Baidu is China's biggest search engine, commanding an impressive 64% market share, compared to Google's 31%. And with China replacing the US as the world's single largest growing economy (Enquiro, 2007), it is definitely a force that cannot be ignored for global search engine marketers. Yet as I was researching SEO for Baidu, it became apparent that there wasn't a whole lot of information available, at least in English, on how to rank well naturally for it.
To follow, is a brief summary of what I was able to find so far, starting with the basics. I'll continue to add to this post as I find out more.
Use a .cn Domain
Baidu seems to favor websites which use a Chinese domain (.cn). This is understandable since Baidu is a Chinese search engine, for the Chinese people.
Use Chinese Language Content
In Baidu, very few searches are conducted in English. Therefore, it is important to translate your content into local language (ie: Simplified Chinese) in order to stand any chance of ranking well.
Avoid Certain Types of Content
Since content is controlled by the Chinese Government, Baidu is very sensitive to certain types of information. For example, adult content or other Government "forbidden keywords" are censored from search results. Using such words will not only negatively impact your pages, but potentially blacklist your entire web site.
Optimize on Page Content
Optimize your Heading, Anchor Text, Body Copy, and Meta Descriptions, just as you would for Google (see the HABIT SEO Checklist for tips). Unlike Google, Baidu continues to make use of Meta Keywords as a factor of rank, though it seems to be placing a little less emphasis on this recently.
Where links are concerned, Baidu takes into account links from both external sources as well as links from within your own site. Quantity is more important than quality. More recently though, they seem to be following in the footsteps of Google and placing more emphasis on external links.
When doing Keyword Research, Baidu has a Baidu Index tool that can provide you with estimate search numbers, similar to the Google Keyword Tool. The catch is that interface is in Simplified Chinese, but Google Translate can help non-speakers to some extent.
Additional Useful Resources
- Chinese Search Engine Engagement (Enquiro, 2007)
- 2009: A Battle Ground in Chinese Search (Digital East Asia, 2010)
- Google Says No to China (SearchEngine Land, 2010)
--- Update 15-Feb-2010 ---
Use a Chinese IP Address
Websites that are hosted in China are prefered by Baidu, and will significantly improve your rank.
Refresh Your Content
As with Google, keep your content fresh and updated, since Baidu favors newer content over old.
Aim for 6-12% Keyword Density
Keyword density is still seen as an important ranking factor by Baidu to determine page relevancy.
Keep Your Page Sizes Down
Due to poor connectivity, Baidu’s crawlers will often crawl only the first 100-120k of a page. So keep your page sizes down, with the most important content and keywords toward the top of the page.
Don't Forget About Alt Tags
Remember to use your keyword in the image alt tag. As with Google, Baidu also uses this information to determine the relevancy of a page.