According to Global mobile statistics 2013 Part A from mobiThinking, Chinese people really love cellphones. In 2013, the total number of mobile subscribers in China reached 12.18 billion, accounting for 90.2% of the entire population, and including 391 million 3G/4G subscribers.
As the leading Chinese search engine on both PC and mobile devices, it would be insane for Baidu to ignore the demands of better user experience from this huge number of user base. So in 2013, Baidu has released quite a few guidelines, tools and articles to help webmasters standardize the optimization efforts for Baidu Mobile.
This article will serve as a definitive guide to Baidu mobile optimization, covering the rules, tools and best practices. If you are planing to optimize your website for Baidu Mobile, keep this article under your pillow.
Situation 1: You don’t have a mobile site.
First, the good news is you don’t have to have a mobile site to do optimization for Baidu Mobile. Baidu has released a tool called SiteApp, which can help you create an app-like mobile site based on the desktop version of your website.
This option suits small businesses that don’t have an extra budget for creating a mobile site or making the desktop website responsive.
And it’s pretty obvious that another option for those without a mobile site is just creating one, or making the existing PC site more responsive to suit the screen sizes of mobile devices.
Situation 2: You have a mobile site.
If you have a mobile website, it’s important to let Baidu distinguish it from the desktop site and properly display it in the search results of Baidu Mobile. Below are three ways to achieve this, to make Baidu’s and your lives easier:
Option 1 – you do the heavy lifting yourself
You will need to properly configure your server to let it recognize mobile devices and mobile crawlers. The easiest way is to detect the user agent. For example, the user agent name of Baidu’s mobile crawler is Baiduspider, the same with its desktop crawler. That of Google’s mobile crawler is Googlebot-Mobile, which is different than the name of its desktop crawler.
To make this easier, Baidu has also released an API for standardized device-detection. You can read more here: 百度终端适配服务 (The API document is in Chinese and doesn’t have an English version yet).
Option 2 – meta tag
Option 2 is a simpler one that most SEOs should be good at – adding meta tags to thesection of the PC web pages.
<meta name=”mobile-agent”content=”format=[wml|xhtml|html5]; url=url”>
If a PC page on your site has a corresponding mobile page, you can use the meta tag above to inform Baidu.
Here is an example:
Option 3 – sitemap
Using sitemap to inform Baidu of the relationships between the PC pages and mobile pages is another option. Baidu has released a detailed guide on how to adjust your sitemap file to meet the standards.
So you have a mobile/responsive site and Baidu can distinguish it. Now we need to optimize it for Baidu Mobile.
Baidu has released an official mobile SEO guide and below is the English version translated by Chinese SEO Shifu. We have omitted some common recommendations like “use a short domain name so visitors can remember it more easily”. Please also note we have not done quantitative tests to proof all the recommendations from Baidu can actually benefit your mobile SEO performance on Baidu, so please make choices based on your own wisdom.
Baidu Mobile Optimization V1.1
1. Make sure your robots.txt file doesn’t block Baiduspider. The mobile user agent of Baidu is still Baiduspider, not Baiduspider-mobile.
2. Use sub-domains or directories or organize your content, to make it have a clear structure.
3. Use the keywords meta tag for the home page and important directory pages.
4. Use the description meta tag for the home page and important directory pages.
5. Reduce or avoid broken links, and ensure the pages give correct status codes.
6. Use a home <–> directory <–> article flat content structure for your website.
7. Use breadcrumb navigations.
8. Write clear page title. For example:
homepage: site name_service or product description
directory page: directory name_site name
article page: article title_directory name_site name
9. Don’t use too many subdomains. For example, some online communities give each user a suddomain like username.a.com. Don’t do that.
10. Links a web page point to should give 200 status codes. Try avoiding errors and redirections.
11. When you are changing the domain, it is ideal you keep the URL structure unchanged. For example, you are changing from a.com to b.com. Old pages like a.com/abc/abc.html should be permanently redirected to b.com/abc/abc.html
12. Use correct DOCTYPE declarations, so search engines crawlers can detect if the web pages are suitable for mobile devices. For example, xhtml mobile sites can use the following DOCTYPE:
WML mobile sites:
HTML5 mobile sites:
And here is the original Chinese version by Baidu of the mobile SEO guide in Chinese.
In general, to do mobile SEO for Baidu, if you already have a mobile site, you need to let Baidu recognize it first by using meta tags, sitemap or configuring your servers; If you don’t have a mobile site, then you can use Baidu’s SiteApp tool to quickly create one, or make your PC site more responsive to suit mobile devices.
After that, you can check the above mobile SEO recommendations from Baidu and work on your mobile site.