China is the second largest economy in the world - and the fastest growing. They have overtaken the US to become the largest market in the world. Gaming apps are top of the list, followed by life service and e-commerce apps. If you want to succeed in the Chinese game market, then you need to be aware of some differences when it comes to your web presence.
In this blog, you’ll find some useful tips on how to enter the Chinese game market and what to keep in mind when building a Chinese web presence. There are a number of things we had to consider during development and wanted to share our findings with you.
Mobile platforms come first in China. 95% of internet users are on mobile, and China’s population of mobile only-users is growing steadily. This is the case for many Southeast Asian countries: they simply skipped internet on PCs and moved directly to smartphones. So, it’s important to develop mobile friendly desktops. (And that we already know :-) )
☐ Mobile friendly - check
Most Chinese apps accept Latin letters. WeChat has a voice function when searching. That way users override the writing barrier + allow very young and old people to participate. Voice search is used by 10% of Baidu searches.
Number of internet users in China (millions). Source: Forbes, Statista.
If you want your web presence to be superfast, then you need to get inside the Chinese Great Firewall. At best, you will find that your website hosted outside of China, is slow. But, the main risk you’re facing is that users inside of China won’t be able to see it at all.
If you can’t get a server in mainland China, then put one in Hong Kong. A Hong Kong based server can be slower during evenings and weekends, but it is fast during office hours.
Just as with your current website, when establishing a site in China you need to work with your SEO to get a high ranking. But - in China the search engine’s name isn’t Google. Since Google’s blocked, their market share is close to zero. In China you need to work with Baidu, and the best option here is to register with an advertising partner. The algorithms in Baidu are different from Google’s, so when you localize make sure to have a localization expert that understands copywriting and thinks of keywords and SEO.
Baidu kind of works in the same way as Google. You can use something similar to Google Ads and retargeting + get stats from your traffic. To get inside the great wall (and all related bureaucracy), you need to partner up with an agency in China to help you get an ICP license and someone to help you with ads.
☐ Get a companion in China - check
☐ Get an ICP license - check
☐ Server in mainland China - check
☐ Partner to create PPC ads and other search ads - check
☐ SEO adjusted text - check
☐ Translated webpage into Chinese - check
☐ Translated content into Chinese (improve SEO) - check
A Chinese website can’t be offensive. No perceived negative influences are allowed. Don’t show drinking, drugs, gambling or other bad behaviors. Justin Bieber is banned in China due to his… “bad behavior.” Nudity is banned.
Example: Tencent moved all their Chinese PUBG gamers to a new IP 和平精英. Instead of using blood and violence, “waving hands” shows that the player is out. The war/fight story background was also replaced by military training. These changes were only applied to the mainland version.
Don’t embed videos from Youtube, Vimeo or other sites. These are not accessible in China, and it might have a negative effect on your site.
☐ Removed all the nudity - check
☐ No bad language - check
☐ Removed videos from banned sites - check
Social media is just as important in China like in the US or Europe.
In China, social platforms like Twitter and Pinterest are banned. Social media from the West like Facebook and Youtube will block your site.
Instead you need to cover the Chinese versions. Marketing channels like WeChat don’t accept foreign advertisers, so you need to register a Chinese account.
WeChat - is a multifunction social media. Think a mix of “What’s App” and “Facebook”. You can share location, videos, broadcast, etc. Like Messenger you can make calls, and businesses can make conference calls. 80% of all internet users in China use WeChat. You’ll get statistics of your visitors, and like Facebook see who liked your posts.
Weibo/Sina Weibo - China’s Twitter; a microblogging website. Recently Weibo has been losing users to WeChat, but is still a media channel to use.
QQ - is a call and messaging tool just like WeChat. QQ also offers apps like games, shopping, music, etc. The users are primarily younger people, so if your target group is here then this is your place to be. Even if some users are moving to WeChat, QQ still has a large user base. Unlike WeChat, in QQ you are able to see who looked at your latest post or photo.
☐ Removed Twitter - check
☐ Removed Facebook - check
☐ Added WeChat - check
☐ Added Weibo - check
☐ Added QQ - optional
QR codes are used to login to a site, and are actually a smart way to login without using a password + avoiding problems with Chinese keywords vs. latin letters + avoiding spyware when using a public computer.
☐ Added QR code - check
In China, the text preview needs to be longer than on websites in the US. So make sure you save enough space for Chinese text and there are no UI bugs. If possible, find a Chinese user or professional LQA agency to test it.
Avoid white space. It’s ok to put detailed info in every spot. Add a link instead of having a white area - even if you already linked to the link on the page.
☐ Removed white spaces - check
☐ Longer previews - check
Colors are super important in China. Red means joy and welfare. So use red as a background color.
Green is infidelity, and white is death - avoid.
Uber managed to grow their presence in China. How? They embraced the Chinese app market by using red cars as icons in the app, instead of the traditional black or blue ones.
☐ Changed color palette - check
Security shields show that everything is alright. Some countries avoid security shields because the person then starts to think that there’s something to be afraid of. But not in China. For Chinese websites, put large security shields in your app, before checking out or in the website, to show that your site is secure with a secure checkout.
Stripe has partnerships with Alipay and WeChat.
☐ Added shield - check
☐ Added payment adjusted for the Chinese market - check
Localization in China is extremely important, and the examples in this blog post show the importance of great localization. Localization performed by a professional translator living in China is necessary to get all the details right and the language use correct.
☐ Localized all the text with help from a specialist native speaking translator - Yes of course
☐ Localized keywords - check
☐ Got a second opinion on the text - yes
Do you like what you see? Contact LocalizeDirect today! :-)
We’ve also prepared this checklist for you to go through all the main points of website localization for the Chinese market. Save it and share with your product manager!