The Chinese SEO market is growing rapidly. With the development of China’s internet, including ecommerce and online marketing, the SEO market in China is expected to reach the ten-billion-dollar mark. In fact, the number of Chinese internet browsers using search increased by 8.4% in just a year from 2014-2015, with around 566 million users accessing search engines. CNNIC’s January 2016 report also lists search engines as the second most popular application used.
Search engine marketing is one of the most effective ways for a company to build their brand, both in China and on a global scale. Broadly, it can be divided into two parts – SEO (search engine optimisation) and SEM (search engine marketing). Optimising your website for search engines can deliver high quality, qualified traffic to your business at a low cost. But it also comes with challenges and faces ever-changing technology.
Why Use SEO in China?
Search engine marketing, while easy to start, continues to cost money for the lifetime of a campaign. SEO on the other hand, generates free, organic traffic over a long period of time. The benefits of an SEO strategy can continue for months, or even years, bringing qualified traffic at lower cost.
The benefits continue to increase, the longer your SEO strategy is in place, because the weightings accumulate over time and your page rank improves, bringing an increasing amount of traffic to your business.
The fast growth of the Chinese internet made many companies begin to see the importance of online marketing, and so search engine marketing makes up the biggest share in the entire Chinese digital marketing industry.
The number of Chinese internet users who regularly visit search engines is huge. Research shows that over 80% of internet users search on either Baidu, Sogou, or 360Haosou. From these users, 40% will only ever click on the top ten results, with 80% clicking only on the first page; just 20% continue on to further results. Based on those figures, if your company is not listed in the first page results for your keyword then you only have a 20% chance of being found by potential customers. So, to be found, you need to spend time working on your SEO.
The history of SEO in China
SEO was first used in the mid 1990’s when the first generation of search engines were launched and active from 1995-1998. At the time, the search engine market was new and disordered. As search engines such as Google and Baidu rose in popularity, so did the SEO industry. People paid close attention to the optimisation of their website content.
By 1999 the SEO industry matured and became more standardized. Where the first generation of SEO focused on directory search, better technology allowed for SEO 2’s more advanced techniques, such as building external links, content localisation, and the use of multimedia such as images and video.
From here, both technology and internet user’s habits changed rapidly and by 2011 the SEO market changed again to become what we know today. Local search engines such as Baidu saw immediate growth. The new generation of search engines became personalised, social and cross-media, able to give results more closely aligned to the searcher’s needs. With these characteristics of the new generation of search engines, the SEO definition was updated to become “Searcher Experience Optimisation” – SEO 3.0. The focus is on the optimisation of product design, customer satisfaction and resources integration, as well as website operation and process management optimisation with the aim of increasing user value and operational efficiency.
In the early days of SEO, techniques were more simple and geared at changing the website just for the search engines. Now SEO is based around the user experience and customer satisfaction. China SEO and Baidu SEO need to focus on improving the operation and efficiency of the website while also adding real value for visitors. Content is the most important part of any new SEO strategy and should be written to be meaningful and helpful to internet users. With the rise of new generation search engines in the market such as Sogou, Soso, and S.weibo.com, user experience should be the core of any SEO plan.
By using SEO in China your business will be taking advantage of a massive opportunity. Today there are more than eight million registered companies in China and over six million registered websites. This number grows by more than two thousand every day. Without SEO, how will you attract customers and stand out in such a crowded market? China SEO is the answer.