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Accessibility in China
February 18, 2009, Phoenix Realm
One of the major issues tackled by SEO is accessibility. We want to make sure that a website that’s being optimised is accessible not just by search engine spiders but also by users regardless of their connection speed, browser used, etc. A thing overlooked by many SEOs though is checking whether the website is accessible from all parts of the world, particularly China. This oversight is understandable since the internet is afterall borderless and unless the website caters specifically to a Chinese audience the “China problem” is easy to overlook. A common, yet potentially costly mistake.
China Internet Market
Early last year the Wall Street Journal reported that China was closing in on US as the largest web market. By the year’s end it has indeed succeeded in topping the US in terms of number of internet users. According to Internet World Stats US had 220,141,969 users while China had 253,000,000 users last 2008. Now while that alone should make any SEO look up and not take the China market for granted if you also consider that fact that the 253 million Chinese users make up only 19% of the total Chinese population then you can bet that it’s sheer stupidity not to make sure that your website is accessible in China.
The Great Firewall of China
Now for those who haven’t heard of the Great Firewall of China (officially called the Golden Shield Project) this is the reason why your website might have accessibility problems in China. The firewall system actually reroutes everything and uses proxy servers to allow websites, with content acceptable to the government, to be viewed by internet users. Now although most websites are not blocked (and thank goodness Phoenixrealm definitely isn’t ^_^) it is still best to check whether your website is accessible in China. Chances are as long you do not put any controversial content on your site that it is and will be accessible. Note though that China’s firewall system is not that consistent and resulting in websites being accessible in one city and not in another so when you do check your site’s accessiblity be thorough and check the accessibilty in major cities.