5 Ways SEO for Baidu Differs From SEO for Google

If you’ve optimised (or had someone else optimise) your website for Google, you might assume that the process of optimising your Chinese-language site for Baidu is going to be the same. It’s not. Although there’s a lot of crossover, the differences in how each search engine ranks websites are big enough to warrant using a company that specialises in China online marketing.


If you want to rank well in a regional search engine, for example Google France, having your website hosted in that country makes a difference. With Google this is only a small difference: Google is well aware that some countries (e.g. the US) dominate the web hosting market, while others (e.g. India) offer considerably cheaper hosting, leading website owners from all over the world to host their sites there.

With Baidu, however, having your website hosted in China makes a big difference to how well your website will show up in Baidu’s SERPs. Hosting your website in mainland China also helps with page load times, which is not only beneficial for Baidu SEO but optimising the user’s experience as well.

The only downside to hosting in China is that webpage load times can be slow for those accessing the site outside of China. This tends to be an issue with Chinese web hosts and not with Hong Kong web hosts, many of which are optimised for both Chinese and international traffic.

ICP Licence

Setting up a website and getting it indexed in Google is relatively straightforward. Although some domain names have restrictions, anyone can buy a .com or .net domain name, set up a website, and get it indexed in Google.

In China, all websites are supposed to have an Internet Content Provider (ICP) licence and in order to get an ICP licence you need a Chinese business licence. For international businesses this may seem complicated (and it can be) however your Chinese digital marketing agency will be able to explain the steps you should take in order to get both licences.


Although there are certain types of content that Google tries to avoid promoting (content that’s illegal, for example), for the most part, Google doesn’t censor its search results.

In China, however, censorship is a fact of life and something that internet marketers need to be aware of. The Chinese government censors certain websites and certain types of content and Baidu, as a Chinese company, works alongside the Chinese government, only indexing those that meet the government’s strict criteria.

Meta tags

When Google first started, getting your meta keyword tags in order could make a significant difference as to how well your webpage ranked. Gradually, however, Google grew to rely on meta keywords less and less and these days it doesn’t make a difference whether you have them on your webpage or not.

Baidu isn’t as advanced as Google and optimising meta tags (including meta keywords) can make a big difference. Even the meta description tag has a ranking benefit, so it’s worth including your primary keywords in here as well.

Unique content

Unique content is important to Google, although when Google recommends that your content is unique it usually refers to the content on your domain only – so the content on your about page should be different to the content on your homepage. Scraper sites (sites that copy the content on your site without your permission) were a problem when Google initially began to focus on unique content, however it’s now usually good at giving credit to the source document.

With Baidu, if your content gets scraped by another site, you may start to have duplicate content problems. If you notice your content appearing elsewhere on the web, it’s important to address these problems straight away.

Google and Baidu are completely different beasts. In order to succeed in Baidu, businesses need a marketing strategy that’s unique to Baidu and the Chinese market and, ideally, the help of a China online marketing agency that can guide them through it all. Why not contact us today?

(Image source: Image created by Stuart Miles | www.freedigitalphotos.net)