The biggest search engine in the China has been urged by its government to change its search results policies.
This request is the result of multiple cases of abuse which have been ongoing on the search engine. This abuse, unfortunately, led to the death of a young man. This Chinese youngster died from cancer. This could have been a sad but common story if it had stopped there. This patient searched through Baidu to find a remedy for his cancer. He trusted the first results appearing on the Baidu and found a hospital which could cure his cancer. This special treatment had a cost: 200.000RMB. With his savings and the help of his family, he gathered the whole amount to get treatment started.
So he gave 200.000RMB to this hospital he trusted because of its ranking on Baidu. The treatment started but did not succeed. He died in April, shortly after this fiasco.
Chinese netizens betrayed by Baidu
Not long before his death, the patient wrote a post in which he stated he felt betrayed by Baidu. The treatment he paid an arm and a leg for, was totally out-of-date. Even worse, it had been obsolete for a very long time.
From this horrible news, people asked the question, “How, when you search on the most famous search engine in China, can you come up with a hospital offering an archaic treatment in the top results”?
The answer is as simple as tragic: this hospital bought the keywords the patient had been searching for. The scandal is that Baidu was hiding the fact that you can buy keywords without any control on the quality your offer!
The mafia is involved in Baidugate: Beijing reacts!
This astonishing fact prompted an investigation. Here are the frightening facts: 50% of Baidu income comes from hospitals connected closely to Putian, a city in East China… It appears to be a mafia network. This enormous organization literally buys any keyword related to health problems in China. Once these keywords are searched on Baidu, you have a great chance of being led to one of these incompetent hospitals.
This immense scandal has had over 620 million media impressions and has provoked Beijing to react. The Cyberspace Administration of China, the government body that supervises the country’s Internet, said in a statement on its own website that Baidu “cannot rank search results based on the amount of money” the company pays. This comes after a team of investigators led by officials from the Cyberspace Administration were sent to investigate Baidu.
The Cyberspace Administration’s statement said the Baidu’s search algorithm “influenced the patient’s medical choices” and “affected the fairness and objectivity of search results.”
The State Administration for Industry and Commerce will also draft policies for regulating online ads, the statement said.
Baidu urged to strengthen controls on PPC campaigns
The government is considering classifying this as paid online advertising on Baidu’s website.
In the past, Baidu encountered problems with medical issues. Therefore, The Cyberspace Administration of China had to react.
From now on, Baidu will have to increase its control on the companies they do PPC for. This will be a milestone in the PPC campaigns on Baidu. Netizens will need to be more careful when it comes to search engine display ads. It could also mean that PPC will have much less influence on the selection made by searchers. This will also mean that SEO on Baidu will have a higher impact that what it now has. SEO is a natural and reliable way of appearing on Baidu’s search results. With PPC, you pay to appear; SEO takes more time, but it has a much better impact on your audience.
It’s also important for companies to make sure their e-reputation is responsible towards their clients.
This huge scandal has an impact on Netizens and Baidu. Netizens will be more careful about their choices and Baidu search will have to become much more reliable. And we can be sure that the government will mandate that these efforts are done quickly!
SEO agencies based in China will help companies looking to reliability appear at the top of Baidu and other famous search engines in China. Do not hesitate to contact them if need be!
What do you think about the issue with the Chinese search engine Baidu. Are you concerned about your search engine ranking?