China Social Media | WeChat includes external search results pages. Chinese social networks

WeChat has included external sources in in-app search results pages (SERP)

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25 abril, 2017

 WeChat becoming a threat to Baidu in mobile search? Chinese social networks

Chinese social networks WeChat has included external sources in in-app search results pages (SERP) while it previously only searches chats, WeChat Moments, and Official Accounts. Some users start to see a “news” section in the WeChat SERP which includes external news sources.

The search box is on top of WeChat main user interfaces (Chats; Contacts; Discover); I conducted a search for “Jay Chou”, a very famous Taiwanese celebrity, and saw the following results:

china social media

WeChat groups search results in sections (left): emoji, WeChat Moments, music (songs shared in WeChat Moments in the last 30 days), and related articles (center). The related articles have now included external sources other than official accounts articles such as the one on the right of the screen capture.

Most are articles from Official Accounts; there are two external sources, Zhihu and Sogou Baike. Tencent merged its search engine from Soso with Sogou in 2013 and funded the Q&A platform Zhihu.

Currently, not all users see external sources or the new “news” section in the search results on WeChat. Even one can see that section with one keyword, not all search terms can trigger the display of the news section. This feature seems still under testing.

WeChat- Chinese social networks opens external web pages directly; and, in most cases, the loading speed and user experience are not as good as those from Official Accounts. If Tencent is to include external sources to WeChat search, it could benefit by adopting a similar approach as Facebook’s Instant Articles, Google’s AMP, or Baidu’s MIP.

Tencent reported 889 million monthly active (MAU) users on WeChat in Q4 2016, which makes WeChat potentially a serious player and a challenger to Baidu in China’s mobile search market.

Baidu has 78% market share by total revenues in China’s search engine market in 2016. This market will grow from 76.1 billion yuan (US$11.05 bn) to 113.4 billion yuan (US$16.47 bn) in 2019. A huge MAU doesn’t necessarily equal to a good deal of search volumes.

Can WeChat as Chinese social networks seriously challenge Baidu’s mobile search? Not in the near future because of  the quality of the mobile search algorithm and experiences are not something Tencent can easily beat.




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