CNET’s lengthy profile of China’s most popular search engine, Baidu.com, is an interesting read for anyone needing to get up to speed on the company.
Baidu has so far managed to keep the top search engine spot in China, despite its search results showing more ads than Google or Yahoo. The secret to its success is its compliance with the Chinese government – which imposes strict censorship rules on foreign internet companies.
Some interesting snippets include:
Baidu has a market value of $3 billion and operates the fourth-most trafficked Web site in the world.
In 1996, founder, Robin Li, developed a search mechanism he called “link analysis,” which involved ranking the popularity of a Web site based on how many other Web sites had linked to it.
…before Google did it, Baidu allowed advertisers to bid for ad space and then pay Baidu every time a customer clicked on an ad.
…some critics attacked Baidu’s zealousness for ad revenues. They noted, for example, that a Baidu search for the word “cancer” turned up ads for hospitals that paid for top spots in results rather than returning information on cancer itself.
…no Internet company in China is growing as fast as Baidu, which had more than 50 percent of the pay-per-click market in the first half of year, up from a 37 percent share in the same period a year ago…Google and Yahoo both lost ground, with each company holding 16 percent pay-per-click shares for the first six months of 2006.
Of course, Baidu’s dominance is not guaranteed. Google surely didn’t sell it’s $5 million stake in the company for $60 million, just to make a paltry $55m profit. Nope, Google likely sold its share so that it would be free to wage a full-on attack!