Jack Rotgar
10 min readMay 6, 2023

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Baidu: made in China

Baidu is a Chinese search engine founded in 2000 by Robin Lee and Eric Xiu. The company’s name is translated as “a hundred times” and actually quotes a Chinese poem written about thousand years ago. The company’s logo has the imprint of a bear’s paw which the hunter uses to find the prey.

According to Similarweb statistics, the Baidu search engine has 4.6 to 4.9 billion monthly visits. 93.65% of them are registered in China, 1.25% — in the United States, 1.24% in Hong Kong, 1.23% in Taiwan, 0.56% in Japan, and 2.07% are shared by other countries.

Today, Baidu occupies more than 50% of the Chinese search engine market. Baidu’s main competitors in the Chinese market are Bing, Sogou, Haosou. Shenma and Google also cover some market share.

Baidu’s search results look similar to Google’s. The main difference from Google is that Baidu ranks only sites in simplified Chinese. Therefore, if the company aims at entering the Chinese market, it needs a website with the content in simplified Chinese. In addition, the page loading time is one of the ranking factors, so it is advisable to place the site on Chinese hosting.

Apart from search services, the company has more than 50 national Internet services and tools: Haokan and iQiyi video services, Baidu Tieba social network, Baidu Maps service, Baidu Translate online translator, Baidu Baike encyclopedia, Baidu Anti-Virus, Baidu Browser and others. The Baidu search engine always gives preference to its own services over third-party sites. That is why, comprehensive promotion in Baidu also includes promotion in related services. We closely monitor the development of search engines, and if you are interested to enhance the SEO of your website, then welcome to outsourcing with us!

Baidu-owned video services

Quanmin is a portal of short video clips. As a rule, funny videos of less than a minute are uploaded to this platform.

Haokan is a service similar to Youtube blocked in China.

iQiyi is an online video platform founded on April 22, 2010, the Chinese equivalent of Netflix. iQiyi has its own film production division iQiyi Motion Pictures.

Baidu Baike (百度百科)

Baidu Encyclopedia in simplified Chinese, launched on April 20, 2006. Today it includes more than 27 million articles. The encyclopedia is a censored source: the articles written by registered users are edited by service administrators before publishing. The content of Baidu Baike is regulated by the Data Security Law of the People’s Republic of China.

(http://www.npc.gov.cn/englishnpc/c23934/202112/1abd8829788946ecab270e469b13c39c.shtml)

Baidu Maps (百度地图)

Interactive world map from Baidu (https://map.baidu.com ).

Baidu Tieba (百度贴吧)

A discussion forum closely integrated with the Baidu search engine. The Baidu Tieba platform (Baidu Post Bar) was made on December 3, 2003. The community features more than 1.5 billion registered users and 45 million monthly active users. Business promotion in Baidu Tieba generally occurs via the cooperation with opinion leaders with most of them represented on this site.

Creating an account

It is worth mentioning that the Baidu user account is different from the advertiser’s account. At the end of the article we will list the documents necessary to create an advertiser’s account, now let’s focus on simple registration.

There are several ways to register with the Baidu platform.

The easiest way is to create an account directly.

https://passport.baidu.com/v2/?reg&overseas=1

However, be prepared that the message “Registration for foreign regions and regions of Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan is not supported at the moment” will pop up in the process. Buying a Chinese virtual phone number did not help: the frightening notification disappeared, but no SMS is simply not delivered to such a number. If you managed to register with a virtual number, write in the comments what service you used.

Our choice is to order a Chinese SIM card via Aliexpress.

The second way is to pre–register in QQ or WeChat and log in to Baidu with this account. It is worth noting that the WeChat messenger will be useful in the future as the personal managers of the Baidu advertising cabinet prefer to communicate promptly through this service.

When registering with the official QQ website, the system does not accept a foreign number showing a warning: “Your mobile phone number poses a security threat, please go to mobile QQ to register.” During the installation of the mobile application a notification on the incompatibility of the application with the device appears; the error occurred on several devices.

The sequence of registration in WeChat is the following. Install the application, press the Sign-Up button, select a name, a phone number (a foreign number is OK) and a password. Agree with the security policy, enter a captcha by placing a fragment of the image in the right place, and receive a QR code that must be scanned by an international WeChat user registered at least one month ago or a Chinese WeChat user registered at least 6 months ago to invite you.

The third way is to order registration from SEO companies located in China.

If you are outside of China, only ordering a Chinese SIM card from Aliexpress is suitable for long-term tasks. This is explained by the fact that using Baidu Ziyuan Webmaster Tools, the system requires entering the Chinese number. In addition, every time you change the IP you log into your account from, a verification code will be sent to your Chinese number.

ICP Number

An ICP number (abbreviation of Internet Content Provider) is a permission required for any website with its own domain name to operate in China. ICP is issued by the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology of the People’s Republic of China. There are two types of ICP numbers: ICP license for commercial sites and ICP registration for non-commercial sites. If the site does not have an ICP number, Chinese Internet service providers are required to restrict access to it. Getting an ICP number takes about 20 business days after submitting the documents to the hosting provider. ICP numbers for Chinese websites can usually be seen in the main page footer.

Promotion in Baidu

The peculiarities of SEO in Baidu include the following points:

● Baidu gives priority to its services;

● Baidu gives preference to sites in the .cn domain area when ranking;

● the reference weight from the pages of the domain area .cn is higher than from pages located in other domain areas;

● when ranking, sites hosted in mainland China gain an advantage;

● The Baidu audience mainly uses simplified Chinese characters (with the exception of Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan where traditional Chinese characters are used);

● China has a high percentage of mobile users, so Baidu is very demanding to site optimization for mobile devices;

● an important factor is the content uniqueness;

● the keywords meta tag for Baidu is still relevant;

● the site should not contain links to services banned in China (for example, Facebook or YouTube);

● https protocol is preferred;

● site indexing in Baidu generally takes from one to two months.

Advertising in Baidu

To launch an advertising campaign in Baidu, it is necessary to understand the specific character of the Chinese community. If your target is mainland China, the language (or rather, the font) of the advertising campaign should be simplified Chinese. It is used by the vast majority of the Chinese. The second version of the Chinese script — traditional Chinese — is used mainly in Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan.

Restrictions on advertising in Baidu

In China the Law on Advertising of October 27, 1994 (http://www.npc.gov.cn/zgrdw/englishnpc/Law/2007-12/12/content_1383782.htm ) is applied. It states:

The advertisement must not include any of the following:

Use of the National Flag, the National Emblem or the National Anthem of the People’s Republic of China;

Use of the names of State bodies or their officials;

The use of words such as state level, top class or best;

Obstructing social stability or threatening the security of a person or property or harming public interests;

Obstruction of public order or violation of healthy public morality;

The presence of information indicating pornography, superstition, terror, violence or obscenity;

Information about ethnic, racial, religious or sexual discrimination;

Hindering the protection of the environment or natural resources;

Other circumstances prohibited by laws or administrative rules and regulations.

In addition to the nationwide bans, Baidu introduces its own restrictions and prohibits advertising for:

● medical devices and instruments;

● treatment and health;

● health products;

● franchises;

● digital currencies;

● auction houses;

● sex products.

Documents required for opening an advertising campaign in Baidu

There are two versions of the document package required to launch advertising in Baidu.

The first package is provided if the advertiser does not have a legal entity in China and an ICP license. It includes:

● national registration license translated into Chinese;

● extract from the state register with information about the company translated into Chinese;

● screenshot of the website page in Chinese with the company’s seal;

● your bank statement translated into Chinese.

The second package is required if the advertiser has a legal entity in mainland China.

● license to conduct business in China;

● ICP license.

What else is necessary to launch a campaign?

In 2021, the company updated the rules for using its advertising system. After April 12, 2021, it became noticeably more difficult to launch an advertising campaign. This requires the approval of the website URL. This is due to the Chinese government’s policy of controlling commercial risks. The rule IS NOT APPLIED TO:

● government organizations;

● Fortune Global 500 companies.

If your company is not based in mainland China, Hong Kong, Macau, Taiwan, Singapore, the UK or France, you will need to make a deposit of at least 7,000 yuan (a little more than $ 1,000) to get an advertising campaign.

After passing through all the bureaucratic barriers, Baidu will appoint you a personal manager who will answer all campaign-related questions.

Baidu Advertising Formats

The most popular advertising format is an auction-type search advertising campaign with the pay-per-click (PPC campaign) basis. Ads occupy the first positions in the search results, which greatly increases their chances of being viewed. The contextual advertising system is very similar to the Google one slightly differing only in the advertising format. The ad includes a title, two lines of description and an image (optional).

When participating in the auction, you can make separate bids for personal computers and mobile devices, which allows showing your ad to a fragmented audience by device type.

The second most popular advertising format is contextual display advertising with the pay-per-click basis. The Baidu partner network includes more than 600 thousand sites. Targeting in this huge advertising network is configured by standard criteria: geography, gender, age, device type, topic, keywords.

In addition, there are two more unique advertising formats with a fixed monthly payment: Baidu Brand Zone and Baidu Mini Brand Zone.

Baidu Brand Zone

In 2007, Baidu launched a contextual advertising format that allows the brand owner to dominate the search results with its brand for a monthly fee (about 100,000 yuan).

When the queries that users enter in the search engine contain the keywords related to the company, a special area called the Brand Zone is shown at the top of the search results. It takes up to two-thirds of the first page and contains images and text. You can choose different formats for your brand zone containing links to the official website of the company and a brief description of its activities. Different formats can include multiple images or use videos.

The Brand Zone option dramatically increases conversion, the average percentage of clicks in this ad format exceeds 50%. One of the important advantages is customizable linking, which allows one to refer the customer to the last stage of the sales funnel and thereby increase the number of leads. For example, when requesting Audi, a potential buyer can go to the order form for a specific car model in one click.

Baidu Mini Brand Zone

If the Baidu Brand Zone is designed primarily for premium companies, for medium and small businesses there is a less expensive equivalent, the Baidu Mini Brand Zone. When using this placement format, brand advertising takes the upper right block and a place above the organic search results. Such accommodation is also paid monthly, the cost starts from 2,200 yuan.

Conclusion

The Chinese market is huge and keeps growing. Many companies around the world strive to enter the Chinese market. For conducting a successful business in China, a competent marketing strategy is vital, which implies a mandatory promotion in Baidu, the leading search engine in China. In this article, we described the main features of working with Baidu. If you have read up to this point, then you understand the importance of the subject matter. The last step left is to start earning in China. Share your successes!

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