Saturday, November 26, 2005

Baidu is better than Google in Chinese Search

2005 Quality Comparison of Worldwide Chinese Search Engines

According to industry estimate, the worldwide search market will grow rapidly at 35% annual rate for the next four years. The total scale of the market will reach $7 billion in 2007. In the next three years, Chinese search market will grow even faster at 60 -70% a year. In 2004, Chinese search market reached 880 million yuan and will reach 2.4 billion yuan in 2006. Currently, the search engines have leaped from simple IT technologis into a search economy. It could become the next profit generator after the value-added wireless services and the online gaming services in the internet sector. For that reason, the quality of search engines have also reached historical height.

In September 2005, the IT Usability Lab in Qinghua University(the top university in China) had finished another comparison research on overall quality of Chinese search engines. They have included following leading search engines in the study:

Google, 一搜(Yisou, from Yahoo.China), 百度(Baidu), 中搜(Zhongsou), 爱问 (iAsk, from Sina), 搜狗(Sogou, from Sohu).

Qulity of a search engine is determined by the quality of the resulted web pages. To find a related web pages is the foundation of a search engine. The quality standards are based on relevancy, coverage, dead-link rate, fraud rate, and Chinese phrasing.


Relevancy of a search engine is the relationship between a user's seach intention and the content of a resulted web page. It is the capability of a search engine to find what a user wants to find. It is mostly connected with the effiency of a search engine and the magnitude of satisfaction of users. A good relevant search engine can save the most precious resources of user time and network usage and thus the most critical measurement of a search engine.

This test used the real search word samples from the log data bank and followed external procedures. The test results then analysed using multiple parameters.

Fig 1. Relevancy data

Result: the data shows, for commonly used keywords, there is no signifcant difference between the six search engines. Google, Baidu, and Zhongsu are in the lead. The time it took for search were all very short also.

Web Page Coverage

Web coverage also called indexed volume which indicate the number of web pages indexed by each search engine. The individual test result is a relative value comparing with all search engines as well as published internet data. To reduce the effect of repetitive results, the calculation used the algorithm to exclude repetitive data both in single calculation and final summary calculations.

Fig 2. Web page coverage(Yellow line is total number, blue line is
number for still pages, and purple line is from active pages)

Result: Google and Baidu led in active pages. In overal number, Google, Baidu, and Zhongsu were better than others.

Dead-link Rate

Dead links are pointing to web pages that no longer exist or unable to reach. It is affected by time, region, as well as network state.

Fig 3. Average dead-link rat(average of three dead-links)

Result: the dead-link rate test is affected by network and server state but less by sample selection. Yisou, Baidu, and Sogou were doing better while iAsk is lagging.

Fraud Rate

Search frauds are from those who use automated or artificial means to inflate their web page rankings form search engine results. Sample method is similar to relevancy test.

Fig4. Fraud rate( blue line is from numbers of front page, purple
line is from numbers of the first three pages)

Results: Zhongsu has the lowest fraud rate followed by Baidu and iAsk. In this category, the lead was significant.

Repetitive Rate

Repetitiveness is an important factor that lowers the quality of resulted web pages. It does not only hurt the user experience but also consume system resources as well as search efficiency. This test was done only for the top three players, Google, Baidu, and Zhongsu. The analysis was done for the first five pages on repetitive rate. Sampling was also similar to relevancy test. Totally 160 samples collected with each page of 10 results. Paid subscribs were excluded.

Fig.5 Repetitive rate of first five pages

Result: Baidu has the lowest repetitive rate. Among all the repetitive data, most are re-posts. Among all the re-posts, news re-posts were dominant.

Chinese Phrasing

Chinese phrasing indicate the process that computer divides the Chinese charaters in a sentense into appropriate phrases. Multiple factors are used in this analysis.

Fig. 6 Chines phrasing compounded analysis

Explanation: Acceptability indicate overall and partial correctness.

Result: Baidu is leading in overall Chinese phrasing followed by Zhongsu and Google.

In the individul tests, names both Chinese and foreign are the most difficult part for search engines. Zhongsu, Baidu and iAsk were doing better. In Chinese local names, iAsk and Baidu score the highest. Overall, domestic search engines have clear advantages in Chinese phrasing.

Summary Tables

Table 1. Overall coverage

Table 2. Overall quality analysis

Table 3. Overall qulity turnover rate

Conclusion: Domestic search engines have advanced significantly. The have clearly improved search qualities especially from Baidu and Zhongsu. In many categories they have surpassed Google. Baidu has passed Google to lead in the overall analysis. Domestic search engines are doing better in areas of relevancy, coverage, anti-fraud, and Chinese phrasing. The lead in Chinese pharsing is significant.

Translated by Huatong (Chinese link:

Saturday, November 19, 2005

Internet indispensable for young Chinese

BEIJING, Nov. 20 (Xinhuanet) -- Getting up, turning on the computer, cleaning his face, brushing teeth, logging on to MSN and QQ (on-line chatting tools). These are steps 20-year-old Xiao Lin follows every morning.

"I can't imagine a life without the Internet," said Lin, a junior of Southwest University of Finance and Economics of China.

A recent survey, conducted by the Social Survey Center of China Youth Daily, shows that the Internet has become something indispensable in the daily lives of Chinese urban residents, particularly the younger ones.

Some 19 percent of the 4,032 respondents said the Internet "can take the place of everything."

The Internet has flourished in China since 1995, when the first Internet cafe appeared in Beijing. China now has the second largest number of Internet users in the world.

Statistics from China Internet Network Information Center (CNNIC) show that by July this year the total number of Internet users in China reached 103 million.

In a recent report on the influence of the Internet on China, Guo Liang, an associate researcher at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, observes that there is great difference in the usage of the Internet between China and western countries.

Guo, a renowned expert in the comparative study of the Internet,says in his report: "The Internet functions mainly as an 'information expressway' in western countries. People there use Internet mostly to search for information and to send or receive emails."

"But the Chinese people use it (the Internet) mainly for entertainment. That might explain why some Chinese people think itcan take the place of everything."

Guo published his report on Internet usage and influence in five cities July this year. The report shows that entertainment-related functions are frequently used, only after reading news and browsing.

About 62.2 percent of the Chinese netizens often play games online, 56.5 percent often download music and 53.5 percent download entertainment information from the Internet, according to Guo's report.

A university student in Beijing also described that he was totally lost during those days when the Internet failed in his university. "I was going crazy," he recalled.

And when the network was restored, he and many of his schoolmates stayed up all night to play Warcraft, a popular on-line game. He admitted that he might be "addicted" to the Internet.

Like the university boy, 90 percent of the Chinese young people play on-line games frequently, according to Guo's report.

Guo defines Internet addiction as the strong reliance on the Internet which can lead to various psychological problems if one is denied access to the Internet for a long time.

Guo said that personal character might be the main reason for Internet addiction, though there are other factors like age, gender and education.

"Internet addiction is very complex. It can only be discussed by taking personal character into consideration," Guo explained.

Research shows that jumpy and passive people are most likely to rely heavily on the Internet. On the contrary, people won't rely on the Internet if they are just and self-reserved.

"It won't work by criticizing young people for getting addicted to the Internet. The key is to help them know the real benefits ofthe Internet, such as the convenient search for useful information,which are more important than the functions of games and chatting," Guo said.

According to Guo's analysis, entertainment will remain the main function of the Internet for the Chinese people. "This won't change as new netizens are emerging every year. They will be attracted by its entertainment content in the first several years of their on-line experience."

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Supergirl on board, Baidu explores new MP3

Recently, what the net users in China care the most is the IP dispute surrounding the MP3 search. Last couple of days, we are seeing some lights. Yesterday, we have found out Baidu has reached agreement with TR Music company(The largest music labeling company in China) which just signed up Supergirl winner Yuchun Li. TR Music becomes the first music company that has publicly joined Baidu's music alliance. It signals a big crack in the united battlefront of music companies against Baidu's MP3 search service. After agreement with HURRAY and TR Music, Baidu's new MP3 search model is finally came out on stage from behind the curtain.

(A separate Chinese report quoted Baidu sources that over twenty companies have signed up music alliance with Baidu)

Music companies create content, service providers collect payment

Yesterday, we tried to reach Baidu's vice-president Dong Liang for comment but was politely declined. However, we have found from reliable sources inside the companies that though the details are to be carved out, one thing is certain, TR Music's contents including Supergirl winner, Yuchun Li, all the artist under TR Music and all the records owned by TR Music will be available on Baidu. At the same time, Baidu will provide all the services including bulletin board(, Baidu's hall of fame, image search and the recently announced "Baidu Knows" and will integrate them into "Baidu Music Alliance" platform to promote TR Music's artists and their music products.

TR Music is also the first music company that openly joined Baidu's alliance. One high level excutive from a music company who wished to remain annonymous told us that, combining the contents from the music companies, Baidu's free search that attracts music lovers, and a payment system through wireless service providers, a clear line of businesses is taking shape.

Peng Xu from Chengdu Economic Daily

Baidu Zhidao

Baidu has formally rolled out a new service called, also known as "Baidu Knows"
CEO Robin Li at the news conference
News Conference held at Beijing Lechen International Club

Nov. 8, 2005, the world's largest Chinese search engine Baidu formally announced it's new generation of search product "Baidu Knows" at Beijing Lechen International Club.

After four months of public testing, the service will appear at the front page of Baidu. The rollout of this new product instantly solved the problem of past search services that solely dependent on looking for existing sources on the internet. It will become a platform for Chinese to discover and resolve common problems and questions among Chinese and an interactive platfrom for Chinese to share intelligence.

Baidu's CEO Robin Li indicated that "Baidu Knows" could dig into the huge hidden knowledge among the internet users and make them available. It will empower a content user to a potential content creator. Through the interaction between users and the search engine, it will create a cohesive community.

He also indicated that, Baidu could consider to charge users so that a paid user's question will get prioritized.

Industry analysts have high regard to this kind of interactive platform. As the maturation of this technology, it will be possible to collet the whole knowledge of mankind through a search engine.


Friday, November 04, 2005

Robin Li: How to deal with profitability at growing stage

Jointly sponsored by Institute of Industrial Economy from Chinese Academy of Social Sciences and China Business magazine, Annual Forum of Business Competitiveness 2005 opened in Beijing on November 4. Baidu's Robin Li gave a speech at the meeting.
Li: Hello, everyone. I'm happy to have this opportunity to talk to you. Today's topics are very interesting. I'd like to share with you some of my thoughts on Baidu's financial situation and products. A few days ago, Baidu reported it's third quarter earnings. It's the first quarter after Baidu's IPO as well as our first quarterly report after IPO.

Our report was the top headline in Yahoo's Business section which tells that the investment world pays great attention to us. We had issued a projection at our Q2 reporting that predicted revenue growth of 11% to 16% over second quarter. When we reported Q3 earnings, our actual growth reached more than 28% quarter over quarter or over 30% in dollar terms. Inside Baidu, we were very excited about this growth which was far better than we had anticipated. However, Wallstreet had very high expectations before we reported earnings and investors pushed our stocks much higher the day before our reporting. It has since fallen back. I looked at all the media reports that said net income was not as good as expected. Per share earning of 3 cents fell short of the 4 cents expected by US estimates. It reflected in the stock's performance later. Through this case, I would like to talk about how to treat profitability during a company's development stage.

Inside Baidu, our development strategy is to focus on cultivate and educate the market instead of short term earnings. We have been pursue this for many years and we have communicated with investors on this during our road show for IPO. I think we made it quite clear. Earlier in our development, Baidu started search service for the internet end users on Sept. 20, 2001. At the same time, we started bidded ranking services. At the begining, the majority of businesses in China did not understand the commercial model. They did not know how this model can promote businesses' products and services. So we needed to educate a market. The early adopters are those who understood internet better. They were actually not large enterprises but some like online flower shops. We often heard our customers told us that they spent several yuan to gain a new customer and if the customer makes a purchase, they could earns dozens of yuan. Initially, Baidu made very small amount of money on each deal. As the whole company, not to mention about making a profit, we lost money and we lost big money. After the market matured, we increased our starting bid price from about 1.2 cents to 3.5 cents, our customers' enthusiasm increased rather than lowered. In the just passed quarter, more than 12,000 active customers joined Baidu's bidded ranking service. It is our largest quarterly new customer gain. The process boosted our confidence. The market in China needed our cultivation. There are only 50,000 to 60,000 businesses are using bidded ranking service. It is a small portion. If we can help more businesses to know that it is a very good promotion method for their services, they will accept it and be willing to join us. The total profit will gradually expand. This has been our thinking during our many years of operations.

In the nearly six years of Baidu's existance, China's internet industry had six years of dramatic up and downs. Initially, there was the internet bubble, then many business models developed. Portals were very hot early on. Many web companies built portals, but Baidu did not. Later, short messaging expanded. Not only portals made money on short messaging, many other service providers also made much money on short messaging but Baidu did not. Baidu did not chase these fast money businesses. Again, the online gaming appeared and that created several great companies. Online gaming is also a big money maker, but Baidu still not participated. We persistently focused on cultivate our own market, that is the search engine or bidded ranking service market. We think as time goes, more and more will know that it is the best model for promoting their products and services. That is why we always making effort towards this direction. We relentlessly cultivate the market and educate our customers at the same time we improve our search engine technologies. Every year, we hold road shows in about 20 cities nationwide. We tell the local businesses what is bidded ranking service and why it is the best way to promote products and services. We tell them how to analyze the result. Many times, they spend money other ways and have no way to know the results. When they come to Baidu, we can direct them to see how we can bring customers to their web sites through clickthroughs and what they do after entering the web sites. They can see how many inquiry phone calls it can bring and how many orders it can bring. A customer has a life cycle. After the first order, you can expect the second or even the third. So the capability of bringing in new customers is very important for a business's development. Especially at today's low margin environment, how can you survive and grow bigger? Perhaps you cannot make much money from every single customer, but you can make much more when you reach a certain scale.

I just talked to several people. Many of the businesses that are making money actually are low margin business. They have very large market and large scale of customers and they are making more and more money. Personally, I think bidded ranking service is exactly for attracting customers. It creates the economy of scale for businesses and products.

Thank you!