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 optimization in China.
SEO (Search Engine Optimization), SSO (Social Search Optimization), and ESO (E-commerce Search Optimization) maximize the effect of KOL campaigns and improve general search rankings. In turn, brands with robust search engine optimization 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 optimization 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 optimized.
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 optimizing the posts from KOL collaborations is a huge missed opportunity. The rules for optimizing 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 Optimization (SSO)
Currently, the best social networks for search engine optimization 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 optimized, 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 repurposed 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 optimization in China is on social media platforms. Most mobile device users know that the experience on traditional search engine mobile browsers is lackluster. Often mobile devise users search for answers on their favorite social media platforms. This presents a wonderful opportunity for KOL content that has been properly optimized for social search engines. The optimization rules of social media search engines are very similar to traditional search engines, so brands should always guide KOLs to optimize content in a similar manner.
E-commerce Search Optimization (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 repurposed 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 optimized 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 scrutinize 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 repurposed 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 socialize 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 touchpoint 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 optimize 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 adrenalin 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-optimized 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 optimization, and link building must be done on an ongoing basis to maintain high Baidu rankings.
Search Engine Optimization 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 optimization in China is an under-utilized KOL strategy that can bring massive benefits to attention-starved marketing messages.
With some additional planning, brands can maximize the results of their KOL campaigns and continue seeing the effects of their investments long into the future.
PARKLU Now Offers Search Optimization
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.