Search engine marketing is one of the most important marketing channels to gain brand awareness in China due to China’s internet population exceeding 800 million users and 70% of online shoppers researching products online before buying. In this world, Baidu rests unchallenged, but does it mean other Chinese search engines are not worth a look? Well, today, we are looking at the Sogou search engine which, is quietly making a name for itself as a top search engine in China. In this post, we’ll take a look at what makes Sogou unique and how it stacks up against its main counterpart Baidu. We’ll also discuss some tips on optimizing your website for Sogou’s search engine. Are you ready to get started? Let’s go!
More about the Chinese Search Engine Sogou
- Monthly Active Users: 506 million
- Market share in mobile search in China: 18.5%
- Market share of PC input software: 98.5%
- Market share of mobile input software: 70.9%
It is estimated that Sogou, which has over 400 million users daily and has quickly developed the necessary tools and partnerships to win the interests of locals and international. It has a great deal of market potential for brand exposure.
Sogou, which means “searching dog” in English, is a Chinese search engine launched in 2004 and belongs to internet company Sohu, Inc. Currently, it is the second-largest search engine in China after Baidu, which is currently the largest.
Sogou Rank index and SERP layout are two key features of its unique algorithm. Furthermore, the company is backed by Tencent, which is the fourth-largest internet company worldwide by revenue and is the default search engine for Tencent’s QQ mobile browser, giving it direct access to millions of active users.
The only search engine in the world that integrates social content from QQ and WeChat into its search results is Sogou; the other search engines don’t offer these contents. Because of its social media tools, Sogou has a unique opportunity to attract locals adept at using social media and provide a plethora of search results. Additionally, Sogou is also used by all QQ browsers.
The Sogou platform leverages their most popular Chinese input software, Sougou Pinyin, to allow brands to add widgets that can show product images and links where users can type in a brand’s name, increasing direct visibility for brands.
Sogou on WeChat Search
Having been the first search engine able to index WeChat content, Sogou had pioneered the WeChat search concept. Using data and technology from WeChat search and the Sogou division, Sogou is capable of operating on a wide range of levels. Moreover, Sogou can also take advantage of WeChat’s data to create a more efficient search engine.
Due to its large user base of over 900 million daily active users, WeChat can collect information about consumers including their shopping history, spending habits, and even account balances. It is possible to learn a great deal about people’s tastes and preferences by looking at the types of content they consume on WeChat and other accounts they follow.
Sogou has the unique opportunity to tailor results to specific users within a geographical area and time frame of their choice by having access to this wealth of data. In terms of innovation and reach, Sogou can somewhat compete with Baidu in its own niche market.
Find out more about Chinese engines: Qihoo360 Search Engine: an alternative to Baidu?
Sogou SEO Best Practices
Although Sogou has its own algorithm, best Baidu practices also apply to Sogou. Here is a reminder of those SEO strategies for China:
- When optimizing for Sogou SEO, keep in mind that the algorithm places a high value on the authority of a website and its original content as set forth by its own “SogouRank” index. Therefore, any action that builds authority for your site, such as caching, using tags correctly, compressions, building high-quality links, providing excellent content, and improving the user experience.
- Furthermore, Sogou, which is a Chinese search engine, prefers websites that have content written in simplified Chinese. In these cases, you may be able to boost your Sogou ranking by creating a Chinese-language website. The trust of Chinese users will also increase if the domain includes a local suffix such as .com, .cn, or .cn.
- In addition, a high number of backlinks is very important for the optimization of Sogou. There is a clear tendency for more links to be found on Baidu than on Google. The quality of backlinks to your site should always be at the top of the list, but currently, Sogou doesn’t seem to care much about this.
- Finally, the Sogou title tag plays an important role when it comes to on-site SEO. This part of the SEO algorithm is a major factor for Sogou. Sogou doesn’t seem to place much importance on meta descriptions at this point (at least not yet).
In summary, ranking high on Sogou is easier as this search engine doesn’t put as much emphasis on advertising and affiliate pages as other search engines (aka Baidu) and it also indexes articles published via WeChat & Zhihu. In bonus: The effort you put into your Baidu SEO effort will pay off on Sogou as well so take advantage of this sweet collab Sogou has going on rather than on how to rank a keyword on the search engine.
Paid Advertising on Sogou
Just like Baidu Sogou offers its own paid ads service which similar features and ads formats:
- Search ads: are displayed on top of SERP results and linked to keyword bidding
- Brand zone: zone dedicated to a brand at the top of search results
- Sogou Pinyin – PC & Mobile input banner ads: ads linked to Sogou keyboard. When users type Keywords related to a brand they get a banner by the brand.
Other Sogou Products
- The Sogou Pinyin input editor is popular for typing Chinese characters and words. There are over 300 million users and the penetration rate is over 80%.
- Featuring dual-core techniques similar to Chrome and Microsoft Edge, the Sogou Browser is fast and easy to use.
- Chinese and English voice translations are available from Sogou Voice Recognition Technology. Right now, Sogou is China’s biggest search engine for voice searches.
GPS-enabled smartwatches that Sogou sold more than a million of in China.
Chinese Search Engine Landscape
You are no doubt familiar with the fact that Baidu dominates the Chinese SEO market with a market share of +80%. Sogou currently holds just above 5% of the market for the second largest search engine when combining desktop and mobile but fairs slightly better when it comes to mobile search.
A quick reminder as to why your brand needs a good SEO strategy in China: A huge percentage of Chinese consumers rely on search engines to help them make buying decisions. In fact, a recent study found that 78% of Chinese consumers use search engines when making purchase decisions online.
That means if your business doesn’t have a good SEO strategy in China, you’re missing out on a huge chunk of the potential consumer base. And not only that, but you’re also likely losing out on sales to competitors who do have strong SEO strategies in China. So if you want to stay ahead of the competition and reach the massive Chinese consumer market, it’s essential to have an SEO strategy that makes sense. If you are confused about this, check out our China SEO solutions.
The Difference Between Baidu and Sogou
Baidu was launched in 2000, and today Baidu is the most popular search engine in China. The company offers dozens of products, including image search, book search, maps, mobile search, and much more.
Furthermore, the search engine results pages (SERPs) are heavily biased toward their products and platforms. By enhancing its SERPs, Baidu enhances the user experience and is directly impacted by a domain credibility system that displays the degree of trust Baidu has for a domain.
With the release of Sogou Pinyin, a popular Chinese input software in China, Sogou gained popularity in the Chinese market. This application allows users to type Chinese characters with their keyboard’s Roman characters. Users can type a brand name into the customized widgets on Sogou so brands can display images and hyperlinks with product information.
Brands can take advantage of this feature to achieve direct visibility, giving Sogou a competitive advantage over Baidu in terms of innovation and its stake in Chinese search in the future. Furthermore, WeChat Search content is exclusively provided by it with strong support from Tencent. In addition to partnering with Zhihu (a popular question-and-answer site) and Bing to add more content search results, Sogou has also partnered with WeChat for a compelling experience.
How Sogou could be the next big thing?
In an attempt to build the next-generation search engine, Sogou recently announced that it would focus on artificial intelligence and natural language processing. Their goal is to be a pioneer in artificial intelligence. As a result of the large number of companies investing in artificial intelligence, such as Google, Bing, and Baidu, Sogou could be highly disadvantaged because of its small size.
Sogou, however, is the only search engine that has access to WeChat’s public messages, which are an enormous source of information that will prove invaluable for natural language processing. It also plans to utilize natural language search, which is encouraged by digital assistance and the popularity of voice search, rather than rely on traditional keyword-based searches to answer questions.
Our Conclusion on the Sogou Search Engine:
The real strength of Sogou is not its position of Baidu challengers but in how it differs from Baidu and how it can bring something different to both its users and marketer. The main difference between Baidu and Sogou is Sogou partnership with Tencent and Zhihu. The idea is absolutely not for brands to abandon Baidu to the profit of Sogou, but to use Sogou as an additional channel that will go poke places Baidu can’t such as the incredible mass of content being published on WeChat.