There are many reasons to host your website in China.
The constantly expanding market and new opportunities that open up everyday are causing more businesses to enter the market. Setting up a dedicated website to serve Chinese customers is an essential part of the process.
Setting up your site in China (for the Chinese market) isn’t as simple as setting up a site back home, so in this post we will walk you through the options.
First, let’s take a look at exactly where to host your website.
The best hosting options to serve customers in China
Just as internet users in the West expect webpages to load quickly and cleanly, so do the Chinese. Because of the Chinese firewall, websites hosted in Europe or the US tend to load slowly in China, and often have entire sections missing when they do.
If you’re serious about growing your presence in China, then serving your Chinese customers to the best of your ability should be top of your priority list. That means hiring specialists with localised Chinese marking knowledge, and hosting your website in or very close to China.
Option 1: Host in Mainland China
For the fastest loading times, maximum uptime and minimal bandwidth restrictions, hosting directly inside mainland China is the best option. It makes sense – the closer your servers are to the people opening the webpages, the faster the page contents will load.
There is also the benefit of not having to cross any international borders, at which China is famous for implementing its ‘Great Firewall’, which heavily filters web content, slowing down delivery.
Hosting in China may also help boost organic Baidu (China’s version of Google) rankings.
The drawback of this option is the complexity and high requirements involved in setting it up.
To host a website in China you must have an ICP (Internet Content Provider) license. This is a mandatory requirement from the Chinese government. To qualify for an ICP license, international companies are required to have a registered business in China – an expensive and time consuming commitment. If you are looking to apply for an ICP license and have questions, it’s best to shoot us an email to see if we can help.
Option 2: Host in Hong Kong
If applying for an ICP license isn’t an option for your company, the next best option is to host in Hong Kong. There are no special requirements for hosting in Hong Kong, but it does help to have some local knowledge to smooth the process along.
A website hosted in Hong Kong will still load quickly in China, albeit not quite as fast as one hosted on the mainland. Hong Kong’s proximity to and close relationship with China mean your content will still be delivered quickly, and be subject to less stringent restrictions as content coming from the EU or USA.
It may be true that hosting in Hong Kong rather than the mainland can slightly reduce organic rankings in Baidu’s search engine. However, there are many other effective ways to drive traffic to your website, such as Baidu paid advertising and WeChat marketing.
This is the best option for most companies who want to get into the Chinese market, who don’t qualify for an ICP license or aren’t ready to commit to opening a company in China.
Cloud or traditional hosting?
The next important point to consider is whether to host on traditional hosting servers, or on the cloud.
What is the Cloud (aka. Aliyun)?
Hosting on the cloud means your files are being stored ‘virtually’ and can be made more readily available in different locations. In China, the cloud service to use is known as ‘Aliyun’, a product of the Alibaba group.
A traditional hosting service stores files on a hard drive in a physical location. The files must then be delivered from that location to wherever the user is accessing the website. Depending on the distance and server speeds, this can mean longer load times.
Hosting on the cloud allows for the files to be distributed over a wider network, depending on where the website is being loaded from. This inevitably reduces load times and increases performance in most cases.
With cloud hosting, you also only ‘pay for what you use’. With traditional hosting, you pay for a bandwidth allowance upfront and get locked into a contract of usually around 12 months. Should your usage spike or drop (perhaps you are running a promotion and need a sudden surge of traffic), traditional hosting can become very inflexible.
Cloud hosting, however, allows your usage to fluctuate with traffic demands. This means you never pay for resources you don’t use, and if your traffic spikes, your hosting will automatically respond to make the bandwidth available.
To set up your hosting on Aliyun, there are a few extra steps to take and local knowledge is essential to do it right.
At Eggplant Digital we specialise in setting up websites for the Chinese market. If you’d like help hosting your website in Hong Kong or China, check our website services or contact us directly to discuss your project.
If you are serious about serving customers in the ever-expanding Chinese market, then you will need to take your web presence seriously too.
A website hosted in China or Hong Kong will radically improve your performance locally, and enhance your chances of success.
However, setting up your website on the cloud in China can be a complicated process, and you should also work with a specialist with local marketing knowledge. At Eggplant we provide those services, and look forward to helping your business succeed in China.
To make an enquiry, please get in touch today.