix crawl errors and request re-indexing of pages.
Analyze Click Data
See click analytics for rankings, impressions, CTRs, and more. Find which keywords are driving traffic and optimize pages targeting those terms.
Diagnostics reveal critical issues such as duplicate content, slow speeds, and mobile errors. The suggestions help improve website health.
Fetch as Baidu
This tool shows how Baidu bots render your page. Confirm your site is mobile responsive without crawling errors.
Baidu PPC Ads – Baidu Zhanzhang
In addition to SEO, advertising on Baidu can be tremendously effective for certain businesses. Here is an overview of Baidu PPC ads:
- Baidu PPC platform enabling text, image, video, and app install ads. Similar to Google Ads.
- Ads displayed in results above organic listings and on Baidu partner sites.
- Pricing is on a cost-per-click (CPC) bidding model based on competition.
- Immediate visibility and traffic source.
- Precise targeting options by keyword, location, dayparting, device, etc.
- Retargeting opportunities to engage previous site visitors.
- Powerful conversion tracking for measuring ROI.
- Often takes big budgets to see significant traffic.
- Competitive keywords can get very expensive.
- Complex setup and optimization expertise needed.
- Restricted for certain regulated industries.
- Start small and test different keywords, match types, placements, etc.
- Target longer tail keywords with lower competition.
- Use negative keywords to reduce irrelevant clicks.
- Create ad variations to A/B test performance.
- Retarget visitors who didn’t convert to capture more sales.
Baidu SEO FAQ:
How long does it take to see Baidu ranking improvements?
It typically takes 6-12 months for major ranking gains in Baidu. You need to accumulate trust signals and links over an extended period. Smaller site optimizations can improve ranks within 1-2 months.
Do I need a Baidu webmaster account?
Yes, Baidu Webmaster Tools provides important data and tools to identify issues and improve website health. Verify ownership and submit sitemaps.
How important are backlinks for Baidu?
Extremely important. Authoritative backlinks from quality Chinese sites are essential for ranking well. This is the biggest differentiator from on-page factors.
What is the best way to find keywords for Baidu?
Use Baidu Index and keyword tools like SEMrush and Ahrefs to research keywords with high local search volume and minimal competition. Translation tools can help with Chinese keywords.
Should I use a Chinese domain extension like .cn?
A Chinese domain can help establish locality and improve trust for Baidu. But global sites with .com or other extensions can still rank well with the proper optimization.
How can I track my Baidu rankings?
Register Baidu Webmaster Tools, which provides keyword ranking data. You can also manually check rankings using a Chinese proxy or virtual location. Paid tools like Ahrefs and SEMrush track Baidu rankings.
Optimizing for Baidu search requires an entirely different focus compared to Google SEO. By mastering Baidu’s core ranking factors, implementing advanced on-page and off-page tactics, setting up webmaster tools, and strategically using PPC ads, businesses can drive tremendous organic and paid traffic from this dominant search engine.
With China being such a major digital market, strong Baidu SEO is crucial for reaching Chinese searchers and gaining an advantage over local competitors. While challenging, with consistent effort and the right localization approach, international sites can absolutely build a presence and gain exposure in Baidu.