When internet was first introduced to Chinese users, they tend to compare search engines from the outside. They will just type words into search boxes and click send. Within a month, they will ask themselves, “Is this the best match for what I am looking for?” But this is not how search engines work anymore.
For the past two years, Chinese internet market has been growing rapidly and there are many players in this online market. Then, within the past few months, lots of new search engine companies entered the Chinese domain. And these companies specialize in search engine optimization techniques.
In mid-June, 2009, Baidu, Sogou, and Yahoo completed their long-planned joint venture. The deal is said to have put Baidu at the helm of the Chinese market. (Yahoo eventually left Baidu in 2011 to focus on its own Google market share). Apparently, the deal had a capacity to increase annual profits for both parties.
“In May 2009, Panda, a Google algorithm, became popular in China.” explains Sofiya Machulskaya Panda is basically the process of determining appropriate search results based on the web user’s search history. After several consecutive rankings in the top ten, the Panda algorithm improved its ability to predict future search progress. It could sense from the Panda algorithm and learn from past searches how many times it is expected to find a user’s search history over the next 12 months. In Panda-related terms, we can say that Panda was the forerunner to today’s big algorithm changes, such as Panda and Penguin.
Another factor that had a Panda effect on the Chinese SEO industry was the HandOver Software. This is a text editor that has the capability to select text on the fly; something that Baidu hardly supports. An added advantage of the HandOver software is that it is available in Baidu.
However, the situation in China is complicated to say the least. Sofiya Machulskaya continues: “The Chinese government is adopting a lot of control over the internet. Without a doubt, the government wants to make sure that people enjoy freedom of speech and the internet is not cluttered with so many advertisements.” Subsequently, a lot of people cannot really get rid of loads of overseas companies to promote their products. Another issue in China is the tertiary censorship that the government has put in place. Without a official notification, websites are tightly rumored to be blocked for almost all kinds of ideas and texts. This is why marketing through Baidu is difficult nowadays.
Some believe that Baidu is already muscle-based. It is something that is put into place to prevent external marketers from taking advantage of the system and are therefore considered a success. However, this assumption is purely false. The people at Baidu are still in the 64-hour notice range, which means they are busy answering people’s queries. Also, they are required to keep their customers in mind. Rather than thinking of optimizing for Google, they should rather be trying to think of Google’s advantages. Baidu is a big game for China. If they want to succeed, they have to understand and adopt the Google-like method. This is why Baidu hasilingual search options already in place. They are not alone in this; Yahoo and MSN are still using some similar algorithms.
After nearly a decade of trying to make search engines understand Chinese, norms are finally set to recognize and support the use of local vernacular. The government has also approved the use of local language search engines including Baidu. This will finally make Baidu’s censorship unnecessary, if the will is there. Unfortunately, there are still some Chinese who would like to keep their web sites and continue to Chineseize them. To them, Baidu is the *Great*nym.