This week we present Ecosia – the eco search engine. Now you may wonder, what that is exactly and how it relates to China. Let us explain.
To this date, every year, more than 15 billion trees are cut down, burned, or degraded for a variety of purposes. Only 30% of the world’s landmass is still covered in forests and 46% of all trees are lost due to human action.
Deforestation is at an all-time high for several reasons. To ensure environmental sustainability reforestation is a must, not an option. Now, what if you could contribute to a greener world with an eco search engine?
What is Ecosia?
Ecosia is a German online search engine, created by Christian Kroll. What makes it “eco” is that it allocates about 80% of its income to non-profit organizations that plant trees.
With a market share of 0.78%, Ecosia may not be as popular in the search engine industry as its counterparts. Google, Yahoo, and Baidu (China) may dominate the search engine market, but Ecosia still has its reason for existing.
For example, the eco search engine also works in other languages, such as Chinese. Besides, it is often used in the Middle Kingdom for search queries in the English language. In fact, it is one of the few international search engines that can surpass the Great Firewall of China. As a result, Chinese users too can discover new content and brands while protecting the environment.
Launched in December 2009, the eco search engine has more than 5.5 million active users today. In addition, it processes an average of 56 queries per second. To date, Ecosia planted more than 96 million trees, investing more than 12 million Euros in reforestation.
The user numbers and queries may seem small compared to Google. The world’s largest search engine has more than 2 billion active users and processes more than 40,000 queries per second. In comparison, Baidu, the largest search engine in China, has almost 200 million daily active users.
However, for the environmentally-conscious internet user, Ecosia is THE search engine of choice. The info page of the website keeps a running record of the number of trees planted by Ecosia users.
How Does the Eco Search Engine Work?
Ecosia is a regular search engine. Initially, its search results came from Bing, Yahoo! and Wikipedia. But today, its search results only come from Bing.
Whenever a user submits a search query on Ecosia, the eco search engine returns organic search results and ads on the results page – just like Google or Baidu. These PPC (pay-per-click) ads are very popular on Google and Baidu alike. Together with SEO (search engine optimization), they are powerful search engine marketing tools in China and around the world.
Ecosia raises about 0.5 Euro cents per search query. And with a single tree costing about 0.22 Euros, the search engine needs at 44 searches to generate enough revenue to plant one tree.
The eco search engine is available in 27 languages including English, Chinese, and German. Ecosia is available as a web browser and app. Users can also download and install the search engine as a mobile app on iOS and Android devices.
Is Ecosia’s Business Model Transparent?
To maintain financial transparency, the Ecosia community publishes financial reports and tree-planting receipts on its website every month. The radical transparency of the community hopes to build trust amongst users. Besides, it aims at encouraging people to contribute to global reforestation as they can see the results of the community’s searches monthly.
To sum it up, 80% is a donation for reforestation. And the other 20% is a reserve for unforeseen events. In case the reserves are not used, the funds are channeled back into the project’s reforestation fund.
Additionally, in October 2018, the founder and developer of the eco search engine Christian Kroll gave part of his shares of the company to the Purpose Foundation. By so doing, Kroll and consequently, the co-owner of Ecosia Tim Schumacher gave up their rights to take out profits from Ecosia or to sell the company.
What about Privacy?
Ecosia considers itself a privacy-friendly eco search engine. Their interest is trees, not user data. Every search carried out on the search engine is SSL encrypted and not saved.
Unlike other search engines, Ecosia does not use tracking tools. Nor does Ecosia create personal profiles based on user behavior. Thus, users do not have to worry about the company selling their data to companies.
What are the Benefits of Ecosia to the World?
So far, the Ecosia community has successfully planted more than 96 million trees in Brazil, Burkina Faso, Colombia, Ethiopia, Ghana, Indonesia, Kenya, Madagascar, Morocco, Peru, Senegal, Spain, Tanzania, and Uganda.
Ecosia’s reforestation project focuses on “biodiversity hotspots”. This includes regions of the world with a variety of unique species and/or poor communities.
Now, there are several benefits of reforestation. While the immediate environment stands to gain a lot more than the rest of the world, the planting of trees is a globally beneficial project. Reforestation can help to:
- Curb desertification and keep the soil productive
- Absorb carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and thus combat global warming
- Create a safe natural habitat for wildlife
- Provide an income for people who take on the job of planting and grooming the trees
- Ensure food security through tree planting initiatives
To sum it up, reforestation has many benefits for the environment. It can also help to improve the economic status of local communities in these biodiversity hotspots.
With more than 96 million trees planted across the world, Ecosia is the first and only green search engine. However, their efforts barely compensate for about 15 billion trees cut down every year. The goal of the Ecosia community is to plant at least 1 billion trees by 2020.
You now know how Ecosia works, and why it is relevant for the Chinese market. For internet users in regions with limited internet access, such as in China, Ecosia’s eco search engine also offers new areas of online exploration and protects the users’ personal data.
In addition, Ecosia loads faster than Bing in China, although Bing feeds Ecosia. The environmental awareness in China is rising, which makes this eco search engine highly attractive. Experts expect Ecosia to gain more momentum in the face of this increased environmental awareness.
So, if you want to promote English content in China, SEO and PPC on Bing are the way to go. For Chinese content, focus on search engine marketing on Baidu.
Do you want to learn more about search engines, search engine optimization, and digital marketing? Discover why SEO is important for your business in the first place and learn the 17 most common SEO mistakes to avoid here.