While KOL marketing is a powerful tool, the glut of content on social media means sponsored posts tend to be a flash in the pan. Efforts are especially fleeting when brands haven’t developed a KOL strategy that extends to search engine optimisation in China.
SEO (Search Engine Optimisation), SSO (Social Search Optimisation) and ESO (E-commerce Search Optimisation) collectively maximise the effect of KOL campaigns and improve general search rankings. In turn, brands with robust search engine optimisation in China can gain authority, increases consumer confidence and receives more traffic.
What is a KOL Strategy for SEO, SSO and ESO?
Most marketers are familiar with traditional Baidu search engine optimisation in China. However, many overlook the increasing tendency for customers to use social media and e-commerce search engines to find answers. Additionally, traditional search engines are indexing many social media networks’ posts, which can have a significant impact on a brands searchability if properly optimised.
In the past, social media marketing, search engine marketing and e-commerce marketing were considered distinct elements of marketing.
The reality is, they’re completely intertwined.
Search engines in China are indexing many social media networks’ posts. Not properly optimising the posts from KOL collaborations is a huge missed opportunity. The rules for optimising a social media post for search are essentially the same as other SEO rules. Brands must determine the keyword/s they would like to target and ensure the KOL uses them in the title and throughout the content. Posts’ written content should be 500 words or more. Backlink building to the post’s original URL will increase its search rankings. And so on.
Social Search Optimisation (SSO)
Currently, the best social networks for search engine optimisation in China are Weibo and Xiaohongshu. Both Weibo’s and Xiaohongshu’s posts are indexed by Baidu and other search engines in China. When properly optimised, PARKLU has seen excellent ranking success for brands’ KOL promoted posts.
When a KOL’s social media post cannot be indexed by search engines, for instance, WeChat content is only indexed by Sogou, the content can be re-purposed on search engine friendly sites. This tactic is called “content seeding” and consists of taking the original post’s written and visual content and placing it on indexable forums and/or blogs.
The next generation of search engine optimisation in China is on social media platforms. Most mobile device users know that the experience on traditional search engine mobile browsers is lacklustre. Often mobile devise users search for answers on their favourite social media platforms. This presents a wonderful opportunity for KOL content that has been properly optimised for social search engines. The optimisation rules of social media search engines are very similar to traditional search engines, so brands should always guide KOLs to optimise content in a similar manner.
E-commerce Search Optimisation (ESO)
E-commerce search engines are not just for discovering product pages anymore. Most e-commerce platforms in China have content publishing capabilities. This means KOL content from other social media platforms can and should be re-purposed for posting on brands’ e-commerce accounts. In next weeks article, we will go in-depth into the content publishing changes taking place on China’s major e-commerce sites.
Xiaohongshu Baidu SEO Case Study
In most cases, Xiaohongshu KOL posts will be indexed by Baidu and other Chinese search engines. However, there are anomalies when a post is not indexed. We don’t know why this happens but we know how to fix it.
In one such case, a particularly good post by a larger tier KOL was not indexed by Baidu.
To fix the issue, we took the KOL’s post and optimised it for the brand’s target keywords. We then seeded that content into indexable sites. Using a little SEO magic, the seeded content now ranks on the first and second page of Baidu search for several of the brand’s target keywords, including a first-page first-position ranking for a highly competitive keyword dominated by Sephora content.
SEO KOL Content Seeding is a new service offered by PARKLU. We guarantee that if the content does not rank on the first page of Baidu for a brand’s selected keywords, they don’t pay us anything. To learn more, please contact us.
Brand Authority Creates Trust and Confidence
Brand authority is crucial for Chinese consumers, providing them assurance about product quality.
Chinese consumers will scrutinise a brand’s reputation thoroughly when a product piques their interest. A recent report from Azoya Consulting found that 50 percent of consumers are influenced by word-of-mouth reviews (both online and offline), 32 percent by social media content and 25 percent by SEO search results. These are the three kingmakers in China’s cross-border e-commerce market.
Brand authority is obviously necessary, and positive information needs to come from more than one source to build that authority.
SEO, SSO and ESO is Especially Important for New Brands
Here’s a typical scenario.
A brand enters China by opening a Tmall store, but they don’t get any sales because of slow traffic, limited reviews and low brand awareness.
To solve the problem, they hire KOLs to generate awareness.
They get a temporary spike in traffic, but that traffic doesn’t convert to sales. That’s because when those people go to Baidu or Tmall and search for their product they can’t find any info or reviews.
Those potential costumers lose confidence and don’t make a purchase.
Ranking well on Baidu validates brands to costumers because they will probably search for more info after hearing about a product from a KOL. And even though a new brand might not have reviews on Tmall, it can feature re-purposed content from trusted KOLs.
The Importance of ESO and Positive Reviews
According to PwC’s 2017 Total Retail report, 61 percent of Chinese consumers began their shopping journey through searches on Tmall, whereas only 39 percent of Americans began with Amazon. In the West, it’s more common to use an e-commerce site as the final stop when completing a transaction. In China, e-commerce sites are destinations where you discover new information and socialise with peers.
Therefore, content and positive reviews on e-commerce sites and social commerce platforms like Xiaohongshu are essential. KOL marketing is not a stand-alone solution as KOLs are just one touch point along the consumer journey. For KOLs to make a significant impact, all the pieces have to be in place.
Getting the Most Bang for Your Buck
SEO, SSO and ESO are not just for new brands. Well-known brands miss a massive opportunity when they fail to optimise KOL campaign content into searchable material for e-commerce, social media and traditional search engines.
SEO, SSO and ESO are about squeezing the most out of your KOL marketing dollars. While KOL social media campaigns are like marketing adrenaline shots, SEO, SSO and ESO can turn content into long-term inbound awareness.
How an SEO, SSO and ESO KOL Strategy works:
Part 1: Content Seeding
KOL marketing should be part of a broader content seeding strategy, which includes forums, news sites and public blogs. After creating a content strategy, brands must pick keywords to be mapped for Baidu SEO and select which top media platforms and forums they would like to publish content on. They then collaborate with copywriters, KOLs and search engine specialists to prepare and distribute keyword-optimised content.
While KOLs publish on several major social media platforms including Weibo, WeChat and Xiaohongshu, brands should not forget to share content on other indexable sites and their own e-commerce accounts. For example:
- Baidu knowledge products: Baidu Zhidao, Baidu Wenku, Baidu Tieba, Baidu Baike
- Top forums and blogs: Zhihu, Douban
- Top news and portal sites: Toutiao, Tencent, NetEase’s 163.com
- Top vertical media outlets
- Taobao, Tmall, JD.com and Xiaohongshu
Part 2: Continued Maintenance
After publishing the content, brands should execute Baidu SEO for selected keywords and content pieces for about 3-4 months. This process means reviewing results regularly to ensure at least one piece of seeded content is listed on Baidu’s first page for the chosen keyword.
The process doesn’t end once your seeded content ranks on top.
Content seeding, keyword optimisation and link building must be done on an ongoing basis to maintain high Baidu rankings.
Search Engine Optimisation in China Conclusion
Our ever-shorter attention spans plus the torrent of new content mean that even the best KOLs can only command a few moments of attention from most consumers.
Search engine optimisation in China is an under-utilised KOL strategy that can bring massive benefits to attention-starved marketing messages.
With some additional planning, brands can maximise the results of their KOL campaigns and continue seeing the effects of their investments long into the future.
PARKLU Now Offers Search Optimisation
SEO should be a part of every KOL Strategy and now it’s risk-free! If your content doesn’t rank on the first page of Baidu, you don’t pay.