Although China’s online market is enormous, its search engines are distinctive. This information will help you get started.
The number of internet users in China will surpass one billion in 2021, making it the largest online market in the world. Global enterprises, however, confront a particular set of difficulties as they attempt to establish a presence in this quickly expanding digital economy, including the need to optimize their websites for the country with the largest population.
In contrast to the rest of the globe, where Google is without a doubt king of search engines, in June 2022 it only had 3.56 percent of the Chinese market. Its largest international rival, Bing, performed marginally better, with an 11.47 percent market share.
However, Chinese internet users still require a way to browse the internet for goods and information. What search engines do they use if not those that are widely used elsewhere in the world?
Domestic search engines are naturally created in China for usage.
This article will discuss the top five search engines in the People’s Republic of China (PRC) and offer advice on how to use them to accomplish your objectives, whether you’re trying to break into the Chinese online market or draw in new clients from the east.
The Internet and Censorship in China
Google did not formally enter the Chinese mainland market until 2006, even though it had supported both traditional and simplified Chinese searches since 2000. Just 137 million people in the nation were using the internet at the time.
Four years later, the dominant search engine company left the nation and relocated to Hong Kong to escape Chinese censorship. In reaction, Google search websites in all languages were forbidden in China.
An online explosion in 2009 started it all off. The Chinese Ministry of Industry and Information Technology released the Circular on Computer Pre-Loaded Green Internet Filter Software because of concern about the effects of uncontrolled access to information.
To prevent access to particular websites, including news, streaming, and social media sites, among others, a web filter was needed for all gadgets produced or sold in China. Every year, more websites are added to this list. If you’re concerned that your domain is on the list, you can verify it here.
But inventive and technologically skilled Chinese residents have found a way around the restrictions by using virtual private networks (VPNs) to access blocked websites.
Surprisingly, even though there are many VPNs on the list of websites that are restricted, using one is not prohibited. Although this workaround does exist, it is just not a substantial way to direct traffic from the Asian nation to western websites.
Google to Return to China?
The world’s largest search engine is unlikely to entirely abandon the largest internet market, and there have been signals that it would eventually return.
Hundreds of Google employees signed a letter in 2018 that the New York Times received protesting to working on a covertly being developed censored Chinese version of the search engine.
But only a year later, Google’s vice president of government relations and public policy, Karan Bhatia, revealed in testimony before a Senate judiciary committee that the initiative had been abandoned.
Nevertheless, rumors that the business intends to reenter the Chinese market have not been put to rest. If it does, it will face fierce competition from well-established domestic search engines.
What Search Engines is China Using?
Even though there are cultural variations from nation to nation and occasionally area to region throughout the world, Western businesses frequently have little familiarity with Chinese customs. And it also applies to the used search engines.
Baidu – China’s Answer to Google
Similar to how the verb “to Google” has evolved to mean to look something up online, people in China “Baidu” things. It dominates the PRC search engine market by more than 75% and draws some users from other nations, such as the United States and Japan. In 2000, Baidu was founded with investment from Silicon Valley as a simple site that let businesses compete for advertising space. Since then, it has expanded into a variety of internet-related goods and services in addition to search, artificial intelligence, and other areas.
Sogou – Search-Dog
Sogou, which is roughly translated as “search dog,” was first introduced in 2004 and currently commands a 4.83 percent share of the domestic Chinese search market. It concluded a $3.5 billion deal to become a Tencent subsidiary in September 2021, a technology giant with interests in gaming, social media, and entertainment.
Haosuo – Secure Search
Haosuo, also known as Qihoo 360 Search and s.com is ranked third in the local Chinese search engine industry. It was introduced in 2012 and has since operated under the domain names so.360.cn, so.com, and haosou.com.
It became Haosuo in 2016 and was supported by one of China’s biggest internet service providers, Qihoo 360. An easier-to-use interface and a stronger emphasis on mobile experiences were part of this adjustment.
Shenma – The First Name in Mobile
Shenma, a joint venture between Alibaba, the world’s largest online retailer, and UC Web, claims 1.74% of the Chinese market. One of the most popular online browsers, UC, uses it as its default search engine.
Shenma stands out from the competitors and the majority of search engines because it is only available on mobile devices. Shenma, which bills itself as the “experts in mobile search,” combines a search engine and an app store.
Youdao – The Translation Search Engine
Youdao, a part of the Chinese internet technology corporation NetEase, functions more like a platform for online learning than a conventional search engine. Users can search for websites, photos, news, and possibly most significantly for non-Chinese user’s entries that translate from Chinese to English.