WordPress is the most popular content management system (CMS) throughout the world. However, if you want to use WordPress in China, things may not be as straightforward as in the western environment.
For instance, many users still find it difficult to understand if it is possible to use WordPress in China, or if the popular CMS is blocked by the Great Fire Wall. Moreover, how can you host your website in China and what tricks work best to optimize your WordPress site in China?
In the following summary, we aim to provide you with a blueprint, so to speak, of how you can use WordPress in China and make adjustments that will give you an advantage in this part of the world.
Is WordPress blocked in China?
The topic may be controversial, but it comes down to understanding the difference between WordPress.com and WordPress.org. Even though their names are very similar, they are two completely different platforms.
WordPress.com is basically a hosting service. You can use it to create a WordPress website that will be hosted on the servers that are provided by WordPress.com. Therefore, your website will be dependent on the services provided by the platform and you cannot decide to move your WordPress website to a third-party hosting provider.
Most importantly, being a hosting service, WordPress.com is blocked in China.
Things are different when it comes to WordPress.org. Here is where you download the free opensource software to create your WordPress website. However, you must host your own website using a hosting service of your choice.
WordPress.org is NOT blocked in China. Even so, as we will explain in a while, for your website to be visible in China you must carefully choose the hosting service.
Examples of WordPress sites in China
Here are some examples of WordPress websites that are currently running and are successful in China.
CanCham and Motif are two WordPress websites designed by QPSoftware that are thriving in the Chinese market. Motif features an E-learning platform, while CanCham is an institutional site, making it clear that you can use WordPress for every kind of business in China.
How to Optimize Your WordPress Site for the Chinese Audience
When you decide to target the Chinese audience, you must build and handle your WordPress website with a different mindset then in the western environment.
Besides making sure that your website is compliant with local regulations, you must customize your website for this specific audience
Following are a few suggestions to optimize your WordPress site for the Chinese audience.
To Host or not to host your WordPress Site in China?
To target the Chinese audience with your WordPress website you do not necessarily need to host your website within China. However, there are several reasons why you should consider this option.
Every website in China must deal with the Great Firewall of China. If your website from outside of China doesn’t meet local requirements, it will be blocked and, therefore, you cannot operate in the country. If, instead, it meets the requirements, you can access the Chinese market. However, the filters required by the Great Firewall will make your website run slower, contributing to a poor user experience.
On the other hand, hosting a website in China is not the easiest process, but it comes with many advantages. For instance, you don’t have to worry about speed problems. Moreover, you are entitled to use a .cn domain. Using a .cn domain is a highly advantageous option, worthy of pursuing. Chinese people frequently perceive a brand as having legitimacy and being just and well-founded, when it is attached to a .cn domain.
To have your website hosted in China, you need a few things:
First of all, you must have a business license. The Chinese business license grants you the right to request an ICP license, a required document to open a website in China and host it inside the country.
The ICP license is even required to access a China CDN (Content Delivery Network), another important tool to improve your website performances.
When a company obtains a business license and the ICP license in China all the limitations that are imposed on foreign investors are lifted.
Having these licenses gives your online business a better chance of flourishing while making use of essential benefits that allow you to operate more thoroughly in China.
Don't Get Blocked
Investing time and money into an attractive and efficient website that is then blocked by the Great Firewall of China is a result that no one wants.
Therefore, make sure that your site doesn’t violate Chinese regulations regarding both the content and language used. Possibly, have your website hosted within China to avoid any possible issue. It may be advisable to look for professional help in China who can help you to navigate through the difficulties of the local regulations.
Digging deeper in these laws but more tech-oriented, there are some elements to take into consideration if you don’t want to get blocked in China, such as avoiding the blocked APIs in China. These allow you to show information from other platforms such as YouTube, Google Maps, Facebook, Instagram, etc. With the local restrictions, you will need to replace or delete all these foreign APIs. If you replace them, you can use the local APIs from Youku, Baidu Maps, WeChat, etc.
Additionally, to make your website more accessible to those in the Chinese market, we strongly recommend registering your website with Baidu.
There are plugins for WordPress that can be added for you to successfully and comfortably scale the mountain-like Chinese market. These plugins can give you an advantage while targeting the Chinese audience.
Page Specific Menu
One must-have plugin, for instance, is Page Specific Menu. It allows you to manage the navigation menu in the Chinese language. Providing content in Chinese is essential if you want to succeed in the local market. However, since WordPress doesn’t offer a simple way to manage multiple languages, the Page Specific Menu plugin comes to your aid offering a practical and free solution to the problem.
Remove Google Fonts
Another issue that you must consider is that Google is banned in China. Therefore, it is good to remove any content that belongs to Google such as Google fonts. You can do that easily with plugins specifically designed for that like Remove Google Fonts References or Disable Google Fonts.
Arve Responsive Video Embedder
This plugin is a simple but effective tool for embedding videos on your WordPress site. If you are targeting Chinese users through video content, this plugin will allows you to embed videos from Chinese videos hosting platforms like Youku and Tudou.
Other plugins you may consider are those related to the most popular social networks in China like Weibo and WeChat. These tools make it easy for your audience to share your content, in turn, giving your website more visibility.
Use Chinese Social Networks
As is the case with Facebook, Google, YouTube, Instagram and other sites that are blocked in China, you must use the local social media and other platforms such as WeChat, Baidu, Youku, Weibo to organise marketing campaigns. These popular social network will boost your chances to gain access to this market as well as reach the local audience.
Use Chinese Payment Gateways for Your WordPress E-commerce
As is becoming obvious in our discussion, you can see that China prefers developing and using local solutions.
In order to collect payments from Chinese customers, it is necessary to adapt your ways of payment to what works in China. There are local methods of payment which are used such as Alipay and WeChat Pay for online mobile payments and UnionPay for debit payments.
Making use of these three payment options is unavoidable in the process of selling online in China. Thus, you must integrate them into your WordPress and E-commerce websites.
Web Design Tips for Your WordPress Website in China
Before concluding, we want to mention a few suggestions that are highly valuable in your using WordPress in China. The first being, that when creating a Chinese website, it is extremely beneficial to provide the website in both English and Chinese. This will allow expats and individuals who do not speak Chinese to still be able to access your site.
You must even pay attention to the layout and look of your website. Especially if you already have an existing website, simply translating the content may not be enough to appeal to the local audience.
The colors you use, the images you add to your content, the way you organize your pages and even the way you write the content are all important to break into this market. Therefore, you may need to create a side website that follow the most popular web design trends in China. Asking for the support of local experts like QPSoftware is often the easiest way to address this important point.
Running a WordPress website in China is possible. All you have to do is follow the guidelines that we have outlined in this article. If you do, your WordPress site in China will not be blocked and you will be able to leverage on the amazing potential of this market.
Of course, China is not an easy environment for foreign online entrepreneurs. However, you don’t need to be overwhelmed. If you would like assistance on your journey into the Chinese market, contact QPSoftware.
We are a top E-commerce Web Agency located in Shanghai, China offering WordPress and E-commerce website design and development. We are experienced in WordPress services and successfully navigating the Great Firewall.