Chinese is simply the biggest language in the world - providing that you treat each of its mutually unintelligible varieties as dialects and not languages. In total, there are twice as many speakers as English as a mother tongue language - and it has one of the most ancient character sets. These days Mandarin is considered to be the 'standard' although Chinese has many dialects. The major Chinese dialects - other than Mandarin are:
1.2 billion people speak some form as Chinese as their mother tongue. The Mandarin dialect is spoken by some 960 million people - mainly in China.
Targeting Chinese is very demanding. The character set of the language was developed over 4000 years ago and was one of the world's first written scripts. The simplest way to think of Chinese characters is to see them as representing syllables - although the reality is a little more complex - but the language is NOT pictographic as some people perceive.
Two main Chinese character sets are in use today:
Particular issues for search marketers include dealing with the wide variety of input methods which Chinese speakers use to interact with computers and the web which includes:
The above methods have a direct impact on search marketing - and there are over 15 different methods of input.
Although remaining as the most dominant search engine, Baidu’s popularity has plummeted over the last year, going from 68% to 49% market share. This has been mainly due to users switching to newcomer 360 Search, who now enjoy a significant slice of the Chinese search pie, with 33% market share. Sogou Search and Google China also have some traction, with 6% and 10% market share respectively.
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