Everybody is familiar with and thankful for all things Google. The suite of products they have made freely available are used and loved by nearly the entire world. But in China, there is no Google. Instead, Internet users turn to Chinese search engine Baidu. So how does it stack up? What does the Baidu vs Google matchup look like?
The good news is that Baidu, apart from being China’s largest search engine, has an answer for many of the products Google has carefully crafted over the last 20 years. I'm not going to sit here and tell you that Baidu is blazing new trails. But I can say for sure that Baidu is no slouch. Let's take a look at what's different and what's the same between.
Baidu Has The Chinese Internet Completely Covered
Baidu, just like Google, leads with it’s search engine, which is un-matched in China. Beyond that, Baidu has created many sites and services which might serve as a good place for your products to be advertised. In China, Wikipedia is blocked due to government censorship. Baidu isn’t afraid to comply though, resulting in the creation of it’s own “Baidu Wiki”. Just don’t go to it for the most factual take on certain historical events. Despite the lack of facts in some cases, the site is still immensely well used.
Baidu also has the multi-media landscape covered with Baidu Music and Baidu Video. Although these services aren’t without strong competitors, they are still well respected and frequently used. Baidu even has an “answer” for popular sites like Quora and Yahoo Answers - it’s own Baidu Answers.
While it’s questionable whether or not these services would be live if Google could have established themselves in China, their existence is evidence that Baidu is Google’s Chinese analog. If anything, this further strengthens it’s position as the best choice for SEM in the Chinese market.
Baidu Has PPC - Just Like Google
If you’ve ever run SEM campaigns using Google Adwords then you won’t have any difficulty understanding how Baidu Adwords works. The product is essentially the same, however, the way SEM is deployed upon the Chinese audience is very different. First of all, Baidu has a notoriously confusing back-end interface. Even if you are able to eventually navigate the back-end, keywords in Chinese are a monster. This is where the help of a marketing company with a deep knowledge of the China market can come in especially handy. Navigating the keyword landscape in English is hard enough - imagine doing it in Chinese!
Baidu Has Text and Display Ads - Just Like Google
Baidupresents it’s advertising in much the same way as Google. Ads show up in search results alongside content based on keywords. For most products and services, the best option is almost always going to be text ads displayed on search engine results. Depending on the type of industry and products a business is selling, display ads can work quite well. There are different kinds of content in China than in the west, so even if display ads have worked well for your campaigns run on Google adwords, you’d still want to do enough research to find out if your ads have the right content to support them.
Baidu Has Geo-Targeting - Just like...
Just like Google, you can use Baidu SEM to target users geographically to a very precise degree. This is incredibly important for all kinds of products, but it is especially important in China. As you might know, the income disparity level is much higher than in China than in the west. This is important for many reasons. For example, if you are selling luxury products, you’d want users in generally more affluent areas to be viewing and clicking on your ads as opposed to users in the countryside.
Baidu vs Google: The Main Difference is Accessibility
Baidu is China’s Google. They have their own “Adwords” SEM product and the it operates in much the same way as Google Adwords. You're sold. You get it. But depending on what kind of business you are hoping to promote on Baidu, there are some small barriers you should be aware of. In the Baidu vs Google matchup, the main difference comes down to accessibility.
If you want to use Baidu for search engine marketing, there are 3 things that you will need no matter what. First of all, you’ll need a fully accessible Chinese language website. This is a requirement of Baidu, not just a best practice for doing business in China. The next thing you’ll need is a valid business license. It doesn’t have to be a license in China, just any business license for any country will suffice in most cases. The third thing you’ll need is a Baidu authorized agency. Unlike Google, where anybody can sign up and start running ads within minutes, Baidu only sells through authorized agencies.
Beyond that, there are a few other things you might need to provide, depending on your industry and what you are selling. You may need to provide various business documents like trade agreements or proof of patent if you are making certain claims in your advertising. You also may need industry specific permits, but generally all these additional documents aren’t needed. There also won’t usually be a situation where you would be surprised with document requests, so rest easy.
If you're like me, you've probably been skeptical of anything coming out of the Chinese Internet. And you should be - it's a wild world out there. But one thing you can't argue with is the size of the web in China. For businesses interested in a piece of that action, Baidu is the closest Google analog they can get. Thankfully it's not that bad; in fact, it may even be better than Google from a advertising point of view. One thing is for sure though, The Chinese market isn't going anywhere and Baidu is here to stay.
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