The growth of the search market is slowing with signs that the market is becoming more mature. In 2018 the search penetration rate has reached around 640M around 82.8% of all internet users. The proportion of users accessing the internet using mobile devices is increasing. Desktop search lead to there being a few large search engines, the mobile search ear is leading to quite a fragmented search market with many apps using different technology to power their search functionality. WeChatt and QQ both use Sogou to search, Baidu has strived to cooperate with many of the large mobile phone manufacturers to be the default search engine.
Market Share: 69.54%
This is by far the largest search engine in China. It is used so much and due to the huge scale of the country. Baidu’s revenue last year was approx $12.4B ($3B more than eBay), and it has around 45,000 employees mostly in the Haidian District in Beijing. Baidu is ranked as the 4th most used website Globally by Alexa. 93% of its users are in China.
What you need to know:
- 3rd largest search engine in the World.
- Organic and Paid adverts are blended together in the SERPs, unlike in Google.
- Currently site owners are not penalised for stealing content. Keep an eye out for algorithm updates such as Hurricane that are trying to address this.
- Baidu uses Mobile Instant Pages (IMP) similar to Google’s AMP pages.
- Baidu is pushing for a secure web and is pushing https. Baidu https authentication tool is here, that gets around the site duplication
- If you delete pages, you have to submit a de-indexation request.
- Baidu does not like spammy TLDs
- One chance. Due to the amount of work the Baidu crawlers have to do, site launches are very important. Getting Baidu over a poor first impression is very hard.
Market Share: 16.1%
Shenma is only available on mobile. Shenma is owned under the Alibaba umbrella along with brands such as Taobao (the World’s biggest eCommerce website) AliPay (the World’s largest mobile payment provider) and UC browser the default browsers supplied with Android devices in China (the World’s 3rd largest browser). A very well funded operation with a history of dominating online. It positions itself as a hybrid between a search engine and an app store.
What you need to know:
- Shenma gives the largest spots for brands when advertising to help them stand out.
- If your brands sells online and has a well optimised mobile experience, Shenma is worth trialing.
- Shenma is good at driving mobile app downloads, especially for games.
Market Share: 6.11%
Sogou’s literal translation is “searching dog”. The company’s revenue in 2017 was $907M and around 90% of this came from search advertising. Ads on this platform are quite a bit cheaper than the likes of Baidu, but the reach is quite a lot less also. However, Sogou is the built-in Search Engine for Tencent apps (QQ, WeChat, Qzone) approx 900 million active users. Traditionally, Sogou has struggled to capitalize on this relationship as users tended to leave the app to search and only really used the search function to find users, although there are signs that this is changing.
What you need to know:
- Content must be in Mandarin.
- Backlinks seem to be one of the biggest ranking factors.
- Local TLDS are prefered .com.cn or .cn
- The most critical element on page is the Title Tag.
Market Share: 4.75%
Trailing behind Baidu in terms of active users, 360 Search is a more technical Search Engine that is marketed with better security, mobile and quality of search results that the market leader Baidu. Haosou is owned by Qihoo 360. Qihoo 360 Technology Co. Ltd. started as an anti-virus company and today is thought to have the most active users.
Market Share: 1.77%
Google is available but generally only to those that are accessing the Internet using a VPN (not the common market place). This does currently mean that if you are trying to target a native Chinese audience it is of little use. It can be used to target tourists or for Chinese users that are outside of mainland China.
Market Share: 1.3%
Bing does have some penetration into the China search market, in the same way that it does in the West. Through Microsoft Edge (Internet Explorer) Bing is the default search engine. However, it sees that very few Chinese searchers use it.
Market Share: 0.28%
Netizens in China reported August 30th, 2018 that Yahoo search is not accessible in the country. Yahoo.com, Yahoo mail, and other services are still accessible in China. But the subdomain search.yahoo.com is blocked.
Market Share: 0.07%
Yandex is effectively Russia’s Google, but its very close proximity to China might make this search engine worth considering dependant on the market that you operate in. They do have an office and are currently recruiting for a Head of China Operations for their Shanghai office. Yandex do already operate a site called tradeease, an Alibaba express type site for the Russian market. Yandex is very active in this space at the moment and worth keeping an eye on.