China Search Alliance, a combination of more than 200 Internet portals, accelerated its expansion to meet the upcoming challenge from the global search giant Google.com, which is expected to officially launch its service in China this year. The Alliance will sign a strategic partnership agreement with NASDAQ-listed SINA, the most popular Internet portal in China, on search collaboration, while talks with another leading domestic portal is also on-going, Zheng Tienan, chief official of China Search Alliance, told Interfax in an exclusive interview.
China Search Alliance was initiated by China.com, a news portal of central government-backed China Internet Information Center (CIIC), and was officially set up last September together with local government-backed news portals. Leveraging the abundant resources of its members, the alliance hopes to attain the top position on China's search engine market. According to Zheng, the alliance projects a 20% market share in China this year, and aims to take over half of the market next year.
Late last month, China Search Alliance launched its first fee-based search service, the Search Ranking service, in China. If customers buy a keyword or search catalog, their names will be ranked higher on the list of search results. Some additional fee-based search services will also be introduced shortly afterwards. The search service, for instance, will put names of customers that have bought a keyword or search catalog, among "Highly Recommended Sites" along with the search results, said Zheng.
In China, about 97% of netizens use online search engines every month, and the market for search ranking services is expected to create a yearly revenue of RMB 200 mln (USD 24 mln). An Interfax source said that Google.com has decided to penetrate into China this year, and is choosing a general agency out of 4 candidates.