Top 3 Chinese search engines (2016)

An introduction to the top 3 Chinese search engines that marketers should know.

Online landscape

As of July 2016, China has over 688 million internet users and the number is rapidly growing. These figures make the Chinese market appealing for Western companies. Despite the incredible potential, the Chinese market has some unique features that every foreign company has to understand and comply with. This article will give you a good insight on where to start with your marketing in China and how the Chinese search engines work. According to the CNNIC (Chinese Internet Network Information Center), there were 566 million people using search engines as of December 2015 (that is about 82.3% of the Chinese internet users). This number grew from 44 million year to year. In comparison, there are an estimated 219 million search engine users in the U.S. in 2016, only 4 million more than in 2015. Search engines in China are not only used by internet users but as online marketing platforms. As of December 2015, 33.8% of the Chinese companies had launched Internet-based marketing activities, half of which was invested in search engine marketing.

Online sales and internet-based marketing activities are still in the early stages of development, but this trend is growing quickly with the growth of technologies and eCommerce. A study carried out by Nielsen market research firm showed that online sales only accounted for a light 11% of all retail sales across China, although the growth rate is quite strong with 53% year-over-year. You can add our LinkedIn Group for SEOer in China

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Chinese Internet

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Most of all westerners would think about Google as the main player, this is pretty much the case outside China. However, the American search engine was censored in 2010 in Mainland China. Hence the need of being knowledgeable about Chinese search engines. In China, the top 3 search engines are Baidu, Qihoo360 (Haosou), and Sogou. Baidu is leading the market with over 54%, Qihoo360 comes second with over 29% and Sogou holds around 15%. (see pie below).

According to iResearch, in 2015, the total search engine advertising revenue reached $ 10.55 billion, an increase of 32.2% year-over-year.


Baidu was established in 2000, it currently is the number one search engine in China, according to website ranking it is the fourth most visited website in the world, it also holds the second-largest share of the global desktop search engine market right behind Google. Baidu accounts for 6 billion searches every day. Baidu is the way to go when seeking entry into the Chinese market, Baidu does not only know Chinese better, but it knows the Chinese audiences better. Baidu has dozens of featured products, the search engine favors its own platforms/products in its search results.

For example, when a user searches “search engine optimization”, the first three search results are Baidu Baike (Baidu Encyclopedia), Baidu Tieba (Baidu PostBar), and again Baidu Baike, then the sixth result is Baidu Zhidao (Baidu Knows) and eight is Baidu Wenku (Baidu Articles). These Baidu products offer great integrated ways to enhance SEO efforts from a B2B marketing perspective, Baidu also offers webmaster free analytics tools.


Qihoo360 was created by the Chinese internet security company. Their antivirus is popular in China and is free. The search engine was paired with the antivirus product when it was launched in 2012. Qihoo360 is the default search engine used in the 360 internet browsers, which supports its growth. Within a short period of time, Qihoo360 has become the second largest search engine in China, also the fastest rising contender to Baidu. Qihoo360 search claims that this is the most secure search engine, relying on advanced cyber security technology. Qihoo360 search can block fake or malicious sites and provide the user with a more secure search environment.

Qihoo360’s search targeted clientele are small and medium businesses that are looking for advertising solutions. This strategy might attract smaller businesses that cannot afford expensive ad services on Baidu. Lastly, Qihoo360 in its search results page only has a few advertisements, competition is not as stiff as on Baidu. So this is a real great opportunity for small and medium businesses.


Sogou was established in 2004, although it was not popular until more recently. Tencent the fourth-largest internet company in China invested in Sogou in 2013, the investment obviously stimulated the growth.

Sogou was able to find a niche market with the strong support of Tencent, Sogou exclusively provides the search results of WeChat content (as WeChat is owned by Tencent). Sogou further developed its business by teaming up with Zhihu (question-and-answer site) to integrate even more search results. In May 2016, Sogou announced a collaboration with Microsoft Bing and launched two new products, Sogou English Search and Sogou Scholar Search.

Path to success in China

These three Chinese search engines play a significant role for both personal and professional purposes. The B2B companies that are willing to grow in the Chinese market have no choice but to use these online tools. However, in order to have a grasp on the market, foreign companies will be required to fully understand the Chinese search engines and fathom the differences between western Google and Chinese Baidu. Marketing on Google has nothing to do with marketing on Baidu.

Learn more about us and our Baidu SEO/SEM Services

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  1. Magnificent goods from you, man. I’ve understand your stuff previous
    you have acquired here, a great knowledg about SEO in China. Do you offer SEO consulting for Baidu? SEO class?

    certainly like what you’re staring and the way in which you say it, but to a school?

    keep it smart.
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  2. What should I know about SEO when targeting Chinese ?
    Can I use or SHould I bet only on Baidu?

    How to Break into China’s SEO Market: Do you a article for best Practices for Chinese SEO?

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