Is Quora available in China

Link building Feng Shui for SEO in China

The internet works very similarly for people all over the world. For many, the gateway to interesting websites is a search engine. In most countries, this is Google with a little market share for Bing especially in the US.

Native Russian speakers often turn to Yandex first, while Naver and Daum are the first choice for many Koreans. Users in most countries have the option of using Google as well.

In China, however, Google is not available as a search engine.

Search engines in China

The search market in China is led by Baidu. There are a few smaller search engines: Sogou, 360search, and Shenma (mobile only). Bing is accessible in China, but it doesn't really matter. Google cannot be accessed from the PRC (unless you use specialized VPN services).

How does SEO work for Baidu?

For search engine optimizers all over the world, however, one aspect is the same: All major search engines work very similarly. They analyze the content they find and rely on backlinks between the websites to find out which websites are the most recommendable on which topics. It is no different in China. It is no different for Baidu either.

Baidu algorithm updates

More experienced China SEOs know that Baidu is still very easy to manipulate. Masses of cheap links lead the search engine to position an irrelevant website well. One might think that Baidu, unlike Google, is idle.

(Symbol picture: Wikipedia expanded to include Baidu logo and lettering)

This is not the case. Every year Baidu integrates many small and barely noticeable and few very targeted updates for its own rating algorithms. Some of these updates focus on devaluing spammy content. Others on unnatural links or link networks.

Ethical link building for China

While it is still possible, avoid dodgy, cheap, and spammy links in order to steal your way to the top of the Baidu search results. Rather, one should take care of high-quality and topic-relevant link building. Just a link that is good for a website visitor is also good for long-term search engine optimization.

What is important to Baidu in a link?

Baidu tries to position the most relevant documents for a search query. Since Baidu itself is used almost exclusively by the Chinese, Baidu focuses on content that is of interest to the Chinese audience. The content that is most relevant to the Chinese is likely to be referenced by the Chinese. Links from Chinese websites (Chinese content, hosting in China, good rankings on Baidu) are therefore a quality factor for good links in China SEO. As for Google, links from websites that are heavily linked are more powerful than links from less well-referenced websites.

The Excel export of a LinkResearchTools BLP report (important settings: Basic SEO Stats, Link Source Country & City) allows us to analyze the existing backlink profile for the aspects on which Baidu can determine how relevant a link is for the VR China is.

Chinese TLD

A Chinese TLD (.cn, .com.cn, .net.cn, .org.cn, gov.cn) are strong indications that an organization operating in China owns the website.

A website with TLD from other Chinese-speaking countries such as .hk (belongs to China but has a western internet culture that is less similar to that in mainland China than that in the USA and Europe), .tw (difficult from a Chinese-political point of view) or also .sg (with two official languages: Chinese and English).

A website with a generic TLD can definitely be of Chinese origin ... a non-Chinese ccTLD, such as .de or .co.uk, show rather dubious relevance of a backlink for Chinese websites (as potentially other language content and not Chinese).

A Chinese title of the linking page and a Chinese link text indicate that the linking page is working with Chinese content.

Before starting the in-depth analysis of the backlink profile via the Excel export, the BLP online report can also provide information (a direct comparison with competitors is always recommended here):

With a simple filter, the link risk (Link Detox Risk) especially for the links of Chinese TLDs can be displayed very easily in LRT Smart.

Chinese hosting

The server location is similar to the TLD, but in a further dimension, a clear signal as to whether the linking domain is relevant to the Chinese target page. Chinese companies often use generic TLDs such as .com, but host (beneficial for the page speed within China) in the PRC.

A server location in Hong Kong, Taiwan or Singapore at least indicates linguistic (if not geographical) relevance.

Country popularity shows whether backlinks are coming from domains hosted in China. This is reserved for companies with a branch / office in China. Hosting in Chinese-speaking countries is still to be rated positively. Even if it is marked in red in the graphic, hosting in other countries does not necessarily mean that the website hosted there is not Chinese.

A backlink should be a recommendation

The first factor that determines the quality of a link is the strength of the linking domain. The text that directly surrounds the link determines the thematic relevance. If this fits the linked page, you can look forward to interested visitors who come to your own website via the link. The link works as a recommendation.

Baidu Backlink Building 101

But every link building starts once. So where should you start? What are the basic backlinks to take care of, regardless of the industry you're in? What else was the gateway for Internet users in China? Right, Baidu!

Let's take a look at how Baidu can help us with those first backlinks.

Like Google in the rest of the world, Baidu is probably the most powerful website in China. In contrast to Google, the Chinese search engine giant (still) shamelessly exploits this: Up to 50% of the search results on the first search results page are occupied by Baidu's own products. We also know the image search and video insertions on Google. However, Baidu has its own wiki, forum, review portal and much more. These services are preferred to many other and often equally good offers on the Chinese Internet in the search results of the parent company.

By the way, Baidu's own wiki, Baidu Baike, is just like our Wikipedia a product of many volunteers. So an easy way to get a link from a strong website? Possible. But you should always keep the above quality guidelines in mind - a link should always be a recommendation!

Which Baidu services allow links to be placed?

Let's take a closer look at the Baidu search results to find out which Baidu services are preferred in the search results. Because if we manage to position a link there - a serious recommendation - the chance of indirect traffic from Baidu via the Baidu service to your own website increases. The purpose of a link would thus be fulfilled: to bring visitors.

Baidu Baike (Open Wiki)

Service urlbaike.baidu.com
Probability on Baidu side 1 placement99 %
Can you place a link there?Yes

A listing of Baidu Baike can be found in the search results for almost every search query. For every second search query, there are even two Baike results.

Baike is the Chinese version of Wikipedia. There is the possibility as a user to edit content and to leave links. These links can be classified as very powerful when you consider that a Baike search result rarely ranks worse than position 5. However, it is not child's play to set up a link there.

Baike has established a very powerful activation process that is supposed to prevent irrelevant content or advertising (links are quickly associated with advertising) from being published. The link has a good chance of publication if the text content requires a reliable source and the link can provide this. If the article is about a specific company or brand, a link to the company website should be interpreted as a good link.

However, if your own company website in China is not yet established, a link to the company website can also be interpreted as not of sufficient quality by the Baike admins and a link to a well-known news source about the company is favored. Therefore, Baike link building makes sense almost only for established companies to further strengthen the trust of their own website.

Baike alternatives

Baike.com

Service urlwww.baike.com
Probability on Baidu side 1 placement18 %
Can you place a link there?Yes

Sogou Baike

Service urlbaike.sogou.com
Probability on Baidu side 1 placement0 %
Probability on Sogou side 1 placement99 %
Can you place a link there?Yes

360so Baike

Service urlbaike.so.com
Probability on Baidu side 1 placement0 %
Probability on 360so-side 1 placement99 %
Can you place a link there?Yes

Even if the probability of being ranked directly with Baidu with a 360so-Baike or Sogou-Baike tends towards zero, it is still a recommendation from a thoroughly Chinese website. So worth striving for.

Baidu Zhidao (Q&A portal) / Zhihu ("China’s Quora")

Service urlzhidao.baidu.com and zhihu.com
Probability on Baidu side 1 (for Zhidao) placement80 %
Probability on Baidu side 1 (for Zhihu) placement:62 %
Can you place a link there?Yes, on Zhihu

Zhidao is a Q&A website comparable to GuteFrage.net. Conceived as an anonymous community, there was a lack of professional moderation and was abused by link spammers. Baidu has deactivated the ability to set links after the portal mutated into a pure link farm.

Fortunately, Zhihu, also known as the "Chinese Quora", filled this gap. Zhihu replaces Zhidao as an expert forum, in which questioners receive competent answers and, where appropriate, links. Zhihu requires a real name and has established itself as a forum where experts can make a name for themselves with good answers. Important for link building - links can be set (even if they are routed via redirects). We still consider these links useful as they can generate high quality traffic.

Baidu Image Search

Service urlimage.baidu.com
Probability on Baidu side 1 placement70 %
Can you place a link there?Indirectly

Like the Google image search inserts in the regular search results, one can imagine the Baidu image verticals. The source URL is displayed when the mouse is hovered over it. Image SEO for Baidu can be understood as an indirect link building through which you can generate attention for your own website. Experience has shown that it is not very easy to get into the picture one-boxes.

As a workaround, the strategy can be chosen via larger websites (communities, forums, ...) on which you can post pictures, achieve a corresponding ranking and then place the link to your own website there.

Baidu Tieba (Open Forums)

Service urltieba.baidu.com
Probability on Baidu side 1 placement25 %
Can you place a link there?Yes

Probably millions of topics are discussed in the open forums on Baidu Tieba. Experienced and longstanding users are used as moderators, who are supposed to ensure that the forums are not misused for link spam or spam in general. Due to the great popularity of the forums, there is the disadvantage that hundreds or thousands of new discussions arise every day, so that posts only a few hours old often disappear into the depths of history and hardly get any visitors. There is also the "danger" that your post (with a link) will be deleted quickly if other users complain to the admins that it is probably advertising.

Baidu Wenku (Document Sharing)

Service urlwenku.baidu.com
Probability on Baidu side 1 placement22 %
Can you place a link there?No, but mentions are possible

Wenku is a file sharing platform. Millions of product and topic whitepapers can be found on Wenku. Of course, links can also be integrated in the documents, but Baidu deactivated the hyperlinking function so that these are more mentions than "real" links. The links may then work again in documents that are being downloaded.

Baidu video

Service urlv.baidu.com
Probability on Baidu side 1 placement6 %
Can you place a link there?No, but you have a (small) chance to get into the video one box yourself.

The Baidu video search forms an insert in the normal search results for relevant search queries - similar to the image search. In addition to videos from its own video platform, Baidu also lists films from other portals (free and paid films). Videos on your own website can be sent to Baidu via a video XML sitemap. There is no link option directly in the One-Box (except for the page on which the video is implemented).

Recommendation: Produce good Chinese videos yourself, host them yourself in China and implement them on your own website. Then submit it to Baidu via the XML sitemap.

Furthermore, some video portals allow the integration of links in the description texts. The videos published there often achieve a onebox ranking more easily than video publications on your own website.

Baidu Maps (Maps service & business directory)

Service urlmap.baidu.com
Probability on Baidu side 1 placement3 %
Can you place a link there?No more

As a small business owner, you used to be able to include a link to your own website in your listing on Baidu Maps. Unfortunately, Baidu has now deactivated this function and replaced it with a field for the telephone number, which is more practical for mobile users to contact a company.

Baidu Hanyu (Chinese language information)

Service urlhanyu.baidu.com
Probability on Baidu side 1 placement2 %
Can you place a link there?No

Baidu Hanyu is a dictionary of Chinese characters, phrases, and proverbs. Since there is no possibility for normal users to add content, there is unfortunately no possibility to place links here.

Baidu Jingyan (knowledge sharing)

Service urljingyan.baidu.com
Probability on Baidu side 1 placement2 %
Can you place a link there?No, but mentions are possible

Jingyan is a platform on which not experts, but everyone can share their life experience and knowledge with all other people. The subject areas that can be found here are correspondingly broad. Tourism, handicrafts, online gaming, cooking and much more make this platform so popular among Chinese users. The top places to visit are presented as well as step-by-step instructions on what to do if you get into a car accident involving a luxury car (it can be quite expensive if one is not prepared). All content is provided by the users themselves. To prevent spam, Baidu does not allow links. But simply naming a website works to get visitors. Mentions are therefore possible. Furthermore, Baidu automatically links the posts of a user with each other, so that it can make perfect sense to establish yourself on Jingyan as a topic specialist with many exciting articles. Social signals such as votes, like functions, share and Q&A features also help to promote posts within the platform.

Baidu Xueshu (Academical search)

Service urlxueshu.baidu.com
Probability on Baidu side 1 placement2 %
Can you place a link there?No

Xueshu is a specialized search engine within Baidu for finding academic information and opinions. Published academic papers, books, and magazines are the source of the platform's success. In addition, Xueshu also integrates sites such as CNKI, Wenku, and other document sharing platforms into its searchable sources. Since it is a pure search engine without user-generated content, there is of course no direct way to build links.

Baidu Zhaopin (Jobs portal)

Service urlzhaopin.baidu.com
Probability on Baidu side 1 placement1 %
Can you place a link there?Yes

Baidu Zhaopin is Baidu's job search. It brings together the most important Chinese career platforms. Companies can also create access directly and draw attention to job vacancies. A link to the company page can be published on the employer's profile page.

Baidu Yuedu (eBook sharing platform)

Service urlyuedu.baidu.com
Probability on Baidu side 1 placement1 %
Can you place a link there?Yes

Baidu Yuedu is an online trading platform for e-books and electronic magazines. However, in addition to the paid offers, there are also some free books.The paid offers are very cheap. On every page there is a section for comments, where you are also allowed to leave links. While this is a great way to draw attention to content offerings such as blogs, we would advise against promoting products or company websites there. This can quickly be misinterpreted as spam and would be counterproductive.

Conclusion

Leveraging the power of Baidu’s power to optimize your website for China is a great website idea. However, everything is a give and a take.

Fengshui is about the forces flowing freely and not being hindered. There should be no negative spaces and for every purpose there are places that are better suited to energy levels than other places.

So you should try not to simply use the power of the search engine for every post on Baidu's own portals, but to consider whether this really makes sense for visitors to Baidu. What does the Baidu user get from reading this post and clicking this link? Only if this can be answered optimally for Baidu is there a prospect of success. Pure spam, on the other hand, is not only annoying for users, but can also lead to Baidu denying the next portal the opportunity to store links there (as already happened with Baidu Zhidao and Baidu Maps).

Furthermore, it is a good strategy not only to concentrate on the direct traffic from the organic Baidu search, but also to use other (Baidu) services to attract interested visitors to your own website. The fact that in the Baidu search, Baidu itself wins first and secondly the largest Internet services in China (e.g. QQ.com or iqiyi.com), should show that the strategy of generating indirect traffic via the major Internet portals is definitely one good idea is.

Our questions

  • How do you like our first insights on link building for SEO in China?
  • Do you have your own experience or do you have any questions?
  • Would you like to read more articles about link building in China in the future?

the authors

Kun Tang

Kun Tang is the founder and CEO of the Chinese online marketing company Jadegital. His customers are mainly western companies that want to gain a foothold in the Chinese online market. His team consists of specialists from various disciplines such as social media, SEO and SEA for China.

Marcus Pentzek

Marcus Pentzek is Chief SEO Consultant at Searchmetrics. His responsibilities are in particular international SEO analyzes and strategies. Marcus lived and worked in China for two years and since then has been working in particular with SEO for China. Marcus is also certified as an LRT Certified Xpert.