When you think about the pioneers of web 2.0, you inevitably think of the ultimate search engine giant, Google.
Besides reportedly dominating over 90% of the search engine market on a global scale in 2022, Google is also known for its cloud, email, video conference calls, and a host of other services that have shaped our collective online experiences.
However, due to recent allegations of privacy malpractices, many concerned users have been increasingly driven to seek alternatives to cut Google out of their lives for good. Luckily for all of us, there are plenty of other options to Google Search, one of its most popular services.
Although nowhere near as popular as Google, Bing is still fairly well-known among netizens and is considered one of Google’s biggest competitors, taking up just over 3% of the search engine market.
Owned and operated by tech giant Microsoft, Bing sets itself firmly apart from Google by being more visual and less minimalistic – as is apparent the moment you load into their homepage.
In fact, Bing’s image search function is known to be much more advanced than that of Google’s, with an innovative object-detection intelligence helping to create more accurate results.
Google users would also recognize many familiar tools in their Bing searches, such as featured newsreels, translation, conversion calculators, and more.
Marketing itself as a privacy-first search engine, DuckDuckGo has recently risen in popularity due to its simple yet bold claim that they “do not collect or share personal information” – a stark contrast against Google’s long list of privacy breaches.
If you want to take things a step further, DuckDuckGo also offers an extension that shows users the privacy grade of the websites they frequent, ensures that their connections are encrypted, and blocks common trackers while they browse.
3. Yahoo Search
Once the reigning search engine, Yahoo has since fallen by the wayside, accounting for just 1.3% of total search engine market shares.
Despite that, Yahoo searches still make for an excellent alternative to Google, as they are powered by Bing and generally provide good search results.
The one aspect that makes Yahoo stand out lies in its focus on the most recent news, whether in finance or sports. If you like to stay up to date on the latest developments worldwide, Yahoo might just be a good fit for you.
However, it’s worth noting that Yahoo has had multiple serious privacy breaches in the past, so it may not be the safest search engine to use.
Much like DuckDuckGo, StartPage is another privacy-first search engine that implements a strict, ‘no-logs’ policy.
This means they don’t keep your search queries, IP addresses, or other identifying information about you, which keeps your data safe from being sold to the highest bidders.
The best part about StartPage is that they offer users the same results as a typical Google search without tracking. Think of it as a proxy between users and Google, giving you the best of both worlds.
If you want your searches to remain private but also do some good for the world at large, Ecosia might just be the perfect search engine for you.
As a non-profit organization, Ecosia dedicates 100% of its profits to climate action, with over 80% going to its tree-planting partners and projects all over the world.
Much like some other search engines in this list, Ecosia also adopts a strict stance on keeping its users’ data safe. While they collect some personal data on their users, all searches are anonymized within one week – and if that doesn’t suit you, you can turn all their trackers off.
6. Brave Search
For those looking to take back their privacy completely, you might want to start using Brave Search – a search engine that prioritizes their searchers’ privacy rights to a whole other level.
Brave has developed its browser for safer browsing on all your devices and created an independent search index from scratch. This means that, unlike many other search engines that rely on tech giants such as Google and Bing for their search results, Brave uses a completely separate algorithm to curate result pages unaffected by other search engines’ results.
Furthermore, you could always check in on how Brave handles all its searches by going through their all-open source code.
Believing that there is only one way to defeat the centralized monopoly on online searches, Presearch focuses on creating a decentralized search engine powered by the community for the community.
Essentially a large community project, Presearch’s users can choose to help out with whatever they feel comfortable doing, from contributing to the source code repository to operating node servers or simply just browsing and spreading the word.
Presearch aims to create an entirely new ecosystem to support its search engine and provide a fully decentralized online experience.
Yet another privacy-first search engine, one of the reasons why users love searX is its straightforward privacy practices. Some of the reasons you should use searX include that they do not store your search history, curate personalized results, or create a profile of you.
SearX is free, but even more impressive is that the code is 100% open to the public. If you’re curious, you can check out their code on Github and maybe even make some improvements!
Dedicated to making the internet a safer place, Swisscows (previously known as Hulbee) is a search engine that does not store your data nor utilize any trackers to creep on your searches.
One of the more unique aspects of Swisscows is that it places heavy emphasis on keeping the internet a safe place for the whole family. Automatically censoring all non-Swisscows advertisements and explicit results, it’s no wonder that Swisscows is popular among parents with young children.
Founded in Germany, MetaGer is another metasearch engine aiming to make the internet a more secure place for its users.
Built atop 24 web crawlers developed entirely by their team, all search queries are sent out to almost 50 different search engines before being carefully sorted and presented to their users. Besides that, another critical feature of MetaGer is that it only accesses websites with encrypted connections, leaving even lesser room for their searchers’ data to be leaked.
Perhaps one of the lesser-known companies on this list, Mojeek is a crawler-based search engine that operates in the United Kingdom.
Prizing privacy above all else, Mojeek is one of the few search engines that have gone to the trouble of building their own personal search index instead of relying on other established search indexes. Despite its small user base, Mojeek is growing alarmingly fast and has surpassed 5 billion indexed pages in 2022.
Compared with some of the other companies on this list, Qwant is quite a young company emerging only in 2013. Despite that, it has still managed to attract over 50 million users every month and currently processes more than 10 million searches daily.
Operating out of Paris, Qwant is subject to the stringent General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) standards, so you can rest assured that your data will be safe in its hands.
Besides grievous privacy concerns, those worried about rampant misinformation and fake news amongst your Google results might want to try out Seekr, a search engine and news site all in one.
All articles on Seekr come with features such as the Seekr Score and Political Lean Indicator, which help to determine the quality, accuracy, and potential left or right-leaning news articles. This, in turn, helps to reduce bias and overgeneralization of facts and figures, aligning with Seekr’s goal of increasing online transparency.
Originally released in Russia before becoming available worldwide, Yandex is extremely popular in Russia, taking up over 50% of the search engine market there.
Offering a list of services similar to Google, including emails, maps, and translators, Yandex is an excellent alternative for the tech giant, as users would be able to transition seamlessly to the new platform. However, they collect user data and utilize cookies, so if you’re looking for a privacy-first browser, you might want to skip over Yandex.
15. Disconnect Search
Last but not least, Disconnect Search also offers a private and safe search engine for your queries.
Unlike any of the search engines mentioned here, Disconnect doesn’t display search results directly on its search engine pages. Instead, users would need to type in their query and select the search engines they would like to see results from, which would then prompt Disconnect to reroute the search through several servers before showing the final results on the selected search engine.
In the day and age where more and more of our time is spent online, it’s time to take our privacy more seriously.
Regardless of what you’re looking for in a web browser, be it a “no-logs” policy or a more transparent browsing experience, you’re sure to find a search engine that would fit your needs perfectly. Browse safely!