Search Engine Fraud: Baidu Results Unreliable?

There’s an ongoing discussion that Baidu is a search engine that simply dominates China because of its popularity and closer association with Chinese culture and not because of the quality of its results.

As Baidu diversifies its business by mulling over instant messaging services and expanding its core search offerings to Japan, it has yet to improve its search algorithm capabilities. Many SEOs are making it difficult to figure out a deeper understanding on how to make online presence more visible; I provided a list of basic things to do to optimize for Baidu search engine.

Just because it’s a Chinese search engine does not mean it’s the best fit for Chinese users, especially those who want better quality results. In the middle of last year, CCTV criticized Baidu’s search engine results as too commercial; the basis of ranking is money and not the quality of page nor the quality of citations/links pointing to that page. As long as you have the money, you get the top ranking even if your site defrauds consumers who naturally click on your top listings.

In a recent news program, CCTV cited a game player surnamed Han who said he contacted a website that ranked at the top of Baidu’s search engine to buy some game coins. He paid RMB600 for the coins, but was not given any reply from the seller and realized he was cheated by that website.

The trustworthiness of natural search results is far higher than those in paid search results. But Baidu’s layout allows paid search listings to mix with organic results. A sample search for “hong kong” yields a few paid listings in the supposed organic search results section. (look for the attached “推广” character that means “promotion” in English). While one can argue that it is a little act of deceit, it will be assumed that someone who uses it will understand the Chinese language as most results are displayed in Simplified Chinese characters.

Baidu claims to know China better but is it because it had its foothold first, not to mention its Chinese ties? I just hope quality of results in Baidu search engine will be improved.