Since Monday, the web has been abuzz about the recent decision by Google to stop censoring its web results within the boundaries of China. For those of you that don’t know, per China’s request, Google had been censoring its search results to remove pro-democratic search results as well as any mention of the 1989 Tiananmen Square incident.
As of Monday, Google stopped supporting that request and opened the google.cn servers to allow any and all results by forwarding all searches to their data center in Hong Kong instead of those within China.
While these efforts have been in affect, China has utilized their country firewalls, also known as the “Great Firewall,” to thwart searches for pro-democratic information within Google. A search for “1989 Tiananmen” within the google.cn search engine will provide back a “no page available” error as the government itself has worked to stop individuals within their country from viewing these searches.
Over time, many experts state that Google may be shooting itself in the foot, so to speak, by not complying to the country’s demands for censorship. China provides one of the fastest growing online marketplaces in the world and by not complying, Google will lose an opportunity for additional advertising revenue.
The big question is how this affects you as a local or stateside business. First, for companies that may be considering or currently participating in international search marketing efforts, it is possible that Chinese leaders may utilize their country’s firewall to stop all traffic to Google within the country and drive traffic to other search engines within the country. This will limit companies outside of China’s ability to advertise through mass channels like Google and utilize other Chinese search engines like Baidu. In addition, other Chinese companies that currently have partnerships or are advertising through Google are beginning to reconsider, afraid that the Chinese government may consider them in violation of law.
Either way, we’ll continue to watch with the remainder of the world to see how this may affect Google’s brand as well as advertising opportunities outside of the United States.