Chinese search giant Baidu appears to be going the way of Google, breaking out of the search engine mould into a number of new ventures, including the development of a driverless car.

In the final quarter of 2015, Baidu reported a healthy profit of $3.8 billion, with recent growth being partly due to greater use of mobile for search, according to some sources.

Some of Baidu’s non-core businesses are losing money however, and the company has a number of plans to diversify its range of products and services. Baidu also aims to split non-core activities from its main functions of search and advertisements, and to sell off some the businesses that are running at a loss.

Baidu’s new ventures may have the effect of seriously boosting the brand and generating new streams of income for the company, and also of building its reputation as more than just a search engine or tech business.
New ideas and a fresh vision for Baidu
Baidu’s plans include:

• Finance:
A move into direct banking and online insurance products, which includes a partnership with Allianz and Hillhouse Capital insurance companies. Some commentators consider that with so many mobile users on Baidu’s books, it shouldn’t be too difficult for the company to persuade them to trust Baidu for their banking and insurance needs.

• Sell-offs:
Sale of its video business – iQiyo.com – to an external group that has the capacity to develop the business by expanding into movies and video streaming.

• Baidu Maps:
Expansion of Baidu Maps during 2016 from 18 countries and regions in Asia to more than 150 regions worldwide. Like Google Maps, Baidu Maps will include place names as well as the location of restaurants and shopping facilities.

• Driverless cars:
Baidu is actually in the race with Google and Tesla to launch the first commercially-available autonomous self-driving vehicle, and hopes to be able to do so by 2018.

• Partnership with Amazon:
Baidu is partnering with Amazon to be its official search engine for its products in China. This move is compatible with Amazon’s aim to increase its presence in Asia.

• A push into O2O (online to offline):
This refers to transactions that begin in the digital space but are completed in ‘real life’ – such as ordering goods online and picking them up from an outlet.

Why Baidu optimisation is still important
It seems fairly clear that Baidu is keen to be seen as more than China’s search engine company, even though online search remains a core business activity.

Certainly, it remains important for businesses that wish to market products or services to China to develop a Chinese-language website and to have the site optimised for the Baidu search engine.
Contact the specialist China marketing team at Digital Crew if you would like expert assistance in Baidu SEM and SEO.

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