Translating to ‘god horse search’ or ‘sacred horse,’ the Shenma search engine is the platform to watch for digital marketing to Chinese consumers in the next few years. A mobile-online search engine that has skyrocketed to the top for preferences by Chinese mobile users, Shenma should be high on the digital marketing priorities of Western businesses interested in growing a presence in the region.

YIVA Digital examines why the Shenma search engine platform has been so successful against the likes of regional giants such as Baidu and Sogou as well as the businesses that should be utilizing the platform’s unique SERP features.

Taking Hold of the Mobile Online Market

UCWeb alongside major e-commercee commerce corporation Alibaba launched the Shenma search platform in 2014 with the determination to capture the mobile-user market and rival Baidu and Tencent search options.

UCWeb had already established UC Browser with more than 500 million global users and consistently holds 15-20% of the market share for browsers and 20-30% for mobile search. So the joint venture between Alibaba and UCWeb came with the perfect opportunity to capitalize on the success of the UC Browser and introduce a mobile-first search engine focused on e-commercee commerce and search marketing. 

By the end of 2017, Shenma search had already claimed 15% of China’s search engine market share.

Consumers’ Choice

While still new on the scene, Shenma continues to show promise of a strong performance among search engine users, in particular those who use their mobile devices for searching and comparing products online.

In fact, the Shenma search engine has attracted enough attention from mobile users that at the start of 2020, 40.3% of mobile users in China preferred using the platform, lessening the popularity of the largest search engine in China, Baidu.

In terms of mobile search engine users, China’s market currently contains 768 million mobile device search users, and Shenma’s rank as the second-most popular mobile search engine means greater digital marketing opportunities for Western businesses.

Key Features of the Shenma Search Engine for Digital Marketing

Marketed as a mobile search platform specifically for online products such as retail, books, and apps, the Shenma search platform incorporates with the UC Browser to give priority to e-commercee commerce results. Its partnership with Alibaba also means that many listings are geared towards product listings and comparisons found on the site. The rise of Shenma among search users is attributed to its unique blend of both search engine and app store functionality.

When mobile users complete a search on the platform, the majority of the results page is dominated by mobile ads which link to individual product pages. Moreover, Shenma offers advertisers large paid spots for ads on the platform. Most of the focus of these ads is for products and apps over B2B services as the platform puts mobile usage as a high priority.

One of the greatest features of the platform is its large indexed collection of buyer reviews, verifications, and reference data that help Chinese buyers make more informed decisions about their purchases in the SERP. The backing of Alibaba’s cloud search technology has enabled the platform to become more useful for commerce-centredcommerce-centered searches among mobile users.

If a user does searches for non-commerce-related keywords, Shenma search mostly provides organic search results, which is a benefit for businesses that want to market products but also use other SEO strategies to draw attention to their company or services.

While the Shenma search platform is continuing to grow, many new developments are likely to arise to continue its competitive streak against other big-name Chinese search engines.

At the moment, the search results on the platform aid companies with the right SEO strategies to get noticed by consumers more quickly and directly than other platforms, a major marketing bonus for businesses with specific products to sell to customers in China.

Which Companies Should Consider Shenma?

Given the Shenma search engine preference to list and be viewed by commerce-minded consumers, companies with a product to sell should absolutely incorporate the platform as a marketing tool in their Chinese-focused digital marketing strategy. Home goods, clothing, books, and apps can all see significant gains by being placed in front of Chinese mobile users already interested in making purchases.

Unlike with Baidu SEO, Shenma engages users with many ad spots by advertisers and directly links to corresponding product pages for ease of use. While other lead generation techniques might rely on users finding and then connecting with specific brands they may be interested in, Shenma search allows for potential consumers to locate the specific products they are curious about and trust that the sources are verified and reviewed.

One benefit of the platform is that businesses can take a multi-directional approach to marketing. While they can focus ads on specific products, they can still use SEO-rich techniques to garner SERP organically for other digital content. Therefore, companies can generate leads through several sources of online interaction on the same platform. 

Although search volumes may appear lower than on other big search engine sites such as Baidu, little effort is needed to optimize Shenma search for digital marketing. Mobile apps and companies with products already listed or intending to list on Taobao or Tmall are highly favored on the platform and can lead to greater chances of digital marketing success.

Optimizing Your Digital Marketing Focus with YIVA Digital

Whether you already have products listed on Alibaba-backed sites or you are interested in using Shenma to put your goods directly in the hands of consumers, Shenma search engine can get you noticed faster. With a few simple advertising tools, Shenma connects you with real customers and makes marketing to China more efficient and effective.

As the platform continues to develop and compete as the second-largest mobile search engine in the Chinese market, businesses can expect to see major developments and opportunities soon. The professionals at YIVA Digital can help you get started in optimizing your SEO and SERP strategies and solidify your presence on the Shenma search engine platform. Contact our team today to learn more about how mobile search can benefit your company and generate more sales among Chinese online consumers.