What are the best alternative search engines

7 alternative search engines (tried & tested)

Google currently dominates the global search engine market. Not a day goes by that I don't google something. The same is probably true for you too.

But criticism of Google has increased in recent years. They were punished for, among other things, antitrust issues, the creation of a filter bubble and the violation of users' privacy.

As a result, many users are turning away from the search giant in favor of alternative solutions. Even our own Chief Marketing Officer (CMO), Tim, has changed:

Decided to make @DuckDuckGo my default search engine.

Will share my experience with it by attaching new tweets to this thread.

👇

I wonder who else has DDG as their default search engine? pic.twitter.com/sWC0znE782

- Tim Soulo (@timsoulo) September 20, 2019

So if you're looking for a Google alternative, what are your viable options?

What is the best alternative search engine?

To answer this question, I conducted an experiment.

I researched some of the most popular Google alternatives and set each of them as my default search engine for a day. Then I went through my daily work to see if I noticed anything important.

I also rated each search engine on its commitment to protecting user data and privacy.

Here are the results, starting with my favorite:

1. StartPage

Out of all the search engines I've tested, this is my first choice.

Why? StartPage only uses results from Google, so it's effectively Google without the tracking.

How "private" is it?

StartPage does not record your IP address and no tracking cookies are used. But since it uses the results from Google, how do we know it won't send any information to Google?

Here is an excerpt from their privacy policy:

When you search on Startpage.com, your search query is automatically freed from unnecessary metadata, including the IP address and other information that could identify you. We send the anonymized search query to Google and send the search results back to you. Your search query is not logged.

For privacy-conscious users, it can also be a comforting fact that StartPage is based in the Netherlands, which are part of the European Union (EU). As a result, it complies with the GDPR in the EU, which protects users' data.

However, you should know that the Netherlands is part of the Nine Eyes intelligence alliance. This shares mass surveillance data with eight countries, including those notorious for privacy violations like the US and the UK.

One cool StartPage feature is called "Anonymous View".

This protects you from website fingerprints, cookies, social media tracking pixels and other invasions of privacy when visiting websites.

Find out more here.

2. Qwant

Qwant is a search engine that was launched in 2013 and is based in Paris.

The search results are supplied by Bing and supplemented by the results from its own web crawler.

In all honesty, I felt like Qwant is pretty good. My only criticism was the localized results. A search for “rice with chicken near me” - a popular dish in Singapore - returned results from the United States.

To be fair, it has to be said that this topic is not just about Qwant. Privacy-conscious search engines don't track your geolocation, so it's difficult for them to deliver good local results.

privacy

Qwant does not collect any data and does not use tracking cookies. It also separates your request and your IP address for further anonymity.

Like StartPage, Qwant is also based in the EU and therefore offers GDPR protection. However, France is part of the Nine Eyes intelligence alliance.

Qwant offers "search shortcuts" that allow you to search for results from a specific website.

A search, for example, will find results from the Amazon Books category.

You can find the full list of search abbreviations here.

3. DuckDuckGo

Probably the most popular private search engine DuckDuckGo (DDG) has positioned itself as "Anti-Google" since it was launched in 2008.

DuckDuckGo draws its results from over 400 different sources, including its own crawler (DuckDuckBot), from crowdsourcing websites (e.g. Wikipedia) and from partners (e.g. Bing).

This may be an unpopular view, but I found DuckDuckGo's search results to be good, but not exceptional.

For example, I recently saw a video on Facebook of a man scooping water from a flooded street. I recognized the background of the video as Venice (Italy). Wanting to know what had happened, I searched DuckDuckGo for “Venice” but I didn't see any relevant results. However, a similar search on Google showed results about the flooding in the city.

privacy

According to DuckDuckGo, it doesn't store any personally identifiable information like IP addresses. It also doesn't use tracking cookies. However, it does remember searches despite claiming to do so in an unidentifiable manner.

However, DDG is based in the USA, i.e. it is part of the Five Eyes secret service alliance. Data protection-oriented users can also point out the fact that the US repeatedly carries out mass surveillance programs and collects data from various Internet companies (e.g. PRISM and MUSCULAR).

The "Bangs" function of DuckDuckGo leads you directly to the search results on other websites. For example, if you enter “! W” and a keyword (e.g.! W singapore), you will be taken directly to the Wikipedia page for Singapore.

4. Ecosia

It may not be obvious to you as the end user, but every Google search contributes to the creation of carbon dioxide. According to Quartz, the search engine is responsible for ~ 40% of the internet's carbon footprint.

The Ecosia group of companies wants to counteract this. She donates 80% of her profits to tree planting projects, which equates to roughly one tree planted for every 50 searches. It also built a solar panel so it could run servers on clean electricity.

Ecosia's search results are supported by Bing and improved by its own algorithms. I found Ecosia's results mostly good enough.

privacy

However, if you read their privacy policy, you will find that Ecosia is not that privacy focused.

First of all, it collects search data. According to them, this data is used to improve their web services. All personal information (e.g. IP addresses) is only deleted after seven days.

Since Bing provides the search results with data, Ecosia also shares some details with Bing in order to answer your search query. Here's what Ecosia says:

[...] For example, if you carry out a search on Ecosia, we will forward the following information to our partner Bing: IP address, user agent ID, search term and some settings such as your country and language settings.

In addition, Ecosia sets a Bing-specific “Client ID” parameter by default in order to improve the quality of your search results. If you have activated "Do not track" in your browser, we will automatically deactivate the "Client ID". You can also deactivate this function by changing your user settings.

If you are concerned about your privacy, Ecosia is probably not your best choice.

Click the Resolution drop-down list on the Videos tab to filter for video results of varying quality.

5. Swisscows

As the name suggests, Swisscows is a search engine based in Switzerland. It has its own index for German searches, but uses Bing results for other languages.

Swisscows describes itself as "family-friendly". It automatically filters out all violent and pornographic search results. This function is enforced. There is no way to change it in the settings.

While I thought Swisscows' search results could be better, it made it onto the list thanks to its strong commitment to privacy.

privacy

Swisscows does not collect any data about its users. It does not use tracking cookies or geo-targeting.

If you're concerned about partnering with Bing, you'll be relieved to know that it is routing requests through a firewall to remove personal identifiers.

You will also be happy to learn that Switzerland is not part of the five, nine or fourteen eyes secret service alliance. However, it has a mutual legal assistance agreement with the US.

Swisscows offers "semantic maps" that help you to further refine your search.

6. Bing

Bing is owned by tech giant Microsoft and is the second largest web search engine in the US with a ~ 6% market share.

If you're looking for a search engine with similar capabilities to Google, Bing is probably your best bet. Familiar functions such as translation, currency conversions, time, fields of knowledge are all available.

In all fairness, while it's the closest alternative to Google, there aren't many benefits to using Bing. There's no privacy benefit, the quality of the results is roughly equivalent, the experience is similar, and it is owned by one of the top five technology companies.

You should also know that in early 2019, Bing faced some serious problems regarding their safe search.

privacy

Bing is no privacy-focused search engine. Microsoft collects data from all of your interactions with its products.

Bing allows you to preview videos directly in the SERPs:

7. Yahoo

Formerly one of the largest Internet companies in the world, Yahoo is now a shadow of its former self.

Its once popular search engine is now powered by Bing. Surprisingly, however, it is still the third most popular web search engine in the world, holding 1.6% of the global market share.

One thing I don't like about Yahoo is that the line between paid and organic results is unclear.

Yahoo's search results are decent, but the user interface leaves a lot to be desired. It's practically Bing, but worse. In my opinion, it would only make sense to use Yahoo if you are already using their other services such as news, finance, or sports.

privacy

Yahoo is no privacy-focused search engine. The company collects personal information when you register and use any of its products or services.

Since Verizon acquired Yahoo in 2017, there may also be some data sharing with the Verizon family of companies for research, product improvement, etc.

You should also know that the most significant data breaches on the Internet are Yahoo! They have been heavily criticized for their laissez-faire attitude towards cybersecurity.

Did you know Ahrefs is building a search engine? The reason for this is…

Google generates billions of dollars in advertising revenue annually, a large part of which comes from Google search users.

If you are not familiar with the procedure:

When you search for something on Google, you see two types of results: organic and paid. When you click on a paid result, Google makes money from the advertiser for referring a potential customer to it. If you click on an organic result like most people do, Google doesn't earn anything.

So what's the problem?

With transactional queries like “Buy x” nothing. Both advertisers and those who rank organically will often benefit from the traffic Google sends them because they have something to sell.

The problem is that most of the requests are non-transactional. About 80% of Google searches are informative. This means that the searcher is not in buy mode, but in learning mode.

Many of the sites that can be used for such inquiries are non-profit organizations like Wikipedia, and they are run by passionate people who have no other motive than disseminating knowledge.

Unfortunately, these are the people and organizations that are being neglected - and often stifled - in Google's business model.

For example, Wikipedia ranks an estimated 195 million searches on Google in the US ...

... but because it has nothing to sell, it has to beg for donations just to keep afloat.

Google ranks websites like Wikipedia because they provide useful information. And when its users are able to find such information with the help of the service, they keep coming back for more.

It is inevitable that they do transactional queries, click on paid results, and Google get paid.

In short, Google's commercial success relies to a large extent on the information that is provided by other providers - and yet Google does not offer anything in return.

In the past few years, Google has even started showing content from these websites in its search results.

This often reduces (or eliminates) the need to click on the results, further reducing the monetization options for the sites Google pulls information from.

At Ahrefs, we believe this is unfair for content creators. Therefore, we would like to take the first step to question the status quo.

We plan to create a search engine with a 90/10 profit-sharing model - one that will share the advertising profits with the content writers who make the search results possible.

Our CEO announced this in 2019:

Ahrefs is working on general purpose search engine to compete with Google. Sounds crazy, right?
But lets talk about two huge problems with Google which they will never want to fix:

- Dmitry Gerasimenko (@botsbreeder) March 27, 2019

We have already started developing such a search engine behind the scenes.

With the help of this model, we hope that websites like Wikipedia no longer have to ask for donations every year to stay afloat.

If you want to know more about our plans, I recommend you read this article from our founder and CEO Dmitry.

Final thoughts

Choosing a search engine is a personal decision. Everyone's criteria and concerns are different.

My advice is to play around with the alternatives on this list and decide what works for you.

Missed a good alternative search engine? What do you think of our plans to create our own search engine? Let me know in the comments or on Twitter.

Translated bysehrausch.de: Search engine & conversion optimization, online marketing & paid advertising. A perfect fit from a single source.