This is no secret that search engine marketing is key to success in any market you are doing business in. And that is absolutely true for China even if agencies out there are focusing on the sexier side of communication in the country such as live-streaming and Chinese social media. The reality is that you can not hope to make it here without any SEO effort.
With that said, this article was not written to convince you to do SEO but to introduce you to China’s most popular search engines. There is a wide variety of Chinese search engines that one can use when marketing content in China but today, we will only focus on the Top 5.
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China’s Search Engines Market Overview
The Chinese search engine market boasts revenues of close to $26 billion. Baidu, a dominant player in this market, has witnessed remarkable growth since its inception in 2000.
In 2022, nearly 821.5 million people in China were active search engine users, representing steady growth over the past years. This suggests that about 78.2% of China’s internet populace relies on search engines.
Intense rivalry exists in the Chinese search engine landscape, with each competitor vying for a more significant market slice.
Latest trends in popular Chinese search engines
In China, search behaviors have evolved in compelling ways. A prominent shift is towards mobile search; a staggering 98% of Chinese internet users now turn to their smartphones when using popular search engines.
Voice search is also gaining momentum. As voice recognition technology has become more sophisticated and user-friendly, more Chinese netizens are opting to speak their queries rather than type them.
Health and wellness topics have also surged in online searches. The Chinese populace is displaying a heightened interest in fitness routines, nutritious diet plans, and mental health resources.
Furthermore, the realm of e-commerce has not been left behind. As online shopping proliferates, there’s an uptick in e-commerce-related searches, reflecting China’s growing enthusiasm for digital retail experiences.
What are China’s Top 5 Search Engines?
The No.1 Chinese Search Engine is Baidu
Baidu is the default search engine in China. With almost 60% of the total market share as of 2023, Baidu is the leading Chinese search engine, far exceeding its competitors in China search engine market.
However, if you look at desktop usage, Baidu’s market share drops to 42%. Actually, for most of the past years, Sogou was on top of Baidu when it came to desktop searches.
If you look at mobile search only, then Baidu largely dominates with more than 95% of the searches.
Baidu, just like Google has its own eco-system of sub-sites or mini-programs such as Baidu map, several forums, Q&A, content sharing app, cloud platform, and so on. This is one of the reasons for Baidu being the most popular search engine among Chinese users. With just one platform, they can do everything they need.
Marketers will also be interested in the Baidu Paid ads program that offers a variety of formats and payment options.
SEO on Baidu is a great way to boost your company’s visibility in China, and it works similarly to the process you’d use for Google. You’ll need both search engine optimization (SEO) as well as pay-per-click marketing (PPC), but careful planning of keywords and analyzing results through analytics will help ensure success!
Although the process is similar, Baidu has its own particularities when it comes to SEO and PPC marketing. Don’t expect what is working on Google to work with Baidu. After all, their algorithm is not the same. For instance, Baidu will always favor the Chinese language as well as its own sub-site.
No. 2 Chinese Search engine: Bing
Bing, developed by Microsoft, holds a position in China’s competitive search engine market, even if it faces strong competition from local giants like Baidu. Although its market share in China is limited (around 17%), Bing’s integration with Microsoft’s range of services, including Office tools and cloud solutions, offers a distinct advantage. This not only gives users an integrated experience across devices but also optimizes their search activities.
Bing has also been attentive to the local needs of Chinese users. It offers localized search suggestions, tailored news feeds, and improved search algorithms that cater to Chinese language and cultural specifics. Its design combines global standards with local preferences, ensuring an easy-to-navigate platform for its users.
Another strength of Bing is its focus on delivering relevant and trustworthy search results. Instead of just listing numerous links, Bing emphasizes the quality and relevance of information. Additionally, with growing concerns over data privacy worldwide, Bing’s commitment to protecting user information gives it an edge with Chinese users who prioritize privacy.
No. 3 Chinese Search engine: Sogou the contender
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.
Sogou has lost a bit of popularity in 2021, mainly due to the success of Baidu on Mobile. However, Sogou has been doing well when it comes to desktops with almost 10% market share in 2023. Let’s not be shy to mention that over the course of 2023, Sogou repeatedly represented around 20% of desktop searches.
Sogou and Tencent have a history of collaboration, as for the longest time, Sogou was the only Chinese search engine where WeChat content could be found. This collaboration makes Sogou an important player in the market.
When we talk about Sogou, we think about the 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.
Sogou’s main source of revenue just like Baidu is its paid ads program, with search and search-related contributions accounting for more than 90% of its revenue.
Just like Baidu and Google, Sogou offers several mini-programs to its users that will also be featured on top of Sogou’s SERP.
Haosou, also known as 360 Search
Haosou, also known as 360 Search, is a significant player in China’s search engine landscape, developed by Qihoo 360, a leading Chinese internet security company. While it doesn’t dominate the market in the same way Baidu does, Haosou has successfully carved a niche for itself by leveraging its core strengths.
Rooted in its parent company’s expertise in cybersecurity, Haosou offers its users a secure searching environment, which has become a unique selling point in today’s data-conscious digital age. The search engine actively promotes safe browsing experiences by flagging potentially harmful websites, which is particularly appealing to users wary of cyber threats.
Understanding the local nuances and user preferences, Haosou has tailored its search algorithms to be more in line with the linguistic and cultural specifics of Chinese users. This ensures more accurate and relevant search results, enhancing user satisfaction.
In terms of features, Haosou incorporates local trends into its search functionalities. It offers localized search suggestions, custom-tailored content, and an easy-to-use interface that caters to the broad demographic of Chinese internet users.
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 has become the fifth search engine in the Chinese market, with 3.80% of the market share.
It is a joint venture between Alibaba Group and UC Web. As of 2023, Shenma is the second mobile search engine, accounting for 1.9% of the mobile search market with a pic at almost 6% in the course of the past year.
Shenma has a large amount of reference information and buyer reviews collected from the entire Alibaba Group and UC Web network, which is very useful for Chinese buyers, as they want to search for 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 is determined to be an expert in mobile search.
Chinese Search Engine Market: 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 other 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, everyone is present in the market. No one wants to lose the chance. The competition among search giants is fierce.
As there are many choices in SEO, it is complicated to do SEO and SEM in China. It all depends on your target audience and your budget.
We Are Experts in Chinese SEO!
In today’s digital age, understanding the vast landscape of Chinese search engines is no longer an option – it’s a necessity. And who better to guide your brand through the intricacies of this unique market than the experts at Gentlemen Marketing Agency?
China’s digital ecosystem is a world of its own, distinct in its culture, consumer behavior, and technology. As a brand aiming to thrive in this vibrant environment, you need the right strategy, tools, and insights. This is where we come in.
Our Comprehensive Services:
- Search Engine Optimization (SEO): Position your brand at the top of search results with our robust SEO strategies tailored for Chinese platforms.
- Pay-Per-Click (PPC) Advertising: Boost immediate visibility and drive targeted traffic with our expertly managed PPC campaigns.
- Content Creation & Marketing: Engage your audience with compelling content that speaks to the Chinese consumer, created by our in-house team of writers and designers.
- Social Media Marketing: Amplify your brand’s presence on platforms like Weibo, WeChat, and Douyin with our curated social media campaigns.
- E-commerce Solutions: Dive into China’s vast online shopping ecosystem with our e-commerce strategies, from store setup to promotion and sales optimization.
Why Choose Gentlemen Marketing Agency?
- Local Expertise: With years of hands-on experience in the Chinese market, our team understands the nuances and dynamics of local search engines. We know what works and what doesn’t, ensuring your brand gets the visibility it deserves.
- Cutting-Edge Strategies: From Baidu to Haosou, we deploy innovative techniques tailored for each search platform. Our approach is data-driven, adapting to the ever-changing algorithms and trends in real-time.
- End-to-End Solutions: Our services don’t just stop at search engine optimization. We offer comprehensive digital marketing solutions, including pay-per-click advertising, social media marketing, and content creation.
- Results-Oriented Approach: Our ultimate goal is to deliver tangible results. We take pride in our track record, with numerous satisfied clients benefiting from increased website traffic, higher conversion rates, and a stronger brand presence in China.
Unlock the true potential of your brand in China’s burgeoning digital realm. Let Gentlemen Marketing Agency be your trusted partner in navigating the complex world of Chinese search engines. Connect with us today, and let’s make your brand resonate with millions of potential customers.