Baidu is the first Chinese company in terms of search engine services. It owns the Baidu browser, which is both the most popular search engine in China and a default search engine for popular devices. In this article, we will tell you what role Baidu plays in China's search engine market and what opportunities Baidu's advertising platform offers to promote business.
The Chinese Internet is walled off from the global network, so the Chinese market is dominated by Chinese Internet companies. Among them, Baidu is the most massive Chinese tech company in the field of artificial intelligence and online ad services, it offers a series of own applications, including Baidu News, Baidu Encyclopedia, community services such as Tieba and Zhidao. Baidu also has its own travel booking service, smartphone operating system, Internet TV and many other apps.
The company is led by Robin Li, who with Eric Xu founded Baidu in Beijing in 2000.Today Baidu is not just a search engine, but also high technology company. Its development strategy includes the role of finding new marginal opportunities. For example, Baidu also invests in several services related to prospective high-tech like autonomous driving, AI powered cameras, Baidu launched a cloud storage service in 2012, etc.
Thus, the company has a wide range of businesses in mainland China. It serves not only as an advertising platform and organic results generator, but also functions as an integral part of the larger ecosystem often referred to as the "BAT" alongside industry giants Alibaba and Tencent.
As we noted above, Baidu is the most important search engine in China in terms of monthly users logged and one of the leading search engines in the world, ranking 4th in the global search engine market. Although most Chinese Internet users today actively use Internet-related services such as social networking and online marketplace platforms, the number of search engine users in China is growing along with the number of Internet users.
In this case Baidu being an earlier search engine developed still has opportunities to accumulate profit from China's search engine market. Baidu accounted for 74% of all searches in China in July 2022, 2023 statistics also defines Baidu as the leader among Chinese search engines.
The second largest search engine in China is Bing, whose services can still be indexed in China. The third most popular search engine in China is Sogou, which is especially popular on desktops. It also the most used search engine in QQ browser and WeChat browser due to Tencent (the owner of QQ and WeChat) invested in Sogou earlier.
Of course, you might ask why Google is not one of the leading search engines in China. The answer is simple and has to do with censorship by the Chinese government. If we speak about SEO headlines, Google dominates in the world, but is officially blocked in China in the same way as Instagram or Facebook. As a result, its search market share is very low and only supported by Google Hong Kong and other loopholes.
Everyone in Russia has definitely heard of Google and many people use it, but Baidu is a real terra incognita for most Russians. We decided to compare Baidu with the usual Google and tell you about the main features of the most important Chinese search engine.
Creating and indexing a site in Google is not very difficult, as no official documents and additional procedures are required to launch a new site. At the same time, for a high position in the local search results it is not so critical whether you buy domains of popular American hosting .com or .net or domains of local hosting in your own country. China wouldn't be China if things were that simple in their search engines.
Only those sites that are hosted on Chinese hosting get the chance to appear at the top of Baidu's results. Also, not everyone can register a Chinese .cn domain. To connect your site to Chinese hosting and become a content provider on the Chinese Internet, you need to be patient and get a special permission - ICP license.
This license is only issued to foreign companies that have a legal entity in China or a recognized foreign business license. It can be very problematic to obtain an ICP on your own, so we advise you to contact specialists to complete all the necessary documents and procedures.
Unlike Google, which only requires an average level of English to run ads, a lack of Chinese language (simplified Chinese is typical for mainland China) skills can be a major obstacle to advertising on Baidu. It is important to understand that Baidu is a search engine created in China for internal use, so all keywords must be entered in Chinese only, otherwise the advertising campaign will not be effective.
In addition, creating web pages in Chinese is particularly difficult. Only a qualified linguist can correctly translate your content and the ads themselves into Chinese. Otherwise, poorly written Chinese text will result in your ads being misinterpreted by users at a minimum, and landing pages not ranking highly in search results at a maximum.
We can say that Google does not censor search results specifically, although it does block certain categories of content. For China, censorship is an integral part of public life and greatly restricts the Internet space. This poses some difficulties for foreign marketers, who have to deal with a variety of different restrictions.
For example, when writing advertising copy, it is necessary to avoid the so-called "black list" of words (superlatives and words such as "most" and "best"). You need to know whether advertising for your product or service is prohibited by Chinese law, and remember that Baidu will not display pages in search results that may appear questionable from a censorship perspective.
In search results, Google clearly distinguishes between regular websites and contextual search ads, but Baidu does not. At the same time, companies that buy advertising are given priority and their sites appear on the top lines of search results. Therefore, the top search positions are called "Baidu brand zones", and very often the first pages of search results can be occupied by brand websites.
For Google, quality content on web pages is much more important, so domains and subdomains are not taken into account in search results. However, if your goal on Baidu is to get your audience to the most important message on the site as quickly as possible, you shouldn't resort to using subdomains.
It is also worth considering the cultural characteristics of Chinese users. The best option for a site name for the Chinese Internet is considered to be a combination of letters and numbers, as numbers have a symbolic meaning in China and can be used to encode an entire message. For example, the coded words "happiness", "love", "prosperity", etc. can go a long way in getting your brand noticed.
With the growing use of smartphones and increased competition from mobile applications, Google has been able to provide fast-loading web pages for mobile devices. In China, the Internet is generally slow, and the use of computers to access the Internet is even less popular than in Western countries. 99.7% of the country's citizens use smartphones to browse the Internet, making it necessary to develop a mobile version of every website. Without adapting your website for smartphones, you can't hope for a high position in search results.
In Baidu, meta tags play a much more important role in increasing the rankings of a site than in Google promotion. Also, the optimization of meta tags themselves is different in Baidu, which requires a full title and description. In this case, you need to use only unique text.
There are 2 main ways to promote a brand on the most important Chinese search engine - contextual advertising and SEO tools.
Obviously, all of Baidu's traffic comes from user search queries, so contextual advertising, which appears when search results are displayed, becomes an opportunity for promotion and greater audience reach. Unlike Google, most of Baidu's advertising is PPC (pay-per-click).
To advertise on Baidu, you need to register with Baidu Ads. Baidu offers a wide range of online advertising services to help you improve your marketing strategy in China. Baidu started offering ad space in 2001 and has since become one of the largest advertising platforms in China.
The second method of promotion is SEO (Search Engine Optimization), which is based on automatically raising your site to higher positions due to its high quality in terms of Baidu's algorithms. For example, for the indexing of a site in Baidu, as in Google, the uniqueness of the text content of the site is extremely important. If your site is not filled with its own original content, it will be impossible to get a good position in the search results.
Advertising brings immediate leads, but in Baidu contextual advertising is not considered the cheapest. SEO, on the other hand, produces long-term results, but is a more budget-friendly option for promoting your website. The choice of promotion method depends on the specifics of the business, but most often Baidu recommends an integrated approach.
Baidu applications such as the keyword-based discussion forum Tieba and many other apps are better indexed in Baidu, so you should definitely use them to increase the visibility of your brand in China.
Variety of advertising formats
To run an advertising campaign on the Baidu search engine, you can choose from a variety of advertising formats. You can reach your target audience through 3 types of advertising. The classic option is display advertising, which is the placement of advertisements as banners on websites. The second type is feed advertising, which is advertising in the stream of content that users see in their feed. Another option is Brand Zone advertising, which allows you to display your company in the first lines of search results for selected keywords.
To advertise on the Chinese Internet, it is often necessary to advertise on several platforms at the same time. In addition to the search engine, Baidu also owns its own video platform iQiYi, the Chinese version of Wikipedia Baidu Baike, and many other applications. By advertising not only on a search engine, but also on these related services, you can reach a wider audience.
Every query is efficiently analyzed by algorithms
Advertising office similar to Western counterparts
If you have already experienced working in Google Ads, the process of setting up advertising in Baidu will not be difficult for you from a technical point of view. However, registering a personal account on Baidu will require much more effort and time. You will need the ICP license mentioned above and some other documents, as well as a campaign deposit of about CNY5,000 and a registration fee of CNY1,000.
Like any advertising tool, Baidu has its advantages and disadvantages. A large audience, a variety of ad formats, the availability of related services, flexible customization, and the ease of creating ads make Baidu an excellent platform to launch your advertising campaign on the Chinese Internet.
However, without knowledge of the algorithms of this search engine and the peculiarities of Chinese legislation, as well as without a sufficient level of Chinese language, you may encounter certain difficulties in promoting your business. If you doubt that you can handle this complex and tedious task for a beginner on your own, then write to us and we will be happy to help you!
How to register on Baidu - Registration 2023 is somehow different from before?
How to register on Baidu is one of the most common questions we are asked. In reality, it is not that complicated; to create a user account you will need a Chinese mobile phone number, although Russian numbers were previously supported. As with WeChat, you need to enter a number, receive a code and go through verification, which is less familiar to a foreign user than registering via email.
It is much more difficult to register an advertising account on Baidu. You will need a number of documents, including a registration certificate/business license with a legal address, an international passport of a representative, a bank statement, and a number of other requirements (more details).
How does search work in China? Is Baidu the biggest search engine in the country?
Yes, Baidu is indeed the leader in both mobile search and desktop search. According to Statcounter data from September 2023, Baidu captured 67.46% of the market.
At the same time, the Chinese market also assumes the presence of Baidu's competitors, including Chinese search engines such as Sogou and Haosu, but their share is small and amounts to 5-6%.
Users can also search for information directly on the social network WeChat, which integrates search solutions into its services. It is worth noting that when it comes to a brand and searching for information about it, Chinese social networks are the first thing that potential customers in China look at.
What are Baidu applications and how can they help my business in China?
Baidu applications are a wide range of platforms, the advantage of working with which is a higher ranking of the pages posted on them. By telling relevant facts about your business that are meaningful to the consumer, you can subsequently increase traffic to your website or social media account. For example, the Baidu Tieba service and Baidu Zhidao are available for this purpose.
Baidu also has its own platforms for organizing work in Baidu and analysis, including Baidu Webmaster and Baidu Index. Chinese enterprises also often use Baidu Cloud cloud solutions.
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