On the heels of investor unease about Chinese Internet companies' decreased earnings on wireless messaging, Sohu.com today announced that it has launched a new brand and service for online searches. The website found at Sogou.com provides a similar user interface as offered by Google.
Sohu, which means 'Search Fox' in Chinese, started as a search engine seven years ago with a proprietary directory, and this new service, Sogou, means "Search Dog".
"We are now introducing the new 'Third Generation' interactive search, or '3G-Search' in China. We have built on our core search competence to deliver this new way of search in the fast growing Chinese market that has quickly come to critically rely on the Internet as the key source of daily information needs," said Zhang "Charles" Chaoyang, Chairman and CEO of Sohu.
The new search engine performs an interactive search through a built-in algorithm that combines the results generated from the hundreds of thousands of manually selected websites of Sohu's directory with hundreds of millions of pages that the engine searched from the World Wide Web. The user is taken through a fast process to arrive at the most relevant selection of the integrated website and page search results.
ChinaTechNews conducted a number of Chinese-language tests to see how Sogou compared with Google's search capabilities. Here are 5 search terms we looked for and the results on the two respective websites (note that search engines index frequently and your results may be different than the ones we found):
Search term: Gongsi (company)
Search term: Dianhua (telephone)
Search term: ChinaTechNews.com
Search term: Zhang Chaoyang (Sohu's CEO)
Search term: Google
The results gave us us a few surprises. On the "Zhang Chaoyang" search we did in Chinese characters, both websites found the same amount of results–but 37 is very few for the CEO of a major Chinese listed company! And on "Gongsi" the results were basically the same. However searches for "Google" and "ChinaTechNews.com" returned lopsided results–could Sogou be self-censoring competitors and commentators?
Regardless of these findings, Sohu is upbeat about the new service and most likely is trying to draw heat away from poor wireless revenue recently shown to investors.
"We are confident that our current and new advertisers will realize the significant value of the highly targeted marketing and highly relevant search experience enabled by SoGou," said Jianjun Wang, Vice-president of Sohu for Search Business.