It’s hard to imagine a world where Google isn’t the king of search. For years people in western society have relied on Google for assisting their everyday lives. Google has grown to become much more than a search engine. Users rely on it not only to find information, but also as a powerful language translating platform, a highly accurate and detailed navigation tool as well as a popular email provider. However, in China there is no Google… there is Baidu.
What is Baidu?
Many people from western society will have never heard of Baidu. Yet, Baidu is the most popular search engine in China and one of the largest companies in the world. It is often dubbed the ‘Chinese Google’ and for good reason. The features and layout of Baidu are very similar to that of Google. They are both powerful search engines for websites, audio files and images as well as an email service, a language translator and a web mapping service. Baidu has been in operation inside of mainland China for around 17 years and has seen consistent growth annually since its creation.
History of Baidu
Headquartered in Beijing, Baidu was founded in January 2000 by Robin Li and Eric Xu. It quickly rose in popularity within China, garnering a huge following. It went public in 2005, and on its opening day ended with a return of 354%! Since its creation, Baidu has consistently been the search engine market leader in China. It had originally faced competition from Google. However, due to strict digital rules and regulations within China, Google and all its subsidiary sites (Gmail, Google Translate, Google Drive, Google Calendar etc.) began being blocked in early 2010. By November 2013 Google’s search market share declined to 1.7% from its August 2009 level of 36.2%. Currently all Google sites are fully blocked within mainland China, resulting in Baidu’s dominance in the market expanding.
Facts about Baidu
- The name ‘Baidu’ literally means “countless times”, or alternatively, “a hundred times”.
- Baidu is currently the 6th largest internet company in the world and 3rd largest in China, behind Tencent and Alibaba.
- Baidu currently boasts over 80% of the China search-engine market.
- As of September 2016, the number of monthly active users were 660 million.
- Seen as a major marketing platform for brands, Baidu advertising has over 650,000 customers deploying Baidu SEO and Baidu PPC campaigns.
- As well as being a highly popular search engine, Baidu also offers many services such as a music program, called Baidu Music, an online encyclopedia (similar to Wikipedia), called Baidu Baike, a desktop/mobile mapping solution called Baidu Map and many other services.
- Due to internet censorship laws within China, numerous keywords have been blocked on Baidu. This is in an effort to block internet users from accessing material deemed undesirable.
- Baidu’s analytics platform, Tongji is only available in Chinese and is largely viewed as being unsecure.
- Although it is a globally available site, Baidu’s majority market share is in China where about 93.4% of their visitors come from.
- Baidu currently holds 7.54% of the global search engine market. Although it dominates the Chinese market, it has not been able to compete with Google (who controls around 80% of the market) on a global standpoint.
It is important for companies to know how to leverage and work with Baidu. Brands looking to promote themselves to Chinese consumers must be aware that all Baidu SEO and Baidu PPC efforts must be tailored to local specifications and that they operate much differently than Google SEO and PPC. This means, understanding the platform, the layout, the keywords, the language, the users etc. One thing is a certainty, having a strong presence on Baidu, while deploying effective Baidu advertising campaigns is essential to expanding one’s foothold in China.
Beijing-based Web Presence In China (WPIC) is an independent, full service digital marketing and IT development agency. Having over 13 years of on the ground experience in the China digital sector, the firm has worked with over 300 global companies and leads a team of 120 people between their global offices. WPIC supports China and the greater APAC region in digital and IT solutions.