Baidu’s Official Webmaster FAQ

This is an English-translation of the official webmaster FAQ, translated on February 14, 2013. The original Chinese-language content can be seen on www.Baidu.com.

Site Indexation

1) How can I get my website indexed by Baidu?

  • Baidu indexes websites and webpages that provide search engine users with a good search experience.
  • To help Baidu Spider find your website faster, you can also submit your website’s URL to Baidu at http://zhanzhang.baidu.com/sitesubmit. You only need to submit your homepage URL.
  • Baidu indexes pages based on their value. Indexation has nothing to do with Baidu Tuiguang (the Baidu pay per click advertising platform) or other business factors.

2) How Can I check if my website has been indexed by Baidu? Are the results returned by the “site” search command accurate?

  • You can use the “site” search command to see if your site is indexed or not. To do so, just enter “site:” and your site’s domain in the Baidu search bar, such as “site:www.baidu.com”. If it returns results, that means your site is indexed by Baidu.
  • The number of search results returned by the “site” command is just an estimate.
  • If you want a more accurate count of the number of pages indexed by Baidu, please use the index check tool in the Baidu Webmasters platform.

3) How can I prevent Baidu from indexing pages?

  • Baidu strictly adheres to the Robots.txt protocol. For details, see http://www.robotstxt.org/.
  • You can configure your Robots.txt document to prevent Baidu from indexing any of the pages of your website or only pages in certain directories.
  • If your website restricts Baidu from accessing all or part of your site via robots.txt after it’s already been indexed by Baidu, the new Robots.txt file will typically take effect within 48 hours and the relevant pages will be removed from Baidu’s index. It’s important to note that it may take several months for all the blocked pages to be removed from Baidu’s index.
  • If your removal request is extremely urgent, you can contact us via our feedback center and we will deal with it as soon as possible.

4) How come some of the internal webpages on my website which don’t even have links pointing to them are indexed by Baidu?

  • Baidu Spider crawls webpages by following links from one webpage to another.
  • Besides the internal links of a website, there are also links from website to website. So, even if there isn’t a link to a page on your website from any other page on your website, if another website links to a page on your website, Baidu Spider can find it and index it.
  • Baidu Spider has as much authority as a regular (non-logged-in) user. If a page cannot be accessed without logging in, Baidu cannot access it either.

5) How come fewer and fewer of my website’s pages are being indexed?

  • It may be because the server that your website is hosted on isn’t stable. If Baidu can’t crawl your pages, they may be temporarily removed from the index.
  • It may be because your website doesn’t provide a good user experience.

6) How come my website isn’t showing up in Baidu search results anymore?

  • Baidu doesn’t allow all webpages to show in search results.
  •  If webpage(s) on your site haven’t appeared in Baidu search results for a long time, or they have suddenly disappeared from the search results pages, it may be due to one of the following issues:
    1.    They do not provide a good user experience.
    2.    They are not hosted on a stable server. In this case, they will be temporarily removed from Baidu search results and will reappear after the server is stable again.
    3.    They contain illegal content.
    4.    There are other technical problems.
  • The following explanations are totally baseless:
    1.    Webpages will be removed from Baidu’s index if you advertise on Baidu Tuiguang but have not yet paid.
    2.    You advertise on another search engine.
    3.    Your site competes with one of Baidu’s other sites.
    4.    Your site was receiving too much traffic from Baidu.

7) What types of webpages does Baidu consider to have no value?

Baidu only indexes webpages that provide value to users. All changes to the rankings on search results pages (SERPs) are determined by the search algorithm. Baidu does not like the following types of webpages:

  1. Webpages that are made for search engines rather than people, causing the page to not match what is displayed in the SERPs or causing the page to have a higher ranking in the SERPs than is appropriate. If your webpage has many of these pages, the ranking and indexation of the entire website may be affected.
  2. The webpage contains duplicate content: content that is highly similar to the content of another webpage.
  3. The webpage contains illegal content.

8) If my website disappears from Baidu’s SERPs due to offending Baidu’s guidelines, is there a chance that it will be re-indexed again in the future?

  • Any website that is completely fixed has a chance of being re-indexed by Baidu. Baidu will automatically re-evaluate websites periodically and re-index those sites that meet the requirements.
  • It is important to note that Baidu is only responsible for user search experience. The following statements are baseless:
    1.    My site will be re-indexed if I become a Baidu advertising client or a Baidu Union publisher website.
    2.    My site will be re-indexed if I give Baidu money.
    3.    I can get my site re-indexed if I know the right person in Baidu.

9) What should I do if my website has been updated but the content indexed by Baidu hasn’t been updated?

Baidu will periodically update all webpages. This includes the removal of dead links, updates related to domain name changes and updates to website content. Therefore, please be patient and Baidu will realize the changes that have been made to your website.

10) How come the number of pages of my website that are indexed by Baidu is so much different than the number indexed by another search engine?

Different search engines use different methods to determine the value of a page.

Ranking

1) My website’s homepage has been indexed, but it doesn’t rank #1 for a search for the website’s name. Why is that?

The ranking algorithm is extremely complex. Our goal is to help search engine users find what they want with the lowest amount of effort possible. This process often results in unexpected results. We very much appreciate it if you can send your feedback to us. Our engineers will carefully analyze each problem. Please help us improve by submitting any feedback you have to the feedback center.

2) Is it normal for my website ranking for a certain keyword to vary greatly over a short period of time?

This is normal. There are 3 common reasons for such changes:

  1. There have been changes on your webpage.
  2. There have been changes to other webpages that are ranking for this keyword.
  3. There have been changes to the Baidu ranking algorithm.

4) Why is it that my website’s rankings on Baidu are so different from another search engine?

Different search engines use different ranking algorithms.

5) Will anything bad happen if I have an “SEO” make optimizations to my website?

SEO should be done according to Baidu’s “Website Construction Guidelines”.

There are many people out there that call themselves “SEOs” and may be able to help your website rank better in the short term. However, this may cause losses for you in the future. Many SEOs will try to cheat their way to higher rankings, or may use your website to help their own projects, resulting in losses to you.

Don’t risk handing your website over to somebody else because an SEO has told you:

  1. I have good connections with people in Baidu. There’s no risk.
  2. I’m a search engine expert. I am completely clear on Baidu’s ranking methods.
  3. I helped websites rank #1 for the keywords xxx, yyy and zzz, so I’m awesome.

Business Customer Issues

1) I’m a Baidu pay per click customer. If I don’t keep paying, will Baidu punish me?

Certainly not.

Baidu’s only goal is to provide search engine users with a good search experience. Baidu’s pay per click platform and Baidu’s organic search function are two completely separate systems. Whether or not a website is a Baidu pay per click client has absolutely nothing to do with their organic search rankings.

If you hear anybody say otherwise, please send an email to ask@baidu.com to notify us.

2) I’m a Baidu pay per click client. How come my website disappeared from Baidu after I stopped paying?

Whether or not a website appears in Baidu’s search results is determined by the quality of the website. It is not related to paid search marketing at all. Just because a website is displayed in the paid search positions on Baidu SERPs doesn’t mean that it has been indexed for organic search. If your website has disappeared from Baidu search, please see the Site Indexation section above.

3) My website disappeared from Baidu due to offending Baidu’s guidelines. Will it be re-indexed if I become a Baidu pay per click customer, become a customer of Baidu’s other ad products or sign up as a Baidu Union publisher website?

This will not affect whether your site is re-indexed or not. See the Site Indexation section above.

4) Will being a Baidu pay per click client help my website rankings?

No.

Website Construction Guidelines

We recommend that you check the Search Engine Optimization Guide published by Baidu (official Chinese version, English translation). It is meant to help webmasters use ethical, scientific methods to optimize their websites.

  1. Create a suitable title tag for each website. For the homepage, we suggest you use the website name or business name. For content pages, the title should be an accurate summary for the page’s content. This will allow search engine users to quickly understand what is on the webpage, then click through to your site.
  2. Make good use of the description meta tag, in the format <meta name=”description” content=”Description of the content on this webpage…”/>. This will allow both search engine users and search engines to better understand what the webpage is about.
  3. The website should have clear navigation and a hierarchical structure. The website’s important pages should be accessible via the higher levels of the website. Make sure that every webpage on your site is linked to from at least one other webpage.
  4. Use text to display important content and links, rather than using Flash or Javascript. Baidu is currently unable to read content within Flash and Javascript. That means any content in Flash or Javascript will not be searchable via Baidu. Similarly, Baidu will not likely be able to index any pages that are only linked to via Flash or Javascript.
  5. Use frames and iframes as little as possible. Content contained within iframes will probably not be indexed by Baidu.
  6. If your website uses dynamic webpages, limiting the number of variables and the length of variables will help improve indexation by Baidu.
  7. If important website URLs are changed, you should use permanent redirects (301 redirects) to point from the old URLs to the new URLs.
  8. If your website domain is changed, all URLs of the old website should use 301 redirects to point from the old URLs to the corresponding new URLs.

Only through mutual understanding between search engines, webmasters and Internet users can this industry develop smoothly. Draining the pond to get the fish will only create distance between your users, search engines and you. By developing in harmony with each other, search engines and webmasters will enjoy a beautiful future together.

Below are some of our website quality guidelines.

  1. The website’s content should be created for users. Search engines are only another user on the website. Placing content that cannot be seen by any users, or content that cheats users, may be viewed by search engines as a fraudulent activity. These kind of activities include, but are not limited to:
    a.    Adding hidden text or hidden links to a website.
    b.    Adding keywords to a page that are not related to the page’s content.
    c.    Using tricky redirects.
    d.    Adding doorway pages that are meant mainly for search engines.
    e.    Using software to create content for search engines.
    f.     Using content that is mostly duplicate and without value.
    g.    Allowing a large number of unethical advertisements or unethical code.
  2. Baidu really likes unique, original content. If your website content is only obtained from other sources, it likely won’t be indexed by Baidu.
  3. Be cautious when using friendly links (link exchanges). If many of the links on your website point to garbage websites, your website may experience negative consequences.
  4. Be cautious when joining content alliances or other programs that create very little original content, unless you can contribute original content to the program.
  5. Baidu tries to index webpages that contain different content. If your website allows for the same content to be accessed via different display methods, such as a printable page, you can use robots.txt to forbid spiders from crawling the pages that you don’t want to display to users. This will also help preserve bandwidth on your server.

Baidu’s Website Forum Indexation Protocol

The Website Forum Indexation Protocol is a forum content indexation standard developed by Baidu. Forums can output forum posts in XML format according to this standard, allowing them to inform Baidu of new content quickly and proactively. Using the Website Forum Indexation Protocol is equivalent to allowing Baidu to subscribe to a forum. This may result in a greater amount of search traffic for your forum.

Feedback Responses

1) I sent feedback to Baidu. Will I get a response?

The Baidu employees that are responsible for search quality are not able to respond to feedback, but they will carefully read and categorize each message they receive, then send it to the appropriate department. Please feel free to send us feedback via the feedback center.