Targeting Asian Search Engines: An SEO Primer

There are no fundamental differences between the ranking algorithms of mainstream search engines (Google, Yahoo! & Live Search etc.) and other leading Asian-language search engines (Baidu etc). However, when you’re optimizing an Asian language website, there are certain rules you have to follow and some tactics and tools will help you to achieve the desired position on SERPs.
Search Engine Market in China
China’s Internet population stood at 210 million at the end of 2007, up 53% from the same time in 2006 when there were 137 million. This figure puts China just 5 million users away from having the world’s largest wired population.
Search engine market share in China of Q4, 2007: – 60.1%
Google – 25.9%
Yahoo! China – 9.6%
China’s search engine market reached US$131.3 million in the fourth quarter of 2007, almost double from a year earlier.
In China, 74.8% of Internet users use search engines, lower than the U.S.’ 91%. However, mobile search is growing strong in China. iResearch estimated that 127 million people in China were to use mobile search in 2008.
Top Search Terms in China (2007)
QQ (China’s most popular IM tool)
QQ (China’s most popular IM tool)
招商银行 (China Merchants Bank)
十七大 (17th CPC Plenary Session)
工商银行 (ICBC Bank)
迅雷 (Xunlei – downloading software)
股票 (stock)
小游戏 (small online game)
跑跑卡丁车 (the name of an online game)
建设银行 (China Construction Bank)
基金 (fund)
Google Earth
视频 (video)
迅雷 (Xunlei – downloading software)
快乐男声 (a TV program similar to American Idol)
卡巴斯基 (Kaspersky)
和谐社会 (harmonious society)
Search Engine Market in Japan
87.5 million Internet users
68% penetration rate
50% + on broadband
Japanese is the 4th most popular language on the Internet
Baidu was founded in January, 2000 by Robin Li and Eric Xu. It’s the leading Chinese search engine and the world’s third largest search engine with 3.3 billion searches per month, according to ComScore. Baidu is also the largest search engine in the Asian market, following by NHN which is largest search engine in Korea and fifth largest search engine in the world.
Baidu now operates in both China and Japan (
Chinese Search Engines
Search Engine
Web Address
Engine Technology
Google China
Yahoo! China
Location of paid and non-paid results on a Baidu page
SEO on
Baidu uses the similar ranking algorithm as Google and Yahoo!. However, because of the language differences and specialness of Chinese, it does need to take extra care on the following elements when optimizing websites for Baidu.
URLs – There is no need to use Chinese characters in URLs, because Baidu does not support Chinese character URLs. It transfers characters into UTF-8 code when use in URLs. But writing URLs in pinyin is recommended, unless it’s your English brand name or targeting the English word specifically. (Pinyin is the most common standard Mandarin Romanization system in use). Baidu does understand pinyin most times, and Chinese people enter pinyin in the search bar occasionally. For example, the pinyin for “student” is “xuesheng”. If your web page is talking about students in Chinese, then use “” as the URL rather than “”.
Domain – It would be better to use a Chinese domain, like and .cn, or/and host the site in China.
Copyrighting – Write everything in Chinese, not only visible page elements (title, headings, page copy, link anchor text etc.), but also invisible elements, including Meta keywords, Meta description and ALT text.
Title – Within 30 characters will be the best.
Content – Baidu is very sensitive to some information, so totally avoid mentioning or writing adult content, pornography or Chinese government forbidden keywords.
Robots.txt – The robot name of Baidu is Baiduspider.
Sitemap – Adjust your XML sitemap to fit Baidu’s News Protocol and submit it to
Asian Languages, Word Separation and Search
In English, the words in a phrase or sentence are separated by spaces. In most Asian languages, including Chinese, Japanese, and Korean, there are no spaces between words in a phrase. This difference means Asian search engines have the difficult task of understanding and separating words before interpreting the meaning of sentences and web pages. Google uses the word segmentation technology from Basis Technology ( and Baidu uses its own technology. The quality and speed of word segmentation affects the quality of search results and has implications for SEO. Currently Baidu is still better on word segmentation technology than Google.
Japanese Optimization Issues
4 different sets of letters and characters
No spaces segmenting the words
Spelling variation
Must find the best (most popular) word/phrase combinations used in Japan for SEO, for example:
Indicating Language and Region
Use lang attribute in a meta tag, or inside an enclosing span or div tag in HTML, to provide additional geographical and language information to search engines. For example, use in the header section of the page to indicate Japanese of the entire page.
Asian language codes:
zh-gan (China), zh-guoyu (China), zh-hakka (China), zh-Hans (China), zh-wuu (China), zh-xiang (China), zh-yue (China), zh-Hant (China, Hong Kong, Macao, Taiwan), zh-HK (Hong Kong), zh-MO (Macao), zh-TW (Taiwan)
jp (Japan)
ko-KP (Korea)
You can find a complete list at
Keyword Research
As for English sites, SEO keyword research is equally important when optimizing Asian language sites. Both Baidu and Google provide basic keyword research tools for free. Baidu’s Keyword Tool is for Chinese only. But Google’s Keyword Tool can be used on many languages, including Chinese, Japanese and Korean.
Baidu Keyword Tool –
Google Keyword Tool –
Keyword Density Tools
For calculating keyword density on Chinese websites:
Chinese Search Engine Submission
You can submit your sites to Chinese search engines at the following addresses:
Baidu –
Google China –
Yahoo! China –
Sogou –
iAsk –
Yodou –
Chinese Web Directories
Sogou Directory –
NetEase Directory –
iAsk Directory –
Beijixiang Directory –
Hao123 Directory –
9991 Directory –
Chinese Social Media Sites
Video sharing –
Photo sharing –
Market Research
Similar to Google Trends ( which also works for Asian languages, we can use the following services to do basic market research for Chinese sites:
Google’s popular searches –
Yahoo! Buzz –
Baidu Top Searches –
Baidu Index – (similar to Google Trends)
Chinese Domain Info
Domain info –

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