What is Baidu? 6 Facts To Understand China’s Top Search Engine

You probably think you know Baidu. But there is so much more than being the top search engine in China about Baidu.

Baidu controls China’s search engine market with billions of daily searches. And Baidu is larger than just a search engine—it’s a massive Chinese tech company specializing in internet-related services and products. Plus, it’s also developing fast in the artificial intelligence (AI) space. As a matter of fact, Baidu has become one of the world’s largest internet and AI companies. 


As the most popular search engine in China by far, Baidu is simply a platform you can’t keep away from if you want to enter or succeed in the Chinese market. Often referred to as the “Chinese Google,” Baidu stands as the 4th most visited site globally. Nevertheless, it is critical to understand that Baidu has many different functions compared to Google. For international brands, it’s essential to comprehend Baidu and its ecosystem. In today’s blog post, we are going to cover: 

  • What is Baidu? 
  • Must know about Baidu 
  • What’s unique about China’s search market? 
  • 6 facts you can’t miss about Baidu 

Must know about Baidu 

On the global stage, Google dominates the SEO headlines. But this is not the case in China. 

Baidu, not Google, takes up most of the search engine market in China. Billions of searches each month are conducted on Baidu. And across the world, Baidu has more than 1.1 billion users as of 2020. Being China’s top search engine, the majority of the searches are done in Mandarin. But this doesn’t mean that you can’t use it in English. Here is our guide for you to know how to use Baidu in English

Source: Statcounter GlobalStats

After seeing the data above, Baidu SEM is a must for international brands! And you need to start today! Here is a video to quickly introduce you to Baidu SEM on AdChina.io—A tool for English speakers.

Introducing Baidu SEM on AdChina.io [A tool for English speakers]

“In China, 84.3% of internet searches are done on Baidu. Google accounts for just 2.5% of the search engine market. It’s a must for international brands to understand Baidu when it comes to the China market.”

by Julia Zheng, Project Manager at AdChina.io 

Baidu has many interesting facts you can’t miss

If you are located outside of China, Baidu is that search engine very likely doesn’t appear in your search engine choice. And it has an ecosystem of its own. However, it’s still being used outside of China. In reality, Baidu is in no rush to take more share of what Google has claimed already.

 A lot of people must be wondering why? Well, we’re talking about China here! To keep things real, within Mainland China, most people don’t use Google, Whatsapp, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or Youtube. Still, there are equivalents distinguished but similar to their western counterparts.

In China, Baidu replaces Google, Youku replaces YouTube, WeChat replaces Facebook, Whatsapp, and many other Apps combined. Weibo replaces Twitter, and Xiahongshu replaces Instagram. And the list goes on. 

Image credit: YIVA DIGITAL

What’s unique about China’s search market? 

There’s just no competition in China when it comes to Baidu vs. Google. Internet users in China can only access Google via a VPN, leaving Baidu to dominate the search engine scene. That’s why ranking well on Baidu is a big deal for both Chinese and international brands. Other than Baidu, local giants like Sogou, Shenma, 360 Search, and even WeChat search constantly battle for user loyalty and market share.

In China, local platforms have developed to suit the uniqueness of the Chinese language, culture, and search intent. Localizing content for Chinese platforms is critical to connecting with Chinese users—knowing and actioning upon how and why they search will get you found. One of our previous articles: All you need to know about search engine marketing in China—more than just Baidu will help you get a grip in China’s search market. 

In the past two decades, Baidu has gone through ups and downs, acquisitions, and growth. Here are 6 facts that make Baidu what it is today that you must understand.

I. Baidu’s development and its funding from Silicon Valley

Baidu (百度), meaning “hundred times,” was founded in 2000. In 1999, its founder Robin Li moved back to China to launch Baidu. Baidu has its origins in RankDex. It was an earlier search engine developed by Robin Li in 1996. In 2001, Baidu started the service for advertisers to bid for ad space and then pay Baidu every time a user clicked on an ad. It predated Google’s approach to advertising. Although Baidu is the top search engine in China, it has a strong link with Silicon Valley and its funding. Robin Li and Eric Xu raised $1.2 million in the seed funding round from Integrity Partners and Peninsula Capital – both Silicon Valley venture capital firms. Later on, the company had grown big enough to secure another round of funding from a pair of venture capital firms (Draper Fisher Jurvetson and IDG Technology Venture) which invested $10 million in Baidu.

II. Baidu’s ecosystem has over 57 Apps & services

Suppose you think Baidu is just a search engine. In that case, you need to start to understand that Baidu is an ecosystem of various products and services. Baidu offers a vast choice of products and services over its well-known search engine, such as Baidu Baike, a semi-regulated Chinese-language collaborative online encyclopedia. You can understand it as the Chinese equivalent of Wikipedia. Also, a mapping service called Baidu Maps and a video platform called iQiyi. It also has over 57 search and community services, such as Baidu Wangpan (a cloud storage service similar to Google Cloud), Baidu Tieba (a keyword-based discussion forum), Duer, etc. 

Baidu’s ecosystem of products and services. Image credit: Mydrivers.com

III. Baidu ad space is not like Google’s

Suppose you’re under the impression that Baidu’s ad buying process is the same as Google’s. In fact, Baidu functions very differently. It may take you a few months to get established as a business online in China. It involves the provision of documents such as a business license and other ID proofs. You will also have to be fluent in Chinese because the entire application process is in the Chinese language. And, you need to know that Baidu’s original advertising platform is only available in the Chinese language, making it almost impossible for international marketers to use. Through AdChina.io, there is a crucial function to auto-translate English keywords to Chinese keywords. And this allows international brands to advertise in the China market with ease. 

Focus on content in Mandarin

It’s vital for international brands to keep in mind that Baidu is not like Google—it works only with Mandarin content. To be exact, English keywords won’t rank on Baidu. So, this is why it’s essential to adapt your website and content in Mandarin to rank on Baidu. 

IV. Baidu SEO is not so straightforward

Baidu is a very complex platform. Because it has adapted to the complex Chinese online environment. Therefore, it’s difficult for international marketers to navigate. Needless to say that Baidu SEO isn’t as straightforward as Google’s. Baidu uses some of its own sites to be placed at the top of search results, culminating in around twenty percent of Baidu traffic being redirected to one of its subsidiary sites, such as Baidu Zhidao or Baidu News. This presents challenges for brands to obtain top ranking in terms of SEO. On Baidu, brands will need a large number of keywords and backlinks to have a strong SEO presence. We have prepared some useful tips for ranking highly on Baidu.

V. Baidu App surpassed monthly active users of 580 million 

In 2021, Baidu reported that the number of monthly users logged in to its app had surpassed 580 million. And, it’s essential to know that people in China are always connected to the internet. As of 2021, China has over 989 million internet users.

VI. Baidu is more than just a search engine

Baidu is more than just a search engine. Much more! In fact, the company has a travel booking service and a smartphone operating system. Furthermore, Baidu’s services also include an eCommerce platform, games, patent searches, a social network, government information search, and an encyclopedia. Also, Baidu owns a small number of shares in Didi, which is now China’s answer to Uber. It sells bikes and builds driverless cars too.

Image credit: Forbes

On top of these, Baidu launched AI-powered cameras that can spot ocular fundus. Hospitals began using Baidu’s cameras to run eye screenings on patients in 2019. The AI technology can generate a screening report in a matter of seconds.

Image credit: weste.net

AdChina.io is your partner of choice to succeed in the China market

AdChina.io is an all-in-one tool that allows you to advertise through an English-language platform you can easily use. It’s time to get rid of complex interfaces and work towards seamless search engine campaigns in China.  

And, advertising on Baidu is not as hard as it seems. We’ve spent years building the perfect platform that takes out the hassle from running ads in China. Create your free AdChina.io account, and put your Chinese search engine strategy in safe hands. 

AdChina.io has helped hundreds of brands reach the China market. To see how AdChina.io can help you get started with advertising on top channels hassle-free create a free account today.

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