Having flown in from Hong Kong last night to Xiamen, and the XICEC
Conference Centre I am relaxed and ready to attend my first Asian
Search Engine Strategies Conference. Done it on three continents now!
The day started off ‘interestingly’ as the air conditioners were
switched off in the registration hall. This meant 35 degrees plus of
heat and humidity in the 90% range. I managed to avoid melting by
panting like a dog, I assured the onlooking fellow geeks this was how
SEO works in Europe. I had no takers on that one.
I then moved upstairs to the relative cool of the main conference
meeting room. With approximately 2000 delegates there was no shortage
of brain power and smokers. The fug that followed was either my brain
in meltdown or the smoke having a less than desired impact. I though
smoking made you smart and cool! I sat and waited with keen
anticipation for the conference to begin, it had been a slow day. But
before it could start people began to approach me and ask what I did,
who I worked for and did I know their cousin in London?
The best part was the endless TV crews and photographers who seemed
very keen to get shots of the sweaty, nerdy bloke surrounded by
interested locals. I made a few interesting contacts and my
interpreter, known as ‘fish’, was helpful in making sure I wasn’t
misunderstood. The conference opened up and pretty quickly my working
knowledge of Mandarin kicked in and I felt right at home. Fish was able
to supply the finer details and make sure I was getting all the
information I needed.
So here are my key learnings from Day One. I am going to add
information that is of interest from a Chinese point of view but also
from a ‘what does it mean for my site?’ so you can learn something new.
- Baidu, www.baidu.com, is the main Chinese Search Engine and you can pay for inclusion within the natural rankings!
- Baidu is popular as this is where you go to download free music
- Google is used by the young and white collar professionals.
- Yahoo! is also a big deal in China and Asia generally, much more than in the UK
- Taebao, www.taobao.com, is the biggest auction site in china, and it is huge! (check it out, don’t install language pack!)
- ‘Simple Chinese’ is the language used by all sites in China.
- Chinese users like to be able to buy locally. So like the US market rather than UK.
- Podcasts are a great way to advertise
- Mobile is a key battle ground for younger searchers, very competitive
- The east coast is the best developed in China for SEM
- Baidu relies on human interaction to modify results and is getting too expensive to maintain
- Firefox cannot be used to buy online, you have to use IE
- Gaming industry is driving innovation
That was the opening session, I then moved on to various
presentations which included ‘Meet the Search Engines’ and ‘Search Term
and Language Issues’. Key learnings from this were:
- Google is only at 5% of its search capacity – I think that means in terms of delivering results!
- Over $10 billion has been spent on SEM in 2007 already worldwide
- Monitor your internal searches to see what keywords are
being used, those which aren’t and those which return no results. And
add the product /services to rectify this.
- Monitor your competitors and see what keywords they are using.
- Design is key to gaining ‘trust’ in China. So use this differently than you would in UK/Europe.
- Don’t do a straight translation of your site into Chinese. Content should be written from scratch from the bottom upwards.
- Use local language tools to generate deep keyword lists.
- www.alibaba.com is the largest B2B site in China, and the world.
- Use Baidu and Google ‘suggested’ search tool to make sure you are getting al keywords covered.
- Some words can have many meanings in Chinese so cover all with unique content. Works for English as well!
I did get some more information on how SEO and SEM works in China, but
even I found it all a bit dry so I will spare you the details. Overall
I got a lot of useful information. The market in China is about two to
three years behind the UK. But I think they will catch up sooner than
this time lag suggests. The people I met were incredibly nice and very,
very interested and motivated about search. It was great to meet up
with people who were so enthusiastic and positive. The highlight of the
day actually came at lunchtime were I was take on a 20 minute walk (in
searing heat and humidity) of the bus depot and surrounding building
sites in Xiamen looking for some food. Eventually we ended up at a very
popular and fancy restaurant and were ushered into a private dining
area. Fish then ordered me a full blown authentic Chinese meal. What
portions there were! I wish I had taken photos. Ranging from beef and
clams to spinach and slow cooked pork. It was brilliant and my belly
was truly full! So thanks for that Fish! A memory to be treasured.
Tomorrow I will add ‘day two’ information which will have more
information specific to SEM and SEO in the UK.