Every day you hear someone say “Google it”. Are there even alternative Search Engines out there?
Nowadays, it seems like Google has become a monolith of the Internet. A far cry from it search engine days, Google’s usage goes beyond looking up answers online to managing your business’s website, your email, and even cloud-synced files such as word documents, spreadsheets, presentation slides, and more.
Comprising over 80% of the search market, Google’s widespread use and presence is no surprise. Google has even become well-integrated into the English language as a verb—when in doubt, simply Google it out!
But for those who are concerned about Internet privacy, or are willing to trade in Google’s personalized user-interface for something more secure, it’s not a bad idea to look into alternative search engines. While the search engine claims it doesn’t sell out user information to a third-party, Google still holds onto a lot of user information regardless. Some of this data includes the type of device you’re using as well as information to customize ads shown to you. But that’s not all—the information Google collects even shows where you go and how long you stay at a specific location even if you’re not using Google Maps.
If you want to protect your privacy and go Google-free, there’s plenty of options available to you. We list the top ten alternative search engines to consider as your main Internet search engine without Google’s data-hoarding policies.
The second most popular search engine on the Internet, Bing is owned by Microsoft. powers Yahoo’s search engine, and has about 20% of the world’s search market. While Bing’s influence pales in comparison to Google, there are multiple perks to using Bing as your search engine.
The first perk is that as you search, you can accumulate points. These points can then be redeemed at the Microsoft and Windows store for special gifts. Gifts include Microsoft store discounts, Skype credits, Xbox membership, or gift cards for Starbucks, Amazon, Domino’s Pizza, and more.
Another perk to using Bing is its clean user interface. Compared to Google, Bing’s user interface is more user-friendly, and when searching for a video query, Bing’s video search allows users to preview videos while also providing more video suggestions related to your search.
Last but not least, several other perks with using Bing include twice as much search query recommendations and even airfare price tracking. The search engine will estimate whether or not the airfare prices you’re browsing will grow or lower in the future, which we find handy for those who travel often.
In terms of search engines which value protecting user privacy and information, DuckDuckGo is one of the top contenders. The main focus of this search engine is to provide a way for search engine users to get the information they need without having their data tracked or collected.
DuckDuckGo also provides informational articles on protecting your privacy while browsing the Internet. Whether you’re a Linux user, want tips on how to encrypt your computer, want to learn more about data privacy, DuckDuckGo has you covered.
DuckDuckGo is available for iOS and Android. If you are using Google Chrome, this search engine also provides an extension so you can use it no matter the browser and device.
Though Yahoo is far from its glory days where it was once a search engine competing against Google, this search engine is still popular among users who frequent the site. Yahoo’s search engine technically runs on Bing, but it has its bonuses as well.
For example, users of Yahoo have access to many more shopping options, and if searching for a video, users can sort through videos by resolution, length, and source. For those who need to look up a particular image, Yahoo allows users to sort through image search via not only size but also color and use as well.
While Yahoo’s user interface can be a little daunting to the first-time user, there is a reason why this cornerstone search engine is still around. Not to mention, who doesn’t get a kick from using Yahoo Answers once in a while?
Search Encrypt is another search engine focused on providing a secure search engine experience for its users. Similar to DuckDuckGo, this search engine’s main goal is to provide search results to users without collecting information. However, Search Encrypt takes it to another level by adding several privacy-protecting features.
One such feature is preventing the tracking of searches. Search Encrypt will cut off attempts to track your search and deliver the information you need without having to sacrifice your data. Another encryption measure Search Encrypt uses is to encrypt the search terms you input.
Though Search Encrypt doesn’t have the same amount of resources as DuckDuckGo, they have stricter privacy measures for local browsing. Compared to other search engine options, Search Encrypt will delete your search history after thirty minutes of inactivity, which is a bonus for those who use shared computers or don’t want their search history to be saved.
For individuals who not only want Internet privacy but also are supportive of sustainable energy, Ecosia is the perfect search engine. Every search query inputted into Ecosia is an investment towards planting trees. How does this work?
Ecosia basically takes the ad money it earns and puts at least half of it towards planting trees. The other half of Ecosia’s raised funds go towards outreach, green energy investments, and management costs. No funds are given to third-party groups compared to Google. Ecosia also powers its servers with renewable energy sources—all of Ecosia’s energy is created via solar panels, and each search is akin to 1 kg of carbon removed from the atmosphere.
In terms of data privacy, users can be rest assured that their search results are encrypted and won’t be sold to third-party advertisers. Ecosia also strives to prevent third-party tracking of all searches, and user searches are anonymous within one week as an additional privacy measure.
For more details, Ecosia also publishes a monthly finance report to maintain transparency in regards to their spending so users know their search results are going to a good cause.
GiveWater is another search engine with charitable goals in mind. Instead of planting trees, however, GiveWater’s name is self-explanatory—the search engine donates its ad money to charities focused on providing clean water such as Living Water International and water.org.
Started by Michael Feeley and Scott Harrison, who wrote Thirst and is the founder of charity: water, GiveWater focuses on breaking the cycle of poverty by supporting water organizations that work on water sanitization, primarily in developing countries.
Compared to Ecosia, GiveWater doesn’t necessarily outline how it protects user data or how its raised ad revenue is specifically used. However, for those who are looking specifically for a search engine that gives to a good cause, GiveWater is another option to consider.
Swisscows is a Switzerland-based search engine that concentrates on the following two values: data privacy and family-friendly Internet browsing.
In terms of data privacy, Swisscows does not store or collect user data. Furthermore, the search engine has its own servers, which are placed outside of the US and EU. Their Data Center, on the other hand, is in the Swiss Alps—no doubt one of the safest locations to be housed in dire situations.
Compared to other search engines, Swisscows’s dedication to operating as a family-friendly search engine is its unique appeal point. From an extremely young age, children are able to have access to a variety of digital media on in the Internet. Swisscows’s goals include ensuring that children are able to only access appropriate content, and the search engine works to eliminate websites with pornography and violence from the results.
Besides these two missions, Swisscows’s search engine operates in a unique, semantics-focused manner. Users can input their query to access your typical search results page, but on the right side will be a semantics map. This semantics map produces terms related to your query. Clicking on them leads to a more detailed search, allowing for a more interactive search engine experience overall.
Last but not least, Swisscows also invests in digital media education and provides an assortment of extra Internet tools such as VPNs and advertisement-free Internet searching.
Though the design of Dogpile is not the most sleek or modern compared to Google, this search engine focuses on collecting the sites and information most relevant and helpful to your search from Google and Yahoo. The search engine’s main mission is to find all the best search results for a user’s particular query and to have it all in one place.
Besides the general Internet, users can also use Dogpile for image, video, news-related, and shopping-related searches. While this isn’t as diverse as the range Yahoo can provide, Dogpile can get the job done.
Privacy-wise, Dogpile doesn’t have rigid standards compared to DuckDuckGo or Search Encrypt. Users can contact the team operating Dogpile to have their search-related data deleted, but user data may be collected. Another con with Dogpile is that users can’t customize their video or image search, meaning whatever you input and whatever Dogpile can find is what you’re going to get as your search result.
Used by more than 45% of Internet users in Russia, Yandex is a search engine for those who want a more unique perspective—particularly one outside of the US.
The layout and capabilities of Yandex are quite similar to Google. Users have access to not just a general web search, but also image search, video search, news, translation tools, email, and a cloud drive. Like Google’s video search, Yandex’s user interface is sparse of filter options, but the search engine’s image search options are different.
While users on Google can sort image searches by usage rights, time of posting, and type, Yandex users can sort image searches via criteria such as orientation, file type, and whether or not the desired image is a drawing, has people in it, etc.
Yandex doesn’t sell user data to third-party companies, however, it may collect user data to use for its affiliate services. (e.g. Yandex. Taxi) and can also release data in compliance with requests related to a lawsuit. Users can access their data and determine what Yandex gets to keep and not keep.
CC Search isn’t your typical web-browsing search engine. The focus of CC search is to navigate users through copyright-free material, which is especially important in an age of Internet piracy.
When using CC Search, the filters provided can allow users to sift through images. Filters in CC Search include sorting images by usage rights (commercial-use as well as can modify and/or adapt), copyright license, source, image type (illustration vs photograph), image file type, and even aspect ratio.
CC Search provides a handy search guide for first-time users and even artwork from museum collections. Not only does CC Search source their images from museums, but they have also partnered with resources such as DeviantArt, Flickr, and Wikimedia Commons for their images.
One last useful feature about CC search is that there is a browser extension for it. (FireFox, Chrome, and Opera only) Through the extension, users can bookmark their favorite images, search for images seamlessly, and one-click download images. For those who are conscious about where they source their images, and want to respect the rights of creatives, CC Search is an extremely useful tool for your media purposes.
Though Google is an omnipresent figure on the Internet, there are multiple search engine alternatives for those who don’t want Google collecting and tracking their data. Especially in an age where information is at the tap of one’s fingertips, education and outreach on digital media usage as well as data privacy is more important than ever. Whether you’re looking for the ultimate secure search engine, a search engine that contributes to a good cause, or a specialized search engine, know there are always options available to you as long as you’re willing to search for them.