Digital Marketing in China

Algorithm Updates

It’s an exciting time to begin to get into Baidu SEO, particularly when it comes to the direction the search engine is taking with its ranking factors and algorithm updates. While born in a similar image to Google back in 2000, many have accrued the notion that Baidu optimisation still lingers in the shade of black hat SEO tactics where spammy link-building and the relentless churning out of low-quality content will propel you to the top. Since the release of two key spam-battling algorithm updates on 2013 however, things are certainly changing, and it’d be advisable to keep tabs on these two updates.

Money Plant (绿萝)

Released in February 2013, Money Plant is intended to combat link spam and penalise link farms and those who partake in public link trading platforms.

Pomegranate (石榴)

Rolled out in May 2013, Pomegranate seeks to punish sites that overload users with excessive ads, particularly of the pop-up kind (the likes of which are often found in pirate sites in China). Seen as a real indication that Baidu is moving towards a Panda-style manner of penalising sites with poor quality content.

Content Research & Marketing in China

The Chinese internet currently plays host to a vibrant hive of creative activity and much like other more technical aspects of Chinese SEO, is ever-evolving and full of opportunity. With an increasingly-savvy and tuned-in online demographic as well as some cutting edge developments on content format, functionality and technology, now is a great time to jump in and apply what we know from our content experiences in the West and make sure it’s localised and tuned-up properly for the Chinese market. First things first though, where do we go to find out what’s hot on the content circuit in China? We can rely on our existing means and tools of content research (such as the wonderful BuzzSumo and Ahrefs) to an extent, though to get a finer picture, the best option is to do things the Chinese way. Here are a few great tools to check out:

Baidu Feng Yun Bang 百度搜索风云榜

Baidu Feng Yun Bang, essentially Google Trends (and then some), is a fantastic place to go discover what the Chinese internet is talking about in almost any capacity. Here’s a screenshot of its main interface to help with some of its sections:

Furthermore, Feng Yun Bang allows you to get really, really granular in your exploration of hot topics, which is important given China’s size and cultural diversity. Below is a screenshot of the location search section of Feng Yun Bang, where you can search by category in individual provinces and cities and really get stuck into what your target demographics are talking about:

Baidu Index 百度指数

To complement Feng Yun Bang, Baidu Index also serves as a handy Google Trends / AdWords-like platform allowing you to harness data on particular keyword searches and inform content marketing strategies by identifying opportunities within your target market.

Carrying on with the theme of granularity and data customisation, Baidu Index also allows you to analyse keyword trends by city, province, time period and more as well as allowing you to delve further into data on related keywords and their own levels of popularity. Here are a few screenshots to walk you through its key functionalities following a search for the term “最新电影” (latest movies).

Here’s a look at the main interface:

And here’s a look at the display of the second white tab under the top blue one, entitled “需求图谱” which in this context roughly translates as “related search data map”:

As you can see, your key search term is the one in the blue circle, with key related terms spanning out in hierarchy of popularity. Terms marked orange are ones that have increased in volume over the past month, while the ones in grey are vice versa. In this case, following on from “latest films” we can see that “US TV shows” (美剧) “Chapman To” (Hong Kong actor, 杜汶泽) and “Mr. Bean” (憨豆先生) are currently popular film-related terms.

The bottom left column shows further related terms and an indication of their current popularity, and you can actually click through on these terms to bring up the same display for the particular term you click on. The right hand column shows terms with the biggest percentage increase in volume over your selected time period, with the terms being clickable as well (in case you were wondering, the term with the 1000%+ increase is “Avengers: Age of Ultron”).

The third tab (舆情管家) allows you to explore how often and where your term is being discussed in the online public domain, pulling up results mentioning the keyword in news articles and on Baidu Zhidao:

As you can see, this is incredibly useful for identifying outreach opportunities and for leveraging Baidu Zhidao for opportunities to engage with your target demographic who are asking questions related to your brand.

Finally, the fourth tab (人群画像) offers up a look at some top level demographical data on who and where is searching for your term: