Thinking About Your Baidu Keyword Strategy

Why are you doing Baidu SEO? What is your ultimate business goal? Because SEO is a tricky subject. The common misconception about SEO is that it is about ranking high for certain keywords.

This for the most part is true but which keywords? Because not all keywords will have equal value for your businesses. Some keywords will yield more business results, while other will be better for brand exposure or simply useless.

In this chapter we’ll talk about the 7 steps of creating a solid Baidu keywords strategy.

Step 1: Understand the Searcher’s Intent

Let me ask you a quick question…

What’s the difference between these 3 search keywords?

1) “what age should my daughter learn English”
2) “how to prepare my kids for the future?”
3) “best kid’s English tutoring in Shanghai”,

If you guess the searcher’s intent is different behind each of these keywords then you’re right. While the intent behind all of these search query or keywords are to find the best solution to improve their kid’s education and future but each keyword represents a different phase of the customer’s decision-making cycle.

When the searcher types “how to prepare my kids for the future?” this searcher is trying to figure out what are the best solution to best prepare their kids for success in the future.

This indicates that this search is very early in the buying cycle and he or she is only aware of problems and not yet aware of a good solution to solve their problems.

what age should my daughter learn English”, this searcher is aware of the solution to their problem. They are still early in the buyer’s cycle and seeking for more specific information on the solution.

On the other hand, the keywords “best kid’s English tutoring in Shanghai” indicates that this searcher is well aware of their solution and are now looking for the best service providers of the solution to compare with.

Most businesses wants to rank for high buying intent keywords as it has the most commercial value. The problem with this keyword strategy of only going for high buying intent keywords (low hanging fruits) is that they’re often highly competitive, hard and sometime impossible to rank for.

But if you take a step back and prepare a slightly different strategy to go after the keywords that is one step before these keywords are much easier to rank for and will usually have a much higher search volume.

They key is to have a good balance and a good mixture of different keywords.

Step 2: Brainstorm Your Seed List of Keywords

Come up with a listed of seed keywords based on your ideal customers and their different intent stages. Ask yourself, what are some of the keywords my ideal customer will search for and what’s the intention behind their search?

Get your team and other people involved in the brainstorm process as they will usually have a different perspective than you and come up with keywords that you may have not thought of.

Step 3: Expand Your List with Keyword Research

The seed list of keywords will be your starting point and it is a great start. However, there are probably a lot of keywords that you and your team will not know.

This is where you would want to take your initial list of seed keywords and expand that list using keyword research and variety available tools such as Baidu Webmaster Tools, Baidu Index or Baidu Keyword Planner.

Step 4: Group Your Keywords

Take you’re huge listed of keyword and start grouping them based on intent, relevancy, and ranking difficulty. For example, the keyword “English tutoring” and “English Tutoring in Shanghai” should be on under the same group because they’re highly relevant to each other but with different intent.

Step 5: Competition Research

Not all keywords are created the equal, some keywords are more commercial than other since they are more likely to convert into customers.

Naturally, since you’re not the only one trying to rank for these keywords on Baidu some of these keywords will be a lot more competitive than other and a lot more difficult to rank for.

To figure out how competitive or how difficult it is to rank a keyword you would want to…

  1. Look at the top 10 organic results who are currently already ranking for these keywords and check out their content, back link profit and website authority. If they’re SEO is way ahead of you then it is time to find a different keyword to rank for and strength up and revisit this keyword later down the road.
  2. Do a search on Baidu and see how many total results show up for that particular keyword. The more results there are the more competitive it is likely to be.
  3. Look at how many ads appears before the organic ranking. If more than 50% of the page is covered in ads then you’ll probably not get a lot of traffic even if you rank #1 for that keyword organically.

Step 6: Prioritize Your Keywords

From here on you’ll have a pretty good list of keywords, their search volume, and their difficulty level.

Start prioritizing your keywords based on intent, search volume, and their difficulty. If you’re brand new to SEO in China then start with keywords that you can easily win and then work your way up the food chain.

Step 7: Verify Your Keywords with Baidu PPC

SEO is a long-term game plan, even if you have the best content and the best SEO tactics, gaining ranking on Baidu will still take a solid 4 to 6 months. So to minimize the risk you can run some Baidu PPC by bidding on the keywords you intend to rank for just to see what their commercial value actually is to your business.

Does the keywords generate lead and sales? While SEO may take a few months Baidu PPC results come in almost instantly, you can take the data you collected from the PPC campaigns

Common Mistake When Doing SEO in China

Some of the most common mistakes we see foreign business and brands make with their Baidu SEO is that they don’t understand the importance of working with a local native Chinese SEO partner that understand the Chinese language and Baidu. Here are the 4 most common mistakes that most foreign brands make when doing SEO in China.

1 Not Going For Long Tail Keywords

In China, long tail keywords are more important, especially on Baidu. The reason Baidu’s SERP usually has a lot of ads and rich snippets for very high volume keywords. So even if you rank #1 for these keywords you’ll probably still be on the bottom of the first page or on the top of the second page which is not very useful to you.

Besides these long tail keywords such as “在上海购买智能电视” (buy smart tv in Shanghai) actually accounts for more than 70% of all search on any search engines around the world.

You maybe wondering what are long tail keywords…

Let’s imagine that you’re trying to sell your brand new innovative smart tv in China and after doing your keyword research you decided to rank for the keywords “电视” which means TV in Chinese on Baidu because it has a daily search volume of 100,000!!!

And you figure surely if 1% of those 100,000 searchers visits your site some of them would be your smart TV right?

That is true except the person searching for the words “tv” is most likely in a much earlier stage of their buying cycle.

They are most likely just browsing around, doing some research, and maybe even just trying to look up what is hot right now and are most likely not ready to buy today or even any time soon.

These long tail keywords usually carry more weight on the buyer’s decision making cycle and are usually more commercial.

2 Traditional vs Simplified Chinese Keywords

Unlike most languages, the Chinese language actually has two standards of writing call traditional and Simplified. Traditional Chinese writing is the old standard of Chinese writing. Simplified Chinese writing standard wasn’t promoted and popularized until the 1950s in mainland China.

While the Simplified standard will contain most of the Traditional standard character but with slight modification by reducing the number of strokes require to write the character, hence it is called Simplified standard.

While traditional is still widely used in areas such as Hong Kong, Taiwan, Macau, Malaysia, and Singapore. In mainland China, Simplified characters are the new standard. This causes a major problem when you’re doing your keyword research for SEO in China.

Which standard should you use?

While there isn’t an exact black and white answer but as a general rule of thumb you’ll want to stick to Simplified for mainland China if your idea market age ranges from 1 to 45, but go for Traditional if you are aiming for the older generation or people in Hong Kong or Taiwan.

3 Don’t use Google Translate

I like Google translate, I use it quite often but it’s not that great at least for translating to Chinese. It is getting a lot better I must admit but the problem doesn’t lie within the translation but in the vastly different grammar of the Chinese language and the fact that most Chinese will have a lot of synonyms. Coco-Cola made this mistake when they try to localize their name into Chinese, you can read all about it here.

4 Conducting Keyword Research Using Google Keyword Planner

Yes, Google does have Chinese searchers and data on Chinese search terms but they are limited to what Google can cover which mean Hong Kong, Taiwan, and Chinese living abroad around the world except for mainland China. Do not do your keyword research for doing SEO in mainland China!

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