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Spotlight falls on Baidu’s search algorithm

Alex Christie

1 December 2008

It doesn't seem that a month goes by without China having to deal with another product scandal, whether it is milk, eggs, toys or in this case medical products. But this latest scandal has strangely brought attention to the search algorithm of China's largest search engine, Baidu.

Baidu.com announced an overhaul plan last Friday, after it was accused of allowing unlicensed medical products suppliers to buy higher rankings in its search engine.

While of course it is terrible that unlicensed medical products are getting foisted on the unaware, I am not 100% sure why Baidu is expected to be the Gatekeeper. For some reasn people aren't in uproar over the dodgy suppliers, but rather that Baidu has appeared to help them. The crux of it apparently being that Baidu employees helped fabricate documents for the unlicensed suppliers.

It has always been a bit of a SEO headache to optimise in Baidu, where the playing field is uneven due to the fact that Baidu includes paid listings in its organic results without indications that they are paid.

China Central Tv apparently reported that "Baidu's algorithm has helped companies making such claims to achieve strong search rankings".

A different comment published in Forbes has Baidu as saying "Search results are not influenced by the bid ranking service".

The good news is that this scandal may have prompted a change to searching in China, according to Baidu's CEO,
Baidu will soon launch a new advertising system called PhonixNest, to
provide a  more transparent service to local internet users.

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