Posts Tagged ‘website’

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.

How to Safeguard Your Website Against Manual Google Penalties in 2021

Friday, February 26th, 2021

There’s nothing worse than discovering that your website has been penalized by the world’s largest search engine. Google has been penalizing websites for decades. Some of these penalties are performed automatically via its algorithm, whereas others are performed manually.

Manual penalties are typically more destructive than their automated counterparts. Not only can they wipe out your website’s rankings; they can prevent your website from reclaiming its lost rankings. To successfully rank your website on Google in 2021, you must safeguard it from manual penalties.

An Introduction to Manual Penalties

Also known as a manual action, a manual penalty is a type of ranking penalty that’s imposed by a human worker. Google has a team of workers who visit and evaluate websites for violations of its guidelines. If a worker identifies a violation with your website, he or she may impose a manual penalty on it. According to Matt Cutts, Google imposes nearly a half-million manual penalties per month.

Manual penalties aren’t triggered by Google’s algorithm. While Google’s algorithm may flag websites for one or more potential violations, manual penalties are explicitly imposed by a human worker.

Learn the Causes

To safeguard your website against manual penalties, you must know what causes them. Google doesn’t impose manual penalties for poor or nonexistent search engine optimization (SEO). Rather, it imposes them for violations of its guidelines.

Available to view at developers.google.com/search/docs/advanced/guidelines/webmaster-guidelines, these guidelines reveal how webmasters should build and optimize their websites for Google’s search engine. It explains what practices are allowed and what practices are prohibited. Using a prohibited practice to build or optimize your website may result in a manual penalty.

Common causes of manual penalties include:

• Pure spam

• Unnatural links to your website

• Unnatural links from your website

• Thin content

• Misleading structured data

• Hacked or compromised website

• User-generated spam

• Cloaking

• Hidden text

• Mismatch between Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) and their canonical versions

• Keyword stuffing

Sign Up for Search Console

Signing up for Google Search Console can better protect your website against manual penalties. Search Console is a free analytics service that provides insight into your website’s rankings on Google. In Search Console, you’ll find a tab for manual penalties. Accessing this tab will reveal whether your website has received a manual penalty, and if so, the type of manual penalty or penalties from which it’s suffering.

Google uses Search Console to notify webmasters about manual penalties. All manual penalties come with a notification. If your website has been struck with a manual penalty, Google will notify you in Search Console.

Use a White-Hat SEO Strategy

Avoid using a black-hat SEO strategy. Instead, use a white-hat SEO strategy. Most manual penalties are caused by black-hat SEO practices. The most common cause of manual penalties, in fact, is pure spam. Pure spam, as defined by Google, encompasses several black-hat SEO practices, such as scraping content off the internet, automatically generating content and showing different content to search engines than visitors. If you use pure spam on your website, you will get punished by Google.

A white-hat SEO strategy doesn’t include prohibited SEO practices. It only includes SEO practices that are allowed under Google’s guidelines. Therefore, it won’t make your website a target for manual penalties. As long as your SEO strategy complies with Google’s guidelines, your website will remain safe and protected against manual penalties.

Don’t Forget Google News and Discover

Google may impose manual penalties for News- and Discover-optimized pages as well. If you’re trying to rank your website on Google News or Google Discover, you should visit Google’s help page on manual penalties at support.google.com/webmasters/answer/9044175. In February 2021, Google updated this help page to include a new section specifically for News- and Discover-optimized pages.

Google’s help page on manual penalties now has a tab for News and Discover violations. There are about a dozen violations listed under this tab. Failure to include dates and author bylines in articles, for example, can lead to a transparency violation. Google requires all News and Discover content to feature these transparency elements. Manipulated media is another violation that can prevent your website from ranking on Google News and Google Discover. Manipulated media refers to audio clips, videos or images that have been altered to deceive visitors.

Depending on the type of violation, your website may still rank in Google’s search results; it just won’t rank on Google News or Google Discover.

Fix Any Manual Penalties

If you find a manual penalty notification in Search Console, don’t panic. Manual penalties aren’t permanent. They’ll only remain active until you’ve corrected the violation or violations that caused them. Once you’ve made the necessary correction, you can ask Google to lift the manual penalty.

You can find out what caused a manual penalty in Search Console. The notification you receive should state the cause, such as pure spam or cloaking, and the pages of your website that are being affected. You’ll need to fix the violation on all affected pages. You can then go back to the Search Console notification and select the “Request Review” option.

When you ask Google to review your website, you should include some basic information about the steps you took to correct the violation or violations. For a pure spam penalty, you can explain that you deleted the spammy content on the affected pages and replaced it with original, high-quality content. For an unnatural links penalty, you can explain that you disavowed your website’s low-quality or otherwise unnatural backlinks.

It can take anywhere from a few days to several weeks for Google to review your website. If you’ve corrected the violation on all affected pages, though, Google should lift the manual penalty. Your website’s rankings will return, and you can improve them with on-page and off-page SEO.

Manual penalties are more than frustrating; they can cripple your website’s rankings, as well as its traffic, on the world’s largest search engine. Fortunately, manual penalties are preventable. You can prevent manual penalties by learning the causes, signing up for Search Console and using a white-hat SEO strategy.