Baidu, China’s homegrown and dominant search engine, delivers users results to their search queries based largely on the context and the semantic inferences that can be drawn from the keywords and keyword phrases used. This semantic search functionality has been a part of Baidu’s offering for some time and it now is the main driver in the search engine’s “box computing” approach that they have put forward. This approach looks to directly address the type of information that searchers are looking for by breaking information into three categories (content, data, and applications) using the semantic mechanism in the algo to determine which is most relevant.

All of search is going this semantic direction, using semantic inference and context to judge what exactly searchers are looking for. It appears that this more efficient mode of search is the way of the future, never going back to the narrow and literal keyword searching. Search engine optimization professionals have spent time adjusting to this new kind of search offering services to create content both on and off-site to naturally display keywords and their related terms and phrases. It is important to point out Baidu’s apparent jumpstart on semantic search and their “box computing” as Google has recently pushed forward with similar initiatives. Google has prioritized semantic search for several months now and their new “knowledge graph” feature that delivers relevant data results and related media about the specific elements within search queries.

But back to Baidu’s “box computing” which gathers information based on the inferred intent of the search query and privileges data, content, or applications in the search results. With data, for example, if someone is searching “weather” while in Shanghai, current weather and forecasts for the city will come up in search results. If the city itself is searched, then data about the city as well as travel information will result along with data provided by travel platform Qunar, which Baidu has acquired, according to Search Engine Watch.

Essentially, those queries that look for data will return relevant data. The searchers that are looking for content, like “home design” or an artist, will return content in the form of various media that suites the query. Lastly, applications have been built into the results, so searches will result with built-in apps or other searches for specific apps will return downloadable options to play or use the app. For quality SEOs, it is finding the right balance of information to supply for businesses to get the searchers the information they want in relation to the business and products they are looking for.

Stiff Competition
Google has been trying to break further into the Chinese market for some time with limited success. Baidu holds the dominant position by far at over 75% search market share and looks to be staying firmly put in that position. Google will try and ramp up its presence in the country as Baidu looks to expand into others, taking their search offerings, that they feel are superior, and offering them in new contexts. Further competition between the two giants  in new markets for search will surely result.

Also, the Baidu – I2R Research Centre (BIRC) is an investment in developing technological language resources for Southeast Asian languages that will only improve Baidu’s ability to deliver quality results in their most immediate neighboring markets. Further, mobile will be a new battle ground for Baidu and Google. Baidu has just released a new smartphone to compete against the iPhone and Google’s Android phones, and they are rolling out features similar to each with their own stamp on them. We may be starting to see the beginning of a rising Baidu outside of their Chinese and search markets both expanding into new countries and sectors (mobile). We shall wait and see.