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Google may be the default search engine in the West, but usage looks different around the world. In particular, the most popular search engines in Asia vary widely depending on the nation.
Let’s first explore the general market share. As of September 2021, Google has 91% of the market share across APAC, followed by Baidu at 3.5% and Yahoo! at 1.5%1. However, this does not give us the full picture, as usage varies country to country.
Let’s zoom in and take a closer look at the top search engines among the APAC countries with the most active internet users: China, India, Indonesia, the Philippines, Thailand, Japan, Taiwan, and South Korea.
China’s search engine market share is likely the most different compared to Western nations like the UK or US, where Google is by far the most popular. In China, however, Google does not even come close to the top by market share as it is banned across the nation.
As of September 2021, the top search engines are Baidu (82.47%), Sogou (7.64%), Bing (3.45%), Haosou (2.26%). Google comes in 5th place, with just 2.14% of market share2.
Baidu has about 222 million daily active users, making it the most popular search engine in China. Most of its audience is Chinese, with a small percentage of users coming from Japan and the US. Second up is Sogou, which holds only about 7% of the market share. It is strong in voice-activated searches, processing up to 802 million voice requests a day from its mobile app.
Haosou’s market share has been falling for some years, but is recommended by many companies due to its cybersecurity features, making it a great channel for B2B marketing. Its parent company is Qihoo 360, one of the largest antivirus companies in China.
On mobile, Alibaba-owned Shenma is popular, coming in second after Baidu with 2.19% of the mobile market share. Not just a search engine, it also functions as an ecommerce site and app store.
The market share across India, Indonesia, Thailand, and the Philippines has quite a bit of crossover.
In India, Google takes up 98.8% of the market share, followed by Bing with 0.88% and Yahoo! with 0.24%. It’s a similar story in Indonesia, Thailand, and the Philippines. Google has over 97% of the market share in Indonesia, over 98% in Thailand, and over 95% in the Philippines. Both Yahoo! and Bing have less than 1% of the market share in Indonesia and Thailand. They do a bit better in the Philippines, where Bing has 2.74% and Yahoo! has 1.66% of the market share.
Bing, owned by Microsoft, has the same basic SEO best practices as Google. Although the overall SEO strategy will remain the same across the two platforms, there are some key differences to note. For example, Bing focuses more on precise keywords (rather than contextual keywords), prioritises websites with multimedia (e.g. photos and videos), and rewards websites with a strong social media presence.
In terms of paid advertising, although they function similarly, the features of Bing ads are unique to Google’s. Bing has different targeting filters, different demographics, and its ads appear higher on the search results (due to fewer users). It also has a lower CPC than Google. ReportGarden found that the average CPC for Bing was $7.99 whereas Google’s was $20.08. Thus, your ROI may be higher if you choose to advertise on Bing over Google.
While Google is still the most dominant search engine in Japan, the market share looks a little different from the other countries on this list.
As of September 2021, the search engine market share in Japan is split 75% for Google, 20% for Yahoo! Japan, and 4% for Bing. However, like Bing, Yahoo! Japan’s search algorithm is similar to Google’s so you do not need to learn two different SEO strategies in order to succeed on either platform.
It is important to note here that Yahoo Inc. is not the same as Yahoo! Japan. Yahoo! JAPAN is a SoftBank subsidiary that successfully localised and integrated its services into the Japanese market. With over 100 services, ranging from Yahoo! JAPAN News, Yahoo! JAPAN Shopping to Paypay, most Japanese internet users interact with a Yahoo! JAPAN service every day3.
Regarding PPC ads across Yahoo! Japan and Google, the features and uses differ across the two platforms so it is best to familiarise yourself with both and compare. Please read our article on Google vs Yahoo! Japan ads to learn more.
As of August 2021, Google takes 94% of the market share in Taiwan. Yahoo! and Bing trail behind with 4.75% and 1.17% of the share respectively. Baidu also has a small piece of the pie, with 0.02% of the market share.
When creating SEO/SEM campaigns targeting Taiwan, Google should be the priority. However, it may be worth also doing some marketing on Yahoo! or Bing as well depending on your goals.
It should also be noted that although Taiwanese people speak Mandarin Chinese, they use traditional Chinese characters as opposed to the simplified Chinese used in much of China. They also use different vocabulary and dialect, thus the two markets should be treated differently when crafting marketing campaigns.
While Google is still the most popular search engine in South Korea, with over 70% of the market share as of October 2021, Naver comes in second with over 15% of the market share. Both Bing and Daum have just under 2% of the market share.
Let’s explore Naver and Daum, as these are unique to the South Korean market.
First, Naver’s search engine results page (SERP) looks very different from Google’s. It is split into different sections, such as Knowledge iN (Q&A section), blogs, websites, news, advertisements, and more. Fully optimised websites have the opportunity to appear in multiple places within the different sections. Ultimately, the SERP changes depending on the query. It sometimes includes a Cafe, videos, or books section, but the layout will change depending on each search.
Naver also has its own payment system, Naver Pay, as well as a search advertising platform, Naver Ad. Their advertising platform has different languages and location targeting, character limits, match types, placements, ad extensions, bid suggestions, and keyword tools than Google Ads.
Given Naver’s strong hold on the South Korean market, it is important to adopt your SEO/SEM strategy for Naver when developing marketing campaigns for South Korea.
Daum is owned by Kakao Group, the company behind South Korea’s popular messaging app Kakaotalk. It offers similar services to Naver. Their ad platforms also have similar features, with some variation when it comes to character count limitations and ad extensions.
As the data shows, Google is still the dominant search engine across most markets, with China being the exception. Thus, it’s important to familiarise yourself with Google’s algorithm and search ads strategy if you wish to perform well on the platform. It may also be a good idea to advertise or optimise your content for other search engines such as Bing, Baidu, Yahoo!, and Naver, depending on the market you are targeting.
No matter which search engine you choose to focus on, however, it is important to ensure that you localise your PPC ads and website appropriately. Proper localisation can lead to increased trust with your audience and online conversions.
In addition to this article, we have other resources related to search such as How to Improve your CTR for Yahoo! Japan and How to Set your PPC Advertising Budget to Maximise Results.
Our team of bilingual PPC experts at DMFA have experience supporting hundreds of overseas businesses successfully advertise on Yahoo! JAPAN. Contact us for information and see how we can help you.
3Source: Yahoo! JAPAN Media Sheet (March 2020)
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