5 Little Known Ways To Use Baidu Search Engine
The Internet industry is huge in China. iResearchchina.com reports that the industry is currently worth US$9.7 billion and forecasts suggest this could rise to UD$2.8 trillion by 2017.
There are 618 million Internet users in China according to China Internet Network Information Center (CNNIC). This only accounts for 46 per cent of the population. To put this into perspective the population of Great Britain is roughly 64 million people and the Internet penetration rate is around 84 per cent.
Mobile Internet is increasingly popular in China. 500 million people access the Internet via a mobile device meaning 81 per cent of all Chinese Internet users are doing so by mobile.
E-commerce has exploded in China in the last year. CNNIC reports that in 2013 there were 302 million e-shoppers and that the online advertising industry is worth approximately US$1.8 billion. These numbers are huge and give an indication into why many brands want to move into the Chinese market.
Baidu is best
A good starting place is Baidu. It is China’s most popular search engine. Currently it holds 59 per cent of the search engine market. Most Chinese Internet users will at some time use Baidu search engine to find out information about various subjects, from travel information, to music videos, to maps and everything in between.
But Baidu can do so much more than this. The presence of Chinese e-commerce firms Alibaba and Tencent has forced Baidu to think about its position in the Chinese landscape. It has been increasingly getting involved in mobile services with its involvement in the Tizen Association to compete in this realm.
But in terms of its search engine Baidu is very strong. I’m going to look at five ways you can use Baidu search engine. Some ways may be familiar and some will certainly be little known.
1. Baidu search engine
There are many features of Baidu’s search engine. Some are like Google’s, but other features are very different. I’ll give a brief description of each tab on the Baidu search engine interface. For the more important features I’ll provide a detailed description.
- News (新闻xinwen) – Baidu has a section of news aggregated from the web.
There are different sections including domestic, international, sport, property etc. The results will bring up news stories related to the search terms used.
- Web page (网页wangye) – This is where search results are displayed just as they are in Google.
It is here that organic and paid search results will appear. Unlike Google which makes a clear distinction between paid and organic results, Baidu’s SERPS are rather more opaque.
For paid search results using competitive keywords the first page of the SERPS may show no organic search results.
- Forums (贴吧tieba) – This area is kind of like Baidu’s micro-blog.
It’s an online themed community helping people to share information in a public forum. Community members can open forums to find and share information.
The search terms used take you to forums about that subject. If a forum has not been created then Baidu automatically does this upon someone searching, using those specific search terms.
- Baidu Know (知道zhidao) – This service allows registered users of Baidu to put forward a question and other registered users to leave an answer and obtain credits.
Baidu provides a collective intelligence platform that actively encourages participants to share knowledge. It is possible to use the service without being registered, but you are then unable to collect credits and improve your authority.
- Music (音乐yinyue) – This sections lets you search music and listen to and download the results.
- Images (图片tupian) – Similar to Google images you can search a vast database of pictures.
- Video (视频shipin) – Here you can search Baidu’s collection of videos related to your search terms.
- Maps (地图ditu) – You can search for places just like using Google maps.
- Encyclopaedia(百科baike) – This is Baidu’s version of Wikipedia.
Like Wikepedia anyone can use a Baidu account to write a page about a topic. BaiduBaike provides lots of useful information just as Wikipedia does and is seen as authentic information by users of the service.
- Library (文库wenku) – This section provides a library of resources related to your search terms.
You can find information in DOC, PPT, TXT, PDF and XLS form.
2. Baidu pay per click services
Baidu pay per click search engine marketing is similar to Google AdWords. It usually has a lower cost per click than AdWords though. If you’ve used AdWords then using Baidu is relatively straightforward.
But there are some differences, especially with the setup of a Baidu account. Below I’ll make clear how to do this in the most efficient way possible.
- Setting up a Baidu PPC account usually takes up to two weeks.
- Baidu insists that account setup is done through a Baidu reseller. These are agents who control the process and handle the administration.
- We’d recommend using a local agency to help with translating documents and setting up Chinese language landing pages.
- Baidu requires that accounts be credited with 5,000 Chinese Yuan. Baidu only accepts payment in local currency.
- Your website doesn’t have to be hosted in China, but some translations will be necessary.
If you have an existing Baidu pay per click account then you can use the content network. This service is similar to Google’s display network. Features of the service include:
- Banner ads displayed on 600,000 websites that are partnered with Baidu.
- The ads can be various sizes, can use rich imagery and can be interactive.
- Ads can be targeted by region, time of the day, part of the day, industry and keywords.
3. Baidu Brand Zone
Brand Zone from Baidu is an exclusive service for clients that already have a pay per click advertising account. It is like a page takeover when your brand terms are searched on Baidu.
- Brands own brand related keywords exclusively meaning that no other Baidu advertiser can use those keywords.
- Brand Zone campaigns can deliver average click through rates (CTR) of 50 per cent. Baidu average PPC CTR is 1 per cent and Google average PPC CTR is 0.2 per cent.
- Brand Zone does not have a search listing, but rather brand exposure giving users your content before they get to the brand website.
Brand Zone offers a fixed price eye catching brand logo, company introduction and tailored content whenever the brand’s specific keywords are searched.
4. Baidu Analytics
Baidu’s analysis platform is called Tongji. Below I’ll go through some of the strengths and weaknesses when using this platform:
- It integrates well with Baidu pay per click marketing. You can then view your creatives, ad impressions, cost data and more.
- Baidu tracks each individual user so you can see all the pages they visited. Google Analytics lacks this kind of tracking, whereas Baidu has it built in.
- Baidu heat map displays the areas of a web page most clicked. By hovering the cursor over an area you can see how many clicks there were, the traffic source and keywords. This data is only available for the past seven days though.
- Baidu Index Checker lets you monitor how many of your pages have been indexed by Baidu. It shows current as well as historical data.
- There is an option to reveal website stats publicly without the need for a third-party tool.
- No custom reports available.
- Regional reporting available for mainland China, Hong Kong, Taiwan and Japan. All other reports are under ‘Other Country”.
- No e-commerce tracking like Google Analytics e-commerce feature.
- The interface is in Chinese only.
If you are going to use this tool you need to take into consideration the impact that the Great Firewall has on the existing analytics tool that you use. 60 per cent of the 30 most important websites in China use western tools to analyse metrics.
Another factor to take into consideration is that the no provided metric on Google Analytics is rising, whereas by using Baidu analytics the keywords are provided. This may massively affect how you are able to analyse the SEO of your website.
Using Tongji you can also get demographic information based on known Baidu users. If you’re going to run a Baidu pay per click advertising campaign I’d say it’s a must to use BaiduTongji to analyse the campaign performance.
5. Baidu webmaster tools
The webmaster tool, called Zhanzhang, is a useful tool to get your website indexed on Baidu quickly and easily. It is also helpful to get your site optimised, creating a better online experience for users.
Below I’ll list some of the key features of BaiduZhanzhang:
- A free web service for webmasters to check indexing status and optimisation status of their site.
- Able to get a list of broken links for the site.
- Able to disavow bad inbound links that can affect page ranking. The disavow and security check tools are useful to diagnose the security status of your website.
- You can check to see what keywords searches on Baidu lead to the site being listed on the SERPs. You can also check the click through rates for these listings.
- You are able to view statistics about how Baidu indexes your site and any errors it found during the search.
- The tool can check the crawl rate and view statistics about how Baidu spider accesses a particular site.
- You can generate and check a robots.txt file.
- Able to list internal and external pages that link to the site.
- You can make a domain name change submission.
Baidu webmaster tools are nowhere near as powerful as Google Webmaster tools, but I’d say that it’s essential for Baidu SEO.
The Importance of Baidu
One of Baidu’s strengths is that it is constantly developing and improving. In an increasingly competitive market place it has to evolve to stay relevant to its users.
For marketers this means keeping up-to-date with important changes and new developments. Hopefully some of the ways I have described above will help you to understand Baidu and how important it is in Chinese search. Remember it is important to use Baidu search engine when marketing in China.
Misha is a Content Writer for Nanjing Marketing Group, a digital marketing agency based in China. He writes about everything related to marketing in China from Baidu pay per click services to trends in Chinese digital marketing and everything in between.
See BaiduAdvertising.com for information about using Baidu pay per click services and account setup.