Baidu is the name of the most popular regional search engine in China. It is a search engine specifically for Chinese websites. The process of search engine optimization (SEO) is somewhat similar to general search engines like Google in that content, links, and keywords are important but there are some additional considerations that must be made when optimizing for this engine.
Baidu is a Chinese language search engine. Therefore, if you are trying to get your English website listed in Baidu, you’ll have to get it translated. Consider also that those using Baidu are Chinese and will not be performing searches in English anyways. Having your website converted to any of the Chinese dialects (i.e., Mandarin) requires using a human translator who is a native speaker in the target language. Never trust machine translation software to this job because it is impossible for it to convert the pages into grammatically correct target language.
Baidu prefers sites that are hosted in China. So, you’ll have to obtain hosting space there. Recommendations are to search for hosting and domain services in Hong Kong where web matters are relatively more open than with the mainland. Needless to say, the domain name of the candidate website should end with .cn. or .com.cn. Always make sure you submit your site when doing SEO for Baidu. They have a site submission page just as other major search engines.
Baidu doesn’t allow every kind of website. Don’t even mention the subject of pornography and make no criticisms of the established Chinese government. Baidu practices censorship in these areas. Therefore, the content in your website must be carefully edited to make sure there is no mention of these subject areas.
Keyword densities apply to Baidu just like the general search engines. However the keywords and surrounding content must be in Chinese. Recommendations are that the keyword density should be between 6 and 10% within the content. Keyword trends can also be checked from the Baidu index page. Keyword content should be fresh just as it should be with Google and other search engines. Fresh content indicates that the website is active which gives an indication of relevance.
The quantity of backlinks has more importance than the quality. The opposite is the case with Google. Basically, the more backlinks you get from wherever, the better. Underlying anchor text within the links is important as well and should, of course, be in Chinese. The downside to Baidu’s policy of “everything goes” for links is that there is the potential for link spamming similar to what black hat SEO experts implement. Also, ALT text for images is important just as it is with Google.
Baidu can use Pin-yin for searches. Pin-yin refers to the process of spelling Chinese words in Roman characters phonetically. The process converts the standard Mandarin dialect of the Chinese language into Roman characters that English-speaking people know. The problem is that Baidu does not recognize Pin-yin for keywords. You should also not write web content in Pin-yin because the Baidu indexing robots will not recognize it.
The search engine has a pay-per-click (PPC) program. Part of PPC is getting the right keywords to target and Baidu has a tool for keyword suggestions. This tool is for paid search account holders.
Meta data is very important to Baidu. With Google, meta data is not so important these days but it is still very much so with the Chinese search engine. This includes the title, description, and keywords meta tags. However be aware that they must also be written in Chinese.
In summary, keep in mind that Baidu is not Google. Baidu is used by a significantly different group of users who are still relatively new to the internet. But, if you are doing business with Chinese consumers as your target market, you will definitely have to include this search engine in your SEO strategy and search engine marketing (SEM) campaigns.