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You are probably quite stressful when launching a new website in Chinese.
Building a website that can sell in China requires a fully localized Chinese web design.
A couple of things could go very, very wrong if you are not aware of the basic rules.
Well, today you’re in for a treat because I’ve put together a complete list.
This checklist will be helpful for you to avoid unnecessary costs and some common mistakes, esp. when you do not have much knowledge about the China market and the internet situation.
It is the major part of our Chinese Website Expert Review.
You can run the checks for your new Chinese company websites, landing pages, and apps since same rules can be applied.
36 Things to Check Before Launching Your Chinese Website
Chinese Marketing Check
- 1. Target Market ✓
- 2. Language ✓
- 3. Keywords ✓
- 4. Analytics Installation ✓
- 5. Webmaster tool ✓
- 6. Onsite SEO ✓
- 7. Hosting ✓
- 8. Domain ✓
- 9. Branding ✓
1. Target Market ✓
Where is your target market?
You must be well aware where exactly your Chinese market is,
- Mainland China,
- HongKong & Macau,
- South-East Asia,
- or overseas Chinese communities?
Different localization standards apply to specific countries/districts you’ve chosen.
You might need to consider more than one “Chinese” versions for different target markets.
If you want to target in both Mainland China and Taiwan markets, make sure you create two versions.
2. Language ✓
Yes, We are talking about Chinese languages.
Basically Chinese is a group of several languages, some are very distinctive.
Using the right version for right markets is extremely important.
These articles will help you to tell the differences:
- Differences Between Simplified Chinese and Traditional Chinese
- Differences Between Mandarin Chinese and Cantonese
3. Keywords ✓
Make sure you have a localized Chinese keywords list and keep maintaining it.
It is important to do a proper Chinese keyword research with the tools available from Baidu rather than Google.
Please notice the ‘dictionary translation’ of keywords is useless.
Unfortunately, many people are doing it in the wrong way like this.
- Use Google Adwords Planner to get a keyword list.
- Straightforward translation from English to Chinese.
Google translate or other machine translation tools are inadequate.
Be sure to get a Chinese digital marketing expert to do this.
4. Analytics Installation ✓
Installing some sort of analytics tool is important for measuring statistics to see how your website performs and how successful your conversion rates are.
Google Analytics is a powerful tool and can work well in most situations.
However, I still recommend using Chinese analytics tool like Baidu Tongji too.
5. Webmaster Tool ✓
Make use of webmaster tool will help you analyze the critical problems of your website.
It will save you a lot of time in website analysis.
A typical tool is Baidu Webmaster.
6. Onsite SEO ✓
You can start Chinese Onsite SEO from the very beginning before the website launch.
Please make sure which search engine is your focus, Baidu or Google.
If you are targeting on mainland China market, then Baidu is your choice.
You can get better results only when you understand their differences.
7. Hosting ✓
You should think twice whether you need a local China web hosting and balance the advantages and disadvantages.
For businesses wanting to reach a Chinese audience within Mainland China, the preferable option is to host within Mainland China. The reason for this relates not so much to geo-targeting, but more about control.
However, you should understand the requirements to have your site hosted in Mainland China too.
It might be difficult for many companies organizations to get an ICP license in China.
There are still ALTERNATIVE China Web Hosting choices to get your site fast, stable for web visitors in China.
8. Domain ✓
Have you considered the following questions
- Is your domain is easy for Chinese users to remember?
Many business owners made a mistake to provide an awkward domain name in the China market.
Your target Chinese customer will never remember the domain name.
Every month I will get several requests to provide Chinese domain name ideas.
- Do you plan to use a Chinese .cn domain?
You can register a .cn domain as a protection for your existing brand.
You may find some good .cn names while the relevant .com is sold.
Many companies will register all the .cn or .com.cn domain names similar to their original .com domain name.
Earlier I thought It could be registered only in China.
Now it seems easier.
There are many registrars that you can buy a .cn domain.
Some of my clients told me they register their .cn domains in companies like Marcaria.com.
- Is Chinese .cn domain a must?
No, you can also use your .com domain or other names.
Still confused? You are always welcome to find a professional solution from us.
9. Branding ✓
Have you localized your branding messages?
- brand name
- logo etc.
Is your brand name a good one? Evaluate your brand name if you are not sure.
Successful Branding in China needs consistent efforts to adjust the plan and improve the results.
Chinese Cultural Check
- 10. Design: Color combinations, Typography, Favicon ✓
- 11. Logos, banners, and Images ✓
- 12. National Flags, Maps ✓
- 13.Numbers, figures, address, currency, time and dates ✓
- 14. Payment Gateway ✓
10. Design: Color Combinations, Typography, Favicon ✓
These are mainly design factors most sites shall check.
Make sure the colors and the user interfaces are adapted to the Chinese culture.
We can see a lot of differences between Chinese website and western ones.
You can compare some big websites to get some ideas. Same Business, Different Names: Internet startups in the World and their counterparts in China.
11. Logos, Banner, Videos, and Images ✓
These can be considered part of branding.
Understanding Chinese Business Etiquettes will be helpful.
Make sure the themes of the images and videos are not offensive to the Chinese audience, we will cover this part more in the content check.
12. National Flags, Maps ✓
If you are not sure, do not use them.
Taiwan flag and the right version of China map are always sensitive issues.
The wrong use of flags or maps will easily bring negative comments from your Chinese customers.
This mistake happens all the time, even in Olympic Games.
13. Numbers, Figures, Address, Currency, Time and Date ✓
Use the same format of numbers, figures, addresses, currency, time and date that Chinese customers use.
It will be misleading or even ridiculous if you are still using British scales, different time zones and date formats.
Make sure they had been corrected before the official launch.
14. Payment Gateway ✓
Do you know which are the most popular payment gateways in China?
Do you support website payment, mobile payment, or both?
Choosing a right payment strategy could considerably increase your conversion rate.
Integrate popular China payment gateways to make your website easy to use.
Chinese Content Check
- 15. Title and Meta Tags ✓
- 16. Professional Chinese Translation and Proof Reading ✓
- 17. Suitable Web copy ✓
- 18. Space, and Language Order ✓
- 19. Video ✓
- 20. Countries, Districts, Map ✓
- 21. No Offensive comments, No Political, Gambling content or Pornography ✓
- 22. Western Social functionality: Facebook, Google Plus, Twitter ✓
- 23. Chinese Social functionality: Weibo, QQ, Wechat, Weibo ✓
- 24. Western Apps: Google Maps, YouTube video, Facebook or Disqus ✓
15. Title and Meta Tags ✓
On-page SEO is critical for a good Baidu rank.
This is an important job to do before your official launch.
What are the key items?
- Meta Description
- Meta Keywords
- H headings
- Alt Tags
Make sure you follow the Chinese SEO skills with the Chinese search engine giant Baidu.
16. Professional Chinese Translation & Proofreading ✓
We understand you normally will translate your existing web copies into Chinese.
The best way is to use a professional Chinese translator to do the job and always remember the proofreading jobs.
A useful tip to save you considerable translation cost:
Revise your original text or write a new copy for the Chinese market: only leave useful content for translation.
You can find more practical tips in The Ultimate Guide To Buy Chinese Translation Service.
ChineseTrans is a professional online Chinese translation service I started since 2003.
You can simply upload the text and get the quote.
17. Persuasive Chinese Web Copy ✓
Actually, you should always write for the Chinese markets, instead of translation only.
Especially for your most important content.
- Sales Copy
- Key product/service pages
- Online guides
- Brochures & white papers
Persuasive Chinese Copywriting is personalized, interesting and will ensure you successfully implement your website localization strategy.
Make full use of good web copies as your powerful non-stop working salesperson to increase your ROI on a long-term.
18. Space, and Language Order ✓
Due to the language structure differences between Indo-European languages and Chinese, we will always find the language order is different in many cases.
When translation is done without fully testing, you will see poor website expressions from time to time.
Building trust in China requires smooth communication.
Be sure that you have checked all the interfaces, dialogue boxes and so on.
19. Video ✓
Make sure your videos
- can be played,
- had been localized with Chinese subtitles, or Chinese voiceover,
- with the proper speed,
- can be understood by the Chinese audience,
- is not blocked.
Host your videos on your own server, or video sharing service providers not blocked in China.
A good choice is China local video sharing platforms, such as Youku, QQ Video etc.
20. Countries, Districts, Maps ✓
Make sure you use the proper expressions when referring countries/districts.
It is commonly seen in registration forms or shipping address information.
21. No Offensive Comments, No Political, Gambling Content or Pornography ✓
Avoid publishing content that is frowned upon or banned within China is rule No.1.
If your site uses any of the blacklisted keywords, it will be deindexed by Baidu and probably blocked from access too.
Wikipedia keeps updated list of blacklisted keywords that are mostly related to politics but keep in mind that the list may change quickly triggered by specific current events.
In any case, staying away from politics in China is probably a good idea anyway.
22. Western Social Functionality: Facebook, Google Plus, Twitter ✓
Limit or completely eliminate the use of externally pointing social functionality with
- Google Plus,
- Twitter, etc.
These sites had been blocked in China.
If you are using their functionality, on the one hand, it will make your site difficult to use and the speed will be slowed down a lot, on the other hand, it will even put your website in danger of possible block.
23. Chinese Social Functionality: Weibo, QQ, Wechat ✓
The correct way is to be active in Chinese popular social media platforms.
An obvious reason is that most of your target users are not using the facebook, youtube as you do.
Chinese customers are using different ones,
- QQ etc.
A well planned Chinese Social Media Marketing (SMM) strategy is necessary when you step into China.
Make sharing easy in your website.
24. Western Apps: Google Maps, YouTube video, Facebook or Disqus ✓
Do not utilize major western platform functionality like Google Maps, Youtube Video, Facebook or Disqus, since they had been blocked, the use of them will make your site hard to use.
- 25. Website Links ✓
- 26. RSS Links ✓
- 27. Forms, Esp. Contact Form ✓
- 28. Website Functionality ✓
- 29. Validation ✓
- 30. Back Up ✓
- 31. Cross-Browser ✓
- 32. Character encoding ✓
- 33. Loading Time ✓
- 34. 404 Page ✓
- 35. Email Optin Form ✓
- 36. Search Form ✓
These will be pretty regular technical checks.
The following tips might be helpful for you:
25. Website Links ✓
- Limit your external links to non-Chinese sites – especially to sites with banned or potentially banned content.
- Work well with your internal links.
- Open external links in a new tab and verify them.
26. RSS Links ✓
Feeds are working properly (RSS, news, social media).
27. Forms, Esp. Contact Form ✓
Did you test all your forms?
Do they submit data properly?
Is the form data sent to desired recipient(s) or stored in your database?
Some clients found they could not receive any email after spending thousands of $ in digital marketing.
28. Website Functionality ✓
Make sure your website functions are adapted to the Chinese habits without common mistakes
- Do you provide online chat function? And is it working fine?
29. Validation ✓
Make sure your CSS/HTML is properly validated.
Confirm all the paragraph styles are working properly (headers, lists, block quotes).
30. Back Up ✓
Set up site security and regular backups.
You need to prevent loss of data and protect against malware and other damages.
- 24/7 monitor your website.
- Ongoing copies of your website shall be created and stored on a regular basis.
- Store your passwords and website credentials in a secure database.
31. Cross-Browser ✓
- Understand what devices most Chinese are using and support them.
Website pages are compatible across browsers (IE 7 8, 9 and 10, Firefox, Chrome, Safari).
Website pages are compatible across devices (Android, iPhone, tablets).
32. Character Encoding ✓
Make sure there is no wrong code for Chinese users.
33. Loading Time ✓
Whether the load time for site pages is optimized?
Make sure you optimized:
- Scripts across web pages.
- Images across web pages.
- CSS across web pages.
34. 404 Page ✓
Make sure your 404 Redirect pages are in place.
35. Email Optin Form ✓
Make sure you get it done properly.
36. Search Form ✓
Search is the basic function you need to provide.
Make sure the website search and search results function correctly.
Website Tests and The Expert Review
We help our clients find out subtle points to improve through website usability testings.
A quick way is to Get An Expert Review on your website.
Now It’s Your Turn…
Now that you’ve seen my checklist, I’d like to hear from you.
Please let me know if you have any questions or you want me to put more on the checklist.
Please leave a comment quick below and I am here.
Cheng Chao has extensive expertise in China market entry, global translation & localization, cross-border business development, and global digital marketing.
Chao founded ChineseTrans, where he led a team of senior linguists to establish ChineseTrans as the market leader in professional Chinese translation services.
Since 2011, Chao has served as the managing director of SinoStep, a consulting agency helping foreign investment enter into the China market. Backed up with a strong team of China business consultants experienced in different sectors, Chao has successfully introduced dozens of overseas brands into the China market, established their operations in China on early stage and adapted their businesses to the China market.
see Chao's Bio