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Why Do Baidu? Preparing for Paid, Owned, Earned Strategy in China

Jori Ford
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Global/international search is growing rapidly in the U.S. And there are a handful of countries that continue to drive this growth trajectory. China, Brazil, and Russia are at the forefront.

China ecommerce is growing at a rapid pace and projected to hit $81 billion in the next 5 years. Understanding this, it's clear why many U.S. retailers are attempting to expand into China. The top thing to understand about Baidu is that taking a paid, owned, and earned integrated approach is essential to dominating in the engine.

Baidu Quick Stats

china-search-engine-market-share-may-2013

Source: China Internet Watch, recent update w/ June Chinese Search Engine Market Share by Jennifer Slegg

  • Baidu is second to only Google in terms of global search engines.
  • China has 513 million web users – the largest online population in the world – along with 164 million online shoppers, states a report by A.T. Kearny.
  • China's online retail markets, at $23 billion, are second in the world behind the U.S.
  • Ecommerce in China has increased by a 78 percent compound annual growth rate since 2006.

Tips on Baidu Paid, Owned, Earned Strategy

Baidu displays paid search ads, organic listings, and integrates social very differently. The combination of paid, owned, and earned media is explosive if used correctly.

From a paid search perspective simply remember it's a must, as paid inclusion spans key points of engagement across the Chinese customer journey and is an influence in organic rankings for Baidu. The true key to opening the Baidu vault: ensuring keywords match in all corresponding channels.

PAID – What You Should Know Before Launch

Paid search is critical to positioning yourself well in Baidu. Here are some key aspects of paid search for Baidu to understand as you build your strategy.

1. Baidu PPC Results Dominate the SERP

Baidu will show far more than three paid listings at the top of the page. A search on Chicago hotels shows seven paid listing ads at the top and six on the right.

baidu-serp-sponsored-paid-ads

2. Baidu has 3 PPC Match Types – Broad, Exact, & Right, Relevance is Critical

Baidu differs from Google, Bing/Yahoo, and other U.S. centric search engines in keyword targeting due to their match types and placement. Baidu uses a relevance engine that will only include ads based on the match criteria set as it relates to your landing page.

Broad match and exact match are similar to other engines. However, “Right Match” is a free for all match that if you want to by-pass relevance for targeting, you can set and pretty much target any phrase to any landing page.

baidu-serp-match-types

3. Baidu Account Setup Requires a Setup Fee & Proof of Business

A $195 fee and documented evidence of a business entity (certificate, license, etc.) is required to setup a Baidu advertiser account, including a deposit. It's better to know how to convert Yuan to dollars as well if you plan to manage the account yourself.

Advertisers must display business name as it is reflected in the associated documentation provided on their website. And Tait Lawton, Nanjing Marketing Group, pointed out that Baidu uses resellers to setup your account, so you might want to make sure you find one that's worked with a U.S. based client.

4. Baidu Doesn't Play Nice With Foreign Analytics

Be sure you can measure your campaign effectively by going the easy route and using Baidu analytics (Baidu Tongji). It's full featured and continues to be enhanced. Another route would be to ask your existing platform if they can integrate Baidu analytics so you can bucket and view.

5. Baidu is a Simplified Chinese Search Engine

To increase relevance of your landing page(s) ensure they are written in simplified Chinese and use the keyword phrases specifically as you've identified based on your campaign. Remember, relevance equates to your keyword match type case. So if your campaign is exact, use the exact target phrase on the page.

OWNED – What Assets Should You Be Using

You can take advantage of a variety of owned resources that will drive your overall strategy on Baidu. Top assets you should be taking advantage of in order to dominate the SERPs:

  • Your Website: In simplified Chinese only.
  • Sina Weibo: Set up an account. This is China's equivalent to Twitter (posts get indexed).
  • Baidu Baike Page: Create one; it's just like Wikipedia. (translated into English to help everyone) 

baidu-encyclopedia

  • Baidu Space Page: Baidu likes its own community products, so these show in results constantly over other sources.
  • Same Keyword Use: Make sure all of your assets use the same keyword phrase(s) as your paid campaigns. Baidu looks at the assets and language and is very exacting about this.

Here are some great resources on how to optimize your owned assets:

EARNED – Integrating Social & Creating the Right Profiles

Social media plays a part in Baidu, as it integrates some aspects of social media into its SERPs. Sina Weibo posts are the most likely to show, similar to how Google posted tweets in the past.

Here are the sources that most frequently present themselves in Baidu. Keywords are still the key to dominating the search engine results, so make sure you integrate them into your content, titles, meta or any provided components as they relate.

  • Sina Weibo: Posts are integrated in Baidu's results
  • RenRen: Pretty much China's equivalent to Facebook.
  • Baidu Space: Baidu's take on MySpace, but not focused on music.
  • Youku.com: For video sharing, China's equivalent to YouTube (YouTube is blocked in China)
  • Baidu Tieba: Baidu (Google) Groups

Conclusion

If you're considering breaking into the Chinese market and expanding globally online with your business, your strongest point of entry is in paid search. Paid search however, presents the most barriers to entry, outside of language. Setup is long, third-parties will/are involved, and you must provide quite a bit up front.

However, the benefits of taking a paid, owned, earned approach means having up to three primary listings that dominate the results.


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