China SEO Guide (2023 Updated)
China SEO Guide (2023 Updated)

TLDR; China SEO takes time to get it right. We outlined 6 tips below on how to do SEO in China, and we hope to help you get it right and prevent unnecessary pitfalls.

China SEO 101

We all know that SEO (Search Engine Optimization) and SEM (Search Engine Marketing) can help you show up when it matters most: when potential customers are searching for certain products or services. Business can maximize their search engine presence with a comprehensive SEO strategy and SEM advertising.

However, SEO and SEM in China are very different from western search engines like Google or Bing, especially in the technical and legal requirements.

Because Google is completely blocked in China due to its reluctance to comply with the Chinese government’s regulations regarding censorship, 75% of all local searches are done on Baidu, the leading Chinese search engine. There are many other local China-specific search engines as well.

6 Expert SEO Tips to Help You Succeed in China

1. Speed: Host Your Site in China, Near Your Users in China.

Speed: Host Your Site in China, Near Your Users in China
Speed: Host Your Site in China, Near Your Users in China

Loading time is the number one factor in SEO. Regarding China Search Engine Optimization, you must ensure you have a good load time inside the Great Firewall of China. It is not easy to get right in the first place. Why? Because many speed test tools such as PageSpeed Insights, GTmetrix, and Pingdom do not provide servers inside the Firewall, it becomes difficult for website admins and content editors to see how the site performs inside the Great Firewall of China.

So if you don’t have a reliable team or point of contact inside the Firewall, it’s hard to see how your site performs in China. Since day one, we have built 21YunBox, a cross-border team, and a dedicated team in Shanghai, China, and we can help you run a Free China Site Speed Report for you. Just submit a request, and we’ll send you a speed report in PDF for free.

Hosting in China is not as straightforward as you might think. It’s not like you go on AWS or any VPS hosting provider and get a server that you have your site up and running in China. Hosting in China within the Great Firewall of China, you need to have a business entity registered in China, which most western companies first come to China that they do not. We can help you with this and learn more about how to host inside the Firewall. Check out our “How to Host Your Website in China(2023)?”

2. Mobile First: Make Sure Your Site is Mobile Friendly in China.

21YunBox Quote
China's netizens surfed the Internet for 29.5 hours per week, and 99.6% of netizens used mobile phones to surf the Internet!

2022 Statistical Report on the Development of China's Internet by CNNIC.

3. Make Your Site Work Appears in China’s #1 Search Engine: Baidu

Baidu is the #1 leading search Engine in China (as of Oct 2022, 80.33% market share). The second largest search engine in China is Shenma, which only taken 5.4% search engine market share in China. So all your SEO effort should be on Baidu, giving you immediate SERPs results.

4. Localization: Chinese Version of Your Site for Baidu

Baidu doesn’t index non-Chinese sites well. When western brands come to China, the first thing they do is to make their sites and content fully localized. Here it’s not just translating the content into Chinese, you also have to have the content, and the technologies fit into the culture of the Chinese audience.

Localization: Sam's Club site in China
Localization: Sam's Club site in China

For example, when Sam’s Club comes to China, their name, site, and SERP are all Chinese. They also use WeChat Mini Program to help customers make online orders and checkout offline. If you are unfamiliar, WeChat is a “super app” that does video chats, messaging, streaming, and payments.

5. Compliance: Stay Compliant.

China SEO takes time to get right, and staying compliant with Chinese Laws is the foundation to success – Get an ICP Filing or ICP License for your site because it’s the entrance ticket to long-term stability and doing well with SEO in China.

Near-china CDN, or hosting solution, works great temporarily in China but will not last long. Western brands and companies with great SEO and SEM in China all have ICP Filing and other proper permits.

Stay Compliant with the Chinese laws. Nike's ICP Number
Stay Compliant with the Chinese laws. Nike's ICP Number

Keep in mind, the Great Firewall of China is built to monitor information for flow into China. The Chinese government has full control of what content can be accessible to the audience inside the Firewall. If the content or the site owner does not fit the requirement, the site can be easily taken down or blocked.

Also, since real-name authentication is strictly required on all mobile apps in China, the Chinese government must trace what content is released by whom at what time inside China. So do not try to get around with the Firewall. Your site can be easily blocked if it’s not compliant, and you will not be given any warning or notice before your website gets blocked.

6. Censorship: Validate Your Content Before Going Live in China.

The rule is to pay attention to sensitive subjects and avoid them. The Chinese government has outlined 5 obligations that companies must follow when hosting their websites live.

So remember, stick with the rules and make sure everything is correct. Our team has been in this space for 10+ years, and if you need some free guidance on censorship, just reach out, we are happy to help.

How Can We Help you?

We help companies to host and optimize their site to load fast in China legally and stay compliant with the regulations in China.

21YunBox, a cross-border company, has worked with several fortune 500 enterprises and offices in the U.S. and Shanghai. We can assist you in every phase of your china hosting strategy to make your video, website, and content delivery in China at the best speed and advise you on the best channels to promote your business in China.

If you need some help tapping into China, don’t hesitate to reach out.

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