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Doing online business in China

When it comes to doing online business in China, Robelen Bajar, marketing manager for Melbourne IT, shows how to crack the fortune cookie in the Chinese online market.

You don’t need to deliver kicks and punches like Jackie Chan’s to make an impression on the Chinese online market. With 800 million searches performed each day, having an online presence in Chinese, on search engines, is a cost-effective and powerful way of breaking into the Chinese market.

Chinese domain names

Crossing over China’s online threshold starts with a .cn domain name, the localised internet address for China. With more than 950,000 .cn domains registered in 2007, it is essential to secure a unique online presence that distinguishes your brand in the Chinese market and protects your business’ online identity.

While not everyone can aspire to achieve a unique identity as powerful as the stratospheric 88-storey high Jin Mao Tower in Shanghai, your job of creating a distinctive .cn domain is a lot less daunting as there are no policy restrictions or eligibility requirements for registering one. The sooner your domain is registered, the better it is for your business as it ensures brand protection from competitors and domain speculators.

Chinese search engines

Your best online partners in China are not Google or Yahoo. Brush up on your Chinese and get used to names like Baidu and Sina instead.

Searches on Chinese search engines are rarely performed in English. Simplified Chinese text is used, hence Baidu – a Chinese text-based search engine – dominates over the usual suspects Google and Yahoo. According to a September 2007 report by the China Internet Network Information Center (CNNIC), baidu.com is favoured by 74.5 percent of search engine users in China, while Google achieved just 14.3 percent.

Even when Baidu is leaving others in its trail, it is interesting to note that Google is fiercely competing for the attention of the high-end demographic in the Middle Kingdom.

Website translation

Naturally, it is essential to speak the local language and have your website translated into simplified Chinese text. Doing so helps increase the natural rank of your website in Chinese search engines, giving your business greater exposure. In addition, you draw internet users in markets such as Taiwan, Hong Kong and Singapore, which use simplified Chinese text for web searches. Remember, web hosting for your domain name must also be sourced within China to ensure optimal search results for your website.

Online marketing in China

There are a wide variety of online marketing options available to help promote your business in China, including:

  • Directory Inclusion. Baidu and Sina charge an annual fee to have your website listed in their directories. 
  • Fixed Ranking Placement. For a monthly fee, some Chinese search engines guarantee a top 10 ranking for your website. The monthly payment is determined by the popularity of the keyword provided.
  • Pay per Click (PPC). You can pay to have your website displayed based on keywords entered by users.
  • Contextual Advertising. You can advertise on certain websites that appeal to your target market.

The Internet in China is growing strongly and is likely to continue to expand at a rapid rate. CNNIC recently issued a report that stated that China’s internet user base had reached 162 million. This equates to 100 new users per minute on average, in the first half of the year.

Internet penetration also came up to 12.3 percent, with 122 million broadband network users. If this trend continues, the internet will represent a ticket onto the Orient Express for Australian businesses to promote their services in the booming Chinese market. 

-Robelen Bajar is marketing manager for Melbourne IT (www.melbourneit.com.au), which helps business managers, marketers and entrepreneurs start, grow and manage their businesses online.

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Robelen Bajar

Robelen Bajar

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