Baidu Removes British Universities from its Index Following Bing Deal.
What wasn’t advertised in the media surrounding the story was the mass removal of a large collection English language URLs. All “.ac.uk” domains seem to have been negatively affected and are now failing to rank for any search terms that are non-English. These direct searches for English based terms return the top 3 Bing results, but direct translations in to Chinese such as 牛津大学 and search terms comprising combinations of Chinese and Latin characters now return nothing when they had previously. These direct searches need to be incredibly direct for Bing to feature in the SERPs and thus they can often be listed far into the supplemental with Baidu preferring its own indexed items. For example, “Oxford University” returns Bing listings to the top page one, but “Oxford Uni” is at the bottom. “Oxford Uni Campus” Returns nothing in the first 5 pages. Even a straight search for “.ac.uk” returns nothing relevant.
Universities with dedicated Chinese sub-domains or targeted landing pages based on the .ac.uk extension are going to be experiencing a big drop in Chinese based traffic. We could be experiencing the first part of a bigger plan or something much more short term. It’s hard to say if this is a temporary issue, or something that will be a permanent feature of Baidu in the future. It’s also hard to determine if this is solely a business decision, or something more politically motivated which can always be a factor in the Chinese web.
At this current point only one thing can be said for sure; Geo-targeting for the Chinese market is more important than ever. British Universities that use a localised “edu.cn” domain extension seem to be unaffected, so expect to see a large amount of universities that rely on the Chinese market for student interest to be applying for “edu.cn” domains if this issue doesn’t get resolved. Being successful in Baidu has always been a difficult endeavour, now it’s become even harder for academic institutions.
Keep on check our blog for updates on this story.
Jason Paget – SEO Account Manager