China has an impressive number of internet users which increased by nearly 200 million users in four years. Indeed there were 420 million internet users in 2010, a number that grew to reach 634 million users last December. Thanks to these internet users, the Chinese search engine market has become very lucrative. According to data from iResearch the total revenue of the search engine market reached 14.73 billion yuan in the second quarter of 2014, an increase of 58.5% compared to 2013. This number is growing as fast as the number of internet users since it even increased by more than 26% compared to the first quarter of 2014.
As this market is booming it is in the best interest of companies willing to do SEO in China to get to know Chinese search engines a little bit better.
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According to iResearch, in the second quarter of 2014, Baidu largely dominated the market with its 81.7% share. It was followed by Google at 10.9%, Sogou at 3.8%, and 360 Search at 2.6%. The other search engines such as Bing, Soso, Yahoo, Youdao were sharing the remaining 1% of the market Over the years, the competitors have managed to slightly reduce Baidu’s supremacy over the Chinese internet.
The Search engines
Baidu is China’s dominant search engine, it was launched in 2003. Baidu offers many services such as image and video search, a map service, a cloud service, and a post-bar community (Baidu Tieba). It has been controlling at least 60% of the market since 2010, according to iResearch. But its competitors are doing all they can to undermine Baidu’s dominant position.
Despite the fact that Google dominates the American and European markets, it has never been as popular in China as it is in the West. In fact, it was even forced to close Google.cn, its search engine in China, in 2010 because of the censorship applied in the country and intrusion from hackers. It replaced it with an uncensored search engine platform hosted in Hong Kong. However, China is blocking most of the pages. It is therefore very difficult to use Google in China.
Sogou has launched ten years ago and has similar services like Baidu and Google. However, its market share remains low, dropping from 8% in 2013 to 3.8% this year. Even despite the US$448 million investment of Tencent in the search engine and the launch of a WeChat specialized search feature in June this year.
Qihoo 360 Search
This search engine is the real challenger of the rankings. Indeed, it went from a 10,4% market share in December 2012 to a 22,5% market share a year after in December 2013. The competition between Baidu and Qihoo 360 was fierce in 2013 as Baidu’s market share had dropped from 71.7% to 63.1% as about as much as Qihoo’s market share had increased and in the same period of time.
The Chinese search engine market is really growing fast and the leaders are also changing at the same speed. So companies doing or planning to do SEO in China have to keep the information they have updated to be sure their efforts are targeted on the right search engine.