The third and fourth largest search engines in China have joined forces to attempt to improve their standings in the large Chinese search market.  The deal, which is quite similar to the arrangement between Microsoft and Yahoo, will help these two search engines remain relevant in the market.  Sohu’s Sogou search engine, which gets 8.9% of the Chinese searches is teaming up with Tencent’s Soso search engine, which pulls in just 3.5% of the total market.

The deal will help these two companies stay competitive with the second largest provider of search, Qihoo, which is currently getting 15% of the country’s search traffic.  Qihoo is a newcomer to the search market, launching in the third quarter of 2012, but has been growing rapidly.  None of these companies have been able to effectively compete with Baidu, the country’s largest provider of search results.  Baidu provides 69% of all searches in China.  The American based Google is the fifth largest search engine, bringing in only 2.1% of all searches.

The two companies arranged a deal worth nearly $450 million where they combine assets and cross-promote the web properties.  Whether or not this will be an effective way to regain some of their lost market share has yet to be seen.  According to the Wall Street Journal, Tencent is buying a 36.5% share of Sogou.  Many expect that in addition to the combined search power, Tencent is making this move to attempt to prevent Qihoo from making a similar deal, which would help to solidify them as the second most popular search engine in China.

In today’s global market, marketers from around the world will need to take note of these types of arrangements.  Companies from around the world target the huge Chinese market for a variety of different products and services, and it is absolutely essential to understand the search engine layout in the country.  It is significantly different than most other areas of the world, and with higher levels of government involvement, things can change quite quickly.

Does your online search strategies include any SEO for Chinese search engines?  If so, what type of impact do you think this will have on your business?

What's your opinion?