7 alternative search engines (tested and proven)

Google dominates

currently the world market of search engines. Not a day goes by without me searching for something on Google. This is probably the case for you too.
But criticism of Google has been mounting in recent years. The company has been fined for antitrust issues, the creation of a filter bubble and the violation of user privacy (between other things).

As a result, many users are turning away from the search behemoth in favor of other solutions. Even our own marketing director, Tim, changed his mind:

So, if you're looking for an alternative to Google, what viable options do you have?

What is the best alternative search engine?

To answer this question, I conducted an experiment.

I researched the most popular alternatives to Google and made each of them my default search engine for a day. I then reviewed my daily work to see if I noticed anything significant.

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

Here are the results, starting with my favorite:

1. StartPage

Of all the search engines I have tested, this is my top choice.

Why? StartPage uses exclusively Google results, so it is effectively Google without the tracking.

Is it private?

StartPage does not register your address IP and does not use tracking cookies. But since it uses Google results, how do you know it's not sending information to Google?

Here is an excerpt from their confidentiality rules:

When you perform a search, your query is automatically stripped of unnecessary metadata, including your address IP

and other identifying information. We send the anonymized search query to Google and return the search results to you.
Privacy-conscious users can also take comfort in the fact that StartPage is based in the Netherlands, which is part of the European Union(EU). Therefore, it is in accordance with the GDPRa regulation of theEU which protects user data.

However, you should know that the Netherlands is part of theNine Eyes information alliance. It shares mass surveillance data with eight countries, including those notorious for privacy violations, such as the United States and the United Kingdom.

Spotlight on features

An interesting feature of StartPage is called "Anonymous View".

It protects you against Fingerprints of websitesCookies, social media tracking pixels and other privacy invasions when visiting websites.

For more information click here.

2. Qwant

Started in 2013, Qwant is a search engine based in Paris.

Its search results are fed by Bing and completed by those collected by its own web crawler.

Honestly, I found Qwant to be quite good. My only complaint is the localized results. A search for "chicken rice near me" - a popular dish in Singapore - yielded results from the US.

In all honesty, this problem is not unique to Qwant. Privacy-oriented search engines do not track your geolocation, so it is difficult for them to provide good local results.

What is the level of confidentiality?

Qwant do collection no data and uses not tracking cookies. It also separates your request from your address IP for more anonymity.

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

Spotlight on features

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

For example, by performing a search such as &booksyou will get results in the "books" category of Amazon.

3. DuckDuckGo

Probably the most popular private search engine, DuckDuckGo(DDG) has positioned itself as "anti-Google" since its launch in 2008.

DuckDuckGo gets its results from more than 400 different sourcesincluding its own crawler (DuckDuckBot), crowdsourcing sites (e.g. Wikipedia) and partners (e.g. Bing).

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

For example, I was recently browsing Facebook and saw a video of a man clearing water from a flooded street. I recognized the background of the video as Venice, Italy. Wanting to know what happened, I searched for "venice" in DuckDuckGo but saw no relevant results. Yet a similar search in Google yielded results about flooding in the city.

How private is it?

According to DuckDuckGo, it does not store Personally identifiable information, such as addresses IP. It also does not use tracking cookies. However, it does record searches, but claims to do so in a non-identifiable way.

That said, DDG is based in the United States, which means that it is part of the Five Eyes intelligence alliance. Privacy-conscious users may also point to the fact that the U.S. repeatedly conducts mass surveillance programs and collects data from various Internet companies (e.g, PRISM and MUSCULAR).

Spotlight on an article

The " Bangs "DuckDuckGo's search engine allows you to go directly to search results on other sites. For example, if you type in "!w" and a keyword (e.g., !w singapore), you'll be taken directly to the Wikipedia page on Singapore.

duckduckgo bangs 1

4. Ecosia

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

Additional note.

See how many CO2

is generated per second by Google.

The company behind Ecosia wants to counter this phenomenon. It pays 80 % of its profits to tree-planting projects, which is approximately one tree planted for every 50 searches. She also is building a solar power plant in order to run its servers on clean energy.

Ecosia's search results are powered by Bing and enhanced by its own algorithms. I found Ecosia's results to be good enough most of the time.

How confidential is it?

Ecosia claims to be a private search engine. However, if you read its privacy policyYou will see that it is not so privacy oriented.

First, it collects search data. This data, they say, is used to improve their web services. Only after seven days, all personal information (e.g., addresses IP ) are removed.

Also, since Bing is the source of their search results, they share some details with them to fulfill your search request. Here's what Ecosia says:

[...] when you search on Ecosia, we transmit the following information to our partner, Bing: address IP, user agent string, search term and some parameters such as your country and language.

In addition, by default, Ecosia defines a " IDBing-specific "client" to improve the quality of your search results. If your browser has "Do Not Track" enabled, we will automatically disable the "Bing Client" feature. ID

You can also choose to disable this feature by changing your user settings. You can also choose to disable this feature by changing your user settings."
If you are concerned about privacy, Ecosia is probably not the best choice.

Spotlight on an article

Click the resolution drop-down menu on the Videos tab to filter the results for videos of varying quality.

5. Swiss cows

As its name suggests, Swisscows is a Swiss-based search engine. It has its own index for German queries but uses Bing results for other languages.

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

While I feel that Swisscows' search results could be better, the site was chosen for its strong commitment to privacy.

What is the level of confidentiality?

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

If you're concerned about the Bing partnership, you'll be relieved to know that requests go through a firewall to eliminate personal identifiers.

You will also be pleased to know that Switzerland is not part of the Five, Nine or Fourteen Eyes intelligence alliance. However, it has entered into a mutual legal assistance treaty with the United States.

Spotlight on an article

Swisscows offers "semantic maps" to help you refine your searches.

6. Bing

Owned by technology giant Microsoft, Bing is the second largest Internet search engine in the United States, with a market share of approximately 6 %.

If you're looking for a search engine with Google-like features, Bing is probably your best choice. Familiar features like translation, currency conversions, time, knowledge panels are all available.

Currency conversion in Bing search results. You'd think it was Google.

Honestly, although it is the closest alternative to Google, there are not many advantages to using Bing. There are no privacy benefits, the quality of results is about the same, the experience is similar and Bing belongs to one of the five major technology companies.

You should also know that in early 2019, Bing has encountered serious problems with its secure search.

What is the level of confidentiality?

Bing n' is not a search engine focused on privacy. Microsoft data collection from all your interactions with its products.

Spotlight on features

Bing allows you to preview videos directly in the SERPs:

7. Yahoo

Once 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 remains the third most popular search engine in the world, with 1.6 % of global market share.

One thing I don't like about Yahoo is that the delineation between paid and organic results is not clear.

The announcements are not clearly marked, and the only way to see them is by the barely perceptible separator.

Yahoo's search results are decent, but theuser interface leaves much to be desired. It's effectively Bing, only worse. In my opinion, the only reason it would make sense to use Yahoo is if you already use their other services like news, finance or sports.

How private is it?

Yahoo n'is not a privacy-focused search engine. The Company collects personal information when you register and use any of its products or services.

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

You should also be aware that the most significant data breaches on the Internet belong to Yahoo. The company has been heavily criticized for its laissez-faire attitude to cybersecurity.

Did you know that Ahrefs is building a search engine? Here's why.

Google wins tens of billions of dollars per year in advertising revenue, much of which comes from Google search users.

In case you are not familiar with how this works:

When you do a search on Google, you get two types of results: organic results and paid results. If you click on a paid result, Google gets money from the advertiser for sending a potential customer to them. If you click on an organic result, as most people do, Google earns nothing.

So what's the problem?

For transactional queries like "buy x", nothing. Advertisers and organic rankers often benefit from the traffic Google sends them because they have something to sell.

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

Most of the sites that are ranked for these queries are non-profit entities, such as Wikipedia, and sites run by passionate people who have no other motivation than to spread knowledge.

Unfortunately, these are the people and organizations that Google's business model overlooks - and often stifles.

For example, Wikipedia is ranked for about 195 million queries on Google in the United States..

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

Google ranks sites like Wikipedia because they offer useful information. And when its users are able to find that information using the service, they come back for more.

Inevitably, they make transactional queries, click on paid results, and Google gets paid.

In short, Google's commercial success relies heavily on information provided by others, but it offers nothing in return.

In recent years, Google has even begun to display the content of these sites in its search results.

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

At Ahrefs, we think this situation is unfair to content creators. That's why we want to take the first step to challenge the status quo.

We intend to create a search engine with a 90/10 profit-sharing model, which shares advertising profits with the content creators who make the search results possible.

Our CEO announced in 2019:

We have already started to develop one behind the scenes.

With this model, we hope that sites like Wikipedia will no longer need to ask for donations every year to stay afloat.

If you want to know more about our projects, I recommend you read this article by our founder and CEODmitry.

Last thoughts

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

I suggest you play around with the alternatives on this list and decide what works best for you.

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