China has its own popular search engine known as Baidu, which was founded by Robin Li and Eric Xu in 2000. The search engine allows users to find websites, audio files, recent news, maps as well as images. It also offers other unique features such as discussion forums, an encyclopedia as well as a legal search platform. As of November 11th, 2011, Alexa ranked Baidu as the fifth most used site in the world behind FaceBook, Google, YouTube, and Yahoo.
Headquartered in the Haidan District of Beijing, Baidu lends its search services not only to China, but to Japan, Egypt, Thailand and India. Of Baidu’s 13,000 employees, over 5,000 people work at its headquarters in Beijing; the company also has a cafeteria that accommodates over 1,200 people.
Robin Li, whose father and mother were both factory workers in Shanxii, studied at Peking University and the University of Buffalo before returning to China to found Baidu. He now has a net worth of 10.2 billion, making him the second wealthiest man in China. The name Baidu literally means” hundreds of times” and refers to a Xin Qiji’s Song Dynasty poem, in which a man searches again and again for a beautiful woman.
Baidu earns money through a pay for placement platform. Companies that want to place higher in Baidu’s search results bid for top position when key words are searched for by users. Baidu also has pay per click ads in which companies market their products on their websites and only pay Baidu when the advertisements are clicked on by internet users. Baidu offers performance reports and keyword suggestions to site owners in order to increase their click through rates and increase the amount of visitors to their site.
The company was listed on the NASDAQ exchange at a price of $25 per share and became the first Chinese company to make the NASDAQ 100 index in 2007. It is currently priced at $107 per share as of January 2013. It has a beta of 1.87, an Earning per Share of 4.42 and a PE ratio of 24.35. In 2009, the company earned revenue equaling 500 million dollars. In 2012, the company pulled in 2.9 billion dollars and continues to accelerate its revenue growth.
Baidu has increased its market share in China because of Google’s withdraw from China. Google withdrew from Mainland China because of conflicts with the Chinese government over censorship. Baidu has long complied with any requests to censor websites and material that invokes the wrath of the Communist Party. As of January 2010, Baidu had a 63% market share of the online search industry in China with an approximate 500 million users. As of 2013, Baidu’s market share has been estimated around 73%.
In terms of Search Engine Optimization, Baidu differs from Google in assessing importance to key factors that help pages achieve high results in their respective search engines. Google places more importance on the quality of backlinks and Baidu places more importance on the number of backlinks. For example, if you had links to 5 sites with 6,000 unique visitors per day, Google would value this more than if you had links to 5 sites with 100 unique visitors per day. Baidu would value both situations the same in their algorithm. Meta descriptions, Meta keywords and alt tags have more importance in Baidu’s search than in Google.