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Apple is in trouble in China ? Not so sure!

17
Jul
apple-logo

These days, the weather in China seemed a bit cloudy for the world famous fruit brand...

 

  • Dispute about the ‘iPad’ name

First, there was Proview, the Chinese company of media devices that claimed it owned the rights to the ‘iPad’ name in the Chinese market as they registered it back in 2000. However, Apple said it acquired the worldwide rights in 2009. To settle this, two weeks ago, Apple agreed to pay $60m to Proview and, hence, bought the global rights to the ‘iPad’ name for good.

  • Dispute about the ‘Snow Leopard’ name

There was also Jiangsu Xuebao, a chemistry company that bought the rights for the brand ‘Xuebao’ in China in 2000.

Xuebao? What’s the deal with Apple? Have you lost your mind?

Did you know that ‘Xuebao’ means ‘Snow Leopard’ in Chinese? You must have recognized the name of the OS (Mac OS X 10.6) of Apple. That’s why Xuebao decided to sue the Californian company. Still they sold their OS in China under the name ‘Snow Leopard’ even if in 2008, the China Patent & Trademark office rejected the request of Apple to buy the name ‘Xuebao’. That one got solved at the court of Shanghai Pudong last Tuesday : Since Apple never sold its product under its Chinese name, there was nothing to worry about.

  • Dispute about the Siri technology

And you can throw another one on the pile: Lately, another Chinese company named Zhi Zhen internet technology claimed that Siri, Apple’s digital voice assistant, infringes on their Xiao i Robot. Since the announcement of Apple adding Mandarin and Cantonese to Siri, Zhi Zhen seems afraid it might cause infringement to its software.

And this is only in China? O_o

Yes! There is also a bigger problem for the apple brand with an American company called Noise Free Wireless that accuses them (not us!) to have stolen its noise cancelation technology.

Anyway those cases might be a danger for Apple as others Chinese brands might follow the trend and sue them for any kind of infringement … as long as it works!

So far, the firm settles its disputes with money. China is a very important market for Apple and they don’t want to lose its precious time with long trials. It’s time to settle down there and for good!

 

However, the ‘fat’ years are probably not over!

 

  • Opening of a new Apple Store in China?

Have you heard of a rumor about the opening of the biggest Apple Store in the world? Well, according to a few sources (not especially good ones, but still), it might takes place in Dalian, China.

You must know that there are only 6 Apple stores in China even though it’s the biggest market in the world. Those stores have some of the best results in the world but it feels like China misses Apple in so many places.

  • Opening of a new market for iPhones in China?

Then Apple and China Mobile (the world’s biggest mobile phone network that owns about 67% of the Chinese market shares) are apparently ‘in talks’ to offer China Mobile’s customers an iPhone. Its rivals, China Telecom and China Unicom, are already including this possibility in their currents offers.

Even though the iPhone is not an official product of China Mobile, it’s estimated that 15 million of the company’s customers are already iPhone users, according to BBC. If these ‘talks’ went to a good end, Apple might infiltrate a huuuuuuuge market.

However, it seems that it’s more a problem of technology and compatibility. China Mobile’s network does not support the iPhone yet, for technical reasons everyone might not understand...

Who said me?

Anyway the iPhone operated by China Mobile will be released soon but it’s more likely, we’ll have to wait until the 4G network is really working in China. Question is: how long?

  • Google won’t be the default search-engine in Safari anymore… At least in China!

Last (but definitely not least) is that iOS6 will be released in China with a couple unexpected things. The first one, I told you about it earlier : Siri will speak Chinese (Mandarin and Cantonese so far)! The second one (and the most important one as I work for a SEO company) is that Baidu will now be the default search-engine in Safari! ­ Ouch for Google…

Alibaba buys back 20% stake held by Yahoo for US$7.1 billion

24
May
yahoo-china-logo

In a never ending story between the seventeen years old company Yahoo and its Chinese counterpart Alibaba Group, we hear today that jack Ma, the wealthy entrepreneur behind the success of Alibaba, would buy back almost half of the 40 percent stake that Yahoo owns of Alibaba.

A very welcomed cash injection to Yahoo

The deals which is expected to be worth more than 7.1 US$ billion (6.3 US$ Billion in cash and up to 800 US Million in new Alibaba stock) would end the long discussion that have last during the past years on how Alibaba would reclaim some of the 40 percent stakes that Yahoo has bought in 2005.

This deal will allow Yahoo to deliver some values to their shareholders who have asked to receive dividends. Yahoo will also be able to make some acquisitions or buy back its own shares.

Yahoo has been trying during the past years to receive the benefit of its investment in Alibaba but has suffered from troubles linked to the changes in the top management.

Alibaba is heading to a possible IPO

Jack Ma, the current Chief Executive Officer of Alibaba Group, said “This transaction opens a new chapter in our relationship with Yahoo.” He added that the two companies will still working together in the future. One of the possible strategic options may be that Yahoo helps Alibaba to expand beyond China and enters the US market.

Many analysts believe this new deal opens the way to an IPO in the next years, probably in 2015. In this case, Yahoo would still be able to keep a 10% share of Alibaba after a possible future listing.

Started in 1999 as a business to business company linking factories to buyers all over the world, Alibaba is now bigger than Yahoo and has more than 25000 employees working on different websites and online services. Its portfolio includes taobao.com, Tmall, Etao - a shopping search engine -  and Alipay, an online payment system.

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!

Google vs. Bing CTR

26
Oct
statistics

A recent study by Slingshot SEO agency, shows the differences in terms of click-through-rates (CTRs) in the search results pages of the two main search engines in the US, namely Google and Bing.

Google’s CTR

Google’s 1st organic search result has an average CTR of 18.2%, that is to say that almost 1 out 5 user clicks on this 1st result. It is 4 times higher than CTR of the 4th search result on the page.

Overall, more than half of Google's users click on one of the 10 first search results (52.3%).

Google CTR

Google’s CTR Curve

Bing’s CTR is twice lower than Google’s

Bing’s CTR curve follows a similar trend as Google’s, but Microsoft’s search engine click-through-rate on the 1st search result is almost twice lower than Google’s. 

Overall, only 1 out of 4 Bing’s users click on one of the 10 first search results.

Slingshot suggests that this gap may come from the fact that Bing's users more often use “associated search” or search image, video or news.

Google Bing CTRs

CTRs between Google and Bing

The study was conducted by analyzing user behavior of  170,000 visitors and 624 keywords during the first eight months of 2011.

Additional interesting fact: every month approximately 117 million searches are done for the keyword “google” in Microsoft’s search engine. It seems like Bing users may trust Google SERPs more than Bing. 

You can have a look at the full study here. On the same subject, please read our previous article about CTR of standard banners

When Baidu Powers Google...

19
Sep
baidu-love-china

Chinese search company Baidu launched a Thai version of its navigation directory site Hao123.com, and actually powers Google for search.

Baidu powers Google in Thailand

Acquired in 2005 by Baidu, Hao123 is a very popular site in China as it is often set as homepage on Internet cafe browsers. It provides users with hundreds of common websites.

On Chinese language Hao123 website, Baidu is powered as default search engine and appears in the top websites.

Hao123 in China

Chinese version of Hao123

However, on the Thai-language website, Google is the default search box, as well as placed on top.

Hao123 in Thailand

Thai version of Hao123

While Google is Baidu’s main competitor in China, it is interesting to see that the Chinese search company actually promotes its rival in Thailand.

I see only one good reason for this. Google's algorithm should be more accurate in Thai than Baidu’s.

Baidu unveils Zhidao in Middle-East

Baidu also recently launched an Arabic version of its popular Q&A site Zhidao.

Baidu Zhidao in Middle East

Arabic version of Baidu Zhidao

So far, over 6,000 questions, mainly about love, health, and sports, are answered on zhidao.baidu.com.eg. The website is currently unable to be visited.

All these releases clearly underline Baidu's willingness to expand abroad. The battle between Baidu and Google in China may be only the beginnings of a larger war to come in world's search market.

Easou Is China's #1 Mobile Search Engine

23
Jan
easou-logo

Have you already heard of Easou? You may not be familiar with this name, though it's China's top mobile search engine.

Easou leads the Chinese mobile search market

As you know, Baidu and Google largely dominate China's online search market. However, when it comes to mobile search, Easou leads.

Easou was founded in Shenzhen in 2005 by Wang Xi as the first mobile search engine company in China. It became the biggest player of the mobile search industry.

Easou & mobile search expected to boom

Mobile search engines currently account for only a fraction of total mobile applications. However, the growth rate is expected to reach 60% in 2011 according to the market research firm International Data Corporation (IDC). 

In 2010, Easou's market share was over 35%, followed by Baidu at 25%, and Google at only 5%, according to China Mobile Data Center.

Easou currently has more than 160 million users. Its sales revenue was 100 million yuan (approximately $15 million) in 2010 and the company expects to reach 1 billion yuan in 2012. 

Easou's success to be confirmed

The promotion strategy used by Easou is unlike most other IT companies. They chose to focus on the countryside rather than large cities, as Chairman Mao Zedong's theory.

SMEs account for about 80% of Easou's business and have been the key drivers of the growth. Indeed, Easou allows them to promote their products nationwide on the mobile search engine rather than spending millions of yuan on TV advertisements. 

Easou has a market penetration of more than 40 cities in China, and the company is expected to enter large cities, such as Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou in 2011

It will then face fierce competition with Baidu and Google which develop their own mobile search engine.

Goso, Latest Entrant in China's Search Market

9
Jan
goso-logo

The People's Daily newspaper recently officially launched Goso.cn, a news search engine.

Previously available as a beta version, Goso.cn has beaten Xinhua News Agency to become the first search engine in China run by a national media organization.

Last year, Xinhua joined forces with China Mobile to establish an Internet search service.

Goso.cn enables users to search information in news, pictures, blogs, videos and micro blogs. It can also analyze the popularity of certain news topics, and thus help media professionals.

It will be difficult for Goso to compete with other players, notably Baidu which leads China's Internet search market. Other search engines like GoogleSogouSoso, etc. have already many difficulties to grab market share from Baidu.

Goso is expected to launch a mobile version in the next coming months.

Google vs. Baidu

7
Dec
baigoogledu-logo

Have you heard of Baigoogledu.com ?

Baigoogledu is a Chinese search engine that combines the two most popular search engines in China, namely Google and Baidu

You can easily compare the search results in two windows side-by-side. The top bar enables you to modify your search query.

For example, here is a search for [web development Beijing]:

Baigoogledu web development Beijing

Click screenshot to enlarge

According to BaigoogleduGoogle and Baidu search results differed by 85% in March 2010.

If you want to check your website ranking on Google and Baidu, you can use our SEO ranking tool.

Google Unveils Instant Previews

4
Dec
google-instant-previews-logo

Google recently unveiled a new feature, called Instant Previews, that allows users to instantly see a preview of a website within Google’s search results page.

How to use Google Instant Previews

In order to enable Instant Previews, users need to click once on the magnifying glass located next to the search results. After activating the feature, the result will be highlighted in a blue background and you will be able to see a full preview of the web page on the right sidebar.

If you click anywhere on the preview, you’ll be directly taken to the website. For example, here is a search for [seo Beijing] :

SEO Beijing Instant Previews
Click screenshot to enlarge
 
Below is a video introducing Google Instant Previews :
 

Instant Previews increase user satisfaction

In some cases, Google can also highlight the words on the page being previewed. According to Google, people using Instant Previews are 5% more satisfied with the results they clicked on. Indeed, they can preview and evaluate the page before visiting the website and find the information they were looking for.

From a SEO point of view, Google Instant Previews doesn’t change anything in Google’s search algorithm and rankings. When a user clicks on the title of a result and visits a website, it counts as a normal click, regardless of whether the result has been previewed. Keep in mind that previewing a result doesn't count as a click.

However, some webmasters noticed problems with Analytics since the introduction of Instant Previews. Indeed, some users complained of an unusual increase in their pageviews. However, Google indicated that it resolved the issue.

A few months ago, Google also launched Instant Search, allowing users to get search results as they type their query and leading to changes on SEO & SEM

Google Instant Ad Previews next ?

After launching Instant Previews on search results, Google could create an Instant Ad Previews.

As you may have noticed, users who enabled Instant Previews don't see Google’s ads anymore, and then may do some damage to ad clicks. Google said it was OK because most users interested in the organic results focus on the unpaid results rather than the ads.

So, according to Google, previews won't have any effect on users already ignoring the ads. And you, what do you think ? Will Google Instant Previews impact paid search ?

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.