Google vs. Baidu in an eye-tracking test

Google China seems to beat China's leading search engine, Baidu, in a usability test. Sinobyte's own unscientific test confirms much more rigorous research.

I'd meant to note this earlier, but SEO Hong Kong posted a summary of some findings when Chinese Internet users were tested comparing China's leading search engine, Baidu, with the newer Google.cn.

In a test conducted with Chinese subjects, eye scanning on Google.cn was more focused in the upper left hand corner compared to Baidu despite the fact that both search engines have nearly identical page layouts. Baidu users also scrolled down the page more than the Google users, but clicked on less sponsored listings--less than 1 percent compared to 3 percent for Google. ...

On Baidu, less than 45 percent of all clicks took place in the first 3 organic listings. This was much less focused than Google.cn where over 70 percent of all clicks took place on the top 2 organic results alone. Baidu pages also had significantly longer reading times--an average of 55 seconds--compared to 30 seconds on Google.cn.

The blog says the test was conducted by Enquiro. This result would seem to suggest that Google, like when it's compared to other English search engines such as Yahoo, seems to get users to what they want more quickly. I'd caution, however, that there may be a complication in that the test subjects may have been more familiar with the Baidu layout and were thus more interested in culling more information from familiar locations on the page. Both sites have exceedingly clean front pages.

Google/Sinobyte

I thought I'd give the two a comparative whirl with a simple search for something a Chinese user wouldn't necessarily need to search for: what is the exact date of the Spring Festival/Chinese New Year in the Gregorian calendar. The result? Google wins, giving me the date, as well as an icon indicating this is the coming year of the rat. It also links to a board for Spring Festival greetings...

Baidu/Sinobyte

Baidu also links to its festival page, which gives us a history of the holiday, but it's significantly harder to find the most simple fact you might be looking for: the exact date. On the other hand, Baidu's page gives you a nice history (translated) of the holiday.

Google is also rumored to be experimenting with a more, say, cluttered home page for the Chinese market, along the lines of the leading Chinese search engine Sohu.com. I'd love to see comparisons of user experience including Sohu's Yahoo-esque portal. Yahoo itself, so far, is something of an also-ran, with a live beta online. Why it advertises that it's a beta and doesn't just launch with continual improvements the way Google has is beyond me.

About the author

    Formerly a journalist and consultant in Beijing, Graham Webster is a graduate student studying East Asia at Harvard University. At Sinobyte, he follows the effects of technology on Chinese politics, the environment, and global affairs. He is a member of the CNET Blog Network, and is not an employee of CNET. Disclosure.

     

    Join the discussion

    Conversation powered by Livefyre

    Show Comments Hide Comments
    Latest Galleries from CNET
    Tech industry's high-flying 2014
    Uber's tumultuous ups and downs in 2014 (pictures)
    The best and worst quotes of 2014 (pictures)
    A roomy range from LG (pictures)
    This plain GE range has all of the essentials (pictures)
    Sony's 'Interview' heard 'round the world (pictures)