China and Google have been engages in an Internet guerilla war for years now and there is little hope for the search engine giant ever declaring a truce with the Chinese government. When Google withdrew from the Chinese market it blamed government interference and absurd, privacy violating demands as its main reasons from abandoning the Asian country but there are facts and figures that tell a different story. While Google was indeed forced to adopt some special measures to accommodate the Chinese Governments ‘Internet Harmonization’ policies its main reason for backing out of China was most likely its inability to find a suitable market niche for itself. Google is used to being ‘top dog’ and in China it was fighting for craps. Why? Because in China Baidu is king.
With a market share of over 84% Baidu is the primary search engine for Chinese users and with Chinese Internet usage having gone up by a staggering 1478% over the past ten years this should trigger an alarm bell in every SEO professional out there. Chinese Mandarin is now the second most used language on the Internet and on an upward trend, destined to overtake English in a decade or so. This kind of market cannot be ignored, especially with the SEO oversaturation of the English speaking part of the Internet and with Google policies making it increasingly difficult to alter search results. The Chinese market is still a mostly untapped one and because there is significantly less content in Chinese than in English, optimization for Baidu is considerably easier than for Google and ranking influence is significantly higher.
Your first order of business is to hire some native speakers to help you out with the translation. Language is a tricky thing and you need some native speakers with a strong command of English to make sure that you use the proper expressions and your Chinese isn’t the equivalent of the now infamous “Ingrish”. Fortunately you can find professionals on-line that work for considerably less than a native Chinese speaker in your own country. There is keyword analysis support for Baidu just as there is support for Google so make sure to take advantage of it
Secondly, you need to optimize your site for Chinese. As Baidu does not yet have the infrastructure of Google nor are its crawlers strong enough you need to prioritize key words and links in your titles and sub-titles. Baidu also attributes more importance to metatags and flyover text for pictures. Link-backs are also quite important in Baidu as you can easily boost your site to the top of search queries using moderate link-farming.
Every Search Engine optimization agency should take a good look at Baidu. With the rate Chinese net usage is advancing Baidu will get more and more popular and there will be more money in marketing in Chinese. And that’s a two billion user market that nobody should overlook.