A typical internet user has several habits that he formed during the years. If we want to search for information, we usually open Google even without thinking. The corporation from Mountain View has practically monopolized world’s internet search market, nobody remembers about Altavista, Bing is more often mocked and satirized than actually used. There is only one country which is exceptional: China, of course. There, a home-grown Baidu has 60% of market share, a number that outdistances Google and other competitors.
The history of Baidu starts in 2000. The founder of the company, Robin Li, somehow contributed to the creation of his greatest competitor: it was Google which used his patent to create page indexing mechanism called PageRank. When Li realized how big is the success of Brin and Page， he no longer hesitated – and this is how Baidu was founded. At the beginning, the company was struggling to survive, but the Chinese internet developed so fast that Baidu jumped on the bandwagon. The company was not sold to some influential and strong market player, as happened to many others, but it went public on NASDAQ – doubling the value of market shares during the years 2005- 2007.
Google was Baidu’s biggest competitor all along – the American company entered Chinese market in 2006. Although Google marked a significant presence in the Chinese search engine market, it also faced heavy criticism from the Western media for complying with China’s censorship policies. On the other hand though, the Chinese government often arbitrarily blocked several services, making the Chinese version of Google capricious and unstable. Baidu was copying Google’s greatest ideas: it developed its own Maps, its own Reader, its own AdSense engine. Another service, responsible for the big amount of network traffic, was Baidu mp3: users were able to either listen or download their favourite songs without paying a penny, which obviously was more attractive than anything Google could offer. Since 2009, amid growing criticism and hacking incidents, Google started to withdraw from the Chinese search engine market. Since then, when we open their domain google.cn, we are redirected to the Hong Kong version at google.hk. The Google main page is unstable and not very useful, as far as surfing in the Chinese Internet is concerned.
Baidu philosophy is all about simplicity: “unless necessary, never increase an entity”. The main page is user-friendly, there are no irritating add-ons or useless functions, and it works quite well even on the technologically outdated equipment (and on Windows XP + Internet Explorer software combination, still very popular in China). Some of the services offered by Baidu, such as Baidu mp3 or Baidu Documents, may facilitate violations of copyright, but for an average Chinese consumer it is not a problem at all, and every Chinese court has turned down official complaints.
No wonder that the Chinese government is believed to back Robin Li’s company. According to the well-known premises of Go Global policy, China is “planting” some powerful corporations on its own fertile ground first, and then those companies are able to join global competition. Baidu already opened its offices in Singapore, Australia and in the USA, its search engine works in Japan. The examples of Weibo and Huawei tell us though that for a Chinese company, which deals in IT business, “going global” is very difficult, because potential foreign clients have many concerns over privacy and data security.
No matter how the global future of Baidu will look like, the company is the unquestionable leader on its native market. But how the entrepreneur investing in China can use the power of Baidu? One of the ways of boosting up your online business is using SEO and SEM techniques. Similar to Google, Baidu also offers SEO service, we will show the way it works on the example of the Chinese smartphone manufacturer Miui (Xiaomi).
As we can see, the information about the products is presented in a neat, eye-catching way. We need to remember that in order to achieve marketing success in China, we need to cooperate with the Chinese partners, who know better how the Chinese internet looks like. Therefore we should buy our domain there, set up a webpage written in correct and plain (not automatically translated, of course) Chinese, find SEO/SEM agency there etc. Despite the globalization and standardization, the Chinese internet is a completely different world with its own set of rules.