Yes, I can help you with SEO. I understand SEO (Search Engine Optimization) and, depending on how competitive your product or service keywords/phrases are, can help you get on the first page of Google for global searchers and in most circumstances can do it for Baidu as well. Baidu works slightly differently than Google in this regard however. Baidu is more of a "pay to play" system. It's not always as competitive as you'd think (again, it depends largely on your keywords and how specialized your product or service is). With regards to pay-per-click (PPC) on Baidu, as of a year ago they were still asking for an up-front deposit of 6000 renminbi (roughly $1000 US dollars). I've gotten onto the first page of Baidu for a Chinese interpreter site (written in Chinese characters, and I used local Chinese directories for links). I did not pay for PPC and I still got on the first page for my keywords. However, the "word on the street" is that for more competitive keywords/phrases, sites with an active Baidu PPC account get a boost. And I know there are those out there among the Western China watchers who disagree with this, but I believe it's still the case. Again, sometimes you can get on the first page without "paying" anything. I've done it for two websites. I find that Google SEO is a far more straightforward game. I have read books written in Chinese on Baidu SEO, as well as talked with local Chinese here in China about the tips and tricks to getting to the top of Baidu search results.
Most small businesses in fact do not pursue hosting within mainland China proper. Even those who possess a business license in China, often opt to first get a up and running in Hong Kong, and then later take steps to pursue their formal Internet Content Provider License (ICP) application. The reasons for this are many. First of all, you may wish to see how consumers/customers/clients within China respond to your initial site idea, and then proceed based on that REAL information. Perhaps most importantly, it takes time (and minor bureaucratic set-backs) to get the ICP when you can have a site up and runnning and servicing customers from Hong Kong literally within hours, and without the need for anybody's permission or approval. Further, there is nothing inherently illegal about this. (This question is also related to the question in the list titled "Is your site blocked?")
If you have a site or content at such providers as Blogspot.com, Wix.com, Scribd.com or many other internet service providers outside China you may be aware of blockages outside of your control.
The simple solution is to host in Hong Kong with a business-oriented hosting provider, such as myself. You get blocked because SOMEONE on that server/IP address is putting something up on the web which the mainland Chinese authorities are not pleased with. That's it in a nutshell. I've been reading newspapers in Chinese for over twenty (20) years, both those inside and outside mainland China, and if you think I don't have a sense of the way their politics works you'd be wrong. You have no control over whether or not some other account holder in a shared hosting environment is making some some sort of political statement and screaming and yelling. With me you are guaranteed a "clean IP address". There will be no other sites on any of my IP addresses which violate any of the rules set by the Communist party because I will remove them. I control all of the sites on my IP addresses, so there is no possibility of that happening. If you go with an IP address owned by Wix or some other hosting provider you could be free today and blocked tomorrow. A hosting provider can (and usually does) have many IP addresses with thousands accounts spread out over hundreds of IP addresses. The company which owns the datacenter where my actual physical machines are located has over thirty employees in Hong Kong and they are local Hong Kong-based native Hong Kong Chinese. They have businesses who rent space in their datacenters and transact substantial volumes of business in and through the mainland. It would be extremely harmful for them to discover that traffic from and to their servers were being blocked by China's firewall. I'm a Christian, but I'm not going to go up against Goliath for you: so I will need to cancel your account if you place politically sensitive material on your publicly facing websites/applications.
I've got two systems going at once, so if something happens to an IP address on one, I'll just switch over to the other (and it's not really expensive at all, and there are reasons in addition to reduncancy to do this anyways). To date I've had no problems whatsoever; and I chalk it up to my care in searching through virtually every hosting/web-space providing company based in Hong Kong. The key is the location of the server, it's IP addresses, and it's data transport routes connecting to it. I use a company whose datacenter has direct routes with two major ISPs: China Telecom and China Unicom. (This question also relates to the one above titled "Where should I host my China-related website?".)
Yes, it's included. I assume that every person(s)/business that purchases a site from me will also want a Chinese langauge version written in Chinese characters. I will quote you a price which includes this; and all of the websites listed as "Sample Sites" include all costs for translation. You can read more on this point on my page regarding Chinese translation. However, if you only want an English language site that is fine. Or, if you only need a Chinese version (and I've done one of those as well) then that is fine and it will reduce your costs some.
You don't need any permits to host a business website in Hong Kong, but you do if you want a website hosted within China and/or a totally official Wechat business account. Please understand that you could make your company/product/website go viral on WeChat without anything official if you want to hire a bunch of local Chinese to work around the clock to promote your sites through their networks of friends, and friends friends, and friends of friends of friends, etc.. That is simply a matter of hourly rates for local employees that own a phone: which is virtually everybody and monthly wages among less-skilled workers in Shenzhen is about $500-600 US per month.
Yes, I can meet you in Hong Kong, Shenzhen, or Guangzhou.
I can finish most projects within a month; sometimes significantly faster.
I don't use "templates" if that word refers to other people's code. I may use one of my own sites which I have built before as a template. But again, then I know the code backwards and forwards. The only code you full understand is the code you've written or modified substantially yourself. I don't use Wordpress templates or any phoney baloney stuff like that. I am a computer programmer, not a marketing expert parading himself as such. Hit "right-click" view source (or if you're on a Mac like me use Command-click view source), then search for "Wordpress" or "wp" within your web design companies web page and you'll find that 75% of them are using Wordpress. I don't care how "nice' their sites look, they didn't code it themselves and won't be able fix it when it breaks. For all I know they've "outsourced" it to some other company. Businesses that are serious about the internet hire computer programmers (you can call them developers, devs, software engineers etc.) to program computers.
Yes, it will unless you want to save some money and just use a desktop site. The Chinese internet world is more mobile-centric than we are in the West. The reasons for this are likely many, but one factor is certainly the ubiquity of Weixin/Wechat. Both Alipay and Wechat payments are reliable and well-trusted by consumers. Chinese use their phones to browse the internet more than their western counterparts. Many of those who own a smartphone do not own a computer. If you want to sell to Chinese consumers, you need a mobile-friendly website.
There are many good ones, and I don't know which is best. I do know that some of them have pretty high setup costs. For example www.KXG.com charges about 50,000 renminbi for new importers to get set up! You can use as many as you want or all of them (if you can afford it). The site I make for you can be integrated into all of them, it won't matter from my perspective. Additionally, you'll have QR link codes and buy now buttons that permit scanning and direct linkage to the product pages at those platforms. Although the registration startup costs are rather steep, one platform that is uniquely suited for foreigners with direct imports is www.KXG.com. It is located in a duty-free zone here in Shenzhen and streamlines the import/purchase process for both buyers and sellers. Among Chinese it has built up one central pillar of it's image: no fakes! Virtually all Chinese would prefer to purchase foreign products than Chinese products, but there is a serious problem when it comes to deciding whether a given item is the real McCoy or not. KXG.com is trying to eliminate that trust problem by verifying the authenticity of all the foreign companies and products which are sold on their site.