Baidu’s SEO Advisor Tool: Friend or Foe?
Last month, Baidu launched a tool called Baidu SEO Advisor (百度SEO建议专家). They’ve promoted it as a useful tool for Chinese SEOs, but many in the SEO community in China see it as Baidu’s spy, rather than a tool they can trust. Who’s right? Well, it’s not quite clear yet.
Why might Baidu’s new SEO tool be good news?
Since Baidu is by far the most popular search engine in China, the benefits of optimizing Chinese websites for Baidu are obvious. Baidu describes Baidu SEO Advisor as a tool that will provides users with specific advice on how to optimize their site for Baidu. It provides information on URLs, meta tags, and a several other on-page SEO factors that I’ll get back to later in this post. It’s also conveniently located with Baidu’s existing Baidu Tongji platform, which is similar to Google Analytics. The SEO Advisor feature enhances this platform, providing even more actionable information for webmasters. Sounds pretty, useful, but…
Why are so many Chinese SEOs suspicious about it?
Baidu has typically taken a hard line with SEO, seeing it as a threat to be fought with force. Many Chinese SEOs think that Baidu isn’t able to fix SEO spam in the search results externally, so they’ve devised Baidu Tongji in order to spy on potential spammers from the inside. They say Baidu SEO Advisor is just another piece of bait to lure in unsuspecting victims!
Once Baidu has collected more data about your precious website, they may deem it to be of lower quality and penalize it harshly. “Deem” is a key word here - since Baidu really can’t tell what’s bad-evil-spammy-SEO and what isn’t, good guys and bad guys alike are hesitant to use Baidu Tongji.
Of course, we don’t know what’s true or not, but any new tool from Baidu is certainly worth a try, right? We’ve gone ahead and started using Baidu SEO Advisor on a project, and we’ll see what we can learn…
How can you sign up?
To get access to SEO Advisor, you’ll first need to install Baidu Tongji. Then you need to apply for the Baidu SEO Advisor program either by contacting your Baidu PPC account advisor or emailing email@example.com. When accepted, there will be a link within your Baidu Tongji account and Baidu will analyze your site and provide you with some data. Once you're signed up and ready to go...
Baidu will show you:
- URL length issues. Baidu will show you if your website has URLs that are longer than the recommended 255 characters.
- Dynamic page parameter issues: Baidu will let you know whether or not any dynamic page parameters are interfering with indexing.
- Meta tag issues: Baidu will tell you whether or not you need to add meta keywords and meta descriptions.
- Frame issues: Baidu will inform you if pages have code for frames or iframes.
- Flash description issues: Baidu will let you know if any Flash files are missing descriptions.
- Image alt text issues: Baidu will let you know if some images are missing alt text.
And, one more thing…
Nope, just kidding, that’s it. Pretty basic stuff, even for a newbie SEO. It would still be useful for checking large sites though.