Perhaps the most important strategy and the first step to targeting Chinese customers is to create a Chinese website.
In 2020, China’s online market is exceeding a value of 2 trillion USD. This makes it a gold mine for local and international companies.
And if these foreign brands are hoping to successfully tap into the market, they must first create a website to suit the needs of Chinese customers.
Launch Your Chinese Website
However, launching a Chinese version of your website can be stressful if you aren’t sure where to start. Keep in mind to create an accessible website in accordance with China’s internet policies.
In this article by China Gravy, we reveal 7 proven ways to easily and readily build the foundations when you create a Chinese website for Chinese customers. This will help you market your brand to match their styles.
Solutions to Building a Website for Chinese Customers
First of all, building a website for Chinese customers is not about simply cloning an English website and using a .cn domain. Sure, it seems like the easy fix to consider translating your website not only in Chinese but also in many languages.
Now, the challenge is that your potential Chinese customers are quite different from the customers in other parts of the world. As such, when you create a Chinese website, you should reflect these unique differences if you want your brand to be compelling.
Below are the 7 most important methods to build a powerful website for Chinese customers.
1. Use a Local Domain Name Extension
First, the internet in China follows strict regulations and guidelines. As such, many foreign websites and servers are blocked in mainland China for failing to meet these requirements.
Hong Kong operates as an autonomous region in terms of internet authority. To ensure that your website ranks higher on Baidu, a “.cn” domain name is helpful.
Now, your company might also need to obtain a business license to operate in Chinese cyberspace if you use a local server. There are two types of ICP (Internet Content Provider) licenses issued by the Chinese Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT) at the provincial level.
- ICP license 京 ICP 证 – for commercial (operational) websites. This applies to any website that allows a customer to purchase goods or services online.
- ICP recordal 京 ICP 备 – for non-commercial (informational) websites, including those that don’t do direct sales.
So, keep in mind that your ICP license must be displayed in the footer of your website. However, as you will learn more about later, hosting on a Chinese server and acquiring an ICP license is not necessary for success.
2. Host your Website on a Chinese Server
Accessing websites in China can generally be slow when the connection is from outside China as the country’s internet policies ban many websites.
That’s why hosting your website in mainland China helps to improve the speed and stability of your website to reach Chinese customers. However, using a local server in mainland China requires that you apply to China’s Ministry of Industry and Information Technology for an ICP (Internet Content Provider) license.
A Physical Presence in China
An ICP license is typically only for companies with a physical presence in the country. So, unless you plan on building physical structures in China, this is not a viable option. However, agencies in China are offering this ICP license to foreign companies and China Gravy is excited to help your business with this service.
Hosting in Hong Kong
Now, a great alternative is to host your website for example in Hong Kong. This way, your brand can enjoy the benefits of geographical proximity to mainland China, which increases the accessibility of your website to Chinese customers.
If you do not intend to use a Chinese server to create a Chinese website, ensure that your chosen server is not blocked in China by following up on the latest regulations and policies. Otherwise, your website may be inaccessible to your intended target Chinese audience.
Hosting in South Korea
Another great option to host your website outside of mainland China is Seoul/South Korea. Its close proximity to major Chinese cities like Beijing, Shanghai, Tianjin, and Qingdao ensures a quick loading time of your site which is crucial for users and search engine ranking.
Do I really Need a Chinese Server?
In reality, there is no need to host a website on a Chinese server. A business can host out of Hong Kong or another part of the world. That’s true as long as steps are taken to ensure that it is accessible to Chinese consumers and that Chinese social media platforms are integrated into the design. With this, an ICP license is not necessary.
3. Optimize for Chinese Search Engines
Baidu is to China what Google is to the rest of the world. Like Google, Baidu has its own unique search algorithm that influences the ranking of a website.
However, SEO for Google is different from that of Baidu. Thus, for your website to have a high ranking in China, it must be specifically optimized for Chinese search engines such as Baidu.
There are several other differences between Google and Baidu’s ranking systems. Make sure that your SEO strategies address those differences to improve the visibility of your website for Chinese customers.
4. Match the Language to Your Target Market
China is a huge country – the largest in population and the third-largest in landmass. So, it is not surprising that certain parts of the country have different languages.
For instance, people in mainland China use simplified Chinese. But people in Hong Kong, Taiwan, and Macao read traditional Chinese. Depending on your target region in the Chinese market, you may need a website in simplified Chinese, traditional Chinese, or both.
Start with Market Research
First, you should carry out initial market research to help you determine your target area and audience. This can help you decide if your website should have simplified or traditional characters.
Regardless of your final decision, our team of experts at China Gravy can help you with market research as well as craft your desired website for Chinese customers. Get in touch with our team and let us help you explore your options.
5. Localize Your Content and Style
It is important to tailor your content on the website specifically for Chinese customers. Simply translating your content from English to Chinese will not cut it.
Use cultural and social references in your content to keep engagement consistent and current. Clean designs that are not so chaotic and color choices are important factors to successfully create a Chinese website. One example of this is the poor choice to mix green and red colors on a website design.
Make it Real
Making it as real as possible for the Chinese reader lends more credibility to the content and consequently, your business. Adapting your content to suit your customers is one of the most effective ways of winning new customers and being connected with current consumers.
Another way to ensure that your website attracts Chinese customers is to use different content mediums. One of the most significant mediums for Chinese internet users is video content.
6. Digitalize Your Website to be Responsive & Mobile-Friendly
With 840 million users in 2019, China is home to the biggest Internet community in the world. And 98% use mobile devices to access the world wide web. Therefore, building a website that is responsive to mobile devices will give your brand more visibility and customers.
Now, the average Chinese internet user spends almost 6 hours every day online, mostly mobile. They chat, research, shop, use services, and more. As everything is on-the-go, unsurprisingly, around 75% of e-commerce sales are generated by mobile users.
Smartphones contribute a great deal to the e-commerce landscape in the Chinese market, which may be even more important to Chinese consumers than those in the West. So, building a mobile-friendly e-commerce website design for China and its customers puts your company in the hands of millions every day.
7. Offer Payment Options Available in China
If you are building a webshop for products or services, incorporate payment channels that are available in China. The most common online payment platforms are AliPay, Union Pay, and WeChat Pay. These options are all connected to major banks within China and have millions of daily active users.
9 Steps to Create a Chinese Website
In a time in which Facebook and Instagram lead the social media hype and are a playground for business – do I really need a state-of-the-art website? And if yes, how do I make a website without spending too much money?
This guide will take you through the process smoothly.
1. Secure Your Domain Name
Next, type in the domain name, which you want to buy to check if it is available. If yes, go ahead and buy it. On average, a new domain costs between 10 to 15 USD per year.
While it is possible to create a .cn ccTLD domain on GoDaddy, but it will only be possible to use the domain once it has been approved with a real name verification.
Tip: Make sure not to infringe any brand copyrights. The best way to avoid any conflict is to check the trademark database of your location. There are free options, for example, the trademark engine.
2. Choose Your Web Hosting Provider
To make your website accessible via the world-wide-web, you need a web hosting service. Cloud hosting is the preferred option by industry experts. In general, cloud hosting is seen as more reliable, secure, and faster than shared hosting.
This is especially true if a website is not hosted in China as speed is crucial to getting through the Great Firewall of China. Cloud hosting is much faster than traditional hosting providers. One of the best cloud hosting services in 2021 is Cloudways.
Tip: Cloudways allows you to install WordPress, Magento, and other Apps with just a few clicks for the same monthly price.
3. Create a Business Website
In case you are not a programmer, there are more simple ways to create a website and manage the content with a CMS (Content Management System). WordPress is one of the best website builders, running over 50% of all websites worldwide.
It’s easy to install WordPress and use its many popular Plugins like Yoast SEO, Contact Form, Google Analytics, paid, and free themes. Also as you create a Chinese website, the Live Chat Plugin from meiqia.com is the most common among Chinese users and a must for any website design.
Tip: Since WordPress is a popular platform it gets its fair share of malicious attacks. Ensure your online protection with up-to-date anti-virus software.
You can also consider hiring a professional company specialized in website development for China to create a website for you. In case all of this sounds complicated or you simply want to focus on other aspects of your business, China Gravy is here to help.
With our specialization in digital ecosystem solutions and Chinese marketing, you will conquer the digital world and boost your brand with ease!
4. Stay Ahead of Mobile Trends
Make sure that your homepage is responsive. This means it is mobile-friendly and looks its best across all devices – from desktop computers to tablets and smartphones. This will increase the amount of time that visitors spend on your website.
Mobile devices have become essential for everyday life, and they are transforming consumer behavior. And not only that, search engines like Google reward responsive websites by advancing their ranking.
Tip: Optimizing a website for Voice Search is another great way to improve usability and provide added value for the user.
5. Make Your Page International
The world-wide-web brings us closer together. This applies to consumers, businesses, and markets alike. As a business owner, this provides an exciting chance to link to new markets and audiences worldwide.
Did you know that Asia accounts for more than 50% of the currently over 4 billion internet users? Needless to say that a Chinese Website can skyrocket your business. Add content specifically for the Chinese market, and you unlock this global potential.
Tip: No matter, where your business is located, English is the most-used language online. Nearly 1 billion users communicate in this language. Chinese takes spot number two.
It is the fastest-growing language in the world, with Hong Kong and Taiwan using Traditional Chinese and Singapore and mainland China using Simplified Chinese.
6. Ensure Legal Compliance
Since May 2018, the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) is in effect in the EU. It is a regulation to protect the data and the privacy of individuals in the European Union.
Following this legal regulation will keep your company GDPR compliant. Don’t risk fines of up to 4% of the worldwide annual revenue of 20 million Euros.
Tip: Make sure to train your staff on this important topic. Employees who don’t understand the key principles of data protection can put your business at risk.
7. Secure and Speed Up Your Chinese Website
As you create a Chinese website, install an SSL Certificate to secure your website. Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) is a protocol, which encrypts information sent across the internet.
An SSL Certificate makes information only readable for the intended recipient. It is essential to protect the user data, for example in the contact form.
Further security features like a secure code, up-to-date firewall, WordPress Plugins like Wordfence, and strong passwords help to protect your website from hackers.
In China, however, SSL can be a disadvantage, since the country wants to stay in control over the information available online. Encrypting data in China, for example, via SSL can more easily lead to being blocked by the Great Firewall of China.
As a result, most Chinese websites still don’t have an SSL Certificate. But since SSL is already a ranking factor for Baidu, a trend change is already here.
A content delivery network (CDN) is a system to deliver pages and other web content to users worldwide. It provides a faster load speed of your website and helps to improve the user experience. CloudFlare is one of the best CDN providers to speed up your website.
Another great way to speed up your website is by caching. It stores frequently accessed information like images and data in a so-called “cache” for easy and fast access by the website visitor. WordPress offers many Caching Plugins, which are easy to install and use.
Furthermore, page speed is crucial for excellent user experience and for search engines to crawl (assess) your website. Evaluate your page speed with Google’s PageSpeed Insights.
Tip: SSL also improves your search engine ranking. Google recently announced that having an SSL Certificate is the easiest way for site owners to boost their SEO ranking.
8. SEO and Social Media Marketing
Now that you have your website in China, customers need to be able to find it. Search engines like Google provide an overview of the 1.5 billion websites worldwide.
Therefore, Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is critical to the success of a website. Social media platforms and their unique functions, such as WeChat QR code, are significant additions to create a Chinese website that is accessible and trafficked.
Keywords are the heart of SEO. The right phrases enable your target audience to find the most relevant content for their needs. One of the most popular SEO research tools is SEMRush. Its extensive database and algorithms help you to find profitable keywords easily.
Tip: Write content that adds value for the reader first, then optimize for search engines. User values can be for example how to save money or how to improve their quality of life. A website marketing company can help you to save time and money with their expertise.
9. Continuous Optimization of your Chinese website
Continuously analyze and track the performance of your web pages and seek improvements. Parameters can be page speed, SEO ranking, fresh website design for China, and relevant content.
In China, SEO website design will help you to improve the user experience, keep your audience happy, and attract new customers.
Tip: Google Analytics is one of the most popular web analytics tools. Evaluate your audience data, compare traffic trends, and get to know your top conversion paths. Additionally, add Baidu Tongji for better data from China.
Developing a Powerful Tool for Communication
A website helps to establish the credibility of a business. According to the European Commission, 77% of EU businesses have a website. And one out of four used internet advertising in 2018.
Within your website, you can set up an online store to sell your products and services. Also consider creating content, which is attractive for your target audience – a blog is a great way to draw visitors and engage with them.
The key to a powerful online presence is an integrated online marketing strategy. Your business homepage and social media activities go hand in hand to create the best synergetic effects.
Most importantly, a website allows search engines like Google to find you. The goal is to be ranked on page number one of the results.
Create a Website with Impact
From the technical setup of a website to content creation for the global market and digital marketing – you now know the 9 steps on how to build a website. Welcome to the league of China website builders!
Outsource tasks like web design services or digital marketing to focus on other aspects of your business in China.
A powerful online presence with an integrated online marketing strategy is the key to a successful business. Your business website and social media activities go hand in hand to create an attractive environment for your audience.
Take a Shortcut – Get Help to Create a Chinese Website Efficiently
Do you feel overwhelmed by this? Or do you simply want to focus on other aspects of your business?
China Gravy is the digital marketing agency of your choice. We are your experts in all things digital – from Chinese web design to website marketing. We offer customized solutions in English, Chinese, and German.
Plus all of that at an affordable cost – our web development services won’t break your bank.
Create a Chinese Website – The Takeaway
To sum it up, building a localized website for Chinese customers is an incredibly worthwhile business strategy. A localized web presence helps you to promote your brand in China and build your image in the Middle Kingdom.
Beyond ensuring that your website is accessible, it is important that as you create a Chinese website it appeals to Chinese consumers. Stylistic elements, content attributes, and digitalization tools are part of the techniques.
Talk to our team at China Gravy and let us craft your China market entry strategy with a powerful Chinese website and search & social media marketing strategy. Finally, to find out more about digital marketing in China, check out our FAQ section.