Baidu Keyword Planner - A Beginner’s Guide in 2020

Author: Nafisa

If you’re new to the world of keyword research, the Baidu keyword planner will be a great first step. Here's a simple guide to understanding Baidu.

Baidu Keyword Planner

A Guide to Keyword Research for SEO

Keyword research is quite a broad area of discussion. This segment also directly affects your SEO. Here’s how you can understand it in layman terms.

As you may already know, there are a number of different search query variations potential clients can use to explore your offers on search engines like Google. Now, the first thing any SEO campaign should do is determining how to target the most optimal keywords for your website. This process is known as keyword research. Proper execution of an SEO strategy requires prior knowledge of keyword research. Otherwise, all your efforts will go in vain.

In general, the preliminary steps of keyword research include:

  1. Brainstorming a list of root keywords
  2. Using tools (such as Baidu Keyword Planner) and other methods to increase the number of keywords
  3. Analyzing keyword list for value, demand, and difficulty
  4. Prioritizing and choosing your targeted keywords based on certain metrics and criteria

Before we dive in to understand Baidu Keyword Planner, let’s take a look at the mentioned steps in a more detailed manner.

Steps to Follow for SEO Keyword Research

1. Brainstorming a List of Root Keywords

At the very beginning of the keyword research process, it is important to brainstorm some of the root keywords. This will be based on the understanding of how you can best optimize your website. The aim here is to find the answer to the question “What queries will our target customers use to find our content?”

So, in order to brainstorm keywords from different points of view, you can start this process by involving people outside of your SEO team. This will include members from other departments, such as sales and customer service. You can also gain insights from existing clients and customers or other people in your target market.

At the same time, it is important to remember that this list of root keyword doesn’t have to be huge. However, it should cover all of the business goals your website is trying to accomplish. So, before you use tools like Baidu Keyword Planner, make sure you’ve done your own homework right.

2. Expansion of Keyword List

After making a list of root keywords, SEOs will try to compile as many relevant and related keywords as possible. Some of the common places that SEOs look at for extra keywords include:

  • Search Suggestions – When you type in your keyword in the search box, the dropdown menu will provide a list of predicted search queries. This process is fully automatic, so you will need little to no effort. For example, let’s say you’re searching for backlinks from Twitter. This is what your predicted search query will look like:
Keyword search
  • Related Searches – There’s a list of keywords given at the bottom of a search results page. It’s generally placed right on top of the page selector. Let’s say your next search is about how link exchange works. Here’s a list of related keywords at the bottom of the page:
Keyword planning
  • Keyword Tools given by Search Engines – You can also use tools like Google Trends, Adwords Keyword Planner, or Baidu Keyword Planner to expand your keyword list.
  • Search Data (Paid) – If you’ve been using phrase match to purchase search ads, you can look at various search term visitors and potential customers have used to click on your website.
  • Search Engines’ Webmaster Tools – Tools such as Google Search Console or Baidu Webmaster Tools will provide you with organic keywords. These are keywords your website has gained clicks or impressions for.

3. (a) Identifying Keyword Demand

Understanding keyword demand is crucial for a successful SEO strategy. This is because SEOs will need to know the keywords being used by the target audience before developing their overall SEO strategy. Some of the common metrics to identify a keyword’s search demand are:

  • Popularity – The popularity of a keyword is expressed with different metrics and varies from tool to tool. For instance, ‘Search Interest’ in Google Trends is measured on a scale of 100.
  • Search Volume – Search volume refers to the number of times a keyword has been searched for in a search engine (like Google) within a given period of time, usually a month.

3. (b) Analyzing Keyword Value

After we understand which keywords our target customers are using, SEOs will then analyze which keywords are going to help the site accomplish its business objectives. Statistical data related to how the target customers have engaged with the website can be very useful for this purpose. Some of the commonly used metrics for determining keyword value are as follows:

  • Expected Conversion Rate – The expected conversion rate refers to how often you expect visitors to complete the intended purpose of your website. This can include making a purchase, signing up for your mailing list, submitting an inquiry, etc. You need to observe which keywords serve this purpose the most.
  • Expected Click-Through Rate – The expected click-through rate implies how often you expect searchers to click on your website instead of your competitors’ when it is shown on the SERP for a particular keyword.
  • Search Intent – This refers to the searchers’ intended purpose when they search for a keyword. There are commonly 3 types of search intents: Informational (e.g. “best tourist spot Beijing”), Navigational (e.g. “Beijing Royal directions”), and Transactional (e.g. “Book Beijing Royal”).
  • Expected Conversion Value – Expected conversion value refers to the value each conversion will bring to your business from a particular keyword. For example, for a food blog, ‘expensive restaurant’ is likely to bring a higher conversion value than ‘cheap restaurant’.

3. (c) Analyzing Keyword Competitive Environment

It’s not worth the time and energy to optimize for a keyword that gives you very little chance of ever being in the top 30-35 positions. So, it is important to have a look at the competitive environment before knowing what keywords to target.

In this case, there a number of factors you need to consider. How authoritative is the website for which you’re optimizing? How well does the page content match the intent of the search query? This will analyze whether or not your website has a chance of ranking at the top pages.

Similarly, you need to remember that not all keyword SERPs are created equally. Some of those may not have a large number of organic positions available on the first page of Google.

Factors You Need To Weigh:

  • Competition – Determine the relative authority and strength of other domains that are presently ranking well for a particular keyword. The best way to do this is by looking at the page authority or domain authority of each ranked and domain page. Next, compare it with that of your own website. Now, if your site is relatively stronger than many of those pages that are already ranking well, you have a pretty good shot at outranking them.
  • Organic Results on Page 1 – Suppose, all the organic results are close to the bottom of the page under a dozen ads. Or, let’s say there are very few organic results on page one, to begin with. This means it will be quite difficult to get much traffic on that keyword even if you have a high organic ranking. Baidu Keyword Planner will help you throughout the entire process. We’ll get to that shortly.
  • Results – Finally, take a close look at the number of search results available for a particular keyword. If you notice a large number of available search results, that would mean there is a higher competition since there are a lot of pages you will need to compete with.

4. Prioritizing and Choosing Your Targeted Keywords

If you’ve followed so far, you now have a list of keywords that have demand, value, and competitive metrics. You should use these criteria to select target keywords and prioritize efforts.

Understand that not every keyword will meet all of the following metrics. So, it’s not an exact science. The needs of one website can vary from that of another. However, target keywords should ideally have the following qualities:

  • Available – Very few non-organic results occupy top positions on the Search Engine Results Pages (SERP)
  • Valuable – Has a high value, high conversion rate, good search intent, and highly relevant to your content
  • Popular – Has a high search volume
  • Low Competition – The site that the keyword is being optimized for is almost as strong as or even stronger than websites that are already ranking for that keyword

At this point, you should remember that every website needs a customized approach for the entire process of keyword research. So, the metrics used will vary depending on the industry and the type of website. However, this commonly used framework should work fine across most industries, countries, and languages.

Before we get to Baidu Keyword Planner, let’s look at how Baidu is different from the most widely used search engine, Google.

Difference Between Keyword Research for Baidu Keyword Planner and Google

So far, we’ve talked about what a basic keyword research process looks like for any search engine, language, or country. However, in the case of Baidu, there are some additional elements that you need to take into consideration. Here are a few:

The Significance of Long Tail on Baidu

Most of the SERPs for the head terms in Baidu is crowded with rich snippets. For this reason, the actual position of your content might still end up on the bottom of page 1 or on page 2, even if your website is ranking very high organically. Because long-tail keywords usually have less rich snippets, focusing on long-tail keywords is an important technique.

For instance, look at this query for “Jackie Chan” on Baidu. It shows only 3 organic results on page 1, shown in blue. All others are either Baidu’s own properties or ads, shown in red.

Baidu Keyword Planner
Baidu Search

Data Sources of Keyword Research

Google is not really popular in China. Again, the go-to data source for most SEOs in the West is Google Adwords Keyword Planner and even that is not able to provide accurate or useful information at all times.

Similarly, most other third-party keyword research tools are based on the data compiled by Google Adwords Keyword Planner. So, almost all of the keyword tools that are designed for Google will not work properly for Baidu.

Hence, while the approach to keyword research is pretty similar, the tools you will need will be completely different from one another. Later in this article, we’ll talk about the most useful tools for Baidu keyword planner and research. We’ll also help explain how to use each one of them.

Issues in Translation

One of the worst ways SEOs mess up their entire strategy is by using Google Translate to translate their English keyword lists to Chinese. Then, they use that as their Chinese targeted keywords list. Please do not do take this approach. Using Google Translate will only worsen your strategy as it’s sure to give you incomplete and inaccurate results.

Occasionally, you’ll find Google Translate choosing words with a completely different connotation, meaning, and context. Understand that for any word, there can be as many as 3 – 20 synonyms in Chinese that can be used as a translation. It is highly unlikely that Google Translate will choose the best one.

Additionally, Google does have a notable presence in Taiwan and Hong Kong. Hence, some SEOs may also attempt to first conduct keyword research in these locations in Traditional Chinese using Google Adwords Keyword Planner. Next, they translate those results to Simplified Chinese.

Now, while this approach is a better option than directly translating from English, it is still not the ideal solution. Even for regions like Hong Kong and Taiwan, Google does not provide the best keyword suggestions in Chinese. Additionally, there will still be huge discrepancies in word usage when you translate from Traditional Chinese to Simplified Chinese.

Hence, there is unfortunately no way to take a shortcut in this regard. You must have a native Chinese speaker during keyword research to ensure efficiency as well as accuracy.

Gathering Data for Baidu

Data collection is an important part of keyword research. In this case, you will have to compile data from Baidu-based sources in order to get credible and correct results for Baidu keyword research. Let’s have a look at some of the most effective tools and methods that you can use:

Baidu Index

Baidu Index (equivalent to Google Trend) can offer several informative insights for keyword research. Here are some of the things you can do with the help of Baidu Index:

Visualizing Popularity and Relevance of Related Keywords

Baidu Index helps you visualize the relevance and popularity of related keywords in a bubble-like chart. Take a look at this.

Baidu Keyword Planner Bubble Chart
Baidu Bubble Chart
  • At the center of the chart, there’s a bluish bubble. That is the seed keyword the user has provided. Surrounding that are related keywords.
  • The closer a bubble is to the center bubble of the chart, the closer the semantic relationship to the root keyword.
  • The bigger the bubble, the more popular and in-demand the keyword is.
  • The color of the bubble directs to the recent search volume trend of the keyword. Orange means there’s an increasing search volume of that keyword, while green means there’s a decreasing search volume.

Viewing Destination Keywords and Source Keywords

  • Destination Keyword refers to the keywords searchers looked up for after searching for a particular keyword.
  • Source Keyword refers to the keywords searchers looked up for before searching for a particular keyword.

Seeing Related and Emerging Keywords

Baidu will offer a comprehensive view of the related keywords. At first, it will sort those by popularity. It will also show top-grossing related keywords and their change in popularity.

Baidu Keyword Planner
See Related and Emerging Keywords on Baidu

Analyzing Popularity Trends

With the help of Baidu, you can look at search trends for mobile, desktop, or overall for the most recent 5 years. Additionally, you’ll find important events and media mentions related to the keyword, too.

Comparing Search Trends by Region, Province, or City

With the help of Baidu, you can compare search trends by particular locations as well. The image given below shows a comparison of the search popularity for the keyword “机票” in Beijing (Orange), Shanghai (Green), Shenzhen (Blue), and Chengdu (Pink).

Baidu Index
Comparing Search Trends By Location

Compare Search Popularity by Age and Gender

Baidu is not limited to showing popularity trends. In fact, it will also display search demand for a particular keyword basing on gender and age group.

One major disadvantage of using the Baidu Index is that it is limited to searching only 5 keywords at a time. Additionally, you can not export data through Baidu Index.

All you need to access Baidu Index is a Baidu account. Create an account here.

Baidu Webmaster Tools

If you’ve verified your website with the help of Baidu Webmaster Tools, you can get quite a good amount of keyword data for your website. Because Baidu started holding back organic keyword referral data, it isn’t possible to view which organic keywords are driving traffic to your website in your web analytics software (such as Adobe Omniture, Google Analytics, or Baidu Tongji) anymore.

Fortunately enough, Baidu Webmaster Tools is there to the rescue. The tool still provides this data and thus it has become an invaluable data source for Baidu SEOs.

Baidu Webmaster Tools can actually be a brilliant starting point for Baidu SEO projects. However, there’s a certain drawback as well. What amount of data you can get from here will depend on how well your website ranks on Baidu. Hence, if your website has no existing rankings or traffic on Baidu, you won’t find any available data.

Some of the common uses of Baidu Webmaster Tools’ keyword data include:

  • Viewing the keywords for which you’re already ranking that are driving traffic on Baidu
  • Using root keywords to look up for similar and related keywords
  • Identifying pages where there is a high potential for traffic if you improve your ranking. For instance, a page with low ranking but a relatively higher click-through rate.

Finally, we’re going to talk about the tool you all have been waiting to learn about - Baidu Keyword Planner.

Baidu Keyword Planner

Similar to Google Adwords Keyword Planner, Baidu provides its own tool that offers keyword data. Despite the fact that this tool is particularly aimed at helping marketers purchase search ads on Baidu, it can be very helpful for SEO keyword research as well. All you need to do is plug in keywords from your seed list to receive hundreds of more keyword ideas.

How To Use Baidu Keyword Planner

To access Baidu Keyword Planner, you would need a Baidu PPC account. Upon login, this is what it would look like:

Baidu Keyword Planner PPC account
Baidu PPC Account

Next, you can access Baidu Keyword Planner from the quick management panel:

Baidu Keyword Planner
Baidu - Quick Management Panel

When you search for keywords in Baidu, it will also show you related and similar keywords related to what you’re searching for.

Baidu Keyword Search
Search for Keywords Using Baidu

Similar to Google AdWords planner, Baidu Keyword Planner shows various data on the selected keywords. Additionally, it allows you to sort them out by criteria. Moreover, when you click on the plus sign in the right column, Baidu will add the keyword to your keyword list.

Baidu Keyword Planner
Add Keywords To Your List Using Baidu

For every one of the keywords in the list, Baidu Keyword Planner would individually show the number of daily searches, both on desktop and mobile. It will also display the recommended bid as well as the competitiveness ranking.

After the initial list is formed, the next thing Baidu does is review it by different performance criteria. You can access this data by clicking on the right button at the bottom of the list. This will also open up a detailed picture of the Baidu keyword data and projected campaign cost and performance.

Review Keywords By Performance Criteria Using Baidu Keyword Planner
Review Keywords By Performance Criteria Using Baidu Keyword Planner

Besides, Baidu Keyword Planner’s review panel also offers a simple way to view each keyword’s performance either on desktop or mobile separately. After this point, it is pretty easy to make adjustments to different parameters and look at how they would affect the performance in terms of projected cost, impressions, and click-through rate (CTR).

Drawbacks of Using Baidu Keyword Planner

Baidu Keyword Planner is undoubtedly very useful for SEOs. However, there are certain drawbacks to using this tool. Google Adwords Keyword Planner supports searching for multiple keywords at a time. On the flip side, Baidu Keyword Planner merely supports searching for a single keyword at one go. Hence, you can not upload a list of keywords to get search volumes back for every one of them individually.

The worst part is to get access Baidu Keyword Planner, you will have to have a Baidu PPC account, as we mentioned earlier. However, a PPC account will require a valid Chinese business registration. Hence, if your website does not hold a physical presence in China or is not officially registered with the Government, you’re pretty much out of luck.

However, you probably can still work with an official overseas Baidu PPC reseller to get that access to you. But even still, you must have an active and paying PPC account to get your hands on all the data.

Related Searches and Search Suggestions In Baidu Keyword Planner

Another method to get keyword ideas is to utilize related searches and search suggestions as much as you can.

Related searches and search suggestions can sometimes offer a few long-tail keyword ideas that you won’t find in the Baidu keyword planner. Regardless, since it is a taxing and time-consuming process, we usually do not recommend extensively using it. Luckily enough, Baidu provides majority of the keywords in Related Searches. So, make sure you take a close look at that.

Final Words

If you’ve read this far, you’ve definitely realized that keyword research is definitely a crucial part of any successful SEO strategy. It practically evaluates and focuses on understanding how your target market can find your website on different search engines. Thus, it more or less dictates your future SEO efforts.

The keyword research process will mostly be the same for both Google and Baidu. However, the methods and data sources will vary widely. As such, in the case of Baidu, you will need to be more attentive towards long-tail keywords, analyze a set of metrics that is different from that of Google, and use different tools to obtain the best results.

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