China’s Internet Explosion and the effects on SEO

BaiduWhen I lived and worked in China, the level of engagement with the Internet constantly surprised me. Of course this was primarily amongst those who lived in the main cities. China’s economy is based upon the four engines of economic power: Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou, and Hong Kong. Each has its own personality from the technology-focused Beijing to the entrepreneurial Shanghai; to the Pearl River Delta driver of manufacturing, Guangzhou, and the intellectual property centre Hong Kong.

Internet usage in China

Reading a recent report by McKinsey on China’s Internet obsession, I was not surprised to read that people in the country’s sixty largest cities spend seventy percent of their leisure time online. In the smaller towns it is averaging fifty percent. In terms of actual users of the Internet China has a mind boggling 384 million people. That is greater than the entire population of the USA, which currently stands at 309 million.China SEO (see also Global Internet Usage)

The Dragon’s Inquisitiveness

This gigantic Internet usage echoes the Chinese people’s deep inquisitiveness. Since the move from a central, state run, economy towards a more liberal economic model, the dragon’s almost manic search for knowledge has dramatically accelerated. A desire to know more about the world outside of China is only part of the story.

Chinese Commercial exploration

The computer is replacing television as the main entertainment in Chinese households. They shop online and use the Web site Taobao to participate in online auctions. In 2009 the volume of e-commerce increased by over 100%. Online advertising is growing at 30% per annum with $3 billion expenditure. This makes Google’s decision to exit China as brave.

Chinese Search Engines

This departure will ensure that Chinese search engines will become more important. Baidu is the most significant with an index of over 740 million web pages, 80 million images, and 10 million multimedia files. It also is the first in China to offer WAP and PDA based mobile search.

The Dragon has many heads

Due to its ethnic diversity China is not like entering a single country. It has a complex and inconsistent rule of law, which differs within regions and because of its size; potential entrants would be advised to treat each region individually. A “one size fits all” strategy is not to be recommended. A careful exploration and understanding of the differing regional Chinese characteristics
can pay great dividends.

Opportunities and Threats

Unless you have lived in a bubble for the past few years you will be well aware of the size of the opportunity in China. Put in perspective, it is rather like considering entering the USA market in the early 1900s with its immense potential and challenges. Over the past ten years the growth in China has been considerably faster and greater. The challenges are perhaps more considerable, given the language differences: speech and writing in China span six language families. With the wrong tonality, a few words of praise can turn into an insult. That is why entrants need to proceed with caution.

How we can help with Chinese SEO

Intelligent Positioning is well placed to meet the needs of companies seeking a reliable and effective SEO/ Social Media Optimisation (SMO) service in China by searching in local language. This, coupled with the extensive experience of living and working on international and local brands in China and Asia of senior Intelligent Positioning executives, means that the complexities of entering into China doesn’t have to end in tears.

Breathtakingly, economic development and consumer power in China has only just begun. Entering China with a bite-size approach will ensure an indigestion-free feast full of surprise and delectable delights.

Garry Titterton
Intelligent Positioning