You might already hear of ICP, which is a mandatory document for the website that host in China. But have you heard ICP license? And will it impact your SEO? Below information will make it clear.
ICP stands for Internet Content Provider. There are two ICP documents in China
A. ICP record.
ICP record is a mandatory document for all website that host in China. As long as the website is host in China, you have to apply ICP record to the government. Normally the host company will assist that. To check if the website has an ICP record already, you can search it from the government site of Ministry of Industry and Information Technology
Below is the example of the ICP record.
B. ICP license
If the website is profitable, for example, if you are selling a product, service on your site, or paid downloading service, paid SAAS, etc., then you have to get the ICP license. It is like a business license of the website. The requirement for this document might be different depends on the location. So to apply that, the easier way is to find a local agency to help you.
Below is the example of ICP license.
Will ICP impact SEO and SEM? Yes!
Without the ICP record, you will miss some link building opportunities. Some directories require ICP to index your site, like the directory of 360 (Haosou) as below.
And some webmasters only exchange backlinks with the site have ICP.
All local search engines require ICP record to setup SEM account, such as Baidu, 360, Sogou, etc. Without ICP, there is no SEM opportunity, unless you use Adwords, but Google only takes 2% market share in China.
More important, without ICP record or ICP license, your site might be banned by the government. Like below:
So can we skip ICP? Yes.
The only way to skip ICP is to host the website outside China. But there will be some risk to get banned by GWF.
Overall, to make it clearer below is a flow chart about ICP created by us.