In the United States, we have Google.
In China, they have Baidu.
If you’re wondering, “what does this have to do with me?” I get it. What does China’s biggest tech company have to do with you?
A lot, if you’re involved with marketing and SEO.
Take a look, for instance, at this stunning fact: 90% of online search queries done in China are done through Baidu.
This amounts to billions of searches per month!
There are tons of other fascinating facts about Baidu you might not know.
Let’s look at some of them.
What Is Baidu?
As mentioned above, Baidu is a huge Chinese tech company specializing in internet services and AI (artificial intelligence).
It is the largest internet company in China and one of the biggest in the world. Since Google is banned in mainland China, most Chinese people use Baidu as their chosen search engine.
25 Fascinating Facts About Baidu You Need to Know
Baidu has a long history of ups and downs, acquisitions, growth, and intrigue.
Here is a list of some of the facts that make Baidu what it is today.
1. What’s Behind the Name?
The name Baidu was taken from a beautiful poem called The Green Jade Table in the Lantern Festival. Written by Xin Qiji (1140-1207), this haunting poem portrays the search for one’s dreams amidst chaotic distractions.
Here are the lines that inspired the name Baidu.
“…Hundreds and thousands of times, for her I searched in chaos / Suddenly, I turned by chance, to where the lights were waning, and there she stood.” – Xin Qiji (translated)
See the connection?
Baidu allows you to achieve a constant search for the ideal.
2. How Is Baidu Pronounced?
The word Baidu is made up of two Chinese characters. Here’s what they look like.
The first character is pronounced “bai.” The second one can be pronounced “do” or “to.”
Actually, it’s a blend of “d” and “t.”
Baidu means hundreds or thousands of times.
3. Who Founded Baidu?
Although Baidu would grow to stunning heights, its creator actually started small. Born as the only son of two factory workers in Yang Quan, Robin Li didn’t have the capital to start a huge business.
Instead, he studied computer science at Beijing University. After the campus was shut down due to pro-democracy protests, Li moved to Buffalo and earned his master’s degree at the State University of New York.
After his studies, Li got his first job at a company called IDD (a Dow Jones subsidiary). It was during this time that Li created RankDex, a site-scoring algorithm.
In 1999, Li was invited back to China to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the communist regime. It was then that he met his biochemist friend Eric Wu. Together, they decided to capitalize on China’s growing internet industry by starting Baidu.
4. Baidu Started Off with Silicon Valley Funding
When Baidu came to life in 2000, it caught the attention of major venture capital firms.
With a $1.2 million funding from Integrity Partners and Peninsula Capital, Li and Wu returned to Beijing to launch their project.
It didn’t take long for other venture capital firms to notice them. A few months later, Draper Fisher Jurvetson and IDG Technology Venture invested $10 million in Baidu.
5. Baidu.com Wasn’t Always a Search Engine
Li and Wu originally intended Baidu to be a search service to other Chinese portals. However, things weren’t looking up towards the end of the year.
“The portals didn’t want to pay for (the service),” Lee told Forbes in 2009.
Luckily, they got the idea to launch Baidu as an independent site.
6. Baidu Beat Google to Making Money on Ads
Just like Google, Baidu sported a simple, no-nonsense homepage. However, there was a difference.
Unlike Google back then, Baidu allowed companies to bid on space for ads. By 2004, Li and Wu started making a profit.
7. Robin Li Is the 35th Wealthiest Person in China
With a net worth of $8.4 billion, Li surpasses wealthy Chinese businesspeople like Dang Yanbao (Ningxia Baofeng Energy Group) and Kei Hoi Pang (Logan Property Holdings).
8. The All-Time High of a Baidu Stock Share Is $284
When Baidu went public in 2005, it opened at $27 a share and closed at $112. Since then, things have gone up and down for Baidu shares.
In May 2019, Baidu’s share price reached a staggering closing price of $284. However, this declined with the onset of the trade war and the decline of the Chinese economy.
Today, a share can be bought at $117.
Here’s a look at Baidu stock share prices from 2005 to 2019 f rom Macrotrends.
9. Baidu Launched AI-Powered Cameras That Can Spot Ocular Fundus
Baidu isn’t all about giving internet users the best way to find what they’re looking for. In fact, the company is concerned about the general health and welfare of the Chinese people as well.
In 2018, Baidu revealed high-tech AI-powered cameras that did the work of ophthalmologists in spotting eye conditions that lead to blindness. These include glaucoma, macular degeneration, and diabetic retinopathy.
In 2019, hospitals began using Baidu’s cameras to run eye screenings on patients.
10. Before the AI-Powered Cameras, Baidu Launched a Chatbot for Doctors and Patients
Baidu is a huge player in China’s health market. In fact, two years before it launched the AI cameras for spotting ocular fundus, it introduced Melody to hospitals.
Melody is a chatbot that allows patients to give their health information to doctors. With it, doctors and patients can communicate in a faster, simpler way.
11. Baidu’s Total Revenues Reached $3.93 Billion in the Third Quarter of 2019
Baidu’s revenues rise 7% quarter over quarter, and 3% year over year.
12. Baidu Has Over a Billion Active Mobile Users
By March 2019, Baidu had 1.1 billion mobile users. Its DuerOS voice assistant generated 2.37 billion voice queries per month!
13. You Need a Mandarin Website to Rank on Baidu
This is not only because most of Baidu’s users are Chinese. It’s also because English words won’t rank on the search engine at all.
14. Baidu Ranks Sites Based on Their Home Page
If you want better rankings on Baidu, put all your energy into your site’s home page.
15. Baidu Is the 4th Most Popular Website in the World
Baidu currently ranks at #4 on Alexa.
This puts Baidu above both Facebook and Wikipedia!
16. Ads Are Given Priority on Baidu
While Google prioritizes organic results, Baidu’s first search pages are packed with ads.
This resonates with the fact that Chinese users believe that if a company can pay for ads, it must be reliable.
17. 90% of Internet Users in China Use Baidu
That’s over 700 million people!
18. Baidu Analytics Is Used by More Than 7 Million Websites
Here are some sites using Baidu Analytics today according to BuiltWith.
19. Baidu is the First Chinese Company to Join the Partnership on AI (PAI)
Joining companies like Amazon, Apple, and Google, Baidu is on a mission towards exploring the benefits of AI for society.
20. The Most Popular Keywords on Baidu
Baidu’s top keywords reflect the interests of the Chinese people. As of December 2018, the most popular keywords were: “World Cup,” “trade war,” and “Yanxi Palace.”
21. Baidu Gives Priority to Websites Hosted in China
Chinese websites end with .cn. If you’re thinking of getting a 100% Chinese website, you first need to register your company in the country.
22. Robert Li Warned Google of Stiff Competition if Ever It Returned to China
Google is mulling on returning to China with modifications that fit the country’s strict censorship laws.
Baidu’s response? Google should expect stiff, all-out competition.
23. Baidu Is More Than a Search Engine
Baidu users can access news, maps, government searches, internet TV, anti-virus products, and more!
24. Baidu Is Part of the Biggest Autonomous Driving Program in the World
It partners with huge companies like Ford, Intel, Grab, and Honda to provide AI technology for driverless cars.
25. Baidu’s Reach Is Expanding Beyond China
Baidu, Alibaba, and Tencent (called BAT) are three of China’s biggest companies.
As of today, BAT is extending its influence far beyond China. It’s hiring US talent and investing in US AI startups.
Baidu: The Search Engine of the Future?
Baidu is huge, and it is determined to grow even more.
As a marketer, this could affect your overall goals.
Should you be content with Google or seek an audience in China as well with Baidu?
- Baidu SEO: A Guide to SERP Features & Ranking Signals
- Baidu SEO: Content Delivery, Speed & Accessibility
- The State of Search Engine Marketing in China
All screenshots taken by author, November 2019