While Google remains the undisputed market leader globally for search engines, any organization would be remiss to ignore the power of Baidu in the Chinese market.
Currently, Baidu has 75.46% of the market share in China, whereas Google only has 2.35%. This has been the case for the past decade, and trends indicate that this won’t be changing any time soon.
These organizations have much in common; however, there are a few key differences between the two, both in terms of their tech stack and the political climate they operate in.
Baidu vs. Google
In terms of developing an effective search marketing strategy for the Chinese market, you must look past the algorithm and evaluate how this audience engages with the internet.
Google has several unique offerings on a global level, but within the Chinese market their services remain limited. On the other hand, Baidu has integrated elements like a missing person search, senior person search, and patent searches as a key part of their stack.
Adapting to Chinese Regulations
While the “Great Firewall of China” remains in effect, full internet access for the general populace will continue to be limited. Baidu capitalizes on this by:
- Stressing its close connection to the Chinese market
- Tracking consumer behaviour on a much more granular scale than Google
- Building its own mobile search apps
- Partnering with large tech giants, like Huawei and Samsung, to integrate Baidu into the smartphones they sell on a local level
From an operational perspective, Baidu remains fully compliant with the government’s laws and regulations within China. However, their algorithm remains much more optimized for the complexities of the Chinese language than Google’s. This is one of the key differences between the search elements of both Baidu and Google: how they crawl and index websites.
Google’s indexing process is far more gradual, as it indexes its results as URLs are discovered. But with Baidu, you can augment your efforts through marketing and PR to see results much more quickly.
Baidu’s algorithm places increased relevance on the context of words used within the search, as well as augments their own properties. Any organization wanting to break into the top 10 has to account for this bias.
Furthermore, Baidu, despite being a market leader for machine learning, has a less developed image AI than Google. In other words, alt text and metadata tagging holds more sway on Baidu than Google. This has the additional consequence of making keyword research an even more important facet of your strategy, as both page and metatag keywords must be optimized.
Optimizing for Mobile
In terms of site structure and coding, Baidu is notoriously poor at crawling Java. Ensuring that important content and links are written in HTML for both desktop and mobile is key.
Every marketer understands the importance of mobile optimization. As previously mentioned, internet penetration has been slower in China, but recent statistics show that 99.7% of the country’s total online population now accesses the web through mobile, too.
Due to this uptake in consuming media through mobile, it is vital to ensure that your mobile and desktop versions of your site are equally capable. This is especially key for e-commerce businesses, as the modern mobile user needs integrations with other applications, like Google Pay and Apple Pay.
If there are mobile gaps in your website, one of the offerings within Baidu’s tech stack can help turn your website mobile-friendly: Transcoding. However, there are a few caveats associated with using this tool.
While Transcoding may help give your website a more mobile-friendly experience, the tool will also remove any content or elements it deems not to be mobile friendly. This means you could lose images, content, and conversion elements. Having a mobile strategy and localized sites from the outset is a key element of online success.
In summary, Google and Baidu have some key similarities:
- Search engine functionality
- Development of tech stacks to suit their target markets
- Overall customer analytics
However, any organization looking to maximize their presence in China needs to take into consideration the differences in the algorithm and optimization/indexing best practices.