Baidu, the leading search engine in mainland China, is known for offering different icons to authenticate and give credibility to websites running in the Middle Kingdom.
New warranty icon
Until 2018-2019, it was the “Verified” icons (with three levels of validation: V1, V2, V3) that indicated the trust and reputation of a website. However, since 2019-2020, the BaoZhang icon (保障 baozhang means “warranty”) has replaced all authentication and certification icons on Baidu.
This new icon is mainly available for paid results in Baidu (sponsored ads, Brand Zone, etc.). For certain organic results, it is possible to see this icon appearing in the search snippets.
Being still in the transition period to the BaoZhang icon, it is possible to see certain search results displaying both the “Official Site” and “BaoZhang” icons on the same snippet. (Example below)
The presence of the BaoZhang icon in the snippet of a website means that the brand or the company has joined Baidu’s “Guarantee Plan”: if an Internet user is the victim of a scam on this site, he will be able to request compensation by clicking on the BaoZhang icon, available in mobile and computer versions.
Conditions for Obtaining the BaoZhang Icon
To join the Guarantee Plan, brands must provide administrative documents declared to the Chinese Ministry of Industry and Information Technology, related to the creation of a business, banking information, the domain name of the site(s) for requesting the warranty. It takes 2-5 working days for Baidu to review the documents. Once approved, the BaoZhang icon will appear in search results.
Nevertheless, companies interested in this warranty icon must not be in high-risk sectors such as medicine, finance, health, etc.
The advantages of the BaoZhang icon
The BaoZhang icon of a site aims to reassure Internet users of its authenticity and credibility.
The icon directs Internet users to a site for consulting official documents related to the brand and obtaining certified information on a company. Thus, BaoZhang increases the chances of a site being visited by users.
Baidu has always employed an icon strategy to authenticate and certify its SERPs. Until the “Verified” icons, the strategy was as valid for paid results as for organic results. But with the implementation of BaoZhang, it is mainly the paid results that are concerned. Among the organic results, we can still find the presence of the icon “Official Site”.
With a trend in China for an increasingly domestic consumption (the consumption of Western products is limited), having websites certified within the country is a strategy for Baidu to keep as many local Internet users as possible on its search engine. The evolution of paid icons is one of the Baidu SEO trends to watch for 2022 and beyond.
Some definitions of special terms from the article:
Snippet(s) refers to an excerpt from a page displayed in search results in engines such as Baidu and Google.
This term can also refer only to the text summary (most often taken from the description under the page title in the search result)
SERP (Search Engine Result Pages): This acronym refers to search engine results pages.
“Official website” 官方 icon: This icon is offered by Baidu to authenticate official brand websites to fight counterfeits and online scams