Baidu Search Engine Optimization Guide: A Second Look

In this second of two articles on Baidu search engine optimization, you’ll learn about the following important items: website analytics data; website trust and the importance of link popularity; Baidu search engine penalty factors and how to recover from a penalty; and some frequently asked questions regarding Baidu search engine optimization.

Website Analytics Data

Baidu recommends improving the following website analytics factors for better websites:

Conversion rate. This is the most important performance metric. It is related to the quality of service offered by the website. Aiming for a standard conversion rate, such as three percent, is good.

Bounce rate. This reflects the quality of the landing page. If the bounce rate is said to be very high, then you need to analyze the causes, such as a mismatch of content with respect to title tags, or a misleading meta description or title tag in search engine results.

Exit rate. If a specific page has a very high exit rate, this might mean either that the page has poor content quality or is loading very slowly, causing visitors to navigate away from the website.

If this page has a high exit rate and is part of the conversion funnel, it is worth checking, so that conversion-related problems can be solved.

User retention time. The length of time a visitor stays on a website is related to the quality of the content. For high quality content websites, user retention time is high because visitors will spend a lot of time reading content.

Importance of Link Popularity and the Trust of the Website

The Baidu search engine measures a website’s trustworthiness, its quality and authority by the number of links/citations/shares/bookmarks pointing to the domain.

These are recommendations from the users of the website. So if your website’s quality content is substantial and useful, your visitors will recommend it to others in the following ways:

  • Linking  to the website (this is called an organic link) from their own website. They might mention it in their content with a link to your site.
  • Share it with friends in Facebook and other social networking sites. These can be measured by the number of “likes” for that particular content.
  • Mention the website in the forums as an answer to a particular problem.

The “recommended information” related to your website will be used by Baidu to judge/assess the value of your website. The higher these recommendations, the better the performance of your website in the search engine results.

To increase the trust of the user for a certain website, Baidu recommends the following:

  • The web page should be clear, easy to navigate and read, and user-friendly.
  • Make it easy for the user to understand what your website is all about in the shortest span of time.
  • Have a detailed site description and contact information so that users can easily contact you and inquire about your services.
  • Get some user reviews, customer feedback and other information, which are useful to a new visitor.
  • Use a website design that focuses on strengthening the brand, giving users a quicker and better understanding of your website, which then improves trust.

Baidu Search Engine Related Penalty Factors

How does Baidu define deceptive search engine optimization tactics? Any use of search engine optimization strategies that relies on malicious means to get quality content and rankings in search engines, which are inconsistent with search engine guidelines, which results in a poor user experience, will be considered a “deceptive” SEO practice by Baidu.

This will result in some penalty imposed on a website. The following are examples of  deceptive practices:

  1. A website secretly placing contents and links not visible to the normal user, but only to the search engines.
  2. A website hosting malware that will steal user information or compromise privacy.
  3. Fake websites of official companies. This is called “phishing;” it is  a technique that will attract innocent visitors and lure them into entering their personal information.
  4. Websites with a low amount or degree of original content that just contain affiliate links.
  5. Websites with links pointing to a malware website (thus compromising user security when they click the link).
  6. Websites that are reported to be spammers; for example, executing massive cold calls to scam user money.

Possible penalties:

  1. For a light offense, the ranking weight of the website will be reduced; thus, the ranking will fall from its original ranking position.
  2. For an extreme offense, the website will be removed completely from the search engine index until it is reported to be clean or the deceptive practices are completely corrected.

Baidu uses algorithmic detection of deceptive websites and automatically removes the penalties once the site is entirely clean.

However, you can send complaints through http://tousu.baidu.com/webmaster/add/. Baidu cannot respond to all emails individually. Take note, also, that only important emails and problems are handled by engineers for analysis.

Frequently Asked Questions Relating to Baidu SEO

1. Does Baidu support the rel=nofollow attribute?

Baidu supports the rel=nofollow attribute.  Baidu recognizes two ways to  implement the nofollow attribute in the web page HTML source code. The first way is to use rel=nofollow in hyperlink code, e.g:

<a rel="nofollow" href="http://www.example.com">Example.com</a>

This will be used for hyperlink/link-level implementation. The Baidu spider will not crawl to a page with the nofollow link attribute, and will not give search engine weights/score to it.

The second way involves using the meta robots nofollow tag:

<meta name = "robots" content = "nofollow">

This will be used for page level implementation. If the Baidu spider sees this tag, then all of the links on that page will not be crawled, or those target pages will not be given search engine weights/score.

2. Does Baidu support secure protocol (https) pages?

Baidu does not recommend the full use of https pages in the search engine results. In this case, to make sure that your website is fully indexable, and displayed properly in the search engine results, do not use https pages alone. Instead, you should program your site to make sure that the Baidu spider will only be crawling your http pages.

For example, if someone searches for the word adsense in Baidu, the official result is the Google Adsense URL, but it is not shown using the “https” mode. This is not how the Google search engine handles it. Google fully supports secure pages in search engine results.

Screenshot:

3. Does modifying the title tag have a negative impact on website rankings?

To the Baidu search engine, the title tag is the most important onsite element. Substantial changes to the title tag will result in ranking volatility. So, please treat the editing of your title tag very carefully to avoid negative consequences to your site’s Baidu search engine result.

4. Does modifying the meta description have an effect on the search engine results?

No. Modifying the meta description will only affect the summary that will be shown in the search engine results, but not the rankings. It is encouraged that you write a meta description based on content relevancy and site profile for best results.

5. Does Baidu recommend the use of static-based URLs?

The website’s URL, whether static or dynamic, has no effect on the website’s ranking in Baidu. The main advantage of having a static-looking URL is that it is shorter and easier to remember than long, dynamic URLs. Remember that static or dynamic URLs do not influence search engine rankings.

Take note of the Baidu recommendations for handling URLs, which were discussed in the first part of this guide.

6. What meta robots tag are supported by Baidu?

Baidu only supports the following meta robots tag:

<meta name="robots" content="nofollow">
<meta name="robots" content="noarchive">

The nofollow tag was already discussed on the previous section. The noarchive tag is used to prevent the Baidu search engine from displaying a snapshot/cached page of your website in search result.

7. Does a content delivery network (CDN), reverse proxy and gzip compression affect the search engine rankings and indexing?

No – as long as the Baidu spider can crawl your website without problems, no matter what technology you are using. You have to make sure that the spider can access the contents you would like it to show in the search engine results. Refer to the technical guidelines in the first part of this guide.

8. Does Baidu discriminate against overseas Chinese websites?

Not as long as the website is not using deceptive techniques and obeys Baidu’s search engine policies. Any foreign website is welcome to be included in the search engine index, and will be treated as equal to Chinese-based websites hosted in China.

9. How does Baidu know when the theme of a website changes?

If there are fundamental changes in the content, it will be regarded as a new website; also, technically it knows this if the old hyperlink for the website does not work anymore. 

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