Baidu: China’s Largest Search Engine

Baidu China's Largest Search Engine

The Chinese market remains one of the most lucrative marketplaces for both startups and seasoned businesses. China boasts a robust business ecosystem, and competitive market practices to make it an attractive destination for leading global brands. If you want to succeed in the Chinese market, it is critical to understand the Baidu search engine and its ecosystem. Popularly referred to as the “Chinese Google,” Baidu is now the 6th most visited site in the world.

What is Baidu?

Baidu is a leading internet search engine in China that offers similar features and services as Google. However, while Google dominates the global stage, Baidu focuses its services on China, where it controls most of the search market. Today, Google claims less than 4% of the Chinese market, while Baidu and other key players, such as Haosou, Sogou, and Shenma, control the market’s lion’s share.

Chart that shows Baidu is China's largest search engine. Source: Statista 2022

History of Baidu

Baidu Inc. was created by Robin Li and Eric Xu and incorporated in January 2000. In December 2007, Baidu Inc. became the first Chinese company to be included in the NASDAQ-100 index. Baidu offers several consumer features, such as news, video, maps, internet TV and more. However, the company generates most of its revenues from ads using a system similar to Google’s. Over the last two decades, the company has grown into a multinational company offering internet-related services, products, and artificial intelligence (AI).

Why is Baidu the Top Search Engine in China?

There is negligible competition in China when it comes to Baidu vs. global search engines such as Google. The following are some reasons that make Baidu the leading search engine in China:

  • Google is Blocked: Google doesn’t operate in China, leaving Baidu to dominate the search engine market. Internet users who want to use Google can only access the platform via a VPN.
  • Local Language and Culture: The Chinese language is generally complex, with several words having multiple meanings. Baidu leverages its better understanding of the local Chinese language and culture to optimize its search technology and streamline it to meet the needs of local users. Baidu’s search algorithms ideally focus their relevance on the context where the words are used in the content. This is an area where Google struggles a lot.
  • Localized Offering: Baidu’s localized offering is another factor that drives its dominance and growth. It comprises two offerings; iQIYI, which provides online advertising, and Baidu Core, which offers keyword-based marketing and Artificial Intelligence (AI)-based products and services.
  • Unique Offerings: while Google focuses its unique offerings on a global audience, Baidu’s unique offerings are specific to China, with legal requirements given a lot of emphasis. Some of the platform’s China-specific offerings include patent search, senior citizen search, and missing person search.

Number of Baidu Search Volume, Visitors, and Users Daily

The following are some statistics related to Baidu’s popularity in terms of search volume: 

What Kind of Ads Can Be Purchased on Baidu?

This is a mock-up of how some ads appear on Baidu.

There are four types of ads available on Baidu:

Baidu Search Ads: Baidu PPC ads appear along with search results. Search ads usually appear on search results pages when someone makes a query. They are available in several formats. The most basic format is a text ad complete with a title, two lines of description, and a URL at the bottom. Each ad has a verification level to inform users of its trustworthiness.

Baidu In-Feed Ads: These ads are similar to sponsored posts on Instagram. Baidu in-feed ads blend ads with organic content to make it ideal for building brand awareness in China. The cost of Baidu in feed ads is relatively lower than brand zone and search ads.

Baidu Display Ads: Display ads operate like the Google Display network. It places your image ads on the most relevant websites as part of its vast display network. The ads are based on the user’s history of searching for a particular term or visiting sites.

Baidu “Brand Zone”: Baidu Brand Zone is another option ideal for businesses pursuing brand awareness rather than building direct conversions. This type of ad combines texts, images, and several links. Similar to Google search ads, it shows only one brand for specific keywords at a time. The ads are based on cost per mille/100 impressions. Baidu brand zone is undeniably the most expensive type of Baidu marketing. Their size and position determine their costs.

How is Buying Ads on Baidu Different from Google?

The following are two key differences between Baidu and Google:

Cost of Advertising Measurement: Both Baidu PPC and Google Ads use Pay-Per-Click (PPC) models. In Baidu, however, you have to pay for your PPC budget in advance. For this reason, many advertisers on Baidu prefer to measure their ad performance by conversion rate, Click-Through-Rate (CTR), or Cost-Per-Click (CPC).

Regulation: The Chinese government typically places many regulations on search engines. You have to go through several more legal processes to advertise on Baidu than using Google Ads.

Reach New Markets in China With Periphery Digital

If you work in advertising and haven’t considered using Baidu, you could miss out on a lot. With unwavering dominance in the Chinese market and over 600,000 alliance websites, Baidu is undeniably the right platform to advertise online in China.

Contact Periphery Digital if you have questions or need help further. We are a Vancouver-based agency working to connect Canadian and Chinese audiences. We develop campaigns for a Chinese audience to help you find better opportunities and reach new markets.

Contact us today to learn more.

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