Chinese search engine Baidu will reportedly spend nearly a half-billion dollars to bring small businesses online and, among other things, train 100,000 search marketing professionals in China.
As reported by both NASDAQ and AMP, Baidu will make a $470 million investment in China’s online market between now and the end of 2015. The NASDAQ article explains that Baidu’s cash will help an estimated two million small- and medium-sized businesses expand. And that’s not all:
However, the real payoff here is that Baidu will train 100,000 search marketing professionals, help small- and medium-sized enterprises develop their online service platforms, provide free marketing for less developed regions in China and help government departments in their research on business.
All of this together reflects the belief of Baidu’s management that this commitment will likely boost the use of its paid online advertising services by the smaller enterprises that have yet to embrace the Web — and are being increasingly subsidized by Beijing.
Baidu has an estimated 80% market share in China (give or take) and should stand to benefit from increasing intent adoption inside the country. Its move is not unlike what Google is doing inside the U.S. (and elsewhere) with its Get Your Business Online program that gives away free websites to small businesses (and coupons to start to AdWords account), its Tools for Online Success partnership with the Small Business Administration and even the various SEO site clinics that it’s provided over the years.