When it comes to marketing a B2B brand in China, having a Chinese website is the essential first step to accessing the market. By having a website in Chinese, your brand becomes more accessible to your Chinese audiences, allowing them to find you on local search engines, as well as drive traffic to your social media platforms.
In addition, having a Chinese website helps to make your brand appear more credible and trustworthy. Chinese people are more likely to trust a business that has taken the time to localize its website and translate the content into Chinese for them. By investing in a Chinese website, you are showing your customers that you are committed to doing business in China and that you value their business.
So, how can you make your global website optimized for China?
Optimizing a website for the Chinese market involves several important considerations, including language, culture, SEO, and web hosting. Here are some key steps you can take to optimize your website for the Chinese market:
1. Cater your content to the local audiences
It's crucial to tailor your content specifically for Chinese audiences by translating your website into both Simplified Chinese (used in mainland China) and Traditional Chinese (used in Taiwan and Hong Kong). Failing to do so could result in low visitation and poor user experiences for Chinese customers. If translating the entire website sounds like too much work, consider localizing the home page and key product landing pages.
Remember there's a key difference between translation and localization. To ensure your messages on the website are interpreted accurately, it's important to avoid direct translations, instead, localize them by taking into account the cultural context and the language preferences of your industry audience. Working with a professional translator that has relevant industry experience is a wise choice, but make sure to have your local team or PR agency in China to review the copy in order to avoid any potential mistakes.
2. Be aware of cultural nuances
Chinese culture is truly unique, and it is crucial to understand the nuances in order to avoid any cultural faux pas. For instance, a website designed in black and white can be easily associated with death and mourning, so you may want to adapt your website design to be more aligned with local cultural preferences.
Moreover, Chinese audiences prefer visual content, such as videos and images compared to their western counterparts. Therefore, it is essential to ensure that your website is optimized for this type of content.
Finally, it is suggested to include third-party validations on your website, such as certifications and customer reviews to show your trustworthiness. To this end, you might want to consider rearranging your website layout and modules to reflect Chinese design preferences and viewing habits.
3. Optimize for local search engine
Just like any search engine optimization strategy, optimizing your website for the Chinese market requires you to understand local search engine preferences. Baidu is by far the most popular search engine in China and should be your primary focus when optimizing your site. That said, other localized search engines such as 360 and Sogou should also be taken into account as they are widely used by Chinese netizens. To maximize your website's visibility on all these platforms you'll want to make sure that it can easily be crawled by bots, contains key relevant phrases, and has plenty of high-quality backlinks.
To ensure your website will appear in Baidu’s search result list, here are some suggestions:
Create a Baidu account and register your website with this account: Baidu prefers to rank its own sites
Carefully categorize your website
Set keywords and tags for your website SEO
Design the web page for mobile devices
To obtain step-by-step instructions, the article “Baidu SEO (Search Engine Optimization) – Ultimate Guild” is a great source.
4. Ensure fast website loading times
Accessing websites in China can be a challenge due to the nation's powerful digital barrier known as the Great Firewall. To ensure that your website is not subject to slowdown, consider hosting it locally or using a content delivery network with servers based in China. Using an appropriate local domain name (.cn) will also help Chinese users find and access your site quickly.
When planning out resources for your website, ensure they are accessible within mainland China by avoiding any services blocked by government regulations; if necessary supplement these with alternatives available inside of China.
5. Consider mobile optimization
China has a huge mobile user base. By June 2022, the number of mobile internet users in China had reached 1.05 billion, which accounts for 99% of the total netizens in China. This means that if your website is not optimized for mobile devices, you could be missing out on a large potential audience.
Moreover, optimizing websites for mobile use will help them rank higher in Baidu searches as Baidu favors mobile-friendly websites and gives them higher rankings in search results.
In addition, China has a unique digital ecosystem with its own social media platforms, messaging apps (WeChat), and mobile payment systems. These platforms are primarily accessed through mobile devices. Thus, having a mobile-optimized website can make your website more integrated with these platforms, which is essential for implementing multi-channel marketing campaigns in the future.
6. Comply with Chinese regulations
Whether your website is hosted in China or abroad, as long as your website is accessible in China or collects personal information from Chinese citizens, your website may be subject to Chinese regulations. Ensure that your website complies with Chinese regulations, such as the Cybersecurity Law, to avoid any legal issues.
Depending on the type of website and the services it provides, you may also need to obtain certain licenses or permits. For example, if your website provides news services, you will need to obtain a license from the relevant authorities.
It is always helpful to work with a legal advisor who is familiar with Chinese regulations to help you with website compliance.
Localizing your website for China doesn’t have to be complicated
Optimizing your global website for the Chinese market can seem like a daunting task. But with careful considerations and planning early on, it doesn’t have to be! By understanding local search engine preferences, catering your website messages to local audiences, and legal compliance, you can start working towards building a strong website presence in China.
Finally, don’t forget about social media platforms. They offer unique opportunities for engaging prospective customers through content and community groups, which can help you convert your website visitors into buyers. With these tips under your belt, you’ll be well on your way to crafting an effective website plan tailored toward reaching Chinese audiences effectively.