Things looked good for Baidu when Google moved off the mainland because of its disagreement with the Chinese government over censorship. While Baidu owns the market in Chinese-language searches (83 percent), it has been trying for years to improve its English-language search capability without much luck. Chinese searchers prefer Google despite the hassles of government censorship. Baidu’s new partnership with Bing brings the promise of improving its English-language search results. The partnership also brings opportunities for marketers.
Baidu gets about 10 million English searches daily. However, the index was created using the Chinese language, so English searches yield very poor results. That’s why Google still gets most of the English searches out of China. These searches are largely B2B and educational research queries.
Will the partnership with Bing improve the quality of Baidu’s English queries? The details of the partnership are still being implemented, so this may not become fully known until later in the year.
Bing, which has a 2 percent market share in China, now has a perfect opportunity increase its international search growth. Launching a search engine in China would be hampered with government red tape, not to mention the time it takes to become fully entrenched, so the partnership with Baidu is like a gift for Bing.
At present, the parties are only discussing Bing powering some of Baidu’s English organic results. However, there could be some big revenue opportunities for marketers as suggested by the example below.
If you go to Baidu.com and search for “Gucci handbags,” you’ll see Baidu’s ads and listings; however, if you scroll down the page, you’ll then see three indented listings with a “provided by Bing message” over them (arrow).
If you click on the Bing logo (arrow), you’ll be redirected to Bing’s search results for the same query, as shown below.
As you can see, a company can maximize their search campaign ROI for their English keywords by getting three paid search links at the top of Bing. Right now, it looks like the Baidu-Bing relationship provides this winning situation in its current state. There could also be more advantages for marketers if the parties agree on some kind of social media and paid search integration.
In closing, search experts in China believe that Bing is not actually replacing Baidu’s existing English listings, it is enhancing them, which makes a big difference. It remains to be seen how things will play out. The full partnership details won’t be completely worked out until the end of the year, and things may change between now and then.