This article was written by Ruonan Zheng and originally published in Jing Daily
Whether it is Facebook and Twitter in the West or WeChat and Weibo in China, social media platforms that were created for sharing content have become important search engines.
As these social search engines strive for relevancy, they can achieve a powerful word-of-mouth marketing effect for brands.
WeChat, developed by the Chinese conglomerate Tencent Holdings, is continuing to strengthen the reach of its ecosystem – which connects one billion active monthly users – with its own search function.
The announcement that Tencent will allow users to shop directly on e-commerce website JD.com through the WeChat search function is a milestone for the monetisation of WeChat – and presents a key sales opportunity for brands.
Like most big tech search engines, WeChat search, as it is called, uses a sophisticated and complicated system.
While tech companies do not disclose detailed SEO (search engine optimisation) rules, there are still ways to get ahead when it comes to your brand’s placement on the pages of search engine results.
Using insights from a WeChat search report published by digital agency GroupM, Jing Daily offers three tips on how to get ahead on WeChat’s SEO.
1. Maintain an official account
It is essential to have an official account (similar to an official Facebook page), to give direct exposure to your brand.
The longer the official account has been active, the more likely the search engine is to favour pages from that account.
However, the system also takes into consideration an account’s level of authority – judging how many followers the account has, how frequently it publishes pieces, and if they are original items or aggregated content from elsewhere.
In January, WeChat launched its “brand zone function”, a spot reserved at the top of the WeChat search page where consumers can directly access official brands.
To be active on “brand zone”, a brand needs to fulfil three main criteria: to be verified by WeChat, receive trademark protection and to have activated WeChat Pay.
2. Produce relevance and content quality
According to GroupM, the WeChat search engine favours the most relevant information to the search entry.
When creating content, it is important for brands to ensure that the keywords appear frequently throughout the text and headline.
The quality of the content is then judged by the viewer engagement rate – the SEO algorithm records the number of clicks, impressions and post interactions, pushing the content slowly up the list of search engine results.
3. Invest in search properties
Just as Google sorts its results into categories, WeChat also lists results into different groups of content.
A search for “lipsticks” first offers links to buy different products, followed by a list of WeChat moments that include the word “lipstick”, a Wikipedia page for “lipstick”, and finally a list of relevant content published by official WeChat accounts.
Users can select which category of results they are looking for, and filter these results based on factors such as relevancy, most recently read and posts followed and shared by WeChat friends.
To gain traction from these categories, it is important for brands to invest in different kinds of search results.
Brands should have an official account, but they can also use search results by publishing posts on Zhihu (Chinese Quora), Sogou (Chinese Wikipedia), and other entities such as video and music sites.