Traditional western commerce brands can rank on the first page of Baidu, China’s top search engine, even if their website includes links to blocked sites such as Facebook and YouTube.
The research from Searchmetrics is based on analysis of 50,000 Baidu searches and shows that more than 75% of websites ranked in the top-ten positions on Baidu have dot-com extensions rather than local Chinese domains.
The data also suggests it is essential to reference at least one Chinese social media network like Wechat or Weibo to help the website rank well on Baidu.
Hong Kong and Taiwan TLDs only make up 1.2% of rankings, although their content is mostly in the traditional Chinese character system rather than the simplified Chinese characters used in mainland China.
Dot-com TLDs are the most common, with a probability of 73.7% for ranking No. 1, and even more likely in No. 2 to No. 10 position, each with more than a 75% probability. The negative correlation of minus 0.5 indicates that running a website on a dot-com domain is less of a ranking signal but rather an effective and well-accepted practice, according to the report.
Retail brands that want to participate in ecommerce across China will need to learn how to use Baidu, not Google, because the search engine accounts for more than 70% of all searches in the country.
The data also shows that Baidu favors its services compared with other organic rankings, with nearly 40% of all No. 1 ranking positions owned by Baidu.
Baidu also averaged two listings on each Page 1 result in most cases.
There were just a few instances where Baidu held no rankings at all -- particularly with more characters in the keyword -- and many pages with only one Baidu ranking. But there were also many search engine results pages (SERPs) with two or more Baidu-owned services ranking.
Other tips suggest that backlinks have a strong correlation to top Baidu rankings, shorter URLs rank better with an average of 45.6 characters, longer content ranks better — an average length of 3,194 characters for top-ranked pages — and images aren’t necessary because only 30% of the top-ranking websites use images.
Searchmetrics also suggests that exact-match keywords can be identified in the content in 34% of top-ranked pages, that headlines are important both in terms of content and correct markup, that 8% of websites that rank in the Baidu Top 10 contain Google Tag Manager in the source code, and that half of top-ranked pages use https.