The 5 steps for online marketing in China

How to get your business active and online in China?
We asked Robbie Burns, International Sales at ChinaSEO to outline the 5 steps to “getting through the firewall” and engaging online in China.

We advise and supply companies with the “5 steps” to getting online engagement with China.

One of the first questions people ask us is if they require a .CN web domain for their business. For the majority of international companies, the answer is “no, not unless you want to engage in active e-commerce locally (in China).”
By China law, only a China registered office can apply for a .CN domain, and, for Chinese search rankings it really does not matter.
Once your domain and account is registered and your content is up and indexed your pages have the served search ranking values as local all domain addresses registered on the Search Engine (eg. Baidu).And Chinese are quite used to viewing international URL addresses. Your local URL for e.g. "" or "" shows viewers they are at the genuine pages of your site.

Step 1: Market and competitor research:
China is competitive online and quite different to western online marketplace. We find many folks are surprised at the traffic and performance benchmarks compared to western equivalents.
It is important to “learn the playing field” and work out your China web “face” and marketing strategy based on up to date research and data. Find out what your top 5 or top 10 competitors are achieving today online. Good online market research helps set expectations and guide overall web strategy.

2. SEO Strategy KPIs and benchmarks.
Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) are track able goals and benchmarks for your website. Set clear, realistic online and offline performance benchmarks and allow time for the web and traffic to gather momentum. Set calendar campaigns and traffic targets and ensure the web pages are doing the role they are designed for. Technical KPIs include page and traffic metrics, rankings and IT performance. Other KPIs can include new content, numbers of leads generated or inbound enquiries, mentions of your brand and content distribution on other-web sites and platforms, numbers of “fans” and seasonal content reviews/updates and more.

3. Quality China web pages and presence:
Quality translation and good page text/Copy are vital. Do not use “translation software” as even the best (including Google) struggle to make coherent translation and it negatively affects your online image and brand. Just as “Chinglish” grammar is laughed at by western tourists, so is poor Chinese on western websites. It maybe amusing to read but “nobody wants to buy” from a website with poor grammar or spelling errors.
Chinese pages do have different design characteristics also, they prefer content rich pages rather than simple and sleek as preferred by westerners. This does not mean “re-design the entire site,” it just means ensuring your Chinese pages are customized for the audience whilst still maintaining your company brand DNA. China Social Media platforms and content not on your own website but on others such as Weibo, can also assist maintain a “good China face” online. Additional E-commerce platforms like TMall can also help drive sales as well as traffic to your own e-comm platform.

4. Opening Baidu and China SEM accounts: “The great firewall” blocks many popular western websites and platforms, including Google, Facebook and Wikipedia to name a few. Your pages will need to be found by Chinese Search Engines (SEs) and any marketing campaigns will need to allocate budget towards Chinese SEs. Baidu is by far the most popular search engine today. It is also the 5th busiest website on earth. If your web pages are not registered or at very least indexed on Baidu then you are missing out on traffic from China.

 5. Active China SEO and managed SEM: stay on top of the rankings with optimization of your web pages. Baidu alone has 95 plus factors to consider when ranking your website so it is important your SEO provider is on top of updates and changes to Search Values in China. “360” was not even ranked in top 10 last year and is now 2nd. Taobao has also just released it’s own search portal so keeping up with the market is very much part of the winning game. SEM, paid-online marketing is also important to help keep up inbound traffic and just as importantly block your competitor from getting the views. Newcomers need to beware that the competition is fierce and prices are very much market driven. For example, “Travel to Australia” was worth 70 US Cents per click in September, but was up to $3.55 USD in December per click. Paid blogs can range from $10 USD to $10,000 USD per blog. Careful strategic targeted campaign management is essential to ensure budget’s last the distance and maintain good traffic throughout your campaign.

Based in Shanghai and founded in 1997 by China “online Guru” Mr. John Wei ChinaSEO are one of China’s oldest and best online marketing agencies. ChinaSEO provides expert China web traffic (SEO and SEM) online marketing services and China digital market analysis reports. Clients include Li Ning, 51job, Ctrip, LG, Lufthansa Airlines, LG and more.