Key Aspects of Baidu SEO

Aug 14, 2023

Baidu is China's leading search engine. Generally, it follows the same rules as Google, but some key differences need to be observed in order to rank well.

Understanding Baidu's role

Unlike Google, which operates globally, Baidu focuses solely on delivering Chinese language search results to Chinese users.

Recognizing this distinction provides essential context for effective Baidu optimization strategies.

Chinese language first

Ideally, companies should maintain a single website for China, alongside international sites:

  • China-hosted site with Chinese language only
  • international site with English and/or other languages

If this is not possible, a dual-language structure with Chinese in the root directory is the next best alternative:

  • China language version
  • English language version

Placing Chinese content behind a subdirectory such as /zh/, though acceptable for Google, should be avoided with Baidu.

Host in Mainland China

Hosting within mainland China directly signals to Baidu that the site targets Chinese users. This choice also correlates with faster loading times and regulatory compliance.

Ranking from outside mainland China is feasible, but challenging in competitive industries.

Build backlinks in China

Building backlinks is a key part of any SEO strategy β€” but Baidu specifically looks for backlinks from other China-hosted websites, so additional efforts are required.

It is a common oversight to launch a China-targeted website, only to neglect it in global marketing and link-building activities.

Use Baidu Webmaster Tools

Comparable to Google Search Console, Baidu offers its own set of tools for similar purposes:

  • submitting sitemaps
  • checking indexing status
  • receiving notification of crawl and other errors

Provided in Chinese language only, these tools provide a direct interface to Baidu and its data specifically for your website.

Avoid Unethical Practices

Baidu penalizes tactics aimed at manipulating search rankings, as outlined in its guidelines, such as:

  • using hidden or transparent text for links
  • copy/pasting blog articles from competitor sites
  • creating secret "SEO only" islands of content

Remaining vigilant against such strategies is essential for avoiding penalties and maintaining search visibility.

Follow Other General Rules of SEO

Key principles still apply, such as:

  • making sure your site loads reliably and quickly
  • making the website layout responsive (mobile-friendly)
  • providing a steady stream of fresh content
  • ensuring the content is related to user search queries

Understand that Baidu is not Google

Baidu's reputation differs from Google's due to past controversies.

As such, Chinese users are somewhat more likely to turn to other channels when seeking information.

China websites may receive relatively less organic search traffic, and more from social, referral, and direct visits.