Baidu, regardless of its pros and cons, continues to prove to be important for Westerners, especially SEO Westerners. As Chris Bell says in his post on Didit, “as demographics shift immigrants will increasingly bring their searching habits with them.” Chris also shares a 2011 study that found that “80% of English language searches in Baidu are directed back to Bing. Being that 5% of all searches on Baidu are in English, and being that China has 513 million Internet uses, even a small slice of this business is important to Bing.”
It’s clear that Google and Baidu are more closely-intertwined than we thought. It’s fair to say that they have somewhat of an effect on each other, perhaps. As marketers or connoisseurs, it’s vital we keep up-to-date with the latest news about the biggest players in the industry. As the future of humanity looks to be more multi-cultured, and as China becomes more open and accessible to the wider world, it’s important to be clued-up about the world’s second biggest search engine.
The Guy Behind Baidu
Robin Li, born Li Yanhong, was an only-child to two factory workers. He grew up in Yang Quan during China’s Cultural Revolution and was later be admitted into Beijing University where he studies computer science. After the pro-democracy demonstrations in Tiananmen Square in 1989 shut down the campus, he later attended graduate school at the State University of New York at Buffalo.
He earned his master’s degree in 1994 and secured his first job at IDD – a subsidiary of Dow Jones) where he built and developed software for the Wall Street Journal. In 1996, still working for IDD, he created RankDex – his first basic site-scoring algorithm. Interestingly, this was around the same time Larry Page and Sergey Brin were developting BackRub, which would later become Google.
Li joined Infoseek – a search engine company as a software engineer following his time at IDD. In 1999 he was invited back to Chine to celebrate the communist regime’s 50th anniversary. Li, and his friend Eric Wu saw an opportunity to tap into China’s growing internet industry.
Baidu Was Silicon Valley-funded
Li and Wu founded Baidu in early 2000 and quickly raised $1.2 million in seed money from Integrity Partners and Peninsula Capital – both Silicon Valley venture capital firms. The partners returned to China and launched Baidu in a hotel that overlooked Beijing University.
By September 2000, another pair of venture capital firms, Draper Fisher Jurvetson and IDG Technology Venture, invested $10 million in Baidu.
The company initially offered “search services to other Chinese portals”, although the company wan’st profitable. It relaunched as an independent site in 2001.
Li told Forbes in 2009 “I wanted to continue to improve the search experience, but the portals didn’t want to pay for it.”
Baidu offered AdSpaced before Google
When the company relaunched as a search engine in 2001, it allowed advertisers to bid on space for adverts on their pages before Google was making money for AdWords. By 2004, Baidu was making a profit on this.
Baidu Went Public in 2005
Baidu went Public on August 5, 2005, and opened at $27 a share. It later closed at $122 – for a staggering 354% increase – becoming the largest opening on Nasdaq since 2000.
The Wealthiest Man in China is Behind Baidu
In December 2013 Bloomberg announced that Robin Li had surpassed Wang Jianlian as the wealthiest man in China with an estimated net worth of $12.231 billion.
China Internet Watch reported in July 2014 that Baidu had total revenues of $1.932 billion for the second quarter of 2014 – a 58.5% jump from the same period in 2013.
The most searched-for content on Baidu
Baidu issued a report in 2013 which detailed the most search-for content: film & TV (14,40%), commodity supply & demand (10.89%), education (9.10%), game (7.80%) and travel (4.20%).
Baidu’s most popular keywords
Another report issued by Baidu detailed the ten most popular Chinese keywords in 2013. They were weather, taobao, Wu Dong Qian Kun, The Tang Door, Mang Huang Ji, Zhe Tian, Double Chromosphere, Baidu, Da Zhu Zai and qzone.
Baidu’s Global Rank
According to Alexa, Baidu is the top ranked site in China. It’s also the fifth most popular site in the world.
Baidu’s incredible super computer cluster
In September 2014 it was reported by Bloomberg that Baidu were “building the world’s largest and most powerful computer cluster to improve image recognition as online queries move away from text.”
With over “100 billion digitally simulated neural connections,” this cluster will be 100 times more powerful than Google’s 2012 project “Google Brain.”
The project is being designed in Silicon Valley, but will be constructed in Beijing and is expected to be released in early 2015.