China’s search engine market is very different from other countries dominated by Google, as China has its own system of search engine. Google and other search engines are blocked by the Chinese Great Firewall. Baidu is the largest Chinese search engine.
As in other countries in the world, search engine plays an important role in Chinese lives. If you ask me what Chinese people will do if they want to buy something, I would like to tell you: they will search as much as information about the product they plan to buy. They rely on the Internet to give them enough information to make their decisions.
The giant market volume generated by Chinese search engines
The number of search engine users in the world’s second-largest economy surpassed 750 million, meaning that nine out of ten netizens in China had used online search services. As of 2018, the market revenue generated by Chinese search engines reached 131.6 billion yuan and was expected to reach 203.7 billion yuan by 2021.
Such a giant market value is produced because of the importance of marketing in China. Digital marketing, especially SEO and SEM are essential for every brand who want to enter the market. The marketing industry continues to give the monument to Chinese search engine market.
China’s top 3 search engines
The No.1 Chinese Search Engine is Baidu
Baidu is the number one search engine in China. According to Statista, Baidu occupies 68.66% of the total market share, ranking number one in the market, far exceeding the second one.
A good SEO on Baidu is the optimal solution for your visibility on the local web. SEO on Baidu is more or less similar to that of Google, consisting of SEO and SEM, you need to develop the best strategy in selecting the best keywords. As with Google, you can also check your results with an analytical system.
Even though there are some similarities between Baidu SEO and Google, but Baidu SEO is more complicated. What’s more, you have to master Mandarin and local trends in using Baidu SEO.
No. 2 Sogou
Sogou (搜狗), meaning “searching dog” in English, is a Chinese search engine launched in 2004, and is currently the second-largest search engine in China, accounting for 21.1% of Chinese search engine market.
In the fourth quarter of 2019, the number of Chinese mobile search users reached 705 million. In the Chinese search market, Sogou has always claimed to be the second largest search engine, competing with the number one Baidu.
Recently, the Chinese giant Technology company – Tencent, mother company of Wechat, has proposed to buy out and take private its longtime ally. In fact, it’s been seven years since Tencent held a 36.5% stake in Sogou. This takeover aims to compete with rival Baidu in the online search market.
When we talk about Sogou, we think about input method, search and Sogou browser, and Sogou’s recent layout of artificial intelligence. Sogou input method has always been appreciated by a huge population in China, with more than 480 million input method users, as of the time of writing.
In terms of revenue contribution, the search engine advertising business is Sogou’s main source of revenue, with search and search-related contributions accounting for more than 90% of its revenue.
Chinese Search Engine No.3: Shenma
Shenma (神马搜索), ‘god horse search’ in English, is a “mobile-first” search engine in China. It was launched in April 2014 and now it becomes the third search engine in Chinese market, with 4.45% of the market share. It is a joint venture between Alibaba Group and UC Web. As of August 2020, Shenma is the third mobile search engine, accounting for 3.54% of the mobile search market.
Shenma have a large amount of reference information and buyer reviews collected from the entire network, which is very useful for Chinese buyers, as they want to search enough information before the purchase.
Based on the Alibaba Cloud search technology for several years, Shenma has been tested by more than 500 million users of UC Browser. Shenma focuses on the mobile field and it is determined to be an expert in mobile search.
Chinese search engine: competitive and uncertain
Since the end of the last century, more than a dozen search engines have appeared in China, but none of them has been able to shake Baidu’s position. Recently, the giant tech behemoth ByteDance has launched its own search engine to compete with others giants existing in the market. Will ByteDance’s entry change the market landscape? No one can say for now.
It seems the Chinese search engine market is a hotly contested spot among Chinese tech giants. Baidu, Tencent, Alibaba and now the ByteDance, every one is present in the market. No one want to lose the chance. The competition among search giants is fierce.
As there are many choices in SEO, it is thus complicated to do SEO and SEM in China. It all depends on your target audience and your budget.
If you want to enter the Chinese market, you have to promote your brand awareness and brand e-reputation on the Internet. But how? Well, the SEO and SEM are powerful tools for you to reach your objective.
If you don’t know the market, and you need help from professionals, feel free to contact GMA, expert in Chinese digital marketing since 2012.