What are Baidu’s Smart Mini Programs? Get more out of Baidu’s SERP

Boost engagement with Baidu's smart mini programs

Mini programs are streamlined applications that run within larger apps, and they form one of the fastest-growing digital trends in China. And although easily mistaken for an add-on rather than a primary feature, the rising prominence of mini programs in major app ecosystems like iOS and Android means that businesses in China must take them seriously.

To illustrate its massive user adoption in China, mini programs on WeChat—essentially serving as online stores for brands within WeChat—reached a staggering 1 billion monthly active users (MAU) by August 2021!

1. WeChat mini programs’ MAUs from August 2020 to August 2021 (Source - Quest Mobile)

WeChat mini programs’ MAUs from August 2020 to August 2021 (Source: Quest Mobile)

Likewise, Baidu—China’s #1 search engine with over 550 million active users—launched its own set of Smart Mini Programs to improve the user experience of its SERPs and leverage the vast user engagement of mini programs.

In this article, let’s explore the optimization functions within Baidu Smart Mini Programs so that you can better engage your target customers from Baidu’s behemoth userbase.

What are Baidu Smart Mini Programs?

Baidu’s Smart Mini Programs comprise an ecosystem of mobile apps. These apps allow brands greater functionality on Baidu’s mobile SERP, from service listings and keyword recommendations to resource libraries and advanced displays.

How to Launch a Baidu Smart Program

Launching a Baidu Smart Program for your brand involves four main steps:

  1. Registration: Register for a Baidu Smart Mini Program and provide the required information, such as ICP license and business license.
  2. Program creation: After successfully registering your licenses, you can login to the domain account of your Baidu Smart Mini Program to create a new mini program.
  3. Development: Like for WeChat mini programs, developers are needed to launch a Baidu Smart Mini Program. Baidu provides web development services to help brands with their Baidu Smart Mini Programs.
  4. Operation: Upon launching your Baidu Smart Mini Program, you will have access to myriad operational functions to optimize the user experience.

Benefits of Launching a Baidu Smart Mini Program

Similar to WeChat’s mini programs, you can directly launch official brand apps within the Baidu app when you encounter Smart Mini Program results. This exposure on the app interface shortens the journey for users looking for a particular branded product or service, thereby lowering your bounce rates and improving conversions.

From an SEO perspective, Baidu’s Smart Mini Programs are attractive since Baidu prioritizes their exposure on its app, and they are easily searchable by both branded and generic terms.

2. Smart Mini Program results on the Baidu app

3. Smart Mini Program results on the Baidu app 1

Smart Mini Program results on the Baidu app

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What are the functions available in Baidu Smart Mini Programs?

Every Baidu Smart Mini Program that exceeds 10 daily active users (DAU) will receive a Baidu-assigned grade category that determines the functions available to it.

4. Four grades of Baidu Smart Mini Programs, each with more functions as you upgrade

Four grades of Baidu Smart Mini Programs, each with more functions as you upgrade

Baidu has four grades for its Smart Mini Programs: grades A, B, C, and D, with grade D permitting only the most basic functions. To help you gain access to more functions, Baidu has a program audit with insights on how you can advance to the next grade.

When your Smart Mini Program is at grades D or C, your only customization option is page submissions. But upon reaching grade B or above, you will unlock more functions.

Baidu Smart Mini Program: Grade B Functions

There are eight functions available to grade B Smart Mini Programs:

  • Quota for new page submissions into search
  • Q&A display card options
  • Operations: Content management
  • Brand trademark & keyword verification
  • Keyword-related recommendations for your Smart Mini Program
  • Resources management
  • Smart Mini Program rules
  • Operations: Private traffic management

Baidu Smart Mini Program - Grade B functionsBaidu Smart Mini Program: Grade B functions

Below, we’ve elaborated the top three functions that present massive opportunities for brand visibility on Baidu’s app.

  • Keyword-related recommendations (“搜索词推荐直达”): When users search the name of a Baidu Smart Mini Program on the Baidu app, the mini program will appear in the drop-down list as a suggested search, and users—upon clicking it—can jump directly to the Smart Mini Program.

6. Baidu Smart Mini Program - Search term recommendations for “Clarins娇韵诗”

Baidu Smart Mini Program: Search term recommendations for “Clarins娇韵诗”

  • Q&A card display options (“搜索问答卡”): Baidu offers numerous questions relating to each industry, and brands can provide a high-quality answer to any one of those questions. So, whenever users search for that particular question, the brand’s answer can rank first as a SERP feature on Baidu’s app.

7. Baidu Smart Mini Program - Q&A card display

Baidu Smart Mini Program: Q&A card display

  • Brand trademark & keyword verification (“官方认证”): This function lets you submit your brand information to Baidu to verify your Smart Mini Program result with the blue official tag (“官方”). This improves click-through rates (CTR) since users generally prefer clicking verified results when searching for brand terms.

Baidu Smart Mini Program: Grade A Functions

Once you reach grade A in Baidu’s Smart Mini Program category scale, you will unlock six additional functions. So, in addition to the eight functions available within grade B, you will have access to 14 in total in grade A.

The six new functions in grade A of Baidu Smart Mini Programs include:

  • Core page keywords
  • Services listings display card
  • VIP services
  • Service resource library
  • Smart Mini Program advanced display card
  • Outsourcing: Quick verification

Baidu Smart Mini Program - Grade A functions (on top of Grade B ones)Baidu Smart Mini Program: Grade A functions (on top of Grade B ones)

Again, we’ve outlined three highly useful functions for you to optimize your Baidu Smart Mini Programs:

  • Core page keywords (“核心页面关键词”): Here, you can prioritize your important pages on your Smart Program and assign keywords—both branded and generic terms—to distinguish them. You can also optimize your Smart Mini Program’s title and description according to a set of target keywords.

9. Baidu Smart Mini Program - Core page keywords

Baidu Smart Mini Program: Core page keywords

  • Smart Mini Program advanced display card (“小程序单卡高级卡”): You can use this function to manually set the sitelinks, as well as their titles and meta descriptions, for your Baidu Smart Mini Program. After getting them verified, your sitelinks will appear whenever users search for your brand or any brand-related terms.

10. Baidu Smart Mini Program - Smart Program advanced display card options

Baidu Smart Mini Program: Smart Program advanced display card options

  • Service listings display card (“服务聚合卡”): Service providers (e.g., express delivery, house movers) can list their services here and must provide their service category, business location, and customer service phone number. They also have the option to assign keywords to better categorize their service for users.

11. Baidu Smart Mini Program - Service listings display card options

Baidu Smart Mini Program: Service listings display card options

In addition to these functions, grade A Smart Mini Programs can also leverage exclusive features like one-to-one technical support that help answer any questions you might have about the operation and verification processes for each Smart Mini Program upgrade.

***

Baidu’s mobile ecosystem heavily favors Smart Mini Programs and provides myriad optimization options to maximize exposure. So, if you’re on the hunt for novel ways to gain traffic and boost conversions in China, Baidu’s Smart Mini Programs are where it’s at!

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