SEM Tools for Brand Marketers Targeting China

  |  June 22, 2011   |  Comments   |  

A comprehensive list of tools for search and weibo automation in China.

Online marketing in China involves search engine marketing through search engines and social marketing through social media sites. Search engine Baidu offers high volume of search traffic that you need and social media site/tool Sina Weibo has been the center of buzz in China's Internet world. Before you jump right into search marketing and social media marketing in the Chinese market, follow these three steps when planning your actions: trend research, keyword research, and process automation. Let's go through the list now.

Trend Research

Trend research allows you to better understand Chinese Internet users' intent and what they are most interested about. As the number one Chinese search engine, Baidu has been collecting the most user intent through its search box. In return, Baidu provides these trend research tools: Baidu Index, Baidu Data Research Center, and Baidu Top Searches.

Baidu Index: It is the equivalent of Baidu's Google Trends in China. Baidu index shows you search terms' volume by the timeline of your choice from geographical regions, by gender, by age, by occupation, and by education level. It also tells you the media's attention to your search terms with news that have mentioned the search terms.

Baidu Data Research Center: Offers trend reports by industry for download.

Baidu Top Searches: Provides top 10 searches in real time and in other different categories including entertainment, people, and life by demographics (gender and age).

You may also want to verify trends by using tools from other search engines: Google, Sogou, and Soso.

Google Insights for Search: Needless to mention, this is a great trend spotting tool provided by Google. Google Insights lets you search via search terms, geographical regions, and time frames. You can even filter your searches by verticals (web search, image search, news search, or product search) and select from 27 industries.

Sogou Hot Searches: Provides the top 10 search terms in different categories including today's news, weekly hot topics, etc.

Soso Top Searches : Features the top 10 search terms for categories including websites, pretty ladies, handsome guys, songs, books, people, movies, TV shows, and sports.

Keyword Research

Before launching your SEM campaign either in Baidu's paid search system, Phoenix Nest, or Google AdWords, you need to set up keyword lists that are suitable for your business. Both Baidu and Google provide keyword research tools.

Google Keyword Tool: For each keyword that you run a research on Google's keyword tool, Google gives you up to 100 related new keywords with numbers in competition, global monthly searches, and local monthly searches, by keyword match types and by geographical regions. You can even enter a URL and the keyword tool will return 'keywords' from within the web page.

Baidu Keyword Tool: It works similar to Google's keyword tool except that you are required to log in to a Baidu Phoenix Nest account before you can access the tool. For each keyword that you run a research on Baidu's keyword tool, it will return new keyword suggestions by daily search volume and by competitions. You can even filter keyword suggestions by geographical regions within China.

Process Automation

Google and Baidu provide AdWords Editor and Baidu Editor respectively for you to manage your daily search engine marketing operations that may involve keyword, ad, and campaign manipulation.

With social media for microblogging, you can use tools that will allow you to automate your social media/buzz marketing on Sina Weibo: FaWave, ShowOne, Hearwide, and Baidu Box Computing.

FaWave add-on: This add-on is a Chrome extension that works on the Chrome browser. It allows you to send weibo messages (Chinese tweets) on multiple weibo platforms at the same time such as Sina Weibo, Tencent Weibo, Douban, Kaixin001, Renren, Google Buzz, Twitter, etc.

ShowOne: With this weibo management tool, you can write your weibo messages and then schedule your messages to be sent out. The tool only works with Sina Weibo.

Hearwide: It lets you search for images/photos, merge multiple photos into one GIF image, and send the image with your 140 Chinese characters as weibo messages.

Baidu Box Computing: Baidu's concept of 'box computing' offers you a weibo form right within Baidu's web search results pages. All you need to do is to search for the 'right' keywords. However, the form only allows you to broadcast weibo messages to Tencent Weibo, Sohu Weibo, and 163 Weibo - no integration yet with Sina Weibo.

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Gordon  Choi

Gordon Choi is the co-founder of, a Shanghai-based firm specializing in data analytics and data integration solutions. Gordon also volunteers at Web Analytics Wednesday China, assisting in the conference and content operations, and volunteer recruitment. Gordon's previous experience includes leading in-house teams at and Alibaba. His areas of expertise include strategy, solutions and workshops for multi-screen data integration and mobile SEO for the local Chinese market.  

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