“When in doubt, Google it” – this is the mantra for millions of internet users across the world. Google is the cult leader when it comes to knowing and sharing things on the internet.
While it is true that Google accounts for over more than 90% of the world’s search engine market, increasing concerns over user privacy over the years has prompted users to look for alternative search engines.
This brings up a lot of questions such as – What is the best alternative to Google? What search engines should I use instead of Google?
It may come as a surprise that there are indeed many better search engines other than Google. These search engines not only offer better privacy but also have better features in comparison. There are search engines that contribute to charities and even those that you can host as your own.
In this article, we’re going to examine:
- Search Encrypt
The largest search engine after Google, Microsoft’s Bing is easy to use and offers features that are similar to Google such as keyword research, rich snippets, translation, knowledge graphs, conversion calculator, and even its own webmaster tools.
Launched in 2009 by Microsoft, Bing is preceded by earlier search engines such as MSN Search and Live Search. Despite having features that are similar to Google, Bing holds just under 7% of the US search engine market. This shows how severely underestimated Bing is.
What makes Bing a good alternative to Google?
Bing provides a more visual experience and is a great search engine for visual searches. This is evident on the homepage which has beautiful daily background images. The video searches yield results in the form of large thumbnails that can also be previewed in the results. Bing offers a rewards feature that rewards users for using the platform. This can be redeemed at the Microsoft store to purchase movies and apps which is quite handy. – It has advanced features like machine-learning predictions for things such as sports scores, elections, etc. which makes Bing an innovative platform.
Cons of using Bing:
Though Bing makes a great alternative for Google, it was made in the image of Google which means it also collects user data for personalized targeted ads. If it is an anonymous search engine that you need, then this may not be the best choice.
Yahoo was created in 1994 by David Filo and Jerry Yang and dominated the 90’s and early 2000’s. Though its popularity has decreased over the years, it is the third-largest search engine in the US, dominating approximately 3% of the search market. Currently owned by Verizon median and powered by Bing, Yahoo still has some unique features that make it a good alternative to Google.
What makes Yahoo a good alternative to Google?
A combination of email, news, games, online shopping, etc. makes it a one-stop for all user needs. Its combination with Flickr, Yahoo answers, Yahoo finance also means that it can offer better image results and in-depth information on various topics as Yahoo pulls data from other services as well.
Cons of using Yahoo:
Since it is powered by Bing, Yahoo also collects user data which means being anonymous is not an option.
Baidu is a Chinese search engine. China does not have access to Google services, hence they use their own search engine which is Baidu.
Though Baidu is a Google alternative, you may not find in-depth information on some topics due to heavy censorship. Certain images and topics and even websites are blocked on this search engine. If your business is expanding to China, this may be an alternate search engine to look at and optimize accordingly.
Does Baidu have an advantage over Google?
Baidu’s advantage over Google is when you have business or consumers in China. Since Baidu is the search engine that works there, optimizing your content for Baidu and focusing on ranking for this search engine would be the best approach.
Cons of using Baidu:
- Limited search results and heavy censorship.
Yandex is a popular search engine that is based in Russia. It is one of the top 5 search engines in the world in terms of search market share.
Like Google, Yandex has a whole suite of tools including email, analytics, image and video search, translation tool, etc. In addition to this, Yandex also offers services like advertisements, television programming, shopping, transportation, mobile apps, e-commerce, and even its own browser.
What makes Yandex a better alternative search engine?
Though Yandex offers features and services that are similar to Google its win lies in its huge market presence in Russia. Almost 60% of the search market share in Russia is held by Yandex and it is also popular in other regions such as Ukraine, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, Belarus, and Turkey. This will benefit anyone looking to expand their business by attracting consumers in these regions. Yandex provides the same functionalities such as website, image and video search, maps, mobile apps, etc., but with a less clunky interface.
Cons of using Yandex
- Search results may not be as great for local searches such as finding things near me. This will have to be done manually by searching on maps.
- Search engines that focus on privacy
- One of the main reasons that internet users are looking for alternatives to Google is privacy. The personalized experience that Google provides comes at the cost of a user’s privacy. All those targeted ads can at one point get annoying. More users are aware of cybersecurity and the recent market trend shows an increase in the demand for privacy-focused alternative search engines. Here are some search engines that assure privacy while browsing.
DuckDuckGo is one of the most popular search engines that places high importance on the privacy of its users. This search engine which was founded in 2008 by Gabriel Weinberg retrieves searches from over 400 different sources.
DuckDuckGo which operates with the slogan “The search engine that doesn’t track you” combines a metasearch engine and a private web crawler. For this, DuckDuckGo uses its own program DuckDuckBot along with service providers like Bing and Yandex.
What makes DuckDuckGo a better alternative search engine?
It has high data protection standards when compared to Google. It avoids filter bubbles. A filter bubble is when users see personalized search results based on their browsing history. DuckDuckGo does not store any personal information, IP addresses, or user’s search history. Users can filter commercial search results and are also offered the choice of searching for images, videos, news, and products.
This Dutch search engine company retrieves results from Google but without tracking and storing the search history which makes it a great alternative to Google. StartPage includes a URL generator, a proxy service, and HTTPS support. It also remembers user settings in such a way that user privacy is maintained without collecting cookies.
- What makes StartPage a better alternative search engine? Results are retrieved from Google’s database without collecting cookies or delivering any user data to Google. Anonymous search results are retrieved using its own search algorithm.
- Uses proxy service. Finances itself using non-targeted ads
Cons of using StartPage:
- Data is fetched only from Google
- Only uses EU server
- Only offers web, image, and video searches
Qwant is a French search engine that emphasizes data protection. It does not track user search patterns or use a filter bubble. Though temporary cookies are used, Qwant does not collect any personal data and also blocks cookies used for commercial purposes. With a pleasing interface that highlights trending topics and news stories on the homepage, search results can be found in organized categories under Web, News, and Social. Another great feature of Qwant is the dedicated section for music lovers. This section will help users discover new music and lyrics with Artificial Intelligence.
Though Qwant mainly uses its own technology for search results, it also combines its crawler with search results from giants like Microsoft Bing. Being based in France also means that they adhere to European privacy protection laws which are much stricter than other places like the US. Much like Google’s version for children, Qwant also offers a safer alternative for the younger users called the Qwant junior that can be accessed by clicking on “Junior” under the product section.
What makes Qwant a better alternative search engine?
- Focussed on data privacy, thus giving anonymity to users
- Great search engine for music, news, notebooks
- Cleaner interface that gives efficient and organized search result
Cons of using Qwant:
- Uses only EU server
- Slightly confusing design
Swisscows is also a European search engine that focuses on user privacy. It offers encrypted searches and does not store any personal data, search queries, or IP addresses. Their servers are based in Switzerland, which means they have strict privacy policies and safeguard users.
Swisscow has a built-in filter for pornography and violence that can’t be overridden, thus ensuring a safe web experience for children. Another highlight of Swisscows is that this search engine provides intuitive search results by using semantic information. The use of semantic search also allows Swisscows to show other related content and queries that are immensely helpful for users.
What makes Swisscows a better alternative to Google?
- Data privacy and security
- Built-in filters provide family-friendly content
- An innovative search algorithm that uses semantic data recognition to give faster, intuitive results
Cons of using Swisscows:
- Uses EU servers
Search Encrypt is a privacy-based metasearch engine that provides extensive results from partner sites without using personalized data. By implementing a combination of encryption methods which include SSL encryption and AES-256 encryption, Search Encrypt ensures that users’ personal data and search history cannot be tracked. Another interesting feature of Search Encrypt is that it erases your local browsing history after 15 minutes of inactivity.
What makes Search Encrypt a better alternative to Google?
- Encrypted methods are used to protect users’ search results and personal data.
- Uses data from an extensive collection of partner sites and has over 23 million visitors each day.
- Automatically deletes browsing history after 15 minutes of inactivity.
Cons of Search Encrypt:
- The website claims that it doesn’t track any ‘identifiable information about users’ IP addresses’ which may suggest that it tracks search queries but anonymizes them.
- Runs on Amazon servers in the US.
Launched in 2009, Gibiru focuses not just on privacy issues but also on censorship. This alternative search engine provides free, uncensored anonymous search results. Gibiru also claims to ‘not save your search query on its servers’, and that records are wiped clean within seconds of performing the search. Pretty neat huh? By adding the AnonymoX Firefox add-on, all search requests will be sent through proxy IP addresses providing users with private, unbiased search results while ensuring anonymity.
Why is Gibiru a better alternative search engine?
- Gibiru tackles both privacy and censorship.
- It sources results from a modified Google algorithm so privacy is assured.
- Gibiru does not install tracking cookies and hence provides quicker search results.
OneSearch, launched in January 2020 by Verizon Media, is a privacy-focused search engine. This brand new search engine promises 6 core privacy features:
- No cookie tracking or retargeting
- No tracking or storing user search history
- No sharing personal data with advertisers
- Unfiltered, unbiased search results
- Encrypted search keywords
- Links that expire after an hour of being shared
What makes OneSearch a better alternative search engine?
With privacy as its main focus, OneSearch yields results that are retrieved from Bing. This means that you get extensive and accurate results without being targeted and hounded by personalized ads. This makes OneSearch a good option as an alternative search engine.
Search Engines that help the planet
What if your browsing habits can also help you give to charity and the environment? Interestingly, there are innovative search engines that offer privacy and a better alternative solution to Google while helping you give back to society and the environment. Here are some search engines that donate to charity when users use their platforms.
Ecosia, which has gained popularity over the past decade, makes an active contribution to the environment by planting a new tree every 1.3 seconds according to their data. With each web search, users are contributing to planting a new tree. It is suggested that approximately 45 searches are required to finance a tree, which users can keep track of using a counter.
What makes it possible you ask? Revenue generated by advertising makes this possible. 80% of the revenue from advertisements is used for reforestation projects all over the world. The search results and advertisements are delivered by Microsoft Bing, but Ecosia combines this with their own algorithms, giving quicker and efficient results. Based in Berlin, Ecosia prides itself on being a sustainable search engine.
Is Ecosia a good alternative to Google?
Ecosia may not be a fully privacy-focused search engine but still provides a degree of anonymity and also has commendable charity goals and would be a good alternative to use.
giveWater is one of the essential things needed for humans to survive. Unfortunately, there are millions of people over the globe struggling for this basic need. And those who do get access to it may not necessarily get clean drinking water. giveWater, a self-described “social impact search engine” allows users to help solve water quality and sanitation issues in developing countries.
How does giveWater help Charity?
Can giveWater be used as a Google alternative?
Since giveWater generated profits from paid ads, data tracking can be a concern for those looking for anonymity. However, it can still be a good alternative to Google since it is focused on charity and would be a good choice for users who want to actively contribute to it.
Ekoru is an eco-friendly search engine that is gaining popularity as more people are being conscious of climate change and its threat to our planet. A search using Ekoru helps clean up oceans and also contributes to several causes ranging from reforestation to animal welfare.
Ekoru contributes 60% of its monthly revenue to support various charities that contribute to tackling climate change. They also use renewable energy sources like hydroelectricity to power their servers and do not track or store user data – a double win for this search engine. An ethical search engine, Ekoru also claims to help raise funds for Big Blue Ocean Cleanup and puts the environment first.
Can Ekoru be used as a Google alternative?
Ekoru not only focuses on data privacy but also the environment which makes it a good alternative for Google.
Other alternatives to search engines
Now let us take a look at some other alternatives that can be used for web searches. These may not have the full functionality of a Google search but can be a good option to look at depending on the user’s need.
WolframAlpha is not a search engine strictly speaking. It is an answer engine that can help you with information. When you need to find information on a particular subject that can take long hours of browsing on the internet, WolframAlpha can come in handy. It provides an array of information on a vast number of topics. The answers might be technical but it gives you expert knowledge using
WolframAlpha’s breakthrough algorithms, knowledgebase, and AI technology. Though it may not be able to direct you to the nearest coffee shop it can give you all information on the history of coffee shops or info on coffee and the amount of caffeine in each type. It does not track search queries and gives you a certain level of privacy. Besides displaying expert answers on topics, it also allows calculation and comparison. In the premium version, users can also upload files to analyze them. Another interesting fact is that Apple’s search assistant Siri and the search engine Bing also use data from this answer engine.
Can WolframAlpha be used as a Google alternative?
- WolframAlpha can understand search queries very well and deliver direct facts. But it cannot per se be used as an alternative to Google though it can save a lot of time used in browsing the net for information related to a particular subject. If needed, users can find the source with an additional click and carry on from there. Cons
- Only offers direct data with no further or intuitive answers or opinions
- Offers little data protection
SearX is a metasearch engine that aims to make the internet more decentralized by offering unbiased data and protecting user privacy. It collects data from an extensive collection of sources including Google, Yahoo, and DuckDuckGo. SearX is an open-source engine that is available to everyone for a source code review and contributions on GitHub.
It even allows you to customize and host it on your server as your own metasearch engine. That is pretty neat, huh? With options to make changes to the settings, this would make a great alternative to Google and other search engines.
Why is SearX a good alternative to Google?
- Easy to customize for privacy
- Multiple options for improving search results
- Collects data from numerous sources to give extensive, quick, and unbiased results.
Disconnect is an open-source browser extension rather than a search engine. It does not display results on its own homepage. Instead, when a query is entered it reroutes the query and anonymizes it through Disconnect’s server after which it displays the results on the selected search engine.
Being a browser extension, it does not have a search page but with this, you can use your favorite search engine without worrying over privacy. Revenue is earned from a premium VPN service and so the search results are not filled with ads or affiliates. Disconnect also has a variety of privacy-focused apps and browser extensions that can block tracking sites, view ad requests, etc.
Is Disconnect a good alternative to Google?
Though Disconnect cannot be used as a complete alternative search engine, it can be used in conjunction with your favorite search engine and guarantees privacy.
It can be used on Chrome, Firefox, Safari, Opera, Android, and iOS and is a great choice for searching the web anonymously.
Boardreader is another useful search engine that comes in handy when you are looking for a forum or message board to research a specific topic or subject. This search engine retrieves data by crawling through an extensive variety of message boards and forums online to give users the required forum or web bulletin.
Though Google is a giant and the go-to solution for web users, its mounting privacy and data issues are becoming a concern for many. It is not the most eco-friendly or secure search engine there is.
The abovementioned list is not exhaustive but just a glimpse of what’s out there. Finding an alternative to Google or finding the best search engine is subject to individual needs and they differ from user to user.