What role will Baidu play in future Chinese marketing strategies?

China has more internet users than the entire population of the United States, with penetration rates continuing to rise (especially the adoption of mobile browsing). With Google banned in China domestic search engines are free to establish themselves as internet giants. The undisputed king of search in China is Baidu, boasting a share of the search engine market in excess of 80% and growing (source: Forbes).

While Baidu and Google may be different, they follow some of the same basic principles. Every month, 90% of Chinese internet users make at least one Baidu search (source: Baidu), which means that if you want to succeed and get found in China you need your Chinese website to have good Baidu SEO.

Mobile becomes dominant source of Baidu traffic

Baidu is seeing a change in its search traffic thanks to China’s increasing adoption of mobile technology, and has been highly successful in monetising mobile search traffic. In the first quarter of 2015 mobile accounted for 50% of total search revenue for the company: just over $1 billion (source: PR Newswire). Given that China had 520 million smartphone users by the end of 2014 (forecast to rise to 700 million by the end of 2018) the potential for using mobile Baidu SEO and mobile-optimised Chinese websites to reach your target market in China is huge (source: Tech in Asia).

Popularity of Baidu paid-for-marketing increasing

Just like Google, Baidu offers marketers a range of tools for getting noticed by their target market. As well as taking the top spot with Baidu SEO, marketers can also use Baidu PPC (Pay-Per-Click), Brand Link, and Contextual Advertising services to direct traffic to their Chinese website. The number of Baidu online marketing customers grew 17.5% year-on-year since the first quarter of 2014, to approximately 524,000. Not only are customer numbers growing, but also the amount they are spending: the average revenue made from an online marketing customer in 2015 Q1 was $3,839, up 13.9% on the figures from the same period last year.

Baidu becoming more quality focused?

Google’s latest algorithm changes have made it very clear that the old-style ‘keyword stuffing’ approach to SEO is no longer relevant to modern search. Its aim has been to steer websites towards creating and publishing quality content, rather than simply aiming for volume. Baidu’s latest investment – an estimated $20-$30 million in content recommendation tool Taboola – suggests the company has similar aims. Taboola uses a ‘related articles’ feature to display paid-for, yet contextually relevant, article links. Already used by websites including the Financial Times, USA Today, and NBC, Taboola helps publishers to increase page views and ad revenues by promoting relevant content to users.

Baidu’s investment comes alongside the announcement that the company will partner with Taboola to bring their content recommendation platform to China. It is worth figuring out the advantages to your business of this new tool now, as it could become an important asset for anyone marketing in China in the near future (source: Wall Street Journal).