Home/SEO Guide/Type/Baidu : how does the Chinese “Google” work ?

Baidu is a Chinese technology company specialized in internet services and AI (artificial intelligence). It’s often compared to the behemoth Google, and rightfully so. It’s the largest company in China and one of the most important in the world. Since Chinese people do not have access to Google, they use this alternative on a daily basis.

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Contents:

The name's history and origins

Baidu takes its name from a poem called "The Green Jade Table in the Lantern Festival" written between 1100 and 1200 by the poet Xin Qiji. This poem talks about the search for one's dreams in the midst of chaos.

For the record, the name Baidu comes from these few lines:

"...Hundreds and thousands of times, I searched for her through the chaos / Suddenly, I turned by chance, to the place where the lights went out, and there she stood. "  

The connection is pretty obvious. Baidu is a great help to reach your ideal through searches. Baidu means in this context: "hundreds of times".

Some figures on Baidu

Launched in 2000, Baidu has grown by leaps and bounds and now has over 665 million users worldwide. It accounts for the ⅔ of the search engine market share. Statistics show that Google is used for only 2.3% of all searches in China. The remaining 97.7% of searches are done using local search engines, and Baidu tops the list. Baidu receives traffic from over 100 countries but 93% of users are Chinese. Baidu, that’s also:  

        • 22 million daily active users
        • 70 million active users on mobile every day
        • 77% of Baidu's revenue generated through mobile searches
        • 50% of Baidu's revenue is generated from advertising  
        • 150 million users connected every day on Baidu Music (Youtube equivalent)
        • 341 million users per month using Baidu maps (Google Maps equivalent)
        • 14.88 billion in annual revenue in 2018
        • 4.2 billion voice searches each month

Baidu: features and services

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Baidu's search results are very dynamic and interactive. They include dozens of links and contain JavaScript applications, unlike Google which offers very static SERPs (result pages).

Paid results 

On Baidu, it is very difficult to distinguish between natural results and paid results (comparable to Google Ads) forthe sake of user experience (so they isay!).

Structured data

Baidu only uses its properties such as Baidu Open or Baidu Webmaster Tools to submit structured data. Unlike Google, you can't rely on schema.orgmarkup.

Automatic transcoding 

Baidu can transcode non-mobile-friendly websites without any owner’s action or approval. The problem can be compared to using a proprietary CMS. That is, you can't use your site as you want.

Domain trust and credibility system

Baidu set up a calculation to show a trust index for each site, visible in the SERPs. To benefit from it and thus improve their CTR, websites must make a specific request by paying an annual fee.  

Baidu Baike - Encyclopedia of Baidu 

In every aspect, Baidu Baike is the Wikipedia of the Chinese search engine.

It has more than 15 million articles (in compliance with the government censorship).

Baidu Wenku - Baidu Library  

Baidu Wenku is a portal for members to download and share files and books. It currently has more than 220,000,000 uploaded documents.  

Baidu Tieba - Baidu Community  

It was established on December 3, 2003. It’s a social platform similar to Reddit (users can post and vote for links, the most popular links of the moment are displayed on the homepage). Baidu Tieba uses "bars", or forums, as a place for social interaction for users. The slogan of Baidu Tieba is "Born for your benefit".

Baidu Zhidao - Questions and Answers

Zhidao is a question and answer platform comparable to Quora. Users who answer questions are rewarded with "credits".  

Baidu Jingyan - The Baidu Experience 

On this platform, users can share their experiences and knowledge on how to perform a specific task or solve a problem.

Baidu Fanyi - Translate 

Fanyi is a web page translation and instant multilingual text translation service. It supports 28 popular languages.

Popular keywords and contents in China

The most searched keywords and contents in China, on Baidu, revolve around culture: Wu Dong Qian Kun, The Tang Door and Zhetian which are all famous novels and Mang Huang Di which is a manga. "Double Chromosphere" is also among the most typed queries. This is a lottery game.

The most searched topics are movies and television, e-commerce, education, games and travel.

A few scandals and their spill-over effects

Baidu has been involved in several scandals, including a health scandal that has recently seriously tainted its image. China has indeed launched an investigation on the search engine after the death of a student who had tried an experimental therapy against cancer, found at the top of the list on SERPs. Baidu is then accused of having sold positions to bidders without having properly verified their claims.

What is the future for Baidu?

As a result of this scandal, Baidu's value dropped by more than $5 billion. Baidu's Nasdaq-listed shares fell by 7.92%. But the giant stands on solid footing. Baidu quickly announced several changes to its SERPs and ranking algorithms, especially for paid results. From now on, it limits advertising for the medical industry and reduces the available advertising slots on the SERPs. The commercial nature of the ads is also more emphasized. With the new ad format, there is an improvement on the quality of the information. But Baidu still has a long way to go to be perfectly transparent.

   Article written by Louis Chevant

Further reading

The complete guide on the referencing of e-commerce sites

The 6 key steps to follow to correctly optimize your e-commerce site with a good natural referencing. 

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