Baidu SEO vs SEM

Baidu SEM (PPC) vs SEO : Differences of Baidu Advertising

Baidu search optimization is an all-important marketing strategy for brands trying to attract customers, drive website traffic, and grow their business in the Chinese market. But search optimization can be a strenuous task to handle if you don’t know how to differentiate between Baidu SEM and Baidu SEO. To be truly successful with Baidu marketing, you’ll need to understand search optimization and know when to use SEM or SEO to have the most effective campaign.

SEM and SEO marketing may seem indistinguishable to some, but they are two very distinct perspectives to Baidu search optimization. If you don’t understand the difference between the two or know when one is more suited than the other, you may struggle with effectively promoting your brand online to Chinese consumers. That’s why we’ve taken the time to cover the basics of both in hopes of giving you some valuable insight on how to start your Baidu marketing strategy.



#1. What is Baidu SEM(Baidu PPC)?

Baidu SEM or Baidu PPC (pay-per-click) is often considered the part of search marketing that uses paid tactics to gain visibility. The platform to get started with Baidu PPC is called Phoenix Nest, which can be a bit difficult to setup in comparison to Google Ads. Phoenix Nest includes both the activities involved with setting up and optimizing ads as well as setting a budget that pays for the placement of ads.

The cost to open a Baidu PPC account is 5,000 RMB. Once you have made the deposit, the funds are viewable in your account balance to use whenever you’d like for your PPC campaigns. The price of your advertisements depends on many factors such as how competitive your industry is, bidding prices and how well you write your ads.


#2. Baidu SEM(PPC) Practices

  • Baidu Tuiguang

    This product is essentially Baidu’s version of Google AdWords. You bid on selected keywords and your advertisement will be listed on the search results page. The process is pretty straightforward, but there are specific rules to follow for the most effective advertising campaign. For example, Baidu allows you to use 50 characters for your title and 80 for each line of text. Depending on your search position will dictate if both lines are displayed, which can affect the click rate of your ad.

  • Baidu Pay for Placement (P4P)

    There is no Google equivalent for this Baidu product. This service will allow you to reach your customers through relevant searches. You can buy priority placement to have your keyword permanently tagged to the first page of results, which can give you a considerable advantage over competitors.

  • Baidu Pro Theme

    This tool is only available for Baidu Union members (third party web content, software and mobile app providers) and allows users to display ads on specific products like search engine tools and apps for desktops. This tool is more suited for targeting a very specific type of audience.

  • BaiduTV

    Baidu TV is mainly designed for video ad promotions. It allows you to access Baidu Union member\’s websites and choose exactly where you would like your video advertisement to display.




#3. What is Baidu SEO?

Baidu SEO is the part of search marketing that uses organic tactics to gain visibility in SERPs. Some of the main difference between Google and Baidu SERPs is that Baidu’s interface is only offered in Simplified Chinese and quality matters more. The majority of organic results are also way more image heavy than Google. Baidu SERPs consist of brand queries, informational queries, local queries and transactional queries.


#4. Baidu SEO Practices

On-page SEO improves the readability of your website by targeting the content. This strategy includes keyword research, content creation and site formatting. On-page optimization in SEO helps search engines understand a page of content and allows your page to be crawled more thoroughly for better ranking results.

Technical SEO optimizes the non-content elements of your website to make it easier for web crawlers to index your site’s content. This typical includes site speed, design, code structure, crawlability, security and mobile friendliness. Since the primary target audience of Baidu is in Mainland China, preferential treatment is given to almost everything Chinese. This includes the hosting location of your Website and using a content delivery network for starters.

Off-page SEO is about building authority through building backlinks to your website. Brands in China often create blogs on platforms like Sina, 163 and Sohu for the purpose of publishing a large amount of content with backlinks. Baidu tends to index these sites very quickly due to their popularity. User generated content on Baidu’s own platforms is also very helpful for building natural looking backlinks.




#5. Using Baidu SEM vs SEO

There are a few things to consider when you are selecting a PPC or SEO campaign and one of the main things to think about is the time frame of your campaign. PPC is tailored to give instant exposure for your brand while SEO exposure builds over time. If you want to speed up your campaign process, then PPC would be the best option for you. It is also much easier to measure PPC ads since the feedback comes relatively quick. SEO results are usually considered to be the more trustworthy approach of the two. SEO results are more likely to get clicked on and Chinese visitors tend to prefer organic results.


Baidu SEO can be way more effective for a long-term marketing strategy, but it may be hard for your brand to gain exposure if you are in a niche market that has well-known players. It can be difficult to showcase your brand especially if their authority ranking is high. You may still be able to outrank competitors with a PPC campaign. For the most effective Baidu marketing campaign, it is worth combining the two approaches of using PPC campaigns and an effective SEO strategy to get the maximum exposure for your target audience.


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