How Baidu Is Trying to Gain Back Users’ Trust in China
In China, when it comes to marketing (both online and offline), cultivating users’ trust is key. Baidu, which experienced a series of scandals in the past few years due to the exposition of unreliable information, is trying to win back the trust of users on search results. One illustration is given on the paid search results area, where Baidu reduced the numbers of ads, and made them more explicitly recognizable so that users can easily identify these as actual ads.
Baidu also took actions on organic search results. In November 2016, the Chinese giant launched a new feature to protect official websites via its webmaster tool: Baidu Zhanzhang. The tool has been designed to prioritize the ranking of official websites on brand keywords, and therefore to further enhance the credibility and reliability of natural search results.
It does happen that sometimes, when users search brand keywords on Baidu, fake brand websites appear in the results, impacting users’ experience and generating potential risks. Obviously, this does not only affect Baidu’s credibility, but also, and more importantly, brand sites themselves. When fake brand websites compete for rankings on brand keywords, official brand websites face challenges on both organic traffic and brand reputation sides.
As shown below, a fake site positioned itself on Decathlon’s brand keywords, so whenever users typed in Decathlon in Chinese on Baidu (迪卡侬), it would appear as the first organic search result, before Decathlon’s website itself.
Decathlon's official website was in the 2nd position
To solve this issue, we leveraged Baidu’s new tool - Baidu ZhanZhang - and its protection feature, submitting brand related keywords for Decathlon.
the submitted brand keywords approved by Baidu
After about a week, all submitted keywords were approved by Baidu. We then ran a test, searching Decathlon on Baidu, and indeed, the ranking was changed: Decathlon’s official website went up to the 1st spot, while the previous fake one disappeared from the top 3 results.
Decathlon's genuine website now takes the first spot in organic results
Brands can submit up to three brand keywords for PC and mobile respectively. Once Baidu confirms these keywords, official websites are treated preferentially. It is also possible to report fake websites to Baidu, which will investigate and find a solution in order to protect genuine brand sites.
Today, more and more brand sites are using this new feature, which has proven its usefulness and efficacy in a world where trust is a key factor of success.