Baidu Heads To Brazil
Not long ago China’s number one search engine launched a Portuguese version of its site and set up shop in Brazil. Perhaps not the most obvious move for a Chinese language search engine, Baidu’s expansion into Brazil may seem like an odd choice – but it could turn out to be a cunning move by the search provider.
Baidu is the dominant search engine in China, but this doesn’t put it anywhere near the likes of Google and Bing. However fresh competition from another Chinese search engine has forced Baidu to think bigger in order to maintain its place as the top provider in its own country and make an impact overseas.
Should you care about Baidu?
We should all be cheering on the smaller guys in the search industry, because there is an unhealthy lack of competition for Google. Baidu is actually a perfect example of this, having been the number one search engine in China for so long. Only now that it faces competition from so.com has it taken action to improve its services and expand overseas.
Baidu’s search algorithm is similar to what you expect from any search engine – ranking web pages on relevance to search queries, using on-page and off-page factors. However, the quality of its results are years behind Google and the Chinese engine is still highly vulnerable to keyword stuffing and low-quality links.
Until now Baidu hasn’t had much reason to improve its services, having been the established name in search in China – without competition. It has taken the fear of losing pole position to inspire change at Baidu and this is the same motivation we need Google to have if we can expect to see improved search for users and marketers alike.
Can Baidu make its mark on the search industry?
Right now you would have to say Baidu is light years behind the likes of Google and Bing – and it will take more than an expansion into Brazil to change that. However, there are good signs that the search provider is looking to make strides and improve its services quickly.
Baidu has hired Andrew Ng, the man behind Google’s deep learning project that powers photosearch on Google+ and Android’s voice recognition. It’s a major coup that suggests the Chinese search provider is serious about catching up to the big names in global search and it could attract other key players to the project.
One to watch
Baidu’s move into Brazil will be interesting to see and the Chinese tech firm has already announced plans for Thai and Arabic versions. So Baidu clearly has a global agenda here and success in Brazil could be the turning point.
Unsurprisingly, Brazil is dominated by Google – with 98% of the market share – however, the country still has a low internet penetration rate, with just 46% of its population online. So Baidu’s marketing strategy may not have anything to do with converting Google users, but getting there first when it comes to new users.