Baidu has Killed Google in China & How Smart Business Can Benefit
Baidu is the second largest search engine globally with a 77.2% market share in China by total revenue. Why has Baidu defeated Google in China? How can you leverage Baidu for you Business Goals? Is Baidu a less ‘Sexy’ topic for Marketers in China?
A practical approach is required.
Baidu is the second most used search engine globally. China’s search engine market totalled 23.57 billion yuan (US$3.47 billion) in Q2 2017 with an increase of 25.6% QoQ according to Analysis. Baidu has 77.2% market share in China’s search engines market by total revenue, followed by Google China (9.66%) and Sogou (8.69%).
As with all digital platforms in China, 72% of Baidu’s revenue is derived from Mobile. Baidu also (as of late 2016) boasted 660 million monthly active users (MAU’s).
This huge dominance in terms of market share coupled with an active user base reflects the importance of Baidu strategy for business in China. It also highlights a necessity for mobile optimised content.
Search Engine Marketing is important in China
There is often talk in the marketing world of a ‘move from Pull to Push’, that is a trend of less active searching (pull) and more content fed directly to users through news apps such as the the News App Behemoth Toutiao (push).
I think this general claim is disputable when it comes to Baidu, the above figures suggest a different picture in terms of a large active search community in China.
Push based content/feeds are important but complimentary to the role of search engines, in my mind they will never replace the function of search engines.
The ideal search results page on Baidu with multiple pages, news content & forum activity.
Is Baidu Less ‘Sexy’ for Marketers?
Tencent’s WeChat & E-Commerce giants Alibaba are ‘sexy’ marketing topics in China. Baidu is less so, perhaps because it follows a more traditional business model, but this doesn’t mean it’s any less important for a practical marketing campaign.
As a tool for business growth, based on my experience managing campaigns, Baidu has proved to be instrumental. Particularly for lead generation & Website visibility when it comes to branding.
Why Baidu over Google in China?
There are a number of reasons Google struggled to compete in China alongside the obvious regulatory limitations. It’s also because Baidu as a domestic platform are smart, they cater to the online behaviour of Mainland Chinese in a focused way.
Baidu is geared to the Chinese user with uptake preferential over adapting to a Western platform. (Just as NAVER triumphs in South Korea).
Baidu, the heavy weight search Engine champion in China
The Key Reasons behind Baidu’s Success:
A Chinese Digital Eco-System
The Chinese can be fiercely patriotic with native Chinese netizens favouring the home team. The government also has a stake in Baidu with access provided to the state in terms of data and information.
The regulatory arm of the State is a key reason for the struggle many western companies have faced. This is a unique digital eco-system ring fenced by the ‘Great Fire Wall’ that has strongly advantaged Baidu.
Baidu don’t face the same pressure that any foreign search engine will.
Baidu is Designed for the Chinese
Baidu by design is geared for the Chinese user; how they search for information, what they seek & how they interact.
Mainland China presented a problem for Google in terms of Mandarin Keywords (Simplified), understanding Chinese specific search is another ball-park altogether.
Google is active in Taiwan & Hong Kong but it should be noted searches here are more often in Traditional Chinese. There are also distinct differences between these cultures and Mainland users with these regions not searching for the same type of ‘Mainland centric content’ that Baidu caters for.
Chinese Searches; A Different Paradigm?
You cannot assume that the Chinese search for information in the same way. The Chinese character system is completely unique when it comes to key search terms.
Baidu is deep into scanning and detailing Chinese websites in a way Google isn’t. This is why the correct meta tags, descriptions and titles for referenced websites is so important. Baidu actually approves websites before they can advertise on the platform.
Baidu’s China Specific Function Helps You
Baidu’s China specific nature allows businesses a gateway to a very complex yet highly lucrative market-place. Being so specific helps you if you collaborate with the right local partner.
You need to find an agency with the following breadth of skill;
- Mandarin Chinese Keyword Selection
- Site Audit + Optimisation of Baidu
- Strong background in implementing PPC/SEO
- A large database of local sites for links/references
Honing in on Baidu as a core component to digital strategy
Baidu = Qualified Traffic to Increase Conversion Rates
There is not better way to drive qualified traffic to a site directly, you can even attract traffic to social media accounts with QR codes embedded to your WeChat page (for example).
Consider that users are actively searching for information;
- They are more qualified leads & prospects
- Already have an active interest
- Search results lead to longer time spent browsing in China (+30% longer exposure).
- Lower traffic bounce rate.
Baidu dominates the mainland market with localised search functions
A Localised Site as a ‘Vehicle for Visibility’
As touched upon Baidu can only aid growth with a quality Chinese site. There are a number of factors to consider;
- A static site is better in terms of speed of load
- 8-12 Pages are typical
- The site must feature quality Chinese content
- Dual language or a translated version are less effective
The site must also be referenced for Baidu (think of this as a road map);
- Meta tags
- Meta descriptions
- Titles & Keywords
Sites need to be audited and optimised or Baidu’s unique search algorithms so consider this before launching any campaign.
DAMAC’s Chinese Site is Optimized for Mandarin Keyword Sets
Articles Going Viral on Baidu
Baidu visibility is also about third party, external sources featuring your business. Articles can be up-ranked in the natural results. Being featured in Media Sources with a strong weight in terms of ranking also increases exposure of your Chinese site.
Media Exposure ranking in the Baidu feed is an excellent source of visibility, this article below achieved 650,000 reads.
Articles on Vancouver Fashion Week Ranked Highly in the Results
Baidu PPC (Pay Per Click)
Baidu offers PPC ads for paid search exposure of your site (the first 5-8 paid search results).
PPC is the dominate model for ads on the platform with Banner/DSP less advanced.
There are a number of unique features to consider when it comes to PPC;
- Two lines of ad copy text
- Ad copy needs to be optimised for first ad position
- Bidding on Mandarin Keywords
- Paid Links are less clearly distinguished from the natural results
From experience PPC is important at the start of your campaign, with no previous visibility you need to invest in paid search results on popular keywords.
An aggressive PPC market entry strategy for many companies has worked including; DAMAC, RS Australian Property & Tour From Bali.
Baidu Paid Click Sections of the Results Page
Baidu SEO – Ranking in the Natural Results
Ranking in the ‘natural’ search results (not paid ads) over time drives the most qualified traffic to your site.
In short, if you are serious about building a site you need to invest in SEO to appear on targeted keywords closely connected to your business.
First Page? It takes time
The first stage is selection, you need to position the company based on the most targeted, qualified and realistic keywords for your site to rank over time. SEO is achieved by building backlinks and producing content, the effects are cumulative.
It will typically take 3-4 months to begin to rank on keywords. Intelligent selection is important, time needs be spent to understand our business, positioning and what terms will drive the most qualified traffic.
First page ranking: Australian Real Estate for Ronald Serry Australian Property in the natural results (3rd listing).
Lead Generation Campaigns
B2B & B2C Lead Gen can be effective on Baidu, particularly in finance, Real Estate & Emigration Investment. In terms of cost per lead we have seen significant ROI.
Lead Generation from a site focuses on the following;
- Live Baidu Chat Tool
- Contact form to leave details
- Clear site plan/mapping
- Quality Landing Page – Call to action.
Lead Generation tends to focus more on PPC initially whilst developing a sites ranking for long term gains.
Baidu Campaigns in China need to be optimised for mobile with 92% of internet access via mobile.
For brands web visibility is very important. Ranking highly in the search connotes trust, reputation and most importantly that you are an established Chinese player (not everyone can rank on the first page right?).
Many brands invest in SEO to rank on competitive keywords over time and boost the quality of their traffic & sales. Consider that hosting on a cross-border site does not give you the same control over brand reputation.
We are Baidu Specialists
A core aspect of our business has always been SEO / SEM. With more than 350 projects under our collective belt we seek to form serious, long term partnerships.
To speak with one of our consultants don’t hesitate to contact us.