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Chinese search engines: Comparing Baidu and Google

As in many other countries as well there are a lot of search engines in China but only a few have a relevant market share. These are especially Google and Baidu, and Yahoo to a minor part. Unlike to most other countries in the world, Google is not the market leader in China, in fact it is Baidu.com, a pure Chinese search engine company.

1. Comparing market share and popularity of Google and Baidu in China

Throughout China, the market share of Google and Baidu has been more or less constant in the last few years apart from some minor shiftings in percentage from year to year. The market shares of 2007 don’t really offer rocking news as well, as you can see in the following graph.

google-baidu-yahoo-market-share-china

But as more and more information about the Chinese search engine market become available, these numbers can be analyzed more in detail. Especially if broken down to certain areas or provinces of China the market shares of the two search engines vary heavily.

CNNIC reports that they compared market shares in different regions: North, Northeast, East, South, Central, Northwest and Southwest China, involving 3 first-class cities, 7 second-class cities, and 14 third-class cities.

The statistics indicated that Baidu.com has a rising trend as the city level falls, while google.com goes the opposite. The priority ratio for Baidu.com in cities of first, second and third class respectively: 67.33%, 73.35%, 83.82% while that for google.com: 22.11%, 14.78%, 4.99%.

The report also mentions that baidu.com and google.com drew in the priority market competition for high end users characterized by “non-student users aged 25 and above, receiving Bachelor’s Degree and above, having a monthly income of over 3,000 yuan”, 47.72% of whom selected baidu.com as first choice while 42.32% chose google.com.

2. Comparing quality of search results from Baidu and Google

Intelliconsulting, a Chinese research company, conducted a survey among search engine users and compared the search results of Google and Baidu. The overall result is that the search result satisfaction among Google users (48.2%) is higher than among Baidu users (39.8%).

baidu-google-search-results

If you take a closer look at the graph you can clearly find out the following facts:

  • The better educated users are, the more they rely on Google.
  • The older they are (and the more disposable income they have), the more they use Google.
  • There is no difference among female and male test users.

More findings were:

  • The more a user users search engines, the more he likes Google.
  • Negative points for Google are the instability of Google’s website, having no page-caching and no free MP3 and other media search functionality.
  • Negative points for Baidu are that search results are mixed with paid search results and that no content from Chinese pages abroad is included. That search results are filtered according to governmental requirements is a negative factor as well, according to the study.

Well, what do you think? Two independent researches (CNNIC and Intelliconsulting) come to almost the same conclusion. That’s impressing, as a little unusual for China.

3. Baidu Keyword Advertising (PPC)

How Adwords, Google’s paid search program, works is pretty much known I suppose, so I don’t want to go into detail too much here.

The screenshot below is from google.cn and the keyword is 汽车(car). You can see that there are several ads, one in the highlighted area above the organic search results.

google-adwords-china

Here is a screenshot from baidu’s search results for the keyword 信用卡(creditcard).

baidu-search-results

So let me explain the differences to Google:

  1. The paid search and the organic results are not clearly divided. You will only notice the difference by the small gray underlined term next to the displayed URL. 推广 means it is paid search, 百度快照 means organic search result.
  2. All paid search results will be placed before the organic search results. That means, if 20 customers buy the same keyword, the first organic search result will be found on page three. The price is based on a bidding process. Not only the CPC but quality factors like landing page evaluation will influence the position as well.
  3. The ads in the right column are no CPC-based ads. They are fix-priced for one whole year. Position no. 1 to no.3 have the same price and rotate among each other. Position no. 4 to no.10 are cheaper than no.1 to no.3 and rotate as well. If the position is already booked, you have to reserve and wait respectively until it will become free. There is no possibility to get out of the contract before this one year ends.
  4. Once a while you might notice one or two ads with a blue banner on position one and/or two. It looks similar to Google’s blue banner, but in fact it has a totally different meaning: if you search for a keyword and there are no paid results for that keyword because no advertiser has booked it, Baidu will display ads that are similar to the keyword you entered. Example: you enter ‘keyword advertising’ but there are no paid results, so baidu will show two ads for the keyword ‘advertising’ with a blue background.

Last but not least, some examples prices for the right column (as of 2007/11/15):

手机 (cell phone) 1.056.700 RMB/year
广告 (marketing) 13.000 RMB/year
汽车 (car) 117.600 RMB/year
美容 (cosmetics) 193.600 RMB/year
电脑 (computer) 16.400RMB/year

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3 Comments  comments 

3 Responses

  1. dream

    do you have a general idea of whick kind of people are using which search engine in China? baidu and google

  2. Bharath Balakrishnan

    Hi – Thanks for the insightful information. I’m looking to attract students from China to start learning English using my website. This would be from real online English tutors at unbeatable rates. Any idea on how I should identify the key words in Chinese for English learning community in China?

  3. Google.cn is now to pull out of China. Let’s see for it.

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