What is WeChat Search and how does it work?

Last Updated on January 19, 2024

More often than not, new brands looking to enter the Chinese market choose to utilize search functions from the WeChat app for a more effective branding and SEO strategy.

Once you learn how to use and integrate it properly, this feature can generate buzz, drive traffic, and attract new customers more than other Chinese social media platforms. The only problem is it’s not as easy to navigate as you think.

In this article, we’ll explain how your brand can benefit from the proper use of the WeChat search bar and help you discover ways to tap into the platform’s massive user base.


What Is The WeChat Search Engine?

The WeChat search engine highly differs from traditional search engines like Baidu or Google. It focuses specifically on the content and accounts within the platform’s ecosystem, making it a crucial resource for brands and marketers targeting Chinese consumers.



While the search screen within WeChat is relatively hidden and has enjoyed little coverage compared to its other major functions, it’s no secret that Tencent has strengthened its capabilities over the years. In fact, their purchase of a 36.5 percent stake in Sohu.com Inc’s search engine “Sogou” was an early indicator that the company was eager to improve its position within the search market.

And with the WeChat search engine integrated into Sogou’s website and mobile app (popularly known as “Sogou Weixin search”), Tencent gave non-WeChat users the freedom to access WeChat-related content for the first time.

After WeChat launched the Sogou Weixin search, it grew from a messaging app into a powerful social media platform catering to different content, articles, mini-programs, and official accounts.


Here are some key aspects of the WeChat Search Engine your brand may benefit from:


  • Content Discovery

Users searching for articles, news, and other content published on WeChat can use the app’s filtered search to get the results they’re trying to find. Because of this, brands must optimize their content with relevant keywords and ensure they appear in a specific search result.


  • Searching for Official WeChat Accounts

You may not know, but the platform allows users to find official accounts through keywords, WeChat ID names, and other search feature criteria. WeChat official accounts often foster higher user engagement and increase visibility in search results.


  • Mini-Program Search

Users can access specific mini-programs within the platform’s ecosystem through the WeChat search icon. Companies can utilize these lightweight applications to track clicks and conversions.


WeChat search examples


  • Account Verification

WeChat has a verification system for official accounts, adding credibility and trust to your brand. Verified accounts are more likely to appear in filtered search results, incentivizing brands to undergo the verification process.


  • Algorithm Updates

Like most social media platform options, the WeChat app undergoes regular updates to improve its search engine results and user experience. Brands must stay updated on these changes and adjust their optimization strategies accordingly.


How Does WeChat Search Work?

Although Sogou Weixin Search and WeChat Search Engine operate with a similar system, they have different target specifications. For example, Sogou Weixin only returns a specific search result posted by public WeChat user accounts and their profiles.


Sogou Weixin Search WeChat ID Search


Meanwhile, the internal WeChat search engine offers a more comprehensive search experience. It goes beyond searching for a public post or an official account. Once you hit that search bar, you can target keywords in your friend’s WeChat moments. Through this, users can access specific content shared within their personal networks.

On top of that, the WeChat search engine extends its reach to group chats, enabling users to search for specific content or conversations within their group discussions. This search bar functionality benefits users who want to locate past conversations or retrieve certain information within their group interactions.

Besides using it to find friends, popular pages, or random articles, businesses can use the search bar’s Dianping restaurant database integration. This feature allows users to search for restaurants, read reviews, and access information about dining establishments directly within the WeChat channel. It simplifies the process of discovering new dining options and accessing relevant information about food-related businesses.


WeChat Group Search WeChat Group Search


Sogou Weixin limits searches to subscription accounts only. On the other hand, WeChat’s search engine offers a broader search capability by allowing users to search for content published by both subscription and service accounts. This inclusiveness ensures that users can access a wider range of content.

The one thing that’s not all that impressive with WeChat search though is that Chinese WeChat users, by which I mean any WeChat user registered with a Chinese phone number, can NOT see international WeChat accounts in the search results, despite the fact that international users have total access to Chinese search results.

On a side note, searching for keywords within group chats might not seem all that useful but it’s actually a great way for business developers to know if someone’s mentioning their brand or product.


How are Wechat Search results displayed

Before we ask ourselves how results are ranked on Sogou Weixin and WeChat Search, let’s take a quick look at how they’re displayed. Why? Because knowing how they appear and what information they display can help you to optimize your content in such a way that your WeChat search results appear in a user-friendly manner.


Sogou Wexin search results


Sogou Weixin WeChat article

 Screenshots of an article search query on Sogou Weixin


If you look at the screenshots we provided above, you’ll notice that WeChat article search results on Sogou Weixin offer a comprehensive search result. It includes the article’s title, a summary of the piece, the cover image associated with the post, the name of the public account that published it, the number of reads the article has received, and the publication date.

In contrast, the search results will return a QR code when searching for subscription accounts on Sogou Weixin. In today’s day and age, the QR code is a convenient way for searchers to access the existing WeChat account associated with the subscription account they’re searching for. They can scan it if they want to access the profile directly on the platform.

Typically, the summary in the WeChat articles or other content will serve as meta descriptions that’ll appear as a preview in the search engine whenever a user searches for a specific keyword. However, Sogou Weixin’s algorithm often selects random content from within the articles instead of the summary provided in each post.


WeChat Search Results


Apart from content prioritization, the search results from the WeChat search and Sogou counterparts have the same formats. The only difference is the absence of the number of reads for each article.


How Are WeChat Search Results Ranked?

Admit it or not, every search engine available to the public has an ever-evolving algorithm. More often than not, these updates come without any warning and are developed further in complete secrecy. Because of this, it’s foolish to think we have all the answers to your questions about the upcoming updates on WeChat search engine features.


Nevertheless, our experience working with Sogou and WeChat, as well as data compiled by admin5.com, led us to believe that search results (within WeChat or Sogou) are ranked based on four major factors:

  • Authority: As discussed earlier, the authority of WeChat official accounts depends on their verification level. The platform offers different verification types, and they carry different weights. However, the most influential verification you can get is “WeChat verification.”
  • Relevance: Your content will rank if it offers relevancy between user search queries and public account names, account summaries, and the summaries of WeChat articles.
  • Popularity: Whether you’re trying to rank in the WeChat search engine or other platforms, you must remember that content or articles with the most number of reads, forwards, and reposts will always rank higher.
  • Frequency: Official account or not, the algorithm within any search engine will favor websites that publish new content more frequently than others.



The ranking factors in Sogou Weixin and WeChat searches resemble those employed by Google. In both cases, recent and relevant content from authoritative sources holds significant importance.


However, the objectives and metrics differ slightly: rather than pursuing backlinks and site visitors, WeChat SEO focuses on generating more reads and acquiring account verifications. Although article size and the use of images may also play a role in improving WeChat SEO, your strategy must lean into enhancing the relevance, popularity, and frequency of your posts and ensuring proper verification of your account.


A Quick Guide To WeChat Search Engine Features

WeChat Brand Zone Search

Besides the app’s different search engine features, the WeChat brand zone is a convenient hub for verified brands, especially because it gives its user base direct access to essential business information. Besides existing accounts, this feature includes setting up e-stores within WeChat, crafting personalized content, and streamlining brand visibility.

Notably, brands can manage traffic within the WeChat brand zone, guiding visitors from one section to another and granting exposure to users who need to follow their official accounts.


WeChat brandzone search


WeChat Index Search

WeChat Index (“微信指数”) is a powerful tool that gauges the popularity of specific keywords based on their search volume within WeChat. Since it utilizes big data analysis, mobile indexing, and exposure of WeChat articles, brands can count on it to provide accurate insights.

The platform has no dedicated search bar or menu for the WeChat index, but you can either search for “微信指数” to locate the app and then enter the desired brand term to view the trend or directly input “微信指数 + Keyword” to obtain instant results. By leveraging WeChat Index, brands can uncover the most popular searches on WeChat. This valuable information allows them to adjust their marketing strategies and better understand their target audience.


WeChat Index Search



WeChat Mini Program Search

Unlike other messaging apps, this platform includes WeChat mini-programs that the entire user base can discover through keyword research. Brands can submit up to 10 keywords per mini-program to help their target audience access their content easier.

Remember that the ranking algorithm for WeChat mini-programs is determined through keyword relevance, program quality, and user engagement. You can also monitor keyword performance and make adjustments up to three times per month.


WeChat mini program search


Search Integration with JD

Some may not know, but WeChat has an integrated e-commerce function enabling users to shop directly on JD.com, China’s second-largest e-commerce platform. This feature allows potential customers to instantly access top products from JD when they enter consumer product keywords in the WeChat search box or discover tab.

The search and shopping combination presents significant potential. By incorporating value-added services, brands can foster strong customer loyalty and gain a competitive edge.



Who Does WeChat Search Benefit?

Tencent’s investment in Sogou and the development of WeChat’s internal search function indicate their expectation of significant returns. WeChat search benefits various parties for different reasons:


  1. Tencent: As the creators of WeChat, Tencent benefits from the development of WeChat search in multiple ways. It provides them a means to promote WeChat products and content on the external web, reducing dependence on other platforms. Their venture into the search engine market also solidifies their dominance in the Chinese internet space, allowing them to compete with giants like Baidu and Alibaba.


  1. SEO-savvy community managers: Community managers, such as those at Sekkei Digital Group, leverage WeChat search factors to optimize the structure of clients’ public accounts and articles. By doing this, brands can expect increased readership, higher rankings in the WeChat search engine, and enhanced visibility.


  1. WeChat users: A functional search engine allows regular WeChat account holders to discover diverse content. It gives them the opportunity to explore new information and resources, enhancing their overall user experience on the platform.


How To Use WeChat Search/SEO To Increase Your Brand Visibility?

Optimizing your brand’s content with relevant keywords that align with your brand and target audience is an effective way to enhance visibility. We suggest conducting thorough keyword research to identify the most appropriate terms for your campaign. From there, incorporate these keywords in article titles, descriptions, and tags to increase your content’s likelihood of appearing in WeChat search results. You should also create high-quality, engaging content that resonates with your audience to attract more readers.


How do I search for keywords on WeChat?

You can use the search function within the WeChat app to search for keywords on WeChat. Simply open the app and locate the search box at the top of the main screen. Enter the desired keyword or phrase related to your topic or industry, and WeChat will display search results that include relevant articles, public accounts, mini-programs, and other related content. You can explore these search results to find valuable insights, discover popular content, and identify trends within your niche.


What Does The Future Hold For WeChat Search?

WeChat has plenty of data to draw from, so building a superior search engine isn’t too farfetched for the platform. With 1.3 billion registered monthly users, WeChat has more user data than Baidu or Google. The app knows where users are, what they like and buy, and more. And because 50% of WeChat users spend over 90 minutes daily on the app, endless possibilities exist. If you haven’t already done so, now is the time to take advantage of WeChat’s search functions and maximize your brand’s potential.


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1 thought on “What is WeChat Search and how does it work?”

  1. This is pretty damn sweet. I’ve always been a super nerd when it comes to different search engines and how they work under the hood. I remember when I first discovered the major differences in algorithms between Google and Bing. Bing prefers exact match domains and authority going to the sites that rank and Google’s algorithm is pretty much ever changing but for now they’re looking for anchor diversity, traffic, social interaction and authority. I’m looking forward to learning more about this new search engine!

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