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Baidu Search Results Go Social

17
Jan
baidu social feature

Is Baidu following Google’s path in terms of social search results?

A good question to ask to their staff as China’s leading search engine has recently been testing a new social feature that clearly reminds me of Google +1 feature and follows Google's announcement about search results getting more personalized.

Baidu Social Feature

As you can see in the above screenshot, the social feature is present in Baidu search results.

For instance, if I search 'Baidu' in Chinese, the social feature that consists of a thumb up icon very similar to the Facebook Like button is displayed next to the URL in the SERPs.

Next to the icon, you can also see a number (more explanation below). 

Please note this social feature is still being tested and doesn’t appear for every search result. 

A Way to Boost Baidu Social Share?

Contrary to Google that owns Google+, Baidu doesn’t have its own social network excluding its personal blog service known as Baidu Hi (Baidu Space). 

According to an official post on Sina Weibo, the number that appears next to the thumb up icon indicates how many times a web page has been shared using Baidu Share, a social sharing tool that the Chinese search engine company launched last summer. 

However, Baidu had bigger ambitions for its social bookmarking service. That is why testing this social feature may mean that Baidu wants to boost the adoption of Baidu Share in the future.

A New Ranking Factor for SEO?

In terms of SEO, it’ll be extremely important to monitor when Baidu largely releases this new social feature. I think it makes no doubt that Baidu will eventually go to this direction.

What will be very interesting to see is how this social feature will affect rankings. As Google uses its +1 button, Baidu may use its social sharing tool as a positive ranking factor.

In short, it may mean that the more your website is shared on Baidu Share, the better your rankings are.

Stay tuned for more explanation about SEO for Baidu!

China Internet to Go Faster & Cheaper

27
Dec
statistics

China will invest heavily in telecommunications infrastructure to increase Internet access speed by five times by 2015, according to the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology. 

At the same time, the Chinese government plans to decrease the broadband service rates generally 3-4 times more expensive than other countries.

Internet access in China is indeed currently rather slow, China's broadband bandwidth is currently ranked 71st in the world, China’s average being 1.8 Mbps compared to a global average of 5.6 Mbps.

By comparison, the average bandwidth in the US is currently 20-25 Mbps, five times that of China. 

China’s average broadband bandwidth is expected to hit 20 Mbps in urban areas (Beijing, Shanghai, Shenzhen, etc.) by 2015, that is to say 5 times the current level while rural areas will reach 4 Mbps.

Regarding the costs, the leading broadband service provider, namely China Telecom, promised to cut rates by 35% by 2016.

China has the largest Internet population in the world (over 450 million users), and over 155 million family broadband users by the end of 2011.

More information and statistics about Internet in China to come very soon. Stay tuned!

Most Searched Keywords on Google China in 2011

19
Dec
google-zeitgeist-2011

Google recently released its 2011 Zeitgeist highlighting how and what the world searched in 2011. The search company also published a ranking of the fastest rising searches in every country, including China.

Here is the list of 10 keywords that gained the most popularity in China in 2011:

1. Japan Earthquake 日本地震 (Rìběn dìzhèn)

Japan Earthquake

One of the most powerful earthquakes in the world that hit the Japanese Pacific coast in March 2011 and resulted in massive damage.

2. Naked Wedding Era 裸婚时代 (Luǒ hūn shídài)

Naked Wedding

Very popular Chinese TV show that talks about a young couple who is in love and wants to get married despite all their financial problems. In extension, the term “naked wedding” refers to a marriage without material prerequisites such as flat, car, and fancy wedding ceremony.

3. Discount 折扣  (Zhékòu)

Discount

The third most-searched term in Google in 2011, mainly because Chinese Internet users are fond of finding good deals online.

4. Libya 利比亚  (Lìbǐyǎ)

Libya Flag

Following the revolutions in the Arab countries known as the “Arab Spring”, Libya underwent a civil war in 2011 that led to the end of Muammar Gaddafi’s political regime.

5. Kung Fu Panda 功夫熊猫 (Gōngfu xióngmāo)

Kung Fu Panda 2

American computer-animated action comedy movie very appreciated by the Chinese people. The sequel to the 2008 edition was released in 2011 and starred many famous actors including Jackie Chan.

6.       Ipad2

Ipad 2

Apple is one of the most appreciated brand in China, so are the second generation of the US company’s tablet computer.

7. Android 安卓 (Ān zhuō)

Android Logo

Though Google as a search engine has difficulties to succeed in China, its OS for mobile devices is quite popular in China’s smartphones market.

8. Transformers 变形金刚 (Biànxíng jīngāng)

Transformers3

Another blockbuster movie appears in the most search keywords on Google China in 2011 (the third edition was released last summer).

9. QQ2011

QQ2011

The most popular Instant Messaging (IM) in China for iOS such as iPad, Iphone and iPodTouch.

10.   Weixin 微信 (Wēi xìn)

Weixin

A more and more popular mobile instant messaging (similar to Whatsapp in the West) by Tencent, a Chinese company well-known for its QQ IM.

What other Chinese keywords did you search in 2011?

Submit your Customer Service Hotline to Baidu

11
Nov
Baidu Hotline

Baidu recently unveiled a tool allowing companies to submit their customer service phone number to the Chinese search engine index. 

How many times did it happen to you when you want to contact a company customer service but do not know or find any phone number? Baidu strives to make your life easier with easily returning you the hotline you look for.

What is Customer Service Hotline in Baidu?

With this search feature, Baidu revealed a useful tool that displays a company hotline in prominent positions in the search engine results pages when users search the customer service phone number.

For instance, if you want to look for Qunar Customer Service phone number (Qunar is a very popular travel search engine in China), you would type “去哪儿客服”on Baidu, “去哪儿客服”meaning “Qunar hotline” in Chinese.

Qunar Hotline on Baidu

Baidu displays a special “hotline box” that shows Qunar’s customer service phone number. Users can therefore call directly that number or visit Qunar’s website by clicking the phone icon to find more information.

Why to Submit my Company Hotline to Baidu?

Below are the main reasons why you should submit your customer service phone to Baidu index:

- Customers: When your customers search your hotline phone number, you help them find useful information quickly.

- SEO: The hotline box is displayed in a prominent position in Baidu search results page. The clickable icon redirecting to your website will potentially drive traffic to your website, especially if your site does not rank high in Baidu. On the contrary, if your customer service page was already well ranked on this query, you may see a decrease in terms of visitors as users will get their answer without visiting your page.

- Free:  Submitting your hotline to Baidu is free, and moreover, if you advertise about your customer service on the search engine, it means that people will therefore click less on your ads, so you will save some money.

- Competition: thousands of companies already submitted their hotline to Baidu index, including large firms such as Bank of China, China Southern Airlines, and Haier. If your competitors have their customer service phone number in Baidu index, it is a good reason to submit yours too!

How to submit my Customer Service Hotline to Baidu?

If you want to submit your customer service phone number to Baidu, you should meet some requirements, such as having a contact page on your website, a unified national telephone, and a Baidu account. 

Here is the link to submit your hotline to Baiduhttp://open.baidu.com/coop/kefu.html

You must fill  in contact information, notably keywords that will trigger your hotline box, your customer service phone number, your company name and the destination URL. Baidu says it will review your application within 5 days before approving it.

Note: It seems that Baidu did not submit its own hotline!

SEO For Baidu

20
Nov
baidu

Globally, when one talks about SEO, one usually talks about SEO for search engines like Google, Bing and Yahoo!. However, when it comes to China, one talks about SEO for Baidu. Why ?

Because Baidu is China's top search engine (far ahead of Google - see our previous post about search engine market share in China). By the way, Baidu CEO Robin Li recently confirmed at the Web 2.0 San Fransisco that the search company would soon expand into new countries, beyond China and Japan.

Baidu follows specific ranking rules that you should understand if you want your Website rank well on Baidu.

It has now been a couple of years we have been working on SEO for Baidu. Below is a summary of our previous posts giving you SEO tips and tools for Baidu:

If you want to work with a SEO expert, do not hesitate to contact us at THEM Beijing. We will help you do your SEO, so you can improve your ranking on Baidu and other search engines.

How to Register a .CN or a Chinese Domain Name

17
Aug
cnnic-logo

About .CN domain names

.CN is the country code top-level domain (ccTLD) for mainland China. It is currently the sixth most common top-level domain, after .com, .de, .net, .uk and .org with over 7.62 million registrations.

Second-level domain names include generic second-level domains such as com.cn, edu.cn and gov.cn, and second-level domains of provinces such as bj.cn, hn.cn and sh.cn.

About Chinese domain names

Chinese domain names are domain names that contains at least one Chinese character. Domain names with Chinese characters may also be registered at the second level under the .cn TLD.

Latest June, ICANN approved the use of the internationalized TLD .中国 (".china" in Simplified) and .中國 (".china" in Traditional) by CNNIC. These two TLDs were added to the DNS in July 2010.

Moreover, CNNIC also proposes Chinese domain names in .公司 (".com" in Chinese) and .网络 (".net" in Chinese). However, these are not recognized by ICANN and are only available via domestic registrars.
 

CNNIC manages .CN and Chinese domain names

Founded in 1997, the China Internet Network Information Center (CNNIC) is a non-profit organization responsible for administering and managing .cn and Chinese domain names.

CNNIC operates under China's Ministry of Information and Industry (MII), an agency that oversees telecommunications, multimedia, broadcasting and satellite transmissions across China.

How to register a .CN or a Chinese domain name

CNNIC accredited Chinese Domain Name registrars responsible for providing Chinese Domain Name registration services. Based on the principle of "first come, first serve", you may select one of them, and go to their website to proceed with the online registration.

Any business or organization, worldwide, can register a .cn name under a new liberalized policy that no longer restricts .cn registrations to  Chinese. Currently the registration is not yet open to individuals.

When you register a simplified Chinese domain name, you will automatically and freely get a traditional Chinese domain name.
 
If you want to engage a dispute related to Chinese Domain Name, you shall contact the China International Economic and Trade Arbitration Center.

List of search engines in China

16
Aug
search-engines-china-logo

 

Here is a list of popular search engines in China:

Baidu logo

Baidu is by far the leading Chinese search engine for websites, audio files and images. It was established in 2000 by co-founders, Robin Li and Eric Xu.

Google China logo

Founded in 2005, Google China ranks as the No. 2 search engine in China. In March 2010, it decided to redirect all queries from Chinese users to Google Hong Kong.

Sogou logo

Sogou is a search engine which can search text, images, music, and maps. Launched in 2004, it is owned by China's No. 2 Internet portal Sohu but Alibaba Group is going to buy sharesSogou means "Search Dog" in Chinese.

Soso logo

Soso is a Chinese search engine owned by Tencent which is well known for its IM QQ.

Yahoo! China logo

China Yahoo! is one of the leading Chinese-language portals offering search, email and an enhanced focus on entertainment content. Alibaba Group acquired China Yahoo! in 2005.
 

Bing China logo

Bing is Microsoft's search engineBing's official Chinese name is "bì yìng" which literally means "very certain to respond" or "very certain to answer".

Youdao logo

Youdao is a search engine released by Chinese Internet company NetEase in 2007. It is the featured search engine of its parent company's web portal, 163.com, and lets users search for web pages, images, news, music, blogs, etc. Youdao roughly translates as “there's a way”.

Do you know other search engines used in China?

How do Search Engines Interpret Non-Latin Characters?

12
Aug
google-hk-screenshot

In this article, I'll strive to explain you how search engines like Google interpret non-latin characters. As I'm familiar with China, I'll only focus on simplified Chinese.

However, I know there are many readers of this blog from other Asian countries like South Korea, Japan, India, Malaysia, Thailand, etc. Feel free to share your knowledge about how search engines interpret queries in your language.

Let's take an example: I'm searching for "clothes" on google.cn (well actually google.com.hk since Google China has gone to Hong Kong). 

If I use simplified Chinese characters, I perform the query "衣服", and Google displays the following search results page:

Google Hong Kong screenshot

Note that Google identifies the search term "衣服" in red in the search results page, like on Baidu. The search term is highlighted in bold on other Google's sites.

By the way, Google and Baidu are able to read non-latin URLs including Chinese characters. Even domain names will very soon include Chinese characters, as ICANN approved it latest June

What if I now use Pinyin, the romanization system for Mandarin? I write "yifu". Check out the search results page:

Google Hong Kong screenshot

As you can see, the search results are totally different from the query with the term in simplified Chinese. In that case, Google gives for example more weight to sites with domain names including the keyword "yifu".

What is interesting to notice here is that not only does "yifu" term appear in red, but "衣服" is also displayed in the same color in the search results, as if I was searching for the term "衣服". And Google suggests me to search for "衣服"...

If I use the exact Pinyin term "yīfu" (with accent), the search results page will be as following:

Google Hong Kong screenshot

This query uses the right spelling for Pinyin but it's actually the one that gives the less relevant results...

How do search engines deal with your language? Please leave your comments!

Alibaba buys shares in Sogou search engine

10
Aug
Sogou-logo

China's No.2 Internet portal Sohu will sell 32% of its Sogou search engine to investors, including top Chinese eCommerce company Alibaba Group.

Sohu sells shares of its Sogou search engine

Sohu will actually sell 16% to Alibaba Group, parent of Hong Kong-listed Alibaba.com and Yunfeng fund, co-founded by Alibaba Chairman Jack Ma, and another 16% to a fund invested by Sohu Chairman Charles Zhang. The remaining 68% of Sogou will be held by Sohu.

When it launched Sogou, Sohu had big hopes for its wholly-owned search engine, but it has failed to gain market share against Baidu and Google during the past few years. The deal with Sohu will help Alibaba expand in the nation’s $1 billion search-engine market.

However, an alliance with Alibaba could help its prospects, as Alibaba currently prohibits Baidu from cataloging material from its eCommerce pages in its search results.
 

Sogou is China's third-biggest search engine

According to data from iResearch, Sogou is China’s third-biggest search engine service, though its market share of 0.8% last quarter is a fraction of Baidu’s 71%, and the 27% share held by Google.

Alibaba doesn't seem to really believe in the search potential of Yahoo! China that it entirely owns. It actually pitched Yahoo! China site as an entertainment-oriented portal. By the way, we were wondering last week whether Yahoo! China would team up with a search partner.

Alibaba is favoring Sohu’s search service even though it has the option of adopting rival technologies like Microsoft's Bing. Indeed, even if Microsoft and Yahoo! joined forces to create a search alliance, local Yahoo! sites which aren't wholly owned by Yahoo! Inc. can choose a search partner on their own. For example, do you remember that Yahoo! Japan has recently chosen Google as search partner?

Apple may buy Chinese online game developer Handseeing

9
Aug
apple-logo

US technology giant Apple is planning to buy a Chinese online game developer Handseeing Information Technology.

Apple in negotiations with Handseeing

Founded in 2005, Handseeing develops Java-based online games, in partnership with Sun Microsystems, for China's largest social networking forum Tianya Online.

Apple has been in negotiations with the Chinese firm for a certain period of time and an announcement about a deal can be expected in September. The transaction might reach more than $150 million.

Apple's first acquisition in China?

Apple hasn't made any acquisition in China yet. If the deal with Handseeing is successful, it would be the Cupertino, California-based company's first acquisition in the country.

However, other foreign firms are also interested in Handseeing and Apple could face fierce competition. Apple currently sells its popular iPhone through China's mobile operator Unicom. It opened last month a store in Shanghai, the second one in China.

Globally, the popularity of the iPhone and the iPad is largely due to the App Store (225,000 applications ranging from games to business tools are available for download). 

Apple has built its Game Center technology, part of the iOS 4 operating system, as a "new social gaming network" and with Handseeing specializing in online gaming applications, the firm must nicely fit into Apple's business model.

China's online gaming market is soaring

Another reason why Apple wants to acquire Handseeing is because it will help it get a foothold on China's growing online gaming market.

The  total number of online gamers in China is currently estimated at around 80 million or about a fifth of the country's total Internet community (China's online population recently hit 420 million).

However, some analysts wondered why Apple was interested in Handseeing as the Chinese company develops Java-based online games and Apple products currently don't support Java.