SEO is no longer a new term to Chinese online marketing practitioners like it was four or five years ago. Many companies have already been noticing the importance of SEO and started doing SEO.
Although there is no huge change on the SEO theories for past few years, the search engine algorithm’s keep improving and so do SEO techniques. In this article, I would like to talk about what an SEO practitioner needs to be alert to for the China market in 2011.
Search Engines favor original content
I think this point has been raised hundreds and thousands of times by SEO masters and gurus. If inbound links were once the most important factor in influencing the ranking of a website, content is now overtaking inbound links to become the most important factor affecting a website’s performance in today’s major search engines.
This is also the reason why I would like to underline this point again. People always talk about how Google likes original content, but the truth is that Baidu likes original content a lot more than Google does.
Websites full of duplicated content will find it very hard to survive in Baidu. Such websites may even get “killed” from Baidu’s indexation. Baidu favors original content. Original content not only assures fast indexation in Baidu, but also a good ranking. Google has also made a big algorithm update earlier this year called “Panda” to penalize the content farms and eliminate low quality “spun” content.
Be careful with your link building
Not only does Google hate cheating on link building, it gets on Baidu’s nerves as well. Baidu made a big change to its algorithm to reduce the inbound linking effect from link farms at the end of last year. Those link farm websites with the same web hosting and same registration information were penalized by Baidu.
Google has made its move against such kinds of links as well. Early this year, JC Penny was penalized by Google because of its unethical linking sources. Link building has never been a one night job. There is no real shortcut on the road of link building.
The best link building sources for Baidu in China come from reputable high quality content websites, but it takes time and hard work to develop such high quality links.
A good site structure is more important than the URL
There is always a misunderstanding in relation to URL’s and website structures. Some people still judge website structures based on the URL. A URL like www.domain.com/folder1/folder2/folder3/page.html does not really tell you the depth of the page.
The depth of the page is really determined by the clicks it takes to get there from the home page. A search engine friendly website structure makes the new pages get indexed a lot faster and enables page value to flow down to each page. A good website structure is considered more important than the actual URL.
It once was an advantage to include the keywords in the URL to gain a better ranking. However, the advantage of having keywords in the URL is getting smaller. Website structure optimization is the cornerstone to achieving good indexation and keyword rankings.
CRO (conversion rate optimization)
Conversions are the real reason behind everything. SEO does not stop once No 1 rankings are achieved. We need to look into the web analytics to analyze user behavior and page performance in order to fully take advantage of the organic traffic that is brought by the work of SEO.
Keyword research should also be an on-going activity so as to explore the keywords that bring conversions and keep the wheels of SEO running.
Social and SEO
Google and Bing already claim that they consider the links from Twitter. It won’t be too long before we hear Baidu is also considering links from Social Networks as part of its ranking algorithm. Baidu users can now update their microblogs from the Baidu search box which link to the micro-blogging services on QQ, Sohu and Netease thus far.
Does this indicate that Baidu will take social into its algorithm? No doubt. Baidu is planning something big related to Social and as we all know there has been a lot of speculation recently about its discussions with Facebook for a potential new Social Networking site in China.
As SEO practitioners, we should start setting up accounts on microblogs and testing them so we can be prepared for further changes to Baidu’s algorithm in relation to social media and blogging links and content.
As long as we think about the users and customers, deliver useful information and provide good customer experiences, the website will be liked by users as well as search engines. After all, what search engines really care about is the user experience. Add to that the effort on SEO and I am sure you will reap the harvest of your hard work.