What makes Baidu optimization so unique is that it comes with different rules due to heavy censorship by the Chinese government. Optimizing for Baidu entails creating high quality and quantity content, fulfilling Baidu-specific technical SEO requirements, building a massive volume of links, and conforming to Chinese censorship laws. All the tactics within this article are geared towards B2B (Business-to-Business) marketers, but the concepts can also be applied to the B2C (Business-to-Consumers) sector. Let’s explore the SEO requirements on Baidu Search to make your site better visibility and ranking.
No duplicate content:
Baidu penalizes websites more than most other search engines for duplicate content. Every piece of content on the site should be unique. It would also be good practice to check for other websites that have scraped your content on a regular basis and request for them to remove the scraped content. When developing the site, pay close attention to duplicate content issues with the site like canonical issues, taxonomies, etc.
All content and meta tags should be written in simplified Chinese characters. Baidu prefers simplified over traditional Chinese characters and does not like romanized characters.
In the Chinese language, there are multiple dialects and multiple meanings to a single word. One word could have 7 different meanings. All words in the content should be checked for relevance and other meanings to ensure the correct words are being used. From a marketer’s standpoint, this means you need to hire a native Chinese translator with very strong language skills and knowledge of the different dialects in China.
Baidu relies heavily upon content quality and quantity for achieving rankings. Every page on the site that you want to rank should have a minimum of 300 words of unique content.
Title Tags: Title tags should be written the same way you would for Google, but with a different character limit. With romanized characters, the title tag buffer limit is 70 characters. A simplified Chinese character is equal to two characters, so the buffer limit is 35 characters. When constructing the tag, use a keyword-rich phrase that’s descriptive of the page’s content, followed by a branded term.
Unlike Google and Bing, Baidu still uses meta descriptions as a ranking factor. Make sure each meta description has one or two keyword phrases along with a branded term. Also keep in mind that the meta description buffer limit for romanized characters is 156, so the limit for simplified Chinese characters would be 78.
Meta Keyword Tags:
Meta keywords may have been phased out by most other search engines, but Baidu still uses them as a ranking factor. They should be implemented on every page on the site and should include 3-5 keyword phrases. Avoid keyword stuffing.
Image ALT Attributes: Baidu’s algorithm for crawling images is still very basic. The ALT attribute is the most important ranking factor for images, so make sure they are used on every image.
Heading usage for Baidu is no different than any other major search engine. Make sure each page has an h1 tag that appears before any other heading tag. Also make sure your heading tags follow a hierarchy. Be sure to incorporate keywords into the heading tags, but avoid keyword stuffing.
Company blogs are an important element to have on a website. Blogs not only allow for more internal linking, they also show Baidu that the website is content-rich and updated frequently. Baidu also has a news feed for blogs, which can help drive in more organic traffic. Be sure to submit the blog to Baidu’s news feed.
Technical SEO Requirements
Robots.txt: Baidu does not like websites with a robots.txt file. If one currently exists, it should be removed. Any important rules that would normally be set up in the robots.txt file should be set in the .htaccess file or IIS server settings.
Sub-domains and Multiple Domains: Baidu dislikes websites that use sub-domains and multiple domains. Only one domain per site should be used. Other language versions of a site should be hosted off of a completely separate domain and should not be linked from the Chinese version. Sub-domains should not be used at all.
Site Speed: Site speed is a major ranking factor for Baidu. A site that loads slowly will have a much lower chance of ranking well. This further builds the case for hosting the site on a server in China, which will be explained later in this article.
iFrames: Do not use iFrames for any important content. Baidu is unable to spider any element of a page within an iFrame.
Quantity Counts. Baidu is a little different to other search engines in that it considers the number of backlinks pointing to your site an important ranking factor in determining your place on a SERP. This, of course, opens the door to link farming and all sorts of black-hat SEO techniques that fail on Google but still work – to a certain extent – on Baidu. However, engaging in these sorts of practices is something you’ll do at your own risk: Baidu is constantly improving and while the end is not yet nigh for this sort of thing, it is growing closer every day.
Quality Counts. The quality of the backlinks pointing to your site continues to grow in importance on Baidu. As the search engine evolves, this is expected to only become more important, too. Hence, building quality backlinks to your website is going to be a key to achieving and maintaining a ranking for the keywords that you’ve identified as important for your Chinese language business activities. Between quantity and quality, then, keep an eye on the future and go with the latter.