Qihoo 360 Search Engine – Inside 360 Search

360 Search Engine

China’s Qihoo 360 search engine “360 Search” is an up-and-coming search engine striving to become an alternative to search market leader Baidu. 

Every day, Chinese netizens conduct hundreds of millions of searches on the 360 Search. Therefore, China Gravy takes a deep dive into a small but special search engine in China – 360 Search. We analyze 360 Search’s SERPs in comparison with other relevant search engines in China and reveal the best 360 Search SEO and PPC tactics.

The Company Qihoo 360

Qihoo 360 is a Chinese internet security company that offers a secure web browser, the 360 Secure Browser. Besides, Qihoo offers cyber security services like antivirus software and in 2012, Qihoo 360 also entered the smartphone market.

In fact, many Chinese companies use 360 PC antivirus software for their company’s internet security. With this, automatically the 360 Browser is installed, where 360 Search is the default search engine.

Furthermore, the company’s 360 Mobile Assistant app (360手机助手) was among the most downloaded apps in China in 2021. It allows internet users to manage the Android apps on their phones from the convenience of their computer, laptop, or mobile devices.

There are two noteworthy controversies around Qihoo 360. One, the company is blacklisted in the US for alleged data security concerns. Secondly, the numerous changes of the search engine’s domain name including 360sou.com, 360so.com, and haosou.com did not necessarily help to build trust among the site’s users and global cyber authorities.

Qihoo 360 Search Engine: Role in China’s Search Market

Qihoo’s search engine Qihoo 360 (奇虎 360; meaning “magical tiger” 360) was founded in 2005 and was rebranded as Haosou (360搜索) in 2015. Hǎo (好) means “good” in Chinese and sōu (搜) means “search”. Today, the search engine is simply called 360搜索 aka 360 Search.

Until 2021, the search engine market in China was led by Baidu with more than 70%, followed by Sogou with 17%. The rest of the market was divided among Qihoo (4%), Google (4%), Shenma (3%), and Bing (3%).

A few things are noteworthy here: Sogou is a subsidiary of Tencent, and, therefore, also integrated into the WeChat in-app search. Search engine Shenma is backed by Alibaba, and Google is blocked in mainland China (accessible via VPN), but available in Hong Kong, Taiwan, and Macao.

In 2022, the Chinese search engine market changed. While Baidu has further increased its market share in China to 79%, the remaining market share has shifted.

Bing surpasses Sogou and becomes the second-most popular search engine in China with 9%. Sogou loses market share (4%), while Google (3%), Qihoo (2%), and Shenma (2%) remain relatively stable.

On desktop searches alone, Baidu only leads with 54%, followed by Bing with 24%, Sogou with 10%, Google with 7%, and Haosou with 5%. This is particularly relevant in the B2B sector which is far less mobile-driven compared to the B2C segment.

As of Q2/2022, 360 Search has not been taken over by the Chinese BAT tech giants including ByteDance. However, 360 Search is collaborating with one of the tech giants, Alibaba, as well as Sina Weibo while battling the others. 

Naturally, 360 Search is competing for market share with China’s search engine giant Baidu. Besides, Tencent and 360 Search are competing in the area of antivirus software: QQ Doctor vs. 360 Safeguard.

How the Qihoo 360 Search Engine Stands Out

Despite its comparatively small market size, 360 Search still stands out and is a search engine to watch.

  1. The search engine’s focus on security gives it a reputation of being a safe search engine to use. 
  2. In 2013, Qihoo 360 teamed up with Alibaba. 360 eTao was created and redirected to Alibaba’s eTao – one of China’s most significant product search and comparison shopping sites – to better index pages from eTao on 360 Search. To complete the shopping process, eTao directs users to Alibaba’s Taobao and Tmall. To sum it up, eTao offers search results from the largest – mainly Chinese – online shopping platforms, including product searches, sales, and coupons.
  3. Another noteworthy collaboration is the one with Sina Weibo, a microblogging site similar to Twitter. In 2013, Haosou strategically partnered with Weibo to tackle the online gaming market with the Qihoo 360’s Game Center.
  4. In 2017, TikTok/Douyin’s parent company ByteDance hired Wu Kai, former head of Qihoo 360’s search division, in an attempt to increase their in-app search performance and potentially push into the Chinese search engine market.

Now, are you ready to dive into the search engine results pages of the Qihoo 360 search engine?

SERP Results of Qihoo 360 Search Engine

The following results are based on our desktop search for 普拉达 (Prada) on 2 December 2021 from Germany.

First of all, the menu on the top right screen is 360搜索首页 (Home), 反馈 (Feedback), 设置 (Settings), 登录 (Login), and 我的关注 (My Subscriptions).

The menu just below the search bar refers to 网页 (web page), 资讯 (news), 问答 (Q&A), 视频 (video), 图片 (photo), 良医 (good doctor), 地图 (maps), 百科 (encyclopedia), 文库 (docs), 采购 (purchase), 软件 (software), 翻译 (translation), and 关注 (follow).

Below that, 360 Search reveals 为您推荐 (recommended/related search terms for you).

360 Search SERPs on the left hand side

Paid advertisements are marked bold, while internal links to 360 Search sections/platforms are marked italic.

  1. ad to prada.com: marked with 官网 (official website) and 品牌广告 (brand advertisement)
  2. organic result to prada.com: marked with 官网 (official website)
  3. organic result to prada.com: marked with 官网 (official website)
  4. organic result to 360 Baike: marked with 百科 (encyclopedia)
  5. ad to prada.com: marked with 广告 (advertisement)
  6. organic result to price.pcauto.com.cn
  7. organic result to shopping on so.com (普拉达/Prada is pre-selected)
  8. ad to taobao.com: marked with 广告 (advertisement)
  9. organic result to 360kuai.com: marked with 普拉达相关资讯 (prada related information)
  10. organic result to image.so.com
  11. ad to prada.com: marked with 广告 (advertisement)
  12. organic result to m.360video.so.com
  13. organic result to stock.richbays.com
  14. ad to tp.9377s.com: marked with 广告 (advertisement)
  15. organic result to prada.com
  16. organic result to news.so.com
  17. ad to taobao.com: marked with 广告 (advertisement)
  18. ad to 1688.com: 广告 (advertisement)

推荐内容 (recommended content)

  1. ad to taobao.com: marked with 广告 (advertisement)
  2. ad to taobao.com: marked with 广告 (advertisement)
  3. 相关搜索 (related search)

360 Search SERPS on the right hand side

  • A: ad to prada.com: marked with 品牌广告 (brand advertisement)
  • B: 猜您关注 (follow suggestions)
  • C: 实时热点 (real-time trending topics)
  • D: link and phone number to create ads on so.com
  • E: ad for 猜你想搜 (follow suggestions): marked with 广告 (advertisement)
search for 普拉达 (Prada) on 360 Search
Source: so.com, search for 普拉达 (Prada) on 2 December 2021
360 Search SERPs
Source: so.com, search for 普拉达 (Prada) on 2 December 2021
SERPs on 360 Search
Source: so.com, search for 普拉达 (Prada) on 2 December 2021
search engine results pages on 360 Search
Source: so.com, search for 普拉达 (Prada) on 2 December 2021
360 Search China SERPs
Source: so.com, search for 普拉达 (Prada) on 2 December 2021
SERPs on 360 Search in China
Source: so.com, search for 普拉达 (Prada) on 2 December 2021

Finally, the menu at the bottom reads 360搜索APP官网 (Qihoo’s official site), 意见反馈 (feedback), 违法举报 (report illegal activities), 产品论坛 (product forum), 网站收录 (site indexing), 使用帮助 (help), 推广合作 (promotion cooperation), 官方微信 (official WeChat), and 站长平台 (Webmaster Tool).

So, how do 360 Search’s SERPs compare to those of its competitors Baidu, Sogou, and Shenma?

Qihoo 360 Search Engine: Comparison of SERPs with other Chinese Search Engines

Let’s take a look at how the algorithms of other Chinese search engines create their SERPs.

360 Search vs. Baidu

Compared to the SERPs of search market leader Baidu, the SERPs on 360 Searchare similarly structured. Like Baidu, 360 Search is ad-driven (around half of the results on the first page are ads) and driven by links to internal platforms.

Baidu cleverly places and promotes its own platforms like Baidu Baike (like Wikipedia), Baidu Tieba (like Reddit), and Baidu Zhidao (like Quora) on the SERPs. 

The same goes for 360 Search, which seemingly has even more own platforms and search engine sections linked on the first page of its SERPs: 360 Baike (like Wikipedia), a shopping/product search/overview section, 360 News (news aggregator), 360 images, and 360 TV/videos.

However, unlike Baidu, 360 Search doesn’t have a large paid Brand Zone at the top of its SERPs for brands that chose to use this costly banner via Baidu Ads.

360 Search vs. Sogou

Tencent-backed Sogou was founded in 2010 and currently is the second-largest search engine in China after Baidu. With the same investor/owner behind them, Tencent, it is noteworthy that WeChat articles are indexed on Sogou.

The Sogou and 360 Search SERPs are similarly structured. A large brand advertisement and several placed ads (to prada.com and product sites like) are present on the first page of the SERPs as well as links to internal Sogou sites like Sogou Baike, WeChat results, Sogou Videos, Sogou News (news aggregator), Sogou Shopping, and Sogou Images

search results for 普拉达 (Prada) on Sogou
Source: sogou.com, search for 普拉达 (Prada) on 2 December 2021

360 Search vs. Shenma

Alibaba-backed Shenma was launched in 2014. Despite having the power of the Alibaba Group in its back, Shenma is China’s smallest search engine to date. As a “mobile-first” search engine, Shenma is only available for smartphones as an app and via mobile browsing, but not as a desktop version.

The search engine results pages of 360 Search and Shenma are also similarly structured.

search results on Shenma
Source: m.sm.cn

So, what’s next?

SEM on Qihoo 360 Search Engine

Due to its relatively small market size, 360 Search’s algorithm is not yet deeply analyzed by Chinese techies. However, it is likely that the algorithm resembles the one of China’s search engine market leader Baidu.

When optimizing your online content for the Chinese search engine giant Baidu, you basically can generate extra traffic on 360 Search without further efforts, as the algorithm of both search engines is similar. 

In addition, 360 Search PPC ads are a cost-effective way to reach China’s younger to medium generation with a high purchasing power. However, keep in mind that 360 Search has a smaller market share and therefore a lower search volume overall compared to Baidu.

In particular, display ads on 360 Search can be beneficial in Qihoo 360’s extensive app network, where content is often shared and cross-promoted.

Besides, for some industries that are blocked on Baidu, e.g. finances and medical, it may be possible to open an ad account on 360 Search.

User Demographics

Overall, according to 360 Search, its user base is younger, has higher education, and therefore also a higher spending power. What is noteworthy is that the user demographics of Baidu who are 50 years or older seems to be larger compared to 360 Search. 

As an example, let’s take a look at the keyword 塞浦路斯 (Cyprus) in 360 Trends (360 Webmaster Tool) to determine the age demographics of online users who search for this keyword on 360 Search compared to Baidu. These age trends for keyword search are similar across a large variety of keywords.

  • <19 years: 4% on 360 Search vs. 7% on Baidu
  • 20 – 25 years: 22% on 360 Search vs. 28% on Baidu
  • 26 – 35 years: 48% on 360 Search vs. 30% on Baidu
  • 36 – 49 years: 22% on 360 Search vs. 17% on Baidu
  • > 50 years: 4% on 360 Search vs. 18% on Baidu

360 Trends vs. Baidu Index

360 Trends vs. Baidu Index
Source: trends.so.com and index.baidu.com

To sum it up, search engine marketing on 360 Search is a great way to reach a younger audience with high purchasing power and transform them into fans, followers, and loyal customers of your brand.

Good news: Baidu SEO best practices are also effective for the Qihoo 360 search engine. This means while optimizing the content on your Chinese website for Baidu, you’re also optimizing it for 360 Search.

To get started, you first need to create a 360 Webmaster account, add and verify your website and upload your sitemaps to apply for indexation.

Here are our top SEO tips to keep in mind for your Chinese website

  • Write content in Simplified Chinese instead of Traditional Chinese
  • Make sure your website loads fast and doesn’t link to blocked sites in China
  • Use title tags with up to 32 characters and meta descriptions with up to 75 characters
  • Use Pinyin in your slugs instead of Chinese characters or English
  • Create a QR code to link to WeChat, e.g. on your contact page
  • Acquire backlinks from Chinese sites and social media to your website, e.g. by posting articles
  • Use a .cn ccTLD (.cn or .com.cn) domain and host your website in China to get an ICP license
  • Apply https instead of http
  • Use www subdomains
  • Add images with alt-attributes
  • Make the crawling and indexing of your site as easy as possible for search engines, e.g. logical, hierarchical website structure, and as many internal links as possible

As mentioned before, 360 Search favors its own platforms (Baike, news, images, videos) in the organic rankings, just like Baidu. However, compared with Baidu, 360 Search seems to index faster and more frequently though.

Overview of the 360 Webmaster Tool for SEO

Analog to the Google Search Console, the 360 Webmaster Tool allows you to optimize the visibility of your website. To add your website click on the green button “添加网站” (Add site).

Access the 360 Webmaster Tool to optimize the visibility of your website.

360 Webmaster Tool
Source: zhanzhang.so.com

Top menu

Home, Webmaster Tool, Webmaster Forum, Webmaster Academy

Left menu

  • My site: site management
  • Data submission: sitemap submission, URL crawling, dead link submission, crawl diagnosis, automatic crawling
  • Mobile zone: mobile adaptation
  • Data analysis: traffic analysis, keyword analysis, index volume, 360 Trends, spider strength
  • Search impressions: site sub-links, structured data, news source, smart summary, site search, official website certification, customer service telephone submission
  • Optimization and maintenance: 360 Protection badges applications and further tools

In case this sounds too complicated, contact the China marketing experts at China Gravy for assistance.

Finally, the 360 Webmaster Tool comes with a free and easy to use market trend tool, 360 Index, which is similar to Baidu Index. You can explore keywords search trends, audience demographics including location, and more.

Paid ads on 360 Search are similar to paid ads on Google, Baidu, and other search engines. Therefore, we’re focusing on what sets 360 Search ads apart from other search engines ads.

Advantages of 360 Search PPC

To begin with, due to the smaller market size and consequently fewer advertisers, the CPC (cost per click) on 360 Search is cheaper than on Baidu or Sogou. In fact, 360 Search’s CPC can be 30% to 50% less costly compared to Baidu, based on our experience.

Besides, it’s easier to open a 360 Search advertising account, set up and manage ads compared to Baidu. 

For paid search, you can get started by using the same keywords that you are already using on Baidu, monitoring their performance on 360 Search, and tweaking them. 

A great way to get started with keyword research is to use the 360 Trends tool located in the Webmaster Tool and search for trends. Then use the Keyword Volume tool inside the 360 ad account to narrow down your keyword research.

360 Trends, searching for “塞浦路斯 (Cyprus)”

360 Trends tool in the Webmaster Tool
Source: trends.so.com

Once you have identified relevant trends and your target audience, you can start with creating PPC campaigns.

Getting Started with 360 Search Ads

This step-by-step guide makes it easy for you to create and run paid ads on 360 Search.

  1. Sign up and create a 360 Search PPC account. This requires your name, Chinese phone number, business name, and location, among other information. The process normally takes 3-5 working days. 
  2. Go to the ad account to research keywords and create ad campaigns. 
  3. Monitor the performance of your campaign according to KPIs like search volume and demographics as well as in comparison with your competitors.

Running 360 Search Ads on the 360 Smart Business Platform

To get started with 360 Search ads, go to the 360 Smart Business Platform. Click on 快速申请 (Fast Login) in the top right menu to apply for a 360 Business Account.

360 Smart Business Platform
Source: e.360.cn

You can run targeted ads based on location, user interests, demographic characteristics, and much more. 

This brings us to the end of this ultimate introduction guide to 360 Search, Qihoo’s up-and-coming search engine.

Qihoo 360 Search Engine – The Takeaway

Despite its comparatively small market size, 360 Search is a great alternative to search engine market leader Baidu in China. 360 Search’s user demographic is younger, has a higher education and spending power (according to 360 Search disclosure). 

The Qihoo 360 search engine’s smaller market size also makes for a lower CPC for PPC ads, compared to Baidu. Besides, display ads on 360 Search can be beneficial in Qihoo 360’s extensive app network. Also, for some industries that are blocked on Baidu, e.g. finances and medical, it may be possible to open an ad account on 360 Search. 

In terms of SEO, best practices from optimizing your online content for Baidu also boosts your page on 360 Search due to a similar algorithm. Like Baidu, 360 Search favors its own platforms (Baike, news, images, videos) in the organic rankings. Remember to register your website via the 360 Webmaster Tools to monitor your search appearance on 360 Search.

To sum it up, yes, Baidu is the search engine market leader in China. If your brand already performs well on Baidu with implemented SEO and PPC tactics, you can try to further explore the improvement of your rankings and visibility on other Chinese search engines like 360 Search and Sogou for additional traffic at a lower CPC.

Contact China Gravy for your FREE consultation to get started with 360 Search SEO and PPC. Find out more about digital marketing in China.

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