Here's why Baidu might not be the answer to your search strategy in China.
"Should I use Google or Baidu?" This question is asked by search marketers not only in China as it used to be. When I was speaking at SES NY last month, someone raised her hand and asked me the same question. The audience also brought up the notion that Baidu was for B2C.
According to iResearch, a Shanghai-based online research firm, Baidu's market share in China was 83.6 percent and Google's market share was down to 11.1 percent in Q4 of 2010. It is pretty obvious that Baidu has captured the majority of search volumes in China.
Having said that, search marketing is not about how many people are searching; it is about how much information that people can find with value. Those values are relevancy, integrity, and accuracy of the information. And this is why all other search engines work so hard to improve their ranking algorithms. In other words, to have over 80 percent market share doesn't indicate that all the search results are of good quality and the user satisfaction is good.
Furthermore, capturing search traffic is hardly what search marketing is all about. It will be a waste if you capture most of the low quality and low sales-intent traffics, also known as "the irrelevant search" in Google's term.
As for the subject of whether Baidu is for B2C or B2B, let's look at some other perspectives. China's economy is highly export-driven. China suppliers are fond of meeting overseas buyers. To start the engagement, any marketing communication has to be developed in a foreign language. Hence, Baidu, as a local Chinese search engine, is not for B2B, at least not for international trade marketing.
That leaves you to think that Baidu must be for B2C. As a matter of fact, B2C means local marketing for most of the local products. According to a recent Credit Suisse report, Taobao.com, the country's largest online shopping site, accounted for 80 percent of China's e-commerce market in 2010. It suggests that the majority of the product searches have been made on Taobao, not Baidu.
So, should you use Google or Baidu? Use Google for research because it has better transparency in business practice. Use Taobao for consumer-based marketing because it has 80 percent market share in China's B2C and it provides you the data. As for Baidu? Undoubtedly this local search engine has captured the majority of search volumes, but is neither good for B2B nor B2C, which I found it very obscure.
Eddie is the founding partner of Frontiers Digital and the Executive Director of Milton Exhibits Group. Although Eddie studied classical theory of sociology in college and has a MBA, technology always has been a passion with him. He believes that a combination of technology and communication is what the modern marketing is heading towards in the future. Eddie is a member of Search Engine Strategies Global Advisory Board.
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