5 Baidu SEO Points

Baidu SEO is becoming more important for many website owners as China is becoming a big target market. However, not many websites are getting the Baidu SEO right. Largely, this is due to the fact that their SEO work is highly focused on Google search engine. In general, Google search engine is much more accepting and flexible about the coding and even some of the errors that websites may have. It does extra work to crawl and index the web content for you. As the website design becomes advanced, Google’s crawl-ability and indexability also adjusted to those new ways of designing and coding. However, other engines such as Baidu, are not quite there, yet. And, that creates a huge challenge for the website owners.

Below, I’m busting 5 common myth about Baidu SEO so that you can optimize your website effectively without wasting time and money for something not as important.

Myth 1. You Need ccTLD

It is one of the Baidu SEO best practice to have the ccTLD for your Chinese website. However, you do not have to have a ccTLD to be indexed and rank well in Baidu. Yes, you may need to work a bit harder to make it rank, but it’s not a requirement for Baidu’s crawler to crawl, index, and rank high in the search results.

Instead, what you do need is the ICP license number for your Chinese website. This license is issued by the Chinese Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT). You need to post the license number of your Chinese webpages.

Myth 2. Baidu Ignores Robots.txt File

Baidu actually honors the robots.txt file… as long as it is written correctly. If you feel that Baidu is not following the instructions on your robots.txt file, it’s likely that your file has errors. One of the big reasons for people to have believed that Baidu doesn’t care about the robots.txt file is that Google used to take invalid commands such as “nofollow” on the robots.txt file. Now that Google no longer accepts this command, hopefully, more websites will have a correct robots.txt file.

Myth 3. Baidu Crawler is Slow

Baidu crawler is not slow. In fact, it crawls sites quite frequently. It hits a site so often, I know some websites that China is not their primary target market actually block Baidu bot. If you feel that Baidu doesn’t crawl your website often enough, you can try a couple of things.

First, set up a Baidu webmaster tool, and submit the XML sitemap files with Chinese webpage URLs that you want it to find.

Then, monitor and improve the errors and other information show up in the webmaster tool.

Note that Baidu bot may not re-index the content on a webpage 100% every time especially if the content change is at the below the fold area. This may be another reason why people may think it doesn’ crawl and reindex the content quickly. Re-submit the XML sitemap files and/or change above the fold content.

Myth 4. You Have to Pay to Rank

In addition to the paid ads, Baidu does include some of Baidu’s own content in the search results. However, it’s not any more than how Google injects its own content in the search results, especially now that Google is adding more content to keep search users on their site.

The fact is that Baidu offers organic listing opportunities big enough for website owners to invest in the Baidu SEO. All of my client’s websites have the majority of traffic to their China sites from Baidu’s organic search results.

Myth 5. You Must Use Meta Keywords

Up until several years ago, you could rank well just by adding keywords in the Meta Keywords field and Meta Description field, but that has changed. Baidu does still see meta keywords and meta description fields, and take that into the ranking factor. However, the value of these areas have become so small, you can now rank well even if your meta keyword and meta description fields are left empty.

Baidu now focuses more on the body text and usabilities such as download speed. In a way, it’s becoming similar to how Google ranks pages. Prioritize the content optimization higher than the meta fields for your China site, too.

Bonus Point

Baidu is not good at crawling JavaScript. If your website navigation and content depends on JS, Baidu won’t see them. The same with the AJAX, Angular, React, etc. Now that Google is getting really good at crawling JavaScript, perhaps this creates the biggest challenge for a website that uses the same design/template for all country/language sites.