The Search Engine “battle” in Vietnam

Yes this is another article about Coccoc, wada and Naver search engine in Vietnam :). Coccoc recently has been receiving quite a lot of attention, partly because of their PR strategy I guess:

Wada got attention when it was launched last year as well, you could refer to the link here

There are talks that Naver is going to bring its search engine to Vietnam soon. However the engine is still under development and not been launched yet.

So what we would talk about in this post besides what was already said about them?

First of all, building a search engine is hard! It is so hard that not many countries in the world has its own local search engines. You could refer to my post on search engine market share around the world Mar 2013.

Google has no competitor when it comes to English (at least for now) or French or Spanish or German etc…

Only in countries like China, Korea, Russia that we see strong local search engines (more market share than Google). So the fact that we have a few attempts at building a better local search engine in Vietnam is really encouraging! I would salute friends, teams behind Coccoc, Wada or Naver because they are trying to do something really really hard!

Secondly, let’s take a look at these Google’s challengers in Vietnam from an user point of view.

If Coc Coc or Wada or Naver want to gain the heart and mind of Vietnamese users, their search engines need to be much better than Google. Why? because Google has become a “verb” in Vietnamese, when people think about Search, they think of Google. It has become a regular habit. So if you want users to change their habit, your search engine probably needs to be 10 times better than Google.

Secondly, they would need a great “go to market” strategy that could be sustained over time. We know from history that Google founders wanted to develop a browser quite early on but Eric Schmidt advised them not to until after Google became a very powerful Global company in 2008 (10 years after the company was founded).

Google is heavily promoting Chrome in the world at the moment, including SouthEast Asia and Vietnam of course. On mobile front, the majority of Android devices have Chrome as the default browser.

And what is the default search engine on Chrome on desktop and mobile? It’s Google. Even with OS X, the default search engine on Safari is Google as well. So what Coc Coc or any other search engines need to do is either to convince users somehow to type in coccoc.vn everything they want to search for something, set coccoc.vn as their starting page every time they open a new tab/browser, tied up with PC manufacturer to have CocCoc pre set as the default search engine on their browsers etc…

Coc Coc did launch its own browser based on the same open source based as Google called chromium. The browser is called corom.vn (or Cờ Rôm +), which indicates that it is an “expansion” or add on to Chrome with more functions. 

Let’s see how Coc Coc and Wada perform vs Google. This is very crude way of doing this of course because to evaluate the quality, you need to run large sample size and have a rigorious methodology behind it.

1. Why do we use Search Engine?

Well this is a no brainer. Very few of us use Search Engine to have fun, the same way we listen to music or watch movies or playing games. We use Search Engine because we need to look for something, a piece of information, a solution, an address etc…

We express our intention/need at that time via search query (keyword). Search query could be short ( 1 word) or long (multiple words 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 or more). In Vietnam, the search query could be in Vietnamese, or Vietnamese without diacritics, in English, French, a combination of both English and Vietnamese (like “thẻ visa card”). The content that we are looking for could be local content (in this context it means sites in Vietnamese) or could be International content (not limited to English, could be French, Italian).

I would assume that content in Vietnamese is the area Coccoc, Wada or Naver wants to excel vs Google, not the English, French or any other foreign language content because that would mean building a search engine to compete with Google globally, not just locally and well, that is just NOT the case here.

Ok so let’s go through some scenarios to see how Coccoc, Wada perform?

2. Navigational queries

Navigational queries are used to find a specific website. Sometimes people would forget the URL that they want to visit, or they don’t know and they want to find out.

It could be like: hsbc vietnam, lotte cinema, pizza hut le thanh ton, vnexpress, mead johnson vietnam, or even “Coc Coc”. For this type of queries, the first result (or top 3 results) is very important because users want to see what they are looking for immediately at the top of the page.

Let’s try and test out a few queries on the three search engines and see how the results are:

2.1 Case number 1 “hsbc vietnam”

This is the result from CocCoc

hsbc vietnam search on coccoc.vnand this is the unpersonalized results from Google.

hsbc vietnam on google

 

As you could see from the two screenshots, Coc Coc assumes that I am looking for the location of HSBC Vietnam, hence presenting me with lots of location data up front and then the official HSBC website in Vietnam. Search result from Coc Coc (as you could see my note on the picture), has the title the same as the meta title taken from HSBC code, and the description from one of the latest news.

For Google, for UN-personalized search results, they don’t assume that I am looking for HSBC branch location and presents me 6 sitelinks from: Personal banking, online banking, exchange rate, interest rate, contact information and loan.

Personally I would prefer the result from Google in this case because I am not looking for HSBC branch locations based on my query “hsbc vietnam“. I am looking for HSBC official site.

If you notice, I stress quite a bit on the Un-personalized search results, it is because since a long time ago, Google has been customized organic search results based on individual. Yes, you read it right, the organic search result that you see on Google while you search is different from mine, even though we both do not sign in to Google accounts (Gmail or any other services). The search result is customized based on your location, your past search history, your sharing on Google plus, and other signals. You could read more about it here. With Google Now, Google promises right information, at the right time, before you even ask for it. But let’s not go there yet, it’s beyond the scope of this post.

It would be very hard to compare Coc Coc or Wada with Google personalized Search for for the remaining of this post, I will solely focus on Un-Personalized Search results.

As for Wada, while I type in my keyword, besides auto complete being accurate in this case (just like Google and Coc Coc), Wada offer the HSBC Vietnam URL even before I type Enter. It’s better than Coc Coc from the auto complete point of view, but still a very very far behind Google Instant from my point of view.

Also, I don’t like number 2 and number 3 search results from Wada because they are just bad. I am not looking for information about HSBC from some weird website like news.vn or do I want to download an app about HSBC from appstore.vn??? Sorry I may be paranoid with security but I am not going to download an internet banking app from a place like appstore.vn or even Google Play. So presenting me the results like that are just bad. hsbc vietnam on wada

With navigational queries, I don’t really care about any results below the fold so I am not commenting further on results from 4 until 10 from each search engines. While they are important no doubt, it’s just that this post will be very long if I do so.

2.2 Case number 2 “Pizza hut le thanh ton”

The result from Google is quite optimal with the map, the official site on top 1 position.

pizza hut le thanh ton on google vietnamBelow is the result from CocCoc.vn for “pizza hut le thanh ton”

pizza hut le thanh ton on coccoc.vnAnd this is from Wada.vn:

pizza hut le thanh ton on wada.vn

In this scenario, it is clear that Google offers the best results with both map on top, the official site is at the top position as well. CocCoc comes in the second place from my point of view because while it has the result from CocCoc map service to compensate for the official site being at the number 5 position. Wada is the worst, it does not show me any map on top position and the official site is at number 6 position.

If you ask why I use Vietnamese without the diacritics, my answer would be from the search volume on Google, more often than not, users in Vietnamese search without the diacritics. Of course this is not 100% of the time.

2.3 Case number 3 “vnexpress” as the keyword

The results from Google, CocCoc and Wada are below:

vnexpress on google vietnam

vnexpress on coccoc.vn

vnexpress on wada.vn

Again, Google fares very well in this example with vnexpress.net is the first result together with 6 sitelinks, deep linking into the site. I really like the title and the description provided by Google for each sub section within VnExpress site.

Wada.vn is not bad with the top result being the official vnexpress.net site with reasonable title and description.

CocCoc is the worst in this case with the description that is very very “weird” to say the least. I don’t think this description is a good description of what Vnexpress is about:

“Sau một thời gian “hết sức cố gắng” cùng rất nhiều lời tư vấn từ bác sỹ tâm lý, tôi đã “được” mất trinh, sex với tôi là một cực hình. Tôi không thích sex với anh, tôi sợ … © Copyright 1997-2013 VnExpress.net, All rights reserved”. It is basically a comment from user or something like “after a long period of trying and with lots of advices from doctors, I lost my virginity, sex is like torture to me. I don’t like sex etc…”

3. Informational queries

With informational queries, the information itself is the goal, and no interaction beyond clicking and reading is required. It could contribute to transactional queries but it’s not it.

For example, I could try to search for “the weather tomorrow in Ha Noi”, “how to roast a chicken”, “why my baby is crying in the middle of the night”, “what to do when you are expecting a baby”, “what to prepare if you want to travel by yourself to Australia”, “address of the Karaoke place”, “things to do in Sapa”, “latest movies by Jason Stratham”, “when a certain celebrity was born” etc,… As you can see, informational queries do cover a wide range.

3.1 “How to roast a chicken” case

The Vietnamese phrase for that is “cách làm món gà nướng”. Below is the result from Google.

cach lam mon ga nuong on google vietnam

from CocCoc

cach lam mon ga nuong on coccoc.vn

 

and from Wada.vn

cach lam mon ga nuong on wada.vn

From the above screenshots, for CocCoc, it starts with a particular restaurant and then follows up by video clips from other video sources. Wada has few good results from position 1 to 3, but then it shows a very weird “hot news” result, which is not related to the keyword at all.

Update 1: What surprising is that when I do another search for the same keyword “cách làm món gà nướng” on CocCoc.vn a couple of days later, the search result is completely different. Below is the result from CocCoc 4 days after the above screenshot was taken:

cach lam mon ga nuong on coccoc.vn on later date

The results are significantly better compared to 4 days ago. At least, It doesn’t start with a non related restaurant and then a bunch of videos. I don’t think I would want to see two results from the same domain tapchiamthuc.vn though.

Search for the same keyword “cách làm món gà nướng” on wada.vn a couple of days later showed the same results.

3.2 Case 2 “why baby is crying in the middle of the night?”

Ok this is a very long tailed phase. In Vietnamese, it is “tại sao em bé khóc vào buổi đêm”.

Here are the results from Google, CocCoc and Wada respectively:

tai sao em be khoc vao buoi dem google.com.vn

tai sao em be khoc vao buoi dem coccoc.vn

tai sao em be khoc vao buoi dem on wada.vn

As you could see from the screenshots, Google results are significantly better than both CocCoc and Wada. Results from CocCoc and Wada are not really related to the query. Wada even has the case of no title on the very first result.

Could this be that CocCoc and Wada have trouble with long tailed Vietnamese keywords? I would leave this to other teams to research more on this.

4. Transactional queries:

These are queries with which users intends to do something like sign up for an account, buy something online, reserve for a table etc…

4.1 Case 1 “hotel room booking in Da Nang”

If we could follow the same process as per other cases, we could see that Google result for “dat phong khach san da nang” is significantly better than CocCoc and Wada.

dat phong khach san da nang on google.com.vn

 

dat phong khach san da nang coccoc.vn

I would prefer CocCoc not showing the results from Map for this type of query if the results are not good enough. The map makes it looks like there are only three hotels in Danang, they are not the top hotels also.

dat phong khach san da nang on wada.vn

You could clearly see that the results from Wada for this case is not good. Many of them are not that related to the query in this case in my opinion.

You could try other cases for different keywords like “order pizza in district 7” or “flowers deliver in Ho Chi Minh” or “credit card application form” and have your own conclusions for the cases of transactional queries.

5. Summary

After the four types of queries, at this point I have to say that Google results are still the best in comparison to CocCoc and Wada. This is for un-personalized search results from Google only. With personalized search results, the experience on Google could significantly improve due to the results are being customised to suit each individual searcher. Google has other advanced options like search for articles from news sites only, from forum only, blog only; or we could search based on file type, search within a specific duration, change the default location from one city to another to show better results.

CocCoc and Wada would have a long way to go to compete with Google, taking into consideration the search result quality, distribution channel, branding, user behaviour, signal from social networks etc… I would try to keep this post updated from time to time to see how each search engine performs.

Feel free to drop any comments/thoughts you may have

Thanks,

Chandler

 

 

 

 

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  18 comments for “The Search Engine “battle” in Vietnam

  1. emily
    June 12, 2013 at 13:40

    Hi Chandler, I have been reading your blog for a while. Thank you for sharing your views on different search engines in Vietnam. this is such a useful post.

    emily

    • Chandler Nguyen
      June 12, 2013 at 17:50

      Thanks Emily for your kind words. Feel free to drop any additional comments about the article and we could discuss more.

  2. June 12, 2013 at 16:10

    Can I translate your article to Vietnamese and post in my forum?

    • Chandler Nguyen
      June 12, 2013 at 17:50

      Sure Nhocs, there is no problem at all. Could you help to put the source from chandlernguyen.com blog in the article?

      • Nhocs
        June 13, 2013 at 00:50

        Okay Chandler Nguyen, thanks so much ^_^

  3. June 16, 2013 at 01:00

    So I just tried to use the keyword “vnexpress” on CocCoc to see what would happen. The description text of the first result turned out to be : “Một căn hộ có giá 1,5 tỷ đồng có giá cho thuê 3-4 triệu/tháng. Thuê 1 năm mới hết tầm 42 triệu, 35 năm mới hết số tiền để mua nhà. Trong khi đem 1,5 tỷ gửi tiết kiệm … “. Definitely something wrong with their crawler.

    By the way, you could have mentioned that the most frequent keywords on CocCoc, according to their main site, are: Naoh + HCL=; x mũ 2 – 5x + 4 = 0; y = x mũ 3 – 2 x mũ 2 + x; 4 km2 – 125m2; Fe –> FeS –> H2S –> S; Ag -> X -> AgNO3 … Must be related to the recent high school graduation exam, but at the same time it struck me as being very odd as well. Kinda reminds me of Wolfram Alpha, initially very promising and uniquely excellent at solving questions like those, but ultimately still remains just a bit player.

    • Chandler Nguyen
      June 18, 2013 at 09:40

      Thanks Tuan Minh. It is interesting what you noted 🙂 I think you are right it may be related to the high school graduation exam 🙂

  4. June 17, 2013 at 22:04

    thế mạnh của Cốc Cốc không phải là search nhưng cụm từ toàn bằng tiếng Anh như vậy.

    Hiện tại tôi đang ở Quận 3, và khi tôi search cụm từ “Trà Sữa” (tiếng Việt có dấu hắn hoi nhé), thì kết quả đầu tiên tôi nhận được là 1 địa điểm:

    Trà sữa Bầu
    25, Trần Quốc Toản, Q3, Tp. Hồ Chí Minh

    Vì cốc cốc biết được địa chỉ ip, xác định được vị trí hiện tại của tôi nên mới đẩy cái kết quả đó lên trên cùng. Đây gọi là tìm kiếm theo ngữ cảnh (một điều mà nếu Google không ở VN thì sẽ rất bất lợi cho họ).

    http://readwrite.com/2013/04/25/forget-searching-for-content-soon-content-will-be-searching-for-you

    Tìm kiếm ngữ cảnh mở ra rất nhiều cơ hội mới. nhất là khi các thiết bị di động đang ngày 1 phổ biến. Hãy thử hình dung nhờ có hệ thống định vị toàn cầu, khi ta di chuyển tới các nơi khác nhau sẽ nhận được các kết quả khác nhau. Nếu nghề nghiệp, độ tuổi, giới tính, tôn giáo…v…v… của người dùng khác nhau cũng sẽ dẫn đến kết quả khác nhau. Đó chính là cái mà Cốc cốc nhắm tới. Vì thế họ mới nhấn mạnh đi nhấn mạnh lại cái câu “vì Google không ở Việt Nam”.

  5. Huong Dang
    June 20, 2013 at 15:59

    tôi thử search = cocon website công ty thì kết quả hiện ra là thông tin trên thẻ metal từ năm ngoái được hiện lên, mà web đó đã được thay toàn bộ dữ liệu gần 1 năm rồi.

  6. Sophie
    July 18, 2013 at 20:00

    what do you think of numika.vn ?

    • Chandler Nguyen
      July 19, 2013 at 21:14

      You could try to search for the phrases that I used in the article and see what appears?
      I searched for Vnexpress and couldn’t find the site on the top 10.

  7. July 23, 2013 at 19:46

    Hi Chandler.

    Thanks for your useful post.

    Do you know how to get a site listed in CocCoc? Is it similar to Google ie submit a sitemap?

    Have some sites (in Vietnamese) that rank well in Google Viet but which don’t show in CocCoc.

    Thanks for your help.

    Andy.

    • Chandler Nguyen
      July 24, 2013 at 21:09

      Well I know some of the team members. However, I think it would be best if you contact them directly via http://coccoc.com/contact/

  8. November 27, 2016 at 23:20

    Thanks for your good article

    • Chandler Nguyen
      December 1, 2016 at 21:11

      thank you very much Quoc Anh

  9. September 5, 2017 at 10:23

    Hello Dear Nguyen

    I am from China.I am very interested in Vietnam.
    I think maybe Nguyen is a Vietnamese word.Could you teach me how to pronounce it?
    Please let me share some views about Vietnam.
    Because you have a large population and hardworking culture like most of east Asia countries and you stress education,
    I hold the view that Vietnam will be a highly-industrialized and high income country that can surpass South Korea within 20 years.

    Thank you for your sharing.Through your article, I have began to konw a bit about the Internet eco system in Vietnam.And I have followed you on Facebook and Twitter.I hope we can share our ideas with each other from now on.

    • Chandler Nguyen
      October 29, 2017 at 11:18

      Thank you very much George for your comment 🙂

  10. January 4, 2018 at 12:22

    This will help a lot for business to promote their products by country specific regions. Can you please help me out how to submit a site in a cocCoc search engine.

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