Baidu SEO Guide

How to do Baidu Mobile SEO in 2018? What are the differences between Baidu SEO and Google SEO?

I have written this guide to help beginners to understand the best practices of Baidu SEO. To optimize your websites for Baidu’s mobile users, make sure you go through the following items:

Baidu SEO Guide - Gordon Choi

Local Web Hosting

When your users are mainly from China, you should host your mobile website locally in China.

  • When your mobile website is hosted by one of the local hosts in China, then the site is assigned with a local China IP address (or several local China IP addresses). This makes it easier for Baidu to crawl your web pages, and preparing for indexation.

This principle also applies to Baidu mobile SEO.

  • When a user who resides in China requests your web page and the page’s resources through the web browser, the request only has to go through the local networks in China before your page and the page’s resources are returned to the user’s web browser.

Explanations on:

Your new Chinese website must have a domain name. You can host your Chinese website on a new top level domain (TLD).

www.example.cn

Alternatively, you may host your Chinese website on a sub-domain.

cn.example.com

Explanations on:

Mobile Website Strategies

When developing your website for both mobile and desktop screens, you must choose a strategy. The three most common mobile website strategies are:

Separate Mobile Website – You build two sites (i.e. two sets of codes), and maintain two sets of URLs.

Separate Mobile Website

Responsive Design – You build one site (i.e. one set of codes), and maintain one set of URLs.

Responsive Design

Dynamic Serving – You build two sites (i.e. two sets of codes), but maintain one set of URLs.

Dynamic Serving

Separate Mobile Website

The separate mobile website strategy is the most suitable option for Baidu SEO.

Usually the desktop version of your site is placed on the www sub-domain. For example:

www.example.cn
www.example.com

The mobile version of your site is placed on the m sub-domain:

m.example.cn
m.example.com

For example, on the desktop version of your home page you should include the following in the head section:

<meta name="applicable-device" content="pc">
<link rel="alternate" media="only screen and (max-width: 640px)" href="http://m.example.com">

On the mobile version of your homepage you should include the following in the head section:

<meta name="applicable-device" content="mobile">
<link rel="canonical" href="http://www.example.com">

More explanations on:

Crawlable Site Structure Optimization

A website should have a crawlable site structure which includes:

  • Build Website Hierarchy
  • Optimize Internet Linking
  • Avoid baiduspider Blocking Elements

The main reasons for creating the crawlable site structure are:

  • To make it easy for baiduspider (i.e. Baidu’s web crawler) to access your pages. For example, when baiduspider visits page-a, then on page-a it should have baiduspider friendly internal links allowing it to access page-b, page-c, etc.
  • The main content (e.g. text content, image content, etc) should be placed within plain html on your page. This allows baiduspider to easily retrieve the content. Baidu will analyze the retrieved content from your site and then rank your web pages against search queries (keywords).

Website Hierarchy

A website should be structured with multiple hierarchical levels. For example, an ecommerce site usually has at least 3 levels of pages:

  • Home page
  • Product list page
  • Product detailed page

This site structure is clear and makes it easy for Baidu to crawl all the pages.

Site Structure

Baidu Friendly URLs

The main objective of a search engine (and/or Baidu) friendly URL is to make it easy for the search engines (and/or Baidu) to crawl it.

URLs with Parameters – Avoid using URLs with multiple parameters, as Baidu usually has problems crawling them. Sometimes, you should avoid using URLs with even a single parameter. Below is an example where a URL contains multiple parameters.

www.example.com/?cityid=255&cid=17&pid=00380291

You can replace the above URL with one which doesn’t use parameters.

www.example.com/255/17-00380291/

Or replace it with an even better version (a more descriptive version).

www.example.com/beijing/fruits-oranges/

URLs with Chinese Characters – It is valid to have Chinese characters in a URL. But when a user pastes the URL onto the address bar of a web browser, the URL returns with many unreadable encoded characters which may sometimes cause problems to search engines. To make it easy for baiduspider, you should avoid using Chinese characters in URLs. You may replace the Chinese characters with Pinyin or the first letters of each Chinese character in Pinyin. Below are examples of a URL with Pinyin and a URL with the first letters of each Chinese characters in Pinyin, respectively.

www.example.com/kaiweidian/
www.example.com/kwd/

Internal Linking

Use the <a> tag whenever linking to your mobile website’s internal pages. This makes it much easier for Baidu to crawl and index your web pages.

For example, assume your mobile website is a grocery ecommerce store. When linking to the home page:

<a href="http://m.example.com/"></a>

When linking to the category page:

<a href="http://m.example.com/category-fruits"></a>

When linking to the sub-category page:

<a href="http://m.example.com/sub-category-oranges"></a>

When linking to the product page:

<a href="http://m.example.com/product-california-oranges-6-a-box"></a>

baiduspider Blocking Elements

Elements in your web pages which may block the baiduspider from crawling (and understanding) your pages’ content include:

Flash – baiduspider is unable to access the content inside flash. The best practice is to avoid using flash, and place the main content of your web page within plain HTML as text. If you have to provide the flash version, then also create the same content in plain HTML as text on the page for baiduspider to crawl.

iFrame – Baidu has problems understanding content which are placed inside iFrame. The best practice is avoid using iFrame on your site, and place the content within plain HTML.

HTTP Status Codes

The following may happen to many Chinese websites from time to time:

  • A site has some of the page URLs changed.
  • Some old pages may no longer exist on a website after they were being removed.
  • Some parts of a website need to go offline for a short period of time.
  • Some pages of a site with sensitive information should not show up on Baidu’s search results pages.

You can configure the appropriate HTTP status codes for each of your web pages. Search engines (including Baidu) will “treat” your pages (or URLs) according to the HTTP status codes you have configured. Consider the examples below.

301 – If you have changed a page’s URL from http://www.example.com/page-a/ to http://www.example.com/page-b/, make sure you configure a 301 redirect (or “Permanently Moved”) on page-a. From a user’s perspective, this change will allow the user visiting page-a being redirected to page-b. From search engine’s (or Baidu’s) perspective, the change tells Baidu the new page URL has been changed to page-b, and Baidu should crawl and index page-b.

403 – If you have sensitive information displayed on a page (e.g. http://www.example.com/clients-contact-numbers/) and the information should not be viewed by the public, then you also don’t want Baidu to index the page and display it in the search results. You can configure the page URL with 403 status code (i.e. “Forbidden”). With this “signal”, baiduspider may stop visiting (or crawling) the page, and Baidu may eventually remove the page URL from the index.

404 – If a page URL (e.g. http://www.example.com/page-removed/) no longer exists, it becomes a broken link on your site. If there is no replacement for this old page, then you should configure a 404 status code (i.e. “Not Found”) for page-removed. You should submit the page URL to the URL removal tool within your Baidu Zhanzhang’s (Webmaster) account. This action allows Baidu to understand the URL no longer exist and should be removed from Baidu’s index.

503 – When your site (or some page URLs) is/are temporarily unavailable for some reasons, you should configure a 503 status code (i.e. “Service Unavailable”). When Baidu sees the 503 status code, it won’t remove your page URLs from the index. However, you should not keep the 503 status code on your page URLs for over 3-5 days, or else Baidu is going to believe your site is down forever, and may remove your page URLs from the index.

Meta Tags

On every page, start with optimizing the two meta tags:

  • Page Title Tag
  • Meta Description

Page Title Tag – Baidu uses the page title of a page (URL) as a ranking factor. The page title is the first line of text which appears on Baidu’s search results pages when users search and Baidu happens to return a page from your site. With a page title which is highly relevant to users’ search queries (keywords), your page may get relatively high click through rate (CTR).

The best practices when writing page title are:

  • Start with the most important and relevant keyword in the page title. Follow with relevant supportive text.
  • Include a keyword which users actually search for.
  • A good page title should be limited to within 30 Chinese characters (or 60 alphanumeric characters including space).
  • Every page should have a unique page title which is not duplicated to any other page’s page titles on your site.
 <title>Keyword, Text - Brandname</title>

Meta Description – The meta description shows up on Baidu’s search results pages when users search and Baidu returns a page from your site. When your meta description matches what the users are looking for, the users may be highly likely to click on your page’s search results. Your page’s click through rate (CTR) on Baidu’s search results pages may well be improved.

The best practices when writing meta description are:

  • Avoid stuffing keywords in the meta description.
  • Include a keyword in the meta description when it is appropriate.
  • A good meta description should be limited to within 110 Chinese characters (or 220 alphanumeric characters including space).
  • Every page should have a unique meta description which is not duplicated to any other page’s meta description on your site.
 <meta name="description" content="Text which describes what this page is about."/>

Some or most of your pages on your site may show images (or photos). That’s when alt tag should be used.

Alt Tag – Baidu uses the alt tag to understand what an image is about.

The best practices for web pages which have included images (or photos) are:

  • Add a descriptive text in the alt tag. A keyword (that matches the image) should be included in the alt text.
  • Use a keyword in the image’s file name.
 <img src="http://www.example.com/image.png" alt="Image Keyword" />

Submit URLs to Baidu

Actively submitting your website’s URLs to Baidu is often the preferred option, if you want baiduspider to crawl your pages (especially for new pages / URLs). Different options are available for you to submit your site’s URLs to Baidu.

  • Create a XML sitemap and submit through your Baidu Zhanzhang (Webmaster) account.
  • Submit the URLs through Baidu Zhanzhang, by manually entering the URLs one by one.
  • Push your URL to Baidu (with pre-installed JavaScript) whenever a user visits your page.
  • Submit your site’s URLs using Baidu’s automatic submission script, and have your web pages actively pushed to Baidu.

Push URL to Baidu with Pre-installed JavaScript – Insert the following JavaScript into every web page on your site. When a user visits one of your pages, this JavaScript will push your page’s URL to Baidu.

<script>
(function(){
var bp = document.createElement('script');
var curProtocol = window.location.protocol.split(':')[0];
if (curProtocol === 'https'){
bp.src = 'https://zz.bdstatic.com/linksubmit/push.js';
}
else{
bp.src = 'http://push.zhanzhang.baidu.com/push.js';
}
var s = document.getElementsByTagName("script")[0];
s.parentNode.insertBefore(bp, s);
})();
</script>

Submit URL with Baidu’s Automatic Submission Script – The following script is for sites developed in PHP. Assume your site is www.example.com, and you have to actively pushing two pages (page-1 and page-2) to Baidu.

$urls = array(
'http://www.example.com/page-1.html',
'http://www.example.com/page-2.html',
);
$api = 'http://data.zz.baidu.com/urls?site=www.example.com&token=your-token';
$ch = curl_init();
$options = array(
CURLOPT_URL => $api,
CURLOPT_POST => true,
CURLOPT_RETURNTRANSFER => true,
CURLOPT_POSTFIELDS =>implode("\n", $urls),
CURLOPT_HTTPHEADER => array('Content-Type: text/plain'),
);
curl_setopt_array($ch, $options);
$result = curl_exec($ch);
echo $result;

Page Speed Optimization

A web page (or mobile website) which loads faster will usually allow Baidu to crawl faster and more pages. This will improve your mobile website’s indexation on Baidu.

The page speed optimization techniques below can be applied to your mobile websites (or web pages) to improve the overall loading speed.

DNS Lookups – Reducing the number of DNS lookups and enabling keep-alive will allow your mobile web pages to load faster. Each DNS lookup takes up certain amount of time before the web browser can start downloading the actual resource files of your mobile web pages. – Reducing DNS lookups

http Requests – Your mobile web page may request a resource (such as an image file or another web page) which does not exist on the requested server location. This causes bad http requests to happen. You should go through your entire site and fix all the broken links that may cause bad http requests. – Fixing bad http requests

Redirects – A redirect automatically takes your website users from one page to another. Your mobile website should avoid any redirect at all cost. Redirects can considerably slow down page load. – Avoid redirects

File Compression – File compression takes place when the web browser requests a page from your mobile website and your web server returns a compressed file. Enabling file compression will allow your pages to load faster. – Enabling file compression

Minification of JavaScript and CSS Files – When minifying JavaScript and CSS files, unnecessary characters will be removed from the files. This will reduce the file size, and will result in improving page load speed. – Minifying JavaScript and CSS files

External JavaScript Files – Your mobile web page should load faster when the web browser downloads fewer external JavaScript files. To achieve this, you can combine multiple JavaScript files into fewer files or even a single file. – Combining multiple external JavaScript files

External CSS Files – Your mobile web page should load faster when the web browser downloads fewer external CSS files. To achieve this, you can combine multiple CSS files into fewer files or even a single file. – Combining multiple external CSS files

Monitor Page Speed Data – You should run page speed tests on your mobile web pages. Monitor your pages’ loading speed each time significant changes are made to your pages. – Page speed test tools

Local SEO

For example, a classifieds site may have a local Shanghai section under which all the contents are only suitable for Shanghai.

http://shanghai.example.cn/
http://shanghai.example.cn/general/
http://shanghai.example.cn/properties/
http://shanghai.example.cn/renting/
http://shanghai.example.cn/second-hand-purchase/

To optimize for local search, add the geo-location meta tag to mobile web pages that are specific to certain locations.

<meta name="location" content="province=PP;city=CC;coord=XXX.XXX,YYY.YYY">

Note:

  • Replace PP with the actual province name in Chinese characters. The use of province is compulsory when using the geo-location meta tag.
  • Replace CC with the actual city name in Chinese characters. The use of city is compulsory when using the geo-location meta tag.
  • Replace XXX.XXX and YYY.YYY with the actual latitude and longitude respectively. The use of latitude and longitude is optional.

Webmaster and Analytics Tools

Setup the Baidu Zhanzhang tool (i.e. Baidu’s official webmaster tool) for your Chinese website. Refer to:

Setup Google Analytics for your Chinese website. Refer to:

Baidu versus Google

Indexing Websites

Google is able to include your new site (or new web pages) very quickly. Once Google has accessed and crawled your site’s new pages,  they may even appear in the Google’s search results within hours in the same day.

With Baidu, new sites (and/or new web pages) may take a lot longer (i.e. sometimes weeks, even months) before they are included in Baidu’s index, and show up in the search results.

You can check your site for inclusion with the site: command.

site:example.com
site:www.example.com

User Query Matching

Assume you have a small/medium Chinese ecommerce site which sells more than 1,000 different products.

With Google, when a user searches with a long tail keyword or a product name keyword (e.g. a product name with 8 Chinese characters), Google returns your site’s most relevant page in the search results – Which very often is the specific product’s page.

For the same keyword, Baidu very often returns the homepage of your website which is obviously not the most suitable page. This gives you an idea how Baidu struggles with understanding pages which are placed lower in the site structure hierarchy.

Responsive Design and Separate Mobile Website

Google prefers websites setting up with responsive design. With responsive design, your site being visited through either mobile or desktop should have a single domain:

www.example.com

Baidu prefers you set up a separate mobile website for users visiting through mobile devices. With the separate mobile website strategy, your mobile site may be visited through:

m.example.com

Your desktop site may be visited through a different domain:

www.example.com

Structure Data / Rich Snippets

Google supports the use of schema.org’s markup. You don’t have to actively submit structure data to Google. You include the structured data of your web pages according to the protocols defined by schema.org, and Google will crawl your page with the structure data.

Baidu doesn’t support schema.org markup. With Baidu, you have to manually submit the structured data through your Baidu Zhanzhang (Webmaster) account, or Baidu Open.

Baidu SEO Checklist

Baidu SEO checklist pdf download

I’ve put together a COMPLETE Checklist so you can follow the Baidu SEO best practices step by step.

You can always refer to this Baidu SEO Checklist before you launch your new Chinese website.

The China Mobile SEO Book

Have you mastered the Baidu SEO Guide & Baidu SEO Checklist?

Now it’s time to get into the advanced Baidu Search Engine Optimization!

My book has been recommended by over 20 Internet marketing/product experts!

China Mobile SEO by Gordon Choi

Want to Read My SEO Book?

FREE BONUS for Limited Time!

Get Excerpt of CHAPTER 1

SEO Strategies & Implementation

Copyright 2016-2018 www.chinamobileseo.com

12th Floor San Toi Building 137-139
Connaught Road Central Sheung Wan
Hong Kong