Over the past few years, thousands of websites have been blocked in China, including almost all of Google, foreign social media, and numerous news and media outlets, because of internet censorship in China. At the same time, access to VPNs (Virtual Private Networks), digital gateways through Chinese censorship, has dramatically fallen - stricter enforcement against their use and new measures after two illegal Chinese VPN suppliers were put into jail.
- The rising “Great Firewall”: According to economist.com, China’s “Great Firewall” is rising; more and more websites, such as the BBC, are being blacklisted within mainland China - severing their ability to be accessed in China.
- Major VPN apps were forced to remove from Apple Store in China: Tight VPN restrictions have caused many VPNs to be forced off of the Chinese Apple App Store. In late 2017, ExpressVPN, one of the last major VPN providers available in China, noted that all major VPN apps including its own had been removed from Apple’s China-based store.
- VPN Crackdown: There is a major, ongoing crackdown on VPNs in China, which includes both commercial and personal VPNs. A slew of arrest and IP blocking, specifically targeting VPN servers’ IP addresses, back up the government’s to complete oust VPN services.
In order for brands to effectively engage their Chinese customers, amidst this crackdown, it's become imperative to invest in a China-hosted website. While doing away with unstable VPNs, a China-hosted website comes with the added bonus of SEO and SEM, search engine optimization and search engine marketing, respectfully, options needed for boosting online visibility in China. (China’s search engine market is dominated by Baidu, so here we mainly talk about SEO and SEM on Baidu.)
- Chinese websites are the ultimate solution to circumvent the “Great Firewall” and VPN crackdowns. Localized Mandarin content and user-friendly web design will significantly help brands retain consumer loyalty and effectively attract new customers.
- SEO: Top search ranking results on Google, does not guarantee a similar presence on Baidu. The two search engines, Google and Baidu, utilize different search techniques -- how they read websites and index webpages -- meaning in order to rank higher on Baidu, you need to use an SEO strategy shaped specifically for Baidu.
- SEM is a way of using search engine advertising to generate engagement to your website. Sponsored ads can be used to raise a website’s result to the top of Baidu’s searching pages, marked with either a yellow or blue “V”. SEM can effectively increase online exposure.
To conclude, it is of great necessity for those foreign companies who long for entering the Chinese market to have Chinese websites. 2019 is the right time!