With the popularity of other, China-based search engines set to rise thanks to Google’s threat to close down their Google.cn site, in turn freeing up the market, businesses need to optimise their site to suit their search processes.

However, simple translation of websites will not suffice. Taking an example from Oban’s area of business, the phrase ‘to Twitter’ translates to ‘织围脖’’ – ‘to knit yourself a scarf’ in English.

Localised research needs to be carried out in order to ensure UK businesses can successfully tap into the expanding Chinese market.

Here are a few pointers on how to improve SEO in China:

  • After recent changes, China’s biggest search engine, Baidu, no longer automatically ranks pages with an overly high keyword density above others. Before this the recommended amount was between 6-12%, it is now 3-4%. 
  • Baidu may be the major player in search in mainland China, however it is barely used in Hong Kong, so businesses should look at local search behaviours when targeting specific provinces of China.
  • Unsurprisingly, Chinese search engines prefer sites hosted in China. Businesses would have more success in terms of SEO by getting hosted in China, or at least adopting a local domain i.e. com.cn.

The popularity of social networking sites in China is also a factor that needs to be addressed when it comes to marketing. One third of the 384m domestic internet users are also regular SNS users.

Again, locality is important. The top SNS sites in China are QQ and RenRen, and businesses are more likely to reach the Chinese demographic if they develop marketing strategies here than on the popular Western sites such as Facebook and Twitter.

A localised approach and a good understanding of search dynamics are essential to the success of websites in overseas markets. By adapting websites to improve SEO and SEM in China, UK businesses can open themselves up to the biggest online market in the world.