Google is currently not an option for marketers in China. Here are ways to get around that hurdle by using comparable tools from other sources.
According to the Google transparency report, Google services have encountered serious disruption in China from May 31 to the present. Although this kind of disruption has happened before, the duration and range this time are unparalleled. Even analytics tools have been affected, in addition to of course disruption of email services and the search engine.
"Can I, as a digital marketer, survive in China without Google?" I have been asked this question for weeks. The answer is yes, we can. Digital marketers in the days without Google can still survive with some good data. Instead of waiting and hoping, it is time for us to do a reality check and explore some comparable alternatives. So, in this article, I will do my best to turn this topic from a question-with-hope to a question-with-an-anwser.
First, take a look at the following screenshot. It is a Baidu insight tool similar to Google Trends (Using Baidu is a no-brainer in a China without Google). This tool enables us to compare multiple keywords and get the trends for desktop and mobile search along a period of time. As you can see from the screenshot, the brand names "Chanel" and "Prada" were used to illustrate the features.
The tool also gives us a demand radar for the relevant search queries. In addition, we can get the top-line breakdown of the related search queries and each of their growth indexes (shown in the screenshots below).
If you are concerned about content marketing, you will find this insight tool helpful, too. With it, you can actually get the public opinion from the content of users' questions and discussions provided by the tool (shown in the following screenshots). Along with being able to help product enhancement and customer service, you can expand this information for your own website content. Ultimately, this will boost your SEO result by optimizing the content relevancy.
Links are still widely considered by many SEOs as key-drivers to bring SEO results. Using Baidu Zhanzhang (the Baidu version of a webmaster tool), you not only are able to get the anchor texts of each back link, but also can disavow the back links. As you can see from the screenshot below, this kind of information is pretty useful for your SEO plan.
For the macro market data, the Baidu analytics tool (shown in the following screenshot) has a feature that tells you the Internet browser market share. This data generally helps when you are considering your website usability.
I once said Google tried so hard to be an information platform and Baidu tried so hard to be an advertising platform. I still think this is the case, but the reality is we all have to live without Google in China these days. Marketers should be able to adjust their strategy to adapt the changing world. Despite the fact that the core Baidu keyword research tool is still reserved for Baidu customers only and the features are not as good as those of the Google keyword tool, the above data tools that I have shown you are still useful for us to do market research, content development, and website optimization.
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Eddie is the founding partner of Frontiers Digital and the Executive Director of Milton Exhibits Group. Although Eddie studied classical theory of sociology in college and has a MBA, technology always has been a passion with him. He believes that a combination of technology and communication is what the modern marketing is heading towards in the future. Eddie is a member of Search Engine Strategies Global Advisory Board.
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