I like to think of myself has a content marketer, but in reality, I am a blogger. I have held past jobs that had the title of content marketer and I worked on different content strategies, creation, and deployment, but for CM I am mostly just a blogger. In the past, “blog” and “blogger” was a bad word or even laughed at, but now it is more acceptable and most brands have a company blog. So, in this article, I wanted to talk about starting a WordPress blog in China.
China is a funny country and sites are often blocked by the government because of negative content criticizing the CCP. WordPress is a site that has been blocked in China. But that doesn’t mean you cannot start a WordPress blog in China. It just means it is more difficult and requires more coding knowledge. A good example is CM, this site is currently using WordPress and we are mostly functional in China. When I say “mostly functional,” I mean the site can be viewed and used in China but first time users have long page download times.
Self-Hosting a Wordpress Blog in China
WordPress.com is blocked in China, which means you cannot blog on the WordPress domain. The way around this is to host your WordPress site on your own domain, for example Chairmanmigo.com. Once, you have bought hosting and a domain, you can install WordPress has your content management tool, but be warned it will sometimes have a difficult time loading and you might go crazy without a VPN.
The reason WordPress, installed on your own domain, doesn’t load well in China is because content is pulled from WordPress.com and WordPress.org. WordPress.org is not completely blocked in China, but it is partly block and also pulls content from WordPress.com and Google. This leads us to our next point about understanding coding.
When you setup a WordPress site for the first time there are two options available when choosing a WordPress theme. You can choose a free theme within the WordPress system or you can buy/build a custom theme. This is were coding becomes extremely important. Most developers uses Google elements when building their themes.
These elements include fonts, analytics, and other coding that allows the theme to function. The problem is Google is completely block in China. So, if your theme is using Google elements or pulling content from Google, it will also be blocked or it will not completely load. This will reduce overall page speed and cause your site to have poor SEO results. Paying attention to the coding of your new theme is extremely important if you want to have a company blog or WordPress blog in China that uses WordPress for content management.
The next area that will slow down or cause your site to be blocked in China are plug-ins. WordPress works better with plug-ins. These plug-ins will provide additional functionality to your WordPress site, but much like the themes, many of these plug-ins are built based on Google or WordPress.com.
A good example is the Jetpack plug-in, this plug-in is every useful and popular with WordPress users, but it pulls a lot of functionality from WordPress servers. The WordPress servers are often (s0.wp.com, s1.wp.com, or s2.wp.com) and they will greatly reduce your site speed or block your site in China. The Jetpack plug-in relies heavily on these servers. Other plug-ins rely on Google or wp.com. When you are setting up your WordPress site be sure to check the coding.
Overcoming these problems
A few ways to overcome these problems are to have a CDN or strong Caching plug-in. Content Delivery Networks (CDNs) can help speed up your site and it can help your WordPress blog in China. The idea behind a CDN is your site will pull all of your content from one server instead of multiple sites (i.e. Google, WordPress, or other blocked sites). This not only speeds up your website, it can also help deliver content from a non-blocked source.
The other way to overcome these problems is to install a strong Caching plug-in. CM doesn’t use a CDN because most cost money and we don’t have money (What is money? This is just a blog). So, the other way to improve your site in China is to use a Caching plug-in.
We use W3 Total Cache and it seems to work well, but the biggest problem is first time users need to load CM before the Caching plug-in has any effect. Caching works by sending a lot of static information to a web browser and keeping that information “loaded” for a specified amount of time. So, the next time a user reaches the website most of the information has already been downloaded. This speeds up the website and doesn’t require the site to pull content from blocked servers. The major draw back is first time visitors might bounce because the page takes a long time to load.
Final thoughts on starting a Wordpress Blog in China
It is possible to start a WordPress blog in China, but it will require more work and planning on your part. Pay close attention to where your content is being pulled from and which sites need to load content on your site before it becomes visible. Try to move all scripts and js code to the footer or find another script, font, or js code that pulls information from non-blocked sites. This will improve your user experience and SEO.
I am not a developer and I would love to hire one, but I don’t have a budget, if you are working on a budget for your company or self consider hiring a developer and discuss these issues before starting your WordPress blog in China. If you are looking for blogging sites that are not blocked in China, check out this post “List of Blogging Platforms Unblocked in China 2014.”
Do you have a blog in China? What software or content management system do you use?