Baidu is China’s leading search engine. It’s similar to Google in the United States and holds a very dominant position in Chinese markets because of the lack of competing search engines.

The Chinese government places strict controls on other search engines in the country, restricting how companies like Google and Microsoft operate there. As a result, Baidu is the leading search engine for people inside China and Chinese-speaking people worldwide.

Baidu handles billions of search queries each month through its website and partner sites. Founded in 2000, it quickly rose to prominence in China, closely mirroring Google’s user experience and algorithm results.

It controls about three-quarters of China’s search market. It also provides a range of services in the cloud, self-driving vehicle technology, and other technology services. However, similar to Google, Baidu makes most of its money through search and targeted ads.

Companies in the U.S. and other places outside China are increasingly learning how to use Baidu to reach Chinese consumers and businesses. Here’s what you need to know about Baidu and how it works.

The Baidu Search Basics

If you visit, you’ll find a basic search engine site with a prominent search bar and a list of hot topics beneath.

Once you enter search terms, the engine populates lists of websites, pictures, videos, documents, maps, and other information.

Users can limit searches to simplified or traditional Chinese characters or search to include all languages. Of course, focusing your searches by language will give users more targeted results that center on Chinese markets.

Baidu for English Users

English speakers can use Baidu with little difficulty, but typically, the search results on Baidu have some Chinese characters mixed in.

This can feel daunting, but software tools and plugins are available to make using foreign search engines easier. A good example of this is the Google Chrome translator extension, which gives you real-time translation on websites in almost any language. Enable the extension, and Google will give you fairly good translations of search results, settings, and other information on Baidu.

Baidu – More Than a Search Engine

Baidu’s search tools drive its roughly US$70 billion business. However, the company also invests in other software applications.

For example, Baidu offers users antivirus software, TV streaming services, news feeds, and more. In addition, you can shop on Baidu and check the weather wherever you are.

Advertisers who want to focus on Chinese-speaking consumers can use their DU ad platform to place pay-per-click ads and other ads on the search engine. One benefit of Baidu is that advertisers can pay more to improve the placement of their ads relative to competitors.

The company also has aspirations to be more than simply a search engine service provider. The company invests a great deal in artificial intelligence, making products in everything from cars to cameras.

It’s also a major investor in China’s major ride-sharing company, Didi, and operates a popular e-commerce platform in the country. In addition, many software and technology companies in China, including Baidu and Tencent, the owner of WeChat, build all-in-one software services and applications that include payment apps, games, social networks, and more.

Companies Can Expand International Reach with Baidu

Google only represents a small fraction of searches in Chinese markets. Some Chinese internet users have VPNs, but the dominance of Baidu for its language settings and cultural slant on search intent draw local users as no other search engine has.

The main thing people should know is that starting with advertising on Baidu takes time. According to some estimates, it can take months to get going as an online business in China. In addition, if you’re marketing U.S. goods into the Chinese market or trying to dropship to Chinese consumers, you’ll have to navigate the local business regulations, etc.