There are up to 10 million English searches a day on Baidu’s search engine, according to Baidu spokesman Kaiser Kuo. With an index built around the Chinese language, those English searches typically end up often being littered with poor results.
Meanwhile, Google, which makes up for most of the English searches coming from China, continues to dwindle, leaving a huge void waiting to be filled. English searches are most commonly business-to-business and educational research. Microsoft’s Bing, along with Baidu, recently announced a partnership that aims to fill that gap.
The deal is still in the works and as of now I can only speculate on what I think it will look like by the end of the year. We’ll call it a best-case scenario for now, though some of the plans have already started to be implemented.
As most people already know, Google moved its search engine off of the mainland last year, primarily because it couldn’t agree to the Chinese government’s policy of censorship. This created a near monopoly for Baidu, China’s largest search engine. However, it never fulfilled some of Google’s useful features, such as English searches that provide content from the outside (albeit still censored).
Bing, which has been struggling to show some international search growth and a 2 percent market share in China, has been given a perfect opportunity to put a stake in the sand. Launching a search engine in the market is riddled with red tape and the growth is slow, but partnering with Baidu is a good match.
For now, Baidu is only discussing Bing powering some of the English organic results. However, there may be a great revenue opportunity for them as well.
Say, for example, you go to Baidu.com and search for [SAP software]. You’ll see Baidu’s advertisements and listings as normal, but lower down the page, you will see three indented listings with a "provided by Bing message" over these.
Click on the Bing logo and you’ll be redirected to Bing’s search results for the same query.
In terms of maximizing search, getting great top three positioning in Bing and Baidu for your English keywords, along with a Baidu paid search campaign, would result in three well-placed positions on the Baidu page. In this example, www.sap.com shows how it’s leveraging the real estate:
I can see the win-win situation that the Baidu-Bing relationship provides in its current state and I’m excited about learning more about the developing partnership, especially with any type of social media and paid search integration.
While we're on the subject and I can’t stop drooling over the thought of it, let’s take a look at one potential additional benefit.
The biggest question I get from prospects is, “How do I get myself launched on Baidu?” It isn’t as simple as it may seem, and there are a lot of complexities when it comes to usability, architecture, ability to index, review process, etc.
It would be much better if we were given the opportunity to utilize an English set of Baidu webmaster tools along with a better advertisement platform in English for paid search. If the relationship would allow us in search to make things easier, Baidu/Bing China would get more money in ad dollars and we would get more opportunity to serve our clients.
“Bing is not replacing Baidu's existing English listings – it is enhancing them – which a major difference,” according to Barry Lloyd of Webcertain APAC, an expert in search in China. He also stated that purely in his own observation, the full project isn’t meant to be completed until the end of the year and things may change over what is now known and displayed.
Initially I thought I’d see a resurrection of Yahoo China taking up Google’s spot, but with Baidu and Bing, I’m excited to see a new level of cooperation with two of the world’s most important search engines.