A roundup of the latest news in search - from what the alliance between Baidu and Sina means, Baidu's latest algorithm change, and YouTube's new local versions for Indonesia and Malaysia.
China is now the world's largest mobile market. Official stats released in February showed the country has more than 1 billion mobile subscribers.
Because of the huge market potential, Chinese search giant Baidu has been making strategic moves to gain market share in this space.
A recent example is the alliance between Baidu and major content portal Sina.
Chinese publisher Sina also owns the country's leading microblogging service - Weibo. In less than three years, Sina Weibo already boasts more than 300 million registered users, while Twitter took five years to reach the same number.
Under the partnership Baidu and Sina will co-operate in five key aspects: search, content, platform, technology, and resources.
This means Sina's mobile website would be integrated into Baidu's mobile web search services, including Sina's iask (Aiwen) search box to retrieve information and apps powered by Baidu.
Baidu's cloud platform will also be pre-installed on Sina's microblog app.
According to a press release from Baidu, the search firm has partnered with Sina for many years to provide search support, online mapping, and open-data platform projects.
However, Sina Weibo has attempted to build its own real-time search engine that allows people to search from a wide range of categories from posts, users, events, groups, to votes and apps, in November last year.
Three months later Baidu shut down its microblogging social service - Baidu Talk (Baidu Shuoba) - in August 2011.
Baidu Talk gained more than a million registered users when it launched in September 2010 but the microblog did not continue to attract more users when Sina and Tencent started offering similar services.
Following the unspoken competition, Baidu announced on its blog that it was working with Sina Weibo to provide real-time search services in March this year. This allows Baidu to provide up-to-date Sina Weibo content that matches keyword searches for breaking news or popular trending topics. In addition to Sina Weibo, the microblog results from Baidu includes posts from the other three major Chinese Internet major portal's microblog services.
It remains to be seen if the recent collaboration between Baidu and Sina will extend into an offering for advertisers at this point but Baidu is certainly making strategic moves with key players to dominate China's mobile search market. Other partners before Sina include Apple and Japanese telco DoCoMo.
Baidu Algorithm Updates Impact SME Websites
Baidu implemented two major algorithm updates in June and it has created a significant impact on both indexation and rankings of thousands of websites. The algo update is said to start as early as April.
In China, this has caused significant loss in ranking or websites to disappear, particularly small- and medium-sized companies that do not update their content frequently, as pointed out by Daniel Cai, Shanghai-based general manager from The Egg in a company blog post.
While Baidu generally does not acknowledge such changes, the Chinese search giant's engineer from the anti-spam team known only as "Lee" told webmasters that an update on June 21 has been enforced for anti-spam measures to target poor-quality websites.
For future updates, Lee added they would be announced on Baidu's Webmaster Tools.
YouTube Rolls Out Localized Domains
YouTube has rolled out localized domains in Indonesia and Malaysia.
As part of Google's goal to roll out localized YouTube sites internationally, the video-sharing site has launched in Indonesia targeting 237 million citizens in the country in June.
According to Adam Smith, YouTube's Asia Pacific director of product management, Indonesia commands the highest viewer count in Asia.
Although YouTube originates from the U.S., 70 percent of its viewers are actually from outside the country, he added.
On the monetizing front, YouTube Indonesia has also secured several big advertisers such as Telkomsel, Unilever Indonesia, and Bank Central Asia for the launch.
Rudy Ramawy, country head of Google Indonesia, said the advertisers would be given brand channels to promote their products, as reported in local press.
Indonesia is the fourth market in Southeast Asia to get a local YouTube domain, while Malaysia YouTube unveiled in March this year.
In Malaysia, YouTube has teamed up with local media companies like Astro Malaysia and KRU Studios alongside advertisers that include Dutch Lady, Standard Chartered, and Malaysia Airlines.
Other localized YouTube sites in the Southeast region include Singapore and the Philippines. In Asia Pacific, YouTube has presence in Australia, Hong Kong, India, Japan, New Zealand, South Korea, and Taiwan.
This article was originally published August 8, 2012 on SearchEngineWatch.com.
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