This really is a bad time for Google in China. After it was discovered that their search engine was ranked fifth in the country, it now also transpires that the big China boss (routed through Hong kong…) is leaving after 6 years at the helm.
Google future in China
New kid on the block
Why all the negative reporting?
Q4 earnings revealed
Too much gloom?
Baidu still a major player
Innovation is key
Baidu at the frontline of everything
What's New About it?
China's Hotel Industry
Do You Know Qihoo 360?
It's a Chinese software company specialized in the safety use of the Internet. It is especially known for its antivirus 360 Safeguard (more than 400 millions users) being the leader in China and its web browser 360 Browsers (almost 300 millions users) being second behind Internet Explorer.
Its website hao.360.cn is very AOL-like (meaning a lot of links directing to the main Chinese websites) and has a lot of traffic as it is the default landing page for the browser.
What's New for Qihoo?
Qihoo 360 launched its own search engine in public beta on August 16th : 360 Search. On so.360.cn, you get pretty much the same features as those on Baidu but you also have access to a software's downloading platform.
Qihoo Search is now the default search engine on its landing page and on its browsers (even on smartphones).
What about Google and Baidu then?
Before it releases its newest software, Qihoo was using another search engine, namely Google! It's a tough decision for the American company who was already having trouble in China as they moved in Hong Kong in 2010 and lost market share.
In a market dominated by Baidu, which holds 78,6% of the Search Engine market shares, Google (15,7%) and Sogou (basically almost the remaining percentage), Qihoo will have to find a spot to settle down. It sure has two major assets : its landing page and its browsers.
What Changes Can One Expect on Search Engine Market?
The Chinese Search Engine market will probably change. Will Qihoo manage to attract enough users and keep those they already own by default?
There will probably be collateral damage on Sogou that has the same business model as Qihoo. It already affected Google - they lost a lot of traffic not being the default search engine on Qihoo landing page already. And Baidu probably won't be as big as before.
The Question is : "how much"? There is already a rumour saying Qihoo 360 Search would hold 10% of the market share. Even if it's highly plausible, we'll have to wait to know the actual figures. There are also experts saying that the non-Qihoo users are very unlikely to switch to 360 Search as Chinese internet users don't like to change their habits.
Anyway, we know for sure it's going to be a major actor on the SEO market anytime soon.
Qihoo Already Playing Tricks?
Apparently, not everybody likes Qihoo 360. A few weeks ago, they were proven overestimating the traffic on their landing page by the well-known hacking activists, Anonymous. That way, they could sell the links on their website a higher price.
Only 8 days after launching its new service, they would be playing tricks to Google...
A few months ago, Aaron Wall from SEOBook made a survey about the behavior and the knowledge of the US internet users toward the search engine and especially toward Google.
Among the various topics he analyzed, you find out how people choose their search engine, how many they use, what they do if they don’t find satisfying results, what they think of Google and what they know about SEO and Internet.
Usage of Search Engine
Here’s the first surprise: even though it’s quite logical that the users choose the most relevant search engine, it appears that women are more likely to use the default. The younger (18-24) are also easier to influence with advertising.
This is a very important if you’re advertising a very precise group of people depending on their age and gender. But you should not forget that almost half of them use more than one search engine.
User Behavior on the Search Engine
What if they don’t find what they were looking for on the first page? Apparently, 56% of them would make a new search request and the rest would go on the second page. The split is fairly consistent among men and women. But if your website is SEO-friendly, there is no way it can happen, right? Else… you know what to do!
Apparently, the fact that Google promotes preferentially its own listings on its SERPs is not appreciated by its users as 3 in 4 people believe that a search engine is supposed to be objective.
What about the paid results?
65% thinks it’s often disappointing. However more than half of the 25-34 people think it’s ok as long as they’re relevant. Once again, you should know who you’re targeting.
And Google+ influenced results?
It must be very hard for Google since 65% haven’t noticed the difference. The others either think it’s better or worse. Don’t worry, Google is investing a lot of money to improve its social network that now have more than 110 millions of users. If you haven't started your Google+ page, see why you should start being active on Google+.
How aware are the consumer of common SEO/SEM term
They were asked about 5 words and the result is... *drum roll* : Pay Per Click wins!
It does mean something very important: They would think more of SEM than SEO. So if they were to communicate about it on the internet, they’d prefer Adwords. This also means that Google and the other Search Engine did great marketing their Paid results and this can only benefit them!
Don’t forget :
It is an American survey so don’t try to use it on any other markets, that could be lethal for your company: I’m obviously thinking about China which is a very different country for search engine since Chinese Internet users mainly search on Baidu as shown in our infographic about Internet in China.
A few days ago, Google launched a new feature called the "Knowledge Graph". With this new update, Google is getting one step closer to semantic search by attempting to understand the meaning behind the strings of keywords that users search for. Google sums up the Knowledge Graph nicely by saying that it enables users to search for "things", not "strings".
What is Google's Knowledge Graph?
The Knowledge Graph finds relationships between different items including people, places and things. Google has developed a huge library of over 500 million objects and 3.5 billion facts, sourced from Wikipedia and the CIA's World Factbook amongst others.
At present, the feature is only available for the Google.com index but it will soon be rolled out to other countries in the coming weeks.
Below is the official video by Google introducing the new feature:
Benefits for Google's Users
There are three main benefits:
1. Improved relevancy
Google will be able to better determine which item you are specifically searching for. In some instances they will provide users with a box to select the appropriate item which they are looking for. For example, if a user searches for "taj mahal", the user will be able to choose if they want to see results related to the monument in India or to the famous casino in Atlantic City.
2. A quicker search process
Normally, if you searched for "china" in Google, you may have decided to visit the appropriate Wikipedia page which is the second result in the SERPs. However, Google now provides some details within an information box in the SERPs which includes the capital city, dialing code, GDP etc.
3. Suggestions for further research
When searching for "william shakespeare", the information box provided shows a selection of his most notable plays as well as people who are in some way related to or are similar to William Shakespeare. Users can discover Shakespeare plays that they may not have heard of before for example.
SEO Implications : What Changes in the SERPs?
Our opinion is that sites such as Wikipedia may be affected in the long-term as often people are just searching for one fact; providing an entire web page about a certain item means that more information is provided, but this actually makes it less efficient for a user who is just looking for a specific fact.
The Knowledge Graph is primarily focused on providing facts to users. This means that for the vast majority of business and ecommerce sites, there will be minimal/no impact. It will mostly affect users who are in the research stage of the buying process; not necessarily users that websites should target so early on.
As always we will closely monitor how this new development changes the search landscape.
For instance, if you now type “accommodation in Beijing” (北京住宿) in China's leading search engine, you can directly see a map in Baidu SERP with a listing of several businesses that offer accommodation in the Chinese capital city:
This feature is new in Baidu, but already exists in other search engines such as Google.
We already blogged about Search Engine Optimization and Google Maps. If your business has a local presence, it's crucial that your website appears in the top rankings, including positions that are featured in maps.
After this new release, it's now time to review your SEO strategy for Baidu Maps! You can also read more articles about SEO for Baidu.
THEM is a digital agency specialized in Chinese and international SEO. Feel free to contact us to know more about our search engine marketing services.
Google is currently focusing on semantic search in order to deliver more relevant results.
Let’s review what Google’s semantic search is and what it's going to change.
Google to Develop Semantic Search
In the months to come, the US search company will use more and more semantic analysis to understand the real meaning of a keyword and improve the relevancy of its search algorithm by providing users with direct results.
According to the Wall Street Journal, Google’s search engine will therefore undergo a major transformation as this change is expected to impact between 10% and 20% of overall search queries.
To implement semantic search, the search giant will rely on its huge data base of 200 million of entities including places, objects, and people thanks to Metaweb, a company specialized in semantic data that Google acquired in 2010.
What is Semantic Search?
Google will integrate the semantic to its technology of search by keyword in order to better differentiate the value of information in a web page.
For example, semantic analysis allows to differentiate keywords with more than one meaning, such as the country 'China' and the ceramic material ‘china’.
The search engine will also be able to reply to direct questions.
Semantic Search Isn’t New at Google
Google actually already uses semantic-search elements by displaying answers to direct questions.
For example, a search for “what is the population of China”, results in displaying a graph and the figures from the World bank (1,338,299,512 in 2010).
Google Wants to Keep the Lead in Search
The leading search company has a market share of over 66% (in search queries) and over 75% (in revenue) in the US and isn’t ready to let anyone grab some shares of his cake.
To maintain its leading position against Microsoft Bing, now Apple Siri on mobile, Google has no choice but innovate to stay ahead of the competition.
After introducing the +1 button and social search results, Google clearly wants to stay ahead of Facebook and Twitter's interest graphs, and therefore use other kinds of signals for both search and ad relevance.
More Relevancy and ... More Money
His social network, Google+, will therefore be a key asset for its semantic search since it allows the company to have information on a network of people, companies, places and things, and so build relationships between them to be used in its search algorithm.
Instead of showing users results or ads that just match the terms in their search, Google will have to match ads to their search based on their meaning, as well as their context, location, +1s, relationships, etc.
By providing users with direct results rather than links to other websites containing typed keywords, Google could manage that users would spend more time on its sites, and therefore earn more revenue from advertising that account for more than 90% of its overall revenue.
Google Search Plus Your World
If you’re in the US, and when you search on Google.com in English, you can now access 2 kinds of results: either classic links from the whole web or links coming from your Google social network (Google+) and photo sharing service (Picasa).
In this new social search, Google displays statuses, photos, circles, and profiles that may interest you from Google+, as well as business & celebrities pages linked to your search. Photos from Picasa can also be displayed.
Here is the official video presenting the new social feature:
Users can simply decide whether they want to get social results or unpersonalized results or not. They can simply choose to turn on/off the toggle button displayed below:
Social Search isn’t New
It isn’t the first time Google includes contents from social networks into its search engine.
In December 2009, the search results page displayed real time status updates from Facebook, Twitter or some blog posts related to the query into a box and then a dedicated page. This feature was removed in July 2011.
In the meantime, Google released the +1 button to its search results page in March 2011. The button was connected to the new social network Google+ in June 2011. Content liked by circles of friends were given priority in the search engine results.
Social Search for Better Search and More Money
With this new feature, Google strives to improve the quality of its search results. However, it’s also a good way to promote Google+ that is still small compared to Facebook and Twitter.
And the idea behind getting more and more registered users is also getting more money from advertisement. Indeed, social networks enable advertisers to run targeted campaigns that are generally more expensive as better targeted.
According to eMarketer, 10.6% of all marketing expenses will be allocated to social network advertising in 2012, so Google wants to get a share of the cake.
A Fierce Debate
Following the announcement, some voices said Google was a threat for the Internet.
According to Wired co-founder, John Battelle, Google excludes Facebook from its social search, and this is harmful for the Internet development.
Some others think Google is pushing its own services too much, abusing from its leading position. According to the famous SEO specialist, Danny Sullivan, the role of search engines is to redirect towards the best information even though not present in-house.
And What About My SEO?
With this new feature, Google makes search more social, and therefore more personalized.
Is SEO dead? As every major update on Google search, not it isn't, it will just evolve. Previously to this announcement, Google decided to turn on secure search for signed-in users, affecting many search queries.
If you aren't familiar with Google+, I'd recommend you to read why your should create a Google+ page.
What do you think about new Google social search feature? Are you excited about it? Do you fear it? Please share your thoughts in the comments below.
A study released in September 2011 and led by True Action Network shows Click-Through-Rates (CTR) for every ranking position of Google's Search Engine Results Page (SERP).
From an SEO point of view, what do we learn? 1st ranking position (what I call pole position) isn't as attractive as before!
Everyone agrees to say that having your website ranked on the 1st page of Google search results is extremely important as it gives you visibility, as well as drives traffic to your website.
However, the 1st ranking position is less important today than a few years ago according to the study. Indeed, the 1st ranking position CTR has decreased since 2006 and actually benefited to the 4 following positions.
The study was based on Google Webmaster Tools data from major e-commerce players which are also True Action Network’s clients.
The data enabled the company to compute the number of times when a search result is clicked compared to the number of times it is displayed (CTR), and then compared to AOL data dating back to 2006.
The sum of all CTRs reached 52.5% in 2011 (vs. 49% in 2006) meaning that over 1 out 2 Internet user clicks on organic results on the 1st search results page. 13% click on ads, and the remaining on other links such as Google Images, Videos, Shopping, etc.
|Position||CTR (AOL, 2006)||CTR (TAN, 2011)||Growth|
The 1st ranking position attracts less Internet users than before: less than 1 out of 6 in 2011 vs. nearly 1 out of 4 in 2006.
On the contrary, CTRs of search results ranked between 2nd and 5th positions dramatically improved (over 50%).
What does it mean for your SEO?
Findings of the study should help you understand that SEO isn't about the 1st position only. There are great chances that working to rank several keywords on positions 2, 3, 4, and 5 is more effective than focusing on getting the pole position only.
Related article: CTR comparison between Google and Bing.