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Last month we looked at 2013’s UK edition of Google’s Zeitgeist which always proves an interesting overview of the most popular trends in our search behaviour over the year.

But as China gears up to celebrate the start of its new year, let’s turn to Baidu to see how search habits in the east might compare.

These stats and trends, as well as a wealth of Christmas ecommerce data can be found in the latest edition of our Internet Statistics Compendium.

Globally, Baidu is the second biggest search engine with around 19% of market share after Google. In China, it accounts for more than 63% of the market – that’s more than 200m unique users.

So what were these 200m+ users looking for in 2013? According to China Internet Watch, fantasy literature has really dominated the engine over the year:

Top 10 search keywords on Baidu during 2013 

1. Weather

2. Taobao

3. Wu Dong Qian Kun

4. The Tang Door

5. Mang Huang Ji

6. Zhe Tian

7. Double Chromosphere

8. Baidu

9. Da Zhu Zai

10. Qzone

Five out of Baidu’s top 10 search terms during 2013 (‘Wu Dong Qian Kun,’ ‘The Tang Door,’ ‘Mang Huang Ji,’ ‘Zhe Tian’ and ‘Da Zhu Zai’) are all related to literature. In fact, they are all online novels which can be read at sites such as Qidian.com. 

Massive online names, Taobao (ecommerce) and Qzone (social media) also feature in the Top 10. But it is ‘weather’ which grabs the number one spot, due in no small part to smog problems in areas such as Shanghai and Beijing – sometimes lasting over a week and affecting millions of people.

In fact, climatic worries were at the forefront of the minds of searchers across channels and devices, with Taobao reporting in December that ‘hazy weather’ was the biggest keyphrase they were seeing across their site in 2013. ‘Weather,’ additionally, was the top term searched for from Chinese mobiles. 

Top 10 mobile search keywords on Baidu during 2013 

  1. Weather
  2. Train Ticket
  3. Lottery
  4. Gold Price
  5. Constellation
  6. Translation
  7. Oneiromancy
  8. Express Delivery
  9. Traffic Violation
  10. Check Time

Baidu sees 130m people use the service from mobile devices every day. While the weather was clearly a subject many Chinese citizens wanted a handle on throughout 2013, the chance of winning the lottery also saw big search activity.

‘Lottery’ ranked as the third highest term in mobile searches while also proving big on desktop devices where users are searching for lottery name: ‘Double Chromosphere.’

Alongside the popularity of Taobao on desktop, ‘Express Delivery’ also reflected the growth in Chinese online retail during 2013 – with many consumers keen to track their express delivery orders on their mobile devices.

One key difference between popular Baidu search terms and those on Google UK is that Chinese consumers often look for things which are inherently linked to digital or online culture such as online books, social media and ecommerce sites.

This contrasts with the celebrities and events we see in the top trending Google UK list, i.e. Nelson Mandela and the Grand National.

A complex set of reasons will be causing these search differences between China and the UK. Aside from the variations between cultural and social habits, the differing ways Google and Baidu choose to present content and the lengths at which the government are able to control certain content will be affecting what users look for and what they find.

For more information check out our Baidu Search Best Practice Guide and our China: Digital Marketing Landscape Report. And, of course, these stats and trends, as well as a wealth of Christmas ecommerce data can be found in the latest edition of our Internet Statistics Compendium.

Luke Richards

Published 21 January, 2014 by Luke Richards

Luke Richards is a freelance writer and a guest blogger on Econsultancy. You can follow him on Twitter or check out his blog

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