When you run your own business, knowing the ins and outs of search engine optimization (SEO) isn’t just a good idea. It’s an absolute must.
Because at the end of the day, you can have the best products and the most compelling content on the entire internet, but it won’t make a difference if no one can find it.
An airtight SEO campaign is your ticket to the type of visibility you need to get ahead.
But it’s important to understand that not all search engines are created equally.
In the United States, Google is still the undisputed search king with over 91 percent of the overall market share. But in China, it’s all about Baidu.
However, while the average American hasn’t even heard of Baidu, it’s the second-largest search engine in the world.
That makes it very relevant to online marketing professionals, and understanding the similarities and differences between the two is critical.
Let’s go over what you need to know about Baidu vs Google.
How Does Google SEO Work?
If you’re focused on dominating the world market, then Google is the name to beat when it comes to the search engine game.
It’s quite literally a household name to the point where its name is synonymous with the very act of searching itself.
After all, who hasn’t mentioned Googling something in casual conversation at this point?
Master the fine art of ranking on Google, and it’s just a matter of time before you’ve got your target demographic eating out of your hand.
Here’s a quick rundown of the principles of good Google SEO technique:
- Unique, high-value content that stands apart from everything else out there.
- Skillful, thorough use of relevant keywords that don’t cross the line into keyword abuse or stuffing.
- High-quality links that are not only relevant to the content but support it.
- Fast, user-friendly, organized websites and blogs.
- Timely updates to your website, as well as the frequent addition of fresh, new content.
How Does Baidu SEO Work?
Baidu is known in marketing circles as the Chinese Google, and it’s not hard to see why. It mirrors the search engine the rest of us know so well in so many ways.
Not only is it the go-to search solution in China, but it has the internet covered in a variety of other ways, as well. (Think Google-like offerings like pay-per-click advertising, geo-targeting, and dedicated services for music or video.)
The ability to rank on Baidu is something serious marketers worldwide are becoming increasingly interested in, but Baidu is very different from Google when it comes to SEO.
Here’s a peek at what it takes to rank well on there:
- Content written in the right language, as Baidu favors Chinese to an extensive degree.
- No content that could qualify as censored material, including seemingly innocent words with political significance in Chinese culture.
- Meeting specific certification requirements, as well as having a website optimized with Chinese users in mind.
- If possible, a website domain hosted in China.
- Full mobile compatibility, as most Chinese users do their web searching via mobile devices.
- The ability to capture the attention of Chinese internet users and keep them on your website for extended periods.
What Does It Take to Rank on Google and Baidu?
While there are similarities between Google and Baidu, especially regarding their comprehensive natures and overall reach, they are two very different search engines.
They’re each designed to cater to very different cultures, as well, so you’ll need to tweak your SEO strategy so that it works for both.
Pay attention to your metadata
Metadata is essential on Baidu, just as it is with Google, so be sure yours is fully optimized for relevant keywords.
And be aware that metadata is even more critical when it comes to images.
Google’s image AI is pretty advanced, but Baidu’s doesn’t quite live up to that standard yet. It relies heavily on image metadata and alt text, so you need to master these to rank well in image searches.
Make sure your site is easy to crawl
For this reason, you’ll need to use good, old-fashioned HTML to present your most important content, links, and web features.
This goes for both the mobile and standard desktop versions of your website. In addition, good marketing and PR help immensely with getting your site crawled and indexed by Baidu.
Emphasize mobile navigability
The evolution (and overall accessibility) of the internet happened a lot more slowly in China than it did in other parts of the world, so by the time it really hit its stride, so had mobile technology.
For that reason, Chinese internet users are exceptionally comfortable accessing the web via their phones.
Full mobile compatibility is a must, as is the use of popular mobile-friendly payment options like Google Pay and Apple Pay.
Understand the role of social media
Social media plays a vital marketing role in Baidu SEO, just as it does with Google, but there are different platforms to get to know.
WeChat and Sina Weibo are prevalent networks in China, but Baidu-owned platforms (like Zhihu, Tieba, and Douban) should be on your radar, as well.
Establish presences on these platforms with a strong focus on frequent updates consisting of original content and building a large follower base.
Getting verified is a very good idea on these social networks, as well.
Baidu vs Google: Crucial SEO Differences Between the Two
If you’re serious about making Baidu a big part of your digital marketing plan going forward, you’ll want to develop a complete understanding of how the two do things differently when it comes to SEO and assigning rankings to a particular site.
The following are among the most crucial points to remember.
1. Focus and Demographic
If you ever feel like Google dominates what practically amounts to the whole world, know that that’s no accident.
Google is all about cornering the worldwide market. Baidu, on the other hand, is really only focused on China.
It currently has over 70 percent of the Chinese market, so it’s a must-know for marketers looking to expand into Chinese demographics.
2. Favored Language and Cultural Demographic
Since Baidu caters primarily to the needs of Chinese users, it should make sense that they also strongly favor websites and content in Mandarin Chinese.
Baidu SEO technique not only requires a grasp of Chinese but a thorough understanding of the simplified Chinese characters it prefers. (Automated translations are a definite no-no.)
Baidu will also favor Chinese websites, products, and services, while Google is relatively impartial about how it displays search results.
Baidu is especially partial to its own sites, such as Baidu Wiki, Baidu Library, and Baidu Knows. It also prioritizes websites hosted in China or Hong Kong.
3. Search Layouts
You may be familiar with the relatively straightforward way Google ranks its paid search results, as well as with the fact that paid results predictably appear together in blocks at the top or bottom of each SERP.
Baidu tends to mix its paid results right in with everything else, but they do allow individual brands to pay for a spot at the very top. (This is known as the Baidu Brand Zone.)
Paid ads are also considered more important than organic results.
4. Link Building Strategy
Both Google and Baidu consider backlinks to be essential when it comes to SEO.
Both also consider both the quality of a site’s links, as well as how many it has to its credit.
However, Baidu has an approach that differs in the following ways:
- Measuring link relevance against both variety and quantity.
- Heavy emphasis on anchor text, especially regarding the variety.
- High priority placed on Chinese backlinks.
- Preference for links on high-level pages over deeper pages, especially those with lots of content.
5. Preferred Content Types
Many digital marketers in the Western world believe Google favors content on topics like tech.
However, Baidu tends to prefer other subjects. Examples include lifestyle, travel, music, games, and entertainment.
For best results, consider these preferences when putting together a Baidu-focused SEO strategy.
6. ICP Licenses
Anyone who knows what they’re doing can purchase a domain and set up a website that gets indexed and ranked by Google.
However, you will need to obtain an Internet Content Provider (ICP) license from the Chinese government before you can activate a Chinese domain you may have purchased.
To accomplish this, you will also need either a registered Chinese business or another recognized foreign business license.
An ICP license is also required to run paid business ads through Baidu.
7. Censorship Concerns
Unless you’re talking about content that’s completely illegal, Google doesn’t censor much when it comes to its search results.
On the other hand, Baidu adheres stringently to the Chinese government’s censorship rules, so it will only index sites that do the same.
That said, you’ll need to make sure your website steers clear of pornography, gambling content, or anything that disagrees with Chinese government views.
You will also need to learn and avoid a running list of specific prohibited Chinese characters and words.
Wrap Up: Craft an SEO Strategy That Gets You Ahead
Now that you know about Baidu vs Google (and what it really takes to rank not only on Google but on the second most important key player in the search engine game), it’s time to take the next step.
Our comprehensive search engine optimization guide helps you fortify your strategy effectively and take it to the next level, whether you’re starting a new campaign or revamping an old one.
Get your copy today!