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How to optimize your website for China

Making a website is not a easy task. It requires knowledge of the latest trends in design, technical skill and patience.
Writing great content for that website, well, can be just as hard. You need to write in a way which will be easily understood, accurate and interesting – all this while trying to get the keywords right for SEO (Search Engine Optimization).
The bad news is, most of the knowledge about SEO is specific for Google search engine and thus for Westerners. But if your market is in China, or in another country where Google is not as common? And SEO is not all: what about the type of content your customers prefer to engage with? That’s even more different than what you have learned till now.

The good news is that this article can help you out.
Thanks to our experience both on technically realizing websites for China and doing marketing in the Chinese market through its own socials, we have a wide understanding about how to optimize your website for China.
Below we have prepared a list of the points you should satisfy in order to be successful in China through online marketing:

1. Language: although it seems obvious, while many Chinese understand english, they of course will prefer content in their own language. A tip here: there are two Chinese – Simplified and Traditional (also called Complicated Chinese). You want to use Simplified Chinese, as it is understandable by a far greater percentage of people – including those who are used to Traditional Chinese. If you want to be as complete as possible, you could add both – but, unless you want to market specifically the areas of Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan, probably not many will use Traditional Chinese. You can verify it yourself using Web Data Analysis tools.

2. Think Mobile: the vast majority of Chinese will access your website through their smartphones. Making your website beautiful for the desktop and then adapting it to mobile view is the wrong approach – you need to do exactly the opposite. Also here, you can get as a proof the statistics made by the Web Data Analysis tools.
3. Less Pictures, more Content: while in the West pictures help a lot to make the text lighter to read and help engagement, in China it is a bit different – people still like to read longer texts. Helpful pictures are welcome – one every once in a while to take a break is the best -but they need to be well-merged with the story as a whole.
4. Use Chinese Socials: your website will not easily be discovered by itself. Promote yourself through Chinese socials: if done well, you can experience great results. Also, keep in mind that Chinese socials are continuously changing – be ready to adapt and move from one place to another to seize the popularity of a media above another.
5. KISS: Keep it Short and Simple is a principle that works everywhere on the web, and China is not an exception. Even the older generations of Chinese can use apps like WeChat, Weibo and so on: if your content is simple to access, you can get into a category of people that the rest of the world won’t easily find on the web.
6. Hosting: China is very far, geographically, from many hosting services, which are usually in Europe and USA, and this increases the time requested to show your content online in China. You can use a CDN service (Content Delivery Network) to move your content through hosts which are nearer to the users, or directly provide your mirror hosting in China. Considering the other points, we advise to have a separate host for China – since you will also need to provide a different appearance for your website, services, and so on. Another important point is to make sure there are no plugin, services, links or redirects which are coming from sources banned by the GFW (Great FireWall): Google and many of its services being an example). Otherwise a page load will take far too long. You can verify this by simply using the console of the browser connecting from a chinese IP address.
7. Mobile Payment Methods: if you have an online shop, do not expect your Chinese customers to pay you through PayPal or cards: let them use Alipay and WeChatPay instead. They are so convenient that nobody uses cash or cards – especially since they have virtually zero commissions for both sides. If you are not willing to open an Alipay or WeChatPay account, there are services (such as Stripe) that can let you provide access to this and other payment methods for around 3.5-5% of the transaction.
8. Remember the Cultural Divergence: whoever has some experience doing business in China will know how weird (and effective!) some marketing choices might seem. The cultural divergence among Westerners and Chinese advantages the local market, but foreign businesses have their own strengths as well. Just make sure your advertising is checked by a professional before regretting it. Bigger firms (including Nike, Dolce & Gabbana and countless more) already stepped in the mud before – some even more than once or twice – while others managed to become more famous in China than they were in their own country.

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