How to Optimize Your Website for a Chinese Audience
Many webmasters have taken for granted the concept that much of the internet is featured in English. While English has remained the language of business, it is not the end-all, be-all communication method when it comes to breaking into new markets and engaging with a new audience. There exists several reasons for broadening your exposure into a new market and language, and there may not be a better example of this than China. If you are wanting to engage with a Chinese audience, you most certainly are going to need to optimize your site to appear in Baidu, the predominant Chinese search engine. This article will help you understand what needs to be done on your end to be featured in Chinese search results.
Content in Chinese
In order to be featured in Baidu search results, your site will need to have some Chinese content for their crawlers to index. English-only sites are virtually unheard of on Baidu, unless they are a very large entity or otherwise prominent on the web. For those who are running a small-scale business, however, having an array of Chinese content is essential. When pinging search engines with Chinese content, Baidu will be able to index and thereby display your site in key search results based on keywords. You can still have a large percentage of your content in English, but a Chinese section will work wonders in regards to breaking into this new audience.
While the .com domain is universally recognized and used, Baidu gives preference to domains that have .cn or .com.cn in them. Why? It relates very well to the aforementioned section; Baidu loves Chinese content and strives to index only Chinese content (this may have more to do with certain censoring mechanisms within the country itself than Baidu’s actual preferences). Regardless of reason, it is fairly simple to purchase and subsequently add on a Chinese domain to an existing website, so be sure to implement this in order to be in good graces with the search engine.
Tags and Breadcrumbs
Being indexed is crucial, so you must ensure that any website is properly tagged and has elements that allow it to be indexed and crawled with ease. Using both alt tags and header tags help make the key points of your content, such as titles and keywords, viewable by search engines and give your site a better chance of being picked up in search results. The same can be said for making sure that breadcrumbs are enabled, as well as using standard text links throughout the site. As always, a site map is a great thing to have in place for web crawlers.
Baidu is even more strict than Google at penalizing duplicate content, so be sure that your content is in fact legitimate and unique. Whether it is in Chinese or English, Baidu will check to make sure that no other site has the exact same content featured; do not make the mistake that some do and simply edit small portions of content that does not belong to you. When pinging search engines like Baidu, the content is heavily inspected and may not pass muster.