Here in the States we have popular search engine by the name of Google. In China, the dominant search engine is Baidu. While Google shouldn’t be concerned about Baidu taking any of its share in the search engine market Stateside, people from all over the world can’t stop talking about the popular Chinese search engine.
Investors love it. The tech world has been fascinated by the hiring of computer scientist and robotics engineer Professor Andrew Ng. And those of us involved with search have been paying close attention to Baidu’s powerful computer cluster.
That’s not to say that during the company’s 15 years in existence there have been concerns. For example, Search Engine Land’s Andy Atkins-Krüger visited the Baidu team in Beijing back in 2011 to address topics concerning the protection of intellectual property, punishing businesses that don’t pay for ads and that it copied Google. Others have been skeptical of the company because of censorship issues and the promotion of “fraudulent medical information” in ads.No matter the pros and cons of Baidu, it still is important for Westerners – especially anyone involved with SEO – to pay close attention to. As Chris Bell notes on Didit, “as demographics shift immigrants will increasingly bring their searching habits with them.” He also shares a 2011 study that found that “80% of English language searches in Baidu are directed back to Bing. Being that 5% of all searches on Baidu are in English, and being that China has 513 million Internet uses, even a small slice of this business is important to Bing.”
Because Baidu could have some serious benefits for SEO, you should definitely know everything you can about China’s most people search engine.
1. How Do You Pronounce Baidu?
Baidu, which can be translated into “hundreds of times,” consists of two characters, bai (which means 100) and du (degree). The first part (bai) sounds like buy or bye, while the second part (du) sounds like do or dew.
2. The Origin of the Name
According to Baidu’s website, the name “was inspired by a poem written more than 800 years ago during the Song Dynasty” – which was Xin Qiji’s “Green Jade Table in The Lantern Festival.” More specifically, the last line of the poem – “Having searched thousands of times in the crowd, suddenly turning back, She is there in the dimmest candlelight” – served as the inspiration for the name of the company.
3. The Man Behind Baidu: Robin Li
Born Li Yanhong in 1968, Robin Li was the only son for two factory workers. He grew up in the small town of Yang Quan during China’s Cultural Revolution and would later be admitted into Beijing University where he studied computer science. Following the pro-democracy demonstrations in Tiananmen Square in 1989, the campus was shut down. Li then attended graduate school at the State University of New York at Buffalo.
After earning his master’s degree in 1994, Li secured his first job at IDD (a Dow Jones subsidiary) where he developed software for the online edition of the Wall Street Journal. In 1996, while still employed at IDD, Li created a site-scoring algorithm that he called RankDex – interesting enough, it was around this same time when Larry Page and Sergey Brin were working on BackRub which would become Google.
Li joined the search engine Infoseek as a software engineer following his time at IDD and was invited back to China to celebrate the communist regime’s 50th anniversary in 1999. Li, along with his biochemist friend Eric Wu saw an opportunity to tap into China’s growing internet industry.
4. Baidu Was Funded By Silicon Valley
Li and Wu founded Baidu in early 2000 and quickly raised $1.2 million in seed money from Integrity Partners and Peninsula Capital – both Silicon Valley venture capital firms. The partners returned to China and launched Baidu in a hotel that overlooked Beijing University.
By September 2000, another pair of venture capital firms, Draper Fisher Jurvetson and IDG Technology Venture, invested $10 million in Baidu.
Originally, the company offered “search services to other Chinese portals.” However, the company wasn’t profitable, so it relaunched as an independent site in 2001.
Li informed Forbes in 2009 that “I wanted to continue to improve the search experience, but the portals didn’t want to pay for it.”
6. Baidu Offered Ad Space Before Google
When the company relaunched as a search engine, it “looked almost exactly like Google’s no-frills home page.” However, Baidu allowed advertisers to bid on ad space before Google was making money every time customers clicked on ads. By 2004, Baidu was making a profit.
7. Baidu Went Public in 2005
On August 5, 2005 Baidu went public. It opened at $27 a share and closed at $122, for a staggering 354% increase. This became the largest opening on Nasdaq since 2000.
8. The Wealthiest Man in China is Behind Baidu
In December 2013 Bloomberg announced that Robin Li had surpassed Wang Jianlian as the wealthiest man in China with an estimated net worth of $12.231 billion.
9. Baidu Total Revenues
It was reported by China Internet Watch that in July 2014 Baidu had total revenues of $1.932 billion for the second quarter of 2014. This was a 58.5% jump from the same period in 2013.
10. Baidu and Online Marketing
In the same report, it was discovered that Baidu had approximately 488,000 active online marketing customers for the second quarter of 2014 – which was an increase of 4.3%. Baidu’s online marketing revenues also had an increase of 57% to $1.908 billion.
11. Baidu’s Mobile Dominance
Li announced in July 2014 that Baidu reached a new high in monthly actives users with over 500 million active users. He also announced that the Baidu app gained 70 million daily users.
Baidu also earns 30% of its revenues from mobile services.
12. The Most Popular Content Searched on Baidu
According to a report issued by Baidu earlier this year, the most popular content searched on the site in 2013 were: film & TV (14,40%), commodity supply & demand (10.89%), education (9.10%), game (7.80%) and travel (4.20%).
13. The Most Popular Keywords on Baidu
Baidu also issued another report that the ten most popular Chinese keywords in 2013 were weather, taobao, Wu Dong Qian Kun, The Tang Door, Mang Huang Ji, Zhe Tian, Double Chromosphere, Baidu, Da Zhu Zai and qzone.
14. Baidu’s Dominant Search Engine Market Share
Baidu makes up 79% of the search engine market share in China. It’s followed by Google China (12.8%) and the new Sogou (which includes Soso) with 5.4%. The New York Times also found similar results with Baidu claiming 81.7%, followed by Google (10.9), Sogu (3.8%) and Qihoo 360 (2.6%).
15. Baidu’s Global Rank
According to Alexa, Baidu is the top ranked site in China. It’s also the fifth most popular site in the world.
16. Where Do Baidu’s Visitors Live?
It shouldn’t be surprising that 93.4% of Baidu’s visitors live in China. This is followed by South Korea (1.5%), the United States (1.5%), Hong Kong (0.8%) and Taiwan (0.7%).
17. Baidu’s Incredible Computer Cluster
Bloomberg reported in September 2014 that Baidu is “building the world’s largest and most powerful computer cluster to improve image recognition as online queries move away from text.”
With over “100 billion digitally simulated neural connections,” this cluster will be 100 times more powerful than Google’s 2012 project “Google Brain.”
The project is being designed in Silicon Valley, but will be constructed in Beijing and is expected to be released in early 2015.
18. Baidu Is More Than Just a Search Engine
Baidu offers close to 60 search and community services that range from Baidu Encyclopedia, Baidu Government Information Search, Baidu Space (a social network), Baidu Patent Search, Baidu Games, Baidu Youa (an eCommerce platform), Baidu Yi (a smartphone operating system) and Qunar (a travel booking service).
Do you think it’s important to consider international search engines like Baidu? Or, do you think focusing on Google and Bing is enough?
Featured Image: Screen Shot of Baidu.com 10/28/14