By now, you would have read about Google's move to redirect all traffic from Google China to Google Hong Kong.
There's been a lot of political discussion about the move and how the Chinese Government will react (EG: Will they block access to Google Hong Kong? Will it set in motion an even bigger social media site blocking spree? etc). There are many questions that remain unanswered, but in the meantime, what does this mean for search engine marketers?
Here are 3 tips to consider over the coming weeks.
1. Monitor Your Performance Closely
First and foremost, if you are doing search engine marketing in China, make sure you watch your paid performance closely over the coming weeks. Consider your strategy and budget splits between the engines you are using (Baidu and Google being the major players), and be prepared to tweak your approach the moment you start seeing anything strange happening.
2. Keep an Eye on Baidu Costs and Performance
With Google's move, competition on Baidu is likely to increase:
i. More PPC Ads
Baidu recently updated their user interface to up the number of page advertisers from two/three ads, to six; an early indication of Baidu taking advantage of the move. With double the on-page competition, you may start to see a decline in Click-Thru Rates and Clicks, and an increase in Cost Per Click (CPC); meaning less bang for your buck.
ii. More Advertisers Switching or Moving Budget
Another implication is that more advertisers may start flocking over to Baidu as part of a preemptive move, potentially driving CPCs even higher.
So if you haven't already, start paying attention to how you can organically optimize your pages for Baidu.
3. Look out for an Emerging Entrant
Baidu has always been the Number 1 search engine in China, but now that its main competitor is gone (sort of), who will emerge to replace them? Will it be one of the smaller local engines, like Sogou or Youdao? Or perhaps, a larger engine that is yet to step foot on Chinese soil? Bing would definitely be a likely contender on these shores in an attempt to take market share.
Watch this space. The coming weeks will be an interesting one.