I, like many those who see internet as a part of their lives, have a strong feeling about Google; whether it is because the importance of the Google in realm of SEO or it is due to the various services Google provided brought to me countless convenience. However, like the rest of us in China, we all know that the No. 1 Search Engine in China is not Google; ask common people in China what they use for searching on internet, you get the most answers are: Baidu. So, what Google should do to gain the top spot?
I think Google’s sole purpose is to get into every average Chinese people’s heart. And to do this, I think there are two vital important facets: the marketing and the idea. I think Google is not preferred in China, at most part, it is because the Failure Of Marketing, and very often the un-compatible on some ideas among Google and Chinese people are constrain the efficiency of the Google’s marketing strategy. Google comes from the very, so called Free America; and China right now is a transitional or emerging society, many traditional ideas are not valid or dead and many new ideas are not been absorbed by our own culture yet. No wonder that many Google activities seem strange to most common Chinese person, for example, some “criticism” on some aspect of our government.
The April issue of “Programmer”, one of the China’s most professional IT magazines, published an article on how Google should do to win over Baidu by the CEO of the blogcn.com, Mr. Xingdong, Fang. I have no idea whether the article reflects just his own opinion or not, but the ideas in this article are solely my own.
Here is what I think Google should do to win over Baidu:
- Support open source movement.
One of the great history of Google is supporting and prompting open source movement. I love open source technology. But to the average Chinese people, most of them are not familiar with this open source concept. Microsoft dominate the desktop PC market is one thing (after all, linux does seem just for the geeks), but Windows servers and ASP.net also dominate web server and web application markets is another. We all know that Apache is the most used web server on the internet, and PHP is more and more favorable by webmasters. And the new brave technology, Ruby on Rails will also soon come into the main stream. For as much as I know, Google is the first successfully used the AJAX technology in its Gmail and perfect it in Google Map, right now AJAX is an essential part of the so called Web 2.0!
This is why I think Google should continue support open source software, maybe need do more in China. Open source is free and legal. And free is good for most of Chinese for the country has many people who are still not that rich. So, Google can reach out average Chinese person by prompting open source and free technology, especially those web technology.
- Support and prompt Web Standard among Chinese web designers, web site owners and online business owners.
What the situation of the Web Standard in China? For my own experience (I am not visit Chinese websites often, so be told that the situation may not as bad as I think), it is awful! It is so seldom that you can see a Chinese web site is full validate its (x)html, css and rss by the W3C standard; not to mention the accessibility; many training institutions have no idea what is DOM scripting and semantic (x)html. The big players on China’s internet give the bad images: sohu, sina and other big web sites are just recently make their website cross platform, and I don’t know if this because they actually made the improvements or this because the firefox browser improved(such as more intelligently switch between standard and quirk render model). The Tencent, China’s biggest IM service provider, don’t even let you visit the user’s QQ space full functionly if you use firefox browser. Their home pages are too cluttered and filled with ads, some of them are cost your CPU resource up to 100%.
What Google can do on this I think is to encourage web sites owners to use web standard technology. For example, to those web sites well applied with W3C web standard, give more credit on the organic search result; and punish those web sites which have bad (x)html source code and accessibilities. Anyone who run online business must consider the SEO, and anyone who want a good page ranking can’t afford be punished by Google! So, by doing this, Google can educate many China internet users as well as can help us have a more convenient internet environment.
- Prompting Google’s own services in China.
Google Site Map, Google Analytics, Gmail, Doc & Spreadsheets, Google Notebook, Google Photo Album, Google Page Creator, Google Calendar … How many Google’s these service you are using right now? For most Chinese, I believe even the names of some services are not got into their view yet. But Google’s services are very good and better than most other commercial products out there, besides they are all free! I don’t think Google should just work on the core Search Engine to keep and get new users, with all this state-at-art service, Google should prompt them to more Chinese users, thus improve the image of the “Google” brand in Chinese people’s mind.
- Change the Google’s Chinese name!
This is a strange phenomena that it seems everybody knew the Google’s Chinese name sucks (perhaps except the inner staff in Google China?) but nobody seems has the true power to change it. Maybe, the Google is just too hard to find another better one; or Google intent to use this name just for the marketing sake, because, the pronunciation of the Chinese “Gu Ge” for “谷歌” is very similar with the English pronunciation “Googul” for “Google”. I don’t think that Google has a good understanding on this Chinese word, “谷歌”, because this word is mean Village or Valley song (according Chinese mainstream media CCTV-9). In china, village or valley area are often the under-development area in rural China, and many poor and not well educated people are in the rural China. You can safely assume that there are still many of the Chinese farmers in China rural area probably don’t even know what a computer like. So no wonder so many Chinese Google users upset with this name, as there is a website particularly to state this issue: http://www.noguge.com/.
However, there are just so many suggestions to the Google Chinese name; I think pretty much every Chinese person can come up with their own Google Chinese name, and no one has earned the most Chinese fellows supporting.
Here, I also came up my own Google Chinese name. I think why Google use the Chinese name : “咕咕”（a Chinese word that stimulates the sound of Pigeons）? Why not? Yahoo is also such a word, “Yahoo!” . Besides, the Pigeon is a bird deliver information. Also this word has similar pronunciation on the “Googul”. I think it really makes sense, what do you think?
- Trying “Don’t be evil” also in China.
“Don’t unreasonably criticize our government”? Well, how should we measure which is reasonable which is not reasonable? I think on this aspect, Google will still face many difficulties. It is just the situation it is! However, I don’t want Google change too much from its core “don’t be evil” spirit, because “government” is a “necessary evil”. Today, every culture need time and good will to adapt the new Globalization era which has a strong Americanized face. But I think what Google can do is to do more communication with Chinese Scholars, this way, let Chinese People feel that it is themselves discuss their own state matters, and so Google could be as a platform monitoring China Society.
- Improving Google core services, Adsense and Adwords.
I admit that the E-commerce development in China still faces many challenges on policies and regulations issues, but this is why Google would do a lot in this area by keep optimizing its Core revenue marketing mode, that is Adsense and Adwords service in China. Many small to middle business owners in China right now are knowing that they have to put a web site on the web, but they have no idea of what SEO is. And if they are considering to list they sites for a fee, most of them do this by buy or bidding for keywords on Baidu service or other Chinese local advertisement posting services, such as clickeye.cn.
But Baidu is not for everyone, there are some minimum requirement which not average Chinese person can meet; and other Chinese internet advertisement services providers are not very mature, most of them are copying the revenue generate model from overseas companies. Google right now has a certain market share in Chinese online advertisers but not very much. I think the online advertise market in China is still in its earlier stage, and there is not already a market winner. After the first beta release its PPA (Pay Per Action) service in U.S.A, Google may consider put its new PPA service in China as soon as possible. Google will be and should be an important and special force in shaping and developing China E-commercial business.
- Rethink or make up a whole new marketing strategy in China.
Just recently, Google release its new Google Pinyin product. However, it turns out that Google “steals” certain technology of a China big internet service provider, sohu. After many Chinese internet users complain on may online forums, blogs and other online communities, Google has officially apologized to sohu regarding this situation!
I can’t believe it. After this, the image of Google sure will be further downsize in many people mind, and whose image is not that big at the first place. “How in the world Google will be such stupid?”, this is what I thought after read the news. I have read the book, “The Search”, and know that, in Google, Larry Page, Sergey Brin, and Eric Schmidt have more authorities than the their counterpart in Yahoo. So this is a mistake of Larry Page? Sergey Brin? or Eric Schmidt? Or maybe this is a mistake of Google China top executives? I just can’t think of how could this happen. I really think that Google don’t need be copy others’ method or technology, because it has enough good services and products, also have ability to innovate new things.
I always think Google should come up a product or service that works just like a Chinese dictionary, an intellectual electronic dictionary (maybe even can be integrated in their Search Engine interface). Because I always feel this is too awkward to look up a certain Chinese Character in a dictionary; and I found there is no efficient electronic Chinese dictionary out there, and probably they are not free. When you input an English search keyword(s) into the Google search box, if there some spell error in the word or phrase, on the search result page, Google will give you a message says “Do you mean …’. I wonder, why Google can’t implement this on Chinese? —— Anyway, my point is that Google should come up its uniqueness and should not make this kind of mistake again.
Google may also think expand its market channel in China and use more common language in introducing their technologies. Because the majority of Chinese people are still not very good at computers, and Google’s services are somewhat seem geeky to them. TV are still dominate most Chinese people’s life, so Google may consider prompt their services on Chinese television.
This article just lay out the main points of my own on what Google can do in China, and I really hope more and more Chinese will take Google into their internet lives.