Haven’t heard of Baidu?
We don’t blame you. Unless you’re a Chinese citizen or a really, really committed marketer who is constantly researching every last detail about the digital marketing landscape, you are unlikely to have heard of the site.
Baidu is a Chinese “web services company” that offers nearly 60 services. One of its most popular services is a Chinese search engine that indexes websites, images, and audio files. The company has been around since 2000, but it hasn’t gained much traction with people outside China or the immediate region.
Here are a few reasons why you should start investing in Baidu SEO for your brand now:
Crawl Speed Has Increased
China is a major economic player, and Baidu is moving to become a leader in search, as well.
One way it is doing that is by increasing its index speed. With the release of its Spider 3.0 last year, Baidu increased its crawl speed by 80 percent, allowing it to index trillions of websites as they are being updated. Baidu is planning another project, called Divine Domain, which it will launch later this year and which will increase crawl time further.
In addition, Baidu is requiring that its top sites have fast load times. For every half-second that a page takes to load, it loses 3 percent of user visits. If you want to rank on Baidu, you need to make sure that your site is loading as quickly as possible.
Mobile Pages are Emphasized
Like Google, Baidu has recognized the importance of mobile users and has emphasized mobile pages.
Also like Google, Baidu has its own mobile pages project, known as Mobile Instant Page, or MIP.
The sites that have implemented MIP have experienced an increase in landing page clicks from 5 percent to 30 percent. MIP reduces load time anywhere from 30 percent to 80 percent, so users get the content faster and are more likely to click through.
If you are already using Google’s Accelerated Mobile Pages, or AMP, adding MIP won’t be too difficult. The coding is pretty much the same, so you wouldn’t have to do much to get a page on both systems. You would get a lot more traffic without a lot more effort.
You will also have more opportunity to stand out on MIP since there are relatively few sites currently using the platform. You can take advantage of a huge mobile audience in China, which has a rapidly growing mobile user base.
MIP also offers a bit more support than Google does, including flashy themes, an online validator, and an expansive developer environment. Baidu also highlights MIP results with a flashing icon, helping to draw more attention to these pages.
Google Isn’t Big in China
Google has been backing away from service in China for the past 10 years because of regulations in the country.
That means that you can’t reach much of an audience in the country if you aren’t using Baidu. The only presence Google has in China is with Google Maps and Google Translate.
Even before Google started pulling out of the country, Baidu was still the dominant search engine. Bing is in China, but it hasn’t come close to being a competitor for Baidu. If you want to reach an audience there, you will need to have a presence on Baidu.
China currently has a population of 1.357 billion. By comparison, the United States has a population of only 316.5 million. If you want to help your online business take off, you would be wise to find ways to get more buyers from China.
Security is a Big Focus
China has had a lot of problems with its reputation for online regulations. In some ways, it is much more restrictive. In other ways, it isn’t restrictive enough to keep out spam.
Baidu is trying to change that – at least in cracking down on spam.
Baidu has instituted a number of algorithm changes, just like Google’s Panda and Penguin. Its changes are called things like “Pomegranate” and “Ice Bucket,” and they penalize sites for things like excessive ads, link spam, app gates, malware, directories, and other types of spam.
You can be sure that when you optimize for Baidu, you won’t be competing with a bunch of black hat sites that pump everything into getting all the clicks they can. You can compete more easily, and you can get better quality traffic.
China is growing in importance on the world stage, and that means that its Internet is, too. You are leaving behind a huge potential audience if you are not optimizing your site to target Chinese citizens. Start investing more money into optimizing your site for Baidu, and you’ll soon start getting much bigger numbers in terms of traffic, conversions, and sales.