While Mountain View, California-based Google is the unquestioned ruler of most of the world of internet search, the picture is very different in China, where local powerhouse Baidu is on top. But the Chinese company recently released decreased profit forecasts, and some analysts wonder whether its days are numbered.

Although ad sales continued to rise at Baidu earlier this year, the company’s switch to a new paid search system has hurt profits, and experts warn that the company’s shares may begin to lose value. While paid search is of limited interest to search engine optimization (SEO) professionals, the fact that Baidu may concede market share is more crucial.

That said, any shift in the balance of power in the Chinese search market will happen over a long period of time, say analysts. IDG news service says that Baidu actually increased its lead over Google despite the sour forecasts in the early part of this year.

The importance of the Chinese market cannot be overemphasized, according to experts. Bloomberg News says that the country overtook the U.S. as the world’s largest online market sometime last year, making it critical to search engine optimization (SEO) efforts.