Archive for April, 2021

Baidu Search Engine Optimization (SEO): How to Optimize Your Website for Baidu

Sunday, April 18th, 2021

Google and Bing aren’t the only search engines for which you can optimize your website to rank. Depending on your website’s audience, you may want to target Baidu as well. Research by StatCounter shows that nearly four-fifths of all online searches performed in China are processed by Baidu.

Founded January 1, 2000, Baidu is China’s most popular search engine. It’s become known, in fact, as China’s Google. But like Google, Baidu isn’t bound to its country of origins. Chinese-speaking users from across the world, including the United States, can access Baidu to perform online searches. Targeting Baidu in your organic search engine optimization (SEO) strategy will allow you to draw these users to your website.

Existing Website vs Separate Version

To rank on Baidu, you have one of two options: you can either optimize your existing website for the Beijing-based search engine, or you can build a separate version of your site. Most webmasters typically prefer the latter method. If you optimize your existing website for Baidu, you’ll forfeit English-speaking traffic. Building a separate version of your website, on the other hand, ensures that both English-speaking and Chinese-speaking users can access it.

Consider a .cn Domain

Whether you intend to optimize your existing website for Baidu or build a separate site, you may want to consider a .cn domain. It’s a country code top-level domain (ccTLD) that’s designed for Chinese websites. You can either move your existing website to a .cn domain, or you can build a separate site on a .cn domain.

Baidu ranks websites with all types of domains, but it favors those with a .cn domain. Most high-ranking websites on Baidu have a Chinese-designated domain name. Keep in mind that .cn domains have stricter requirements than generic top-level domains (gTLDs). You’ll have to verify your identity, for instance, by providing the registrar with a copy of your driver’s license or passport. You don’t have to live in or operate your website in China, but you will need to verify your identity to activate a .cn domain.

Write Content in Simplified Chinese

Your website won’t rank high — or possibly at all — on Baidu unless it’s written in Chinese. For an effective Baidu SEO strategy, you should write content for your website in Simplified Chinese. Simplified Chinese is a modern variant of the Traditional Chinese language that’s spoken in mainland China.

Baidu is only available in Simplified Chinese. There’s no option for users to switch to a different language. With Simplified Chinese being Baidu’s default and exclusive language, you should use it when writing your website’s content.

Avoid JavaScript and Flash

For higher Baidu rankings, avoid using interactive scripting languages like JavaScript and Flash for your website’s content. While most websites no longer use Flash-based content, many of them do use JavaScript-based content. Baidu, however, will ignore content created in these scripting languages.

You can still create Flash- or JavaScript-based content, but it won’t earn your website any recognition from Baidu. When Baidu crawls your website, it will pass over the interactive content. The Flash- or JavaScript-based content won’t affect your website’s Baidu rankings.

Don’t Forget Alt Tags

When adding images to your website, remember to use alt tags. Most search engines analyze alt tags when crawling images, and Baidu is no exception. When compared to Google, though, Baidu relies more heavily on alt tags to process images for ranking purposes.

Alt tags are pieces of Hypertext Markup Language (HTML) code that provide a text-formatted description of a published image. When Baidu encounters an image on your website, it will read the alt tag. Baidu may then increase your website’s rankings for keywords used in the image’s alt tag, especially if they are relevant to the rest of your site’s content.

Promote on Chinese Social Media Networks

Social media promotion can help your website secure better Baidu rankings, but you’ll need to choose the right social networks on which to promote your site. Most of the top U.S. social networks are blocked in China. Therefore, promoting your website on Facebook and Twitter won’t lead to higher Baidu rankings. You’ll need to promote it on Chinese social media networks for maximum SEO effect. Doing so will send positive signals to Baidu that drive higher rankings.

Some of the most popular Chinese social media networks include:
• WeChat
• Weibo
• Tencent QQ
• Zhihu
• Sina Weibo

Build Authoritative Backlinks

Baidu uses backlinks in its ranking algorithm. It will analyze how many backlinks your website as well as the authority of its linking domains. Authority refers to the perceived credibility and trustworthiness of another website. Building backlinks from these authoritative sites will usually result in higher Baidu rankings.

It’s a little-known fact that Google’s PageRank algorithm was based on the work of Baidu’s founder. In 1996, Baidu founder Robin Lin developed a backlink-based scoring system for websites. When Google filed a patent for its backlink-based scoring system, PageRank, it cited Li’s work. Today, Baidu continues to rank websites based on their backlinks.

Sign Up for Baidu Webmaster Tools

Baidu offers a suite of online analytics tools that you can use to further refine your Baidu SEO strategy. Known as Baidu Webmaster Tools, it contains many of the same features as Google Search Console. You can use Baidu Webmaster Tools to track your website’s rankings, impressions and click-through rates (CTRs). It also offers tools for finding broken links, validating robots.txt files, conducting security audits and more.

The downside to using Baidu Webmaster Tools is that it’s only available in Chinese. You can use a browser-based translator to convert the interface to English, but no translator is perfect. Nonetheless, if you’re proficient in the Chinese language, or if you a Chinese-speaking business partner, you can sign up for Baidu Webmaster Tools.

Optimizing your website for Baidu isn’t much different than optimizing it for Google or Bing. You’ll need to create engaging content while also building backlinks and promoting your website on social media. Just remember to tailor your website towards a Chinese-speaking audience.

What Are Vertical Search Engines and How Do You Rank for Them?

Saturday, April 17th, 2021

Many webmasters use a linear search engine optimization (SEO) strategy that revolves entirely around Google. They realize that Google receives more search traffic than all other search engines, so they optimize their websites to rank for it. While you can always target Google in your SEO strategy, however, you may want to target vertical search engines as well. Ranking in vertical search engines will allow you to capitalize on highly relevant search traffic that drives success for your business.

Overview of Vertical Search Engines

Vertical search engines are those that return results for a specific type of digital content. Unlike standard search engines, they don’t return generic web page listings. Rather, vertical search engines return other types of digital content. They receive their namesake by focusing on a vertical, which is a specific type of digital content.

There are vertical search engines for video content, for instance, and there are vertical search engines for image content. YouTube and Vimeo return video results for searches, whereas Google Images and Picsearch return image results for searches. They are all considered vertical search engines because they focus on a vertical.

Other vertical search engines return results for products. Products are a type of digital content. PriceGrabber, Bizrate, Google Shopping, Amazon and eBay are product-based vertical search engines. Shoppers can use them to search for products to purchase. Of course, there are vertical search engines for specific types of products and services as well. Shoppers can use Zillow or Trulia to find homes for sale, and they can use KAYAK or Expedia to find hotel accommodations.

Benefits of Ranking for Vertical Search Engines

Ranking for vertical search engines offers several benefits. Vertical search engines typically deliver higher quality traffic than standard search engines. Users perform searches on vertical search engines to find a specific type of digital content. Therefore, vertical search engines automatically filter irrelevant and low-quality traffic. You’ll receive high-quality search traffic that’s relevant to your business if you rank for vertical search engines.

By targeting vertical search engines, you can rank other types of content besides your website’s pages. Most vertical search engines don’t return results for web pages; they return results for other types of digital content, such as videos and images. You can rank this content in vertical search engines so that it reaches additional users, some of whom wouldn’t otherwise find the content.

It might be the most popular, but Google isn’t the internet’s sole search engine. A study conducted by SparkToro found that nearly two in five U.S. searches are processed by a different search engine. According to SparkToro, Google Images accounts for over 22 percent of all U.S. searches, whereas YouTube accounts for over 4 percent of all U.S. searches. Ranking in vertical search engines will allow you to reach these users.

There’s also less competition for vertical search engines than standard search engines. Millions of people use vertical search engines to find specific types of digital content on the internet. Since vertical search engines have narrower results than standard search engines, though, there’s far less competition for them.

With their low competition and ability to reach additional users, vertical search engines can increase your business’s sales. You can rank products or services in vertical search engines. Shoppers who are looking for a product or service to buy may then come across your business’s listings, thus paving the way for new sales.

How to Rank for Vertical Search Engines

There are dozens of vertical search engines, many of which require different SEO processes. To rank for a vertical search engine, you must understand how it works. All search engines are powered by an algorithm, and vertical search engines are no exception. They evaluate various signals using an algorithm to determine which content listings are the most relevant to users’ search queries.

While there are nuances between vertical search engines’ algorithms, keywords are an important factor in all of them. Users must enter a search query when performing a search on a vertical search engine. Search engines will run the user’s search query through their algorithm to find the most relevant content listings for it. To rank a piece of content for a vertical search engine, you must optimize it for relevant keywords.

Some vertical search engines have ranking requirements. To rank a product on Google Shopping, for instance, you’ll have to create a Shopping campaign in Google Ads that includes the product in a merchant feed. To rank a product on Amazon, conversely, you’ll have to create a seller account, followed by listing the product for sale.

With that said, Google Shopping is a form of paid advertising, whereas Amazon is not. You can rank products higher on Google Shopping by raising your Shopping campaign bids. To rank products higher on Amazon, you’ll need to create long and detailed descriptions, earn positive customer feedback and generate a high conversion rate.

Depending on which vertical search engines you are trying to rank for, you may want to build backlinks. Most image-based search engines use backlinks to determine where images should rank in their results. If an image has a lot of backlinks, it will likely rank higher than images with few backlinks or no backlinks. Video-based search engines are a different story. YouTube doesn’t use backlinks for rankings. It relies more on engagement signals, such as likes and watch time, to determine where videos should rank in its results.

There’s no universal SEO strategy that works for all vertical search engines. Each vertical search engine has a different algorithm, and many of them have different requirements as well. You can still rank for vertical search engines; you just need to optimize your content around their respective signals while also following their requirements.

Vertical search engines are on the rise. They allow users to find specific types of content by entering a search query. By ranking for vertical search engines, you can reach more users with your business’s products or services while encountering less competition in the process.