Alternative Search Engines
The world’s number one search engine in terms of awareness is Google. It is the leading search engine with a huge digital infrastructure and a large set of tools. As of July 2021, Google occupies 92.47% of the market.
Users are also interested in alternative search engines that can offer unique tools, no ads, high privacy, and the possibility to customize the design of search results.
1. What Are Alternative Search Engines?
The top list of search engines has not changed fundamentally for many years. This is explained by the fact that the market has long been divided between major players, and none of them is going to give up their positions to competitors.
Although everyone knows about Google, many users often explore the quality of alternative search engines. It is fairly satisfying to use an ad-free, uncensored search.
The declining quality of SERPs is one of the problems related to search engines alternative to Google. They are often unfiltered and deliver irrelevant results. However, Google ranking algorithms are not perfect either.
It’s easy to find an alternative to the major search engine. But it is necessary to test how a different service works in practice and make sure that search results correspond to specified keywords.
Also, keep in mind additional tools. For 20 years, Google has evolved into a digital ecosystem. You can find an answer to a question in SERPs and navigate to your email or YouTube in a few clicks. Not all alternative search engines offer similar features.
1.1. How do they work?
A search engine is a service that finds pages on the Internet and ranks them in a specific way. Users enter a query into a search box and get a page ranking in the form of snippets with structured data.
Each search engine has a different algorithm for ranking content, but the basic mechanism is the same. It includes several steps:
- Crawling. Web crawlers explore content on sites that do not prohibit access to it.
- Indexing. The search engine stores digital copies of the pages on its servers.
- Ranking. After a query is entered into the search box, a ranking is formed based on relevance.
The main task of any search engine is to provide the most comprehensive response to a user query. If search results include pages that do not help solve the problem, it will be necessary to use another service.
Users often look for a Google alternative if they don’t see an answer to their question in search results. Analogs don’t always help solve the problem effectively, but they can provide more useful content.
1.2. How many search engines are there?
The exact number is unknown, but many users know up to 10 search engines other than Google. There are niche search engines focused on images, videos, mathematical formulas, and other tasks.
For example, Yandex is great for searching for images, which is not always the case with Google. Users also often opt for alternative search engines to view spam-free results.
Some extensions are designed to hide contextual ads in search results, but Google and other companies have no interest in losing revenue. So, there is no guarantee that a plugin will work consistently.
It’s good to have several search services that can be used as alternatives to one another. If you can’t find content in a certain system, you can use another one.
2. Why Switch to Search Engines Other Than Google?
Google is a monopolist in the search engine market, but it is not entirely user-friendly in some aspects. That’s why users often try to find an alternative and avoid seeing contextual ads and worrying about their personal data, which might be used for advertising purposes.
Users switch to search engines other than Google for a variety of reasons. In 2019, DuckDuckGo conducted a survey and found the reasons for changing a primary tool for searching for information on the Internet.
The causes varied by country, but most respondents mentioned less advertising, personal data protection, and the quality of search results. Google pays close attention to advertising and tests new ad display designs to boost revenue.
It’s fair to say that some search engines have gone even further and clogged search results with ad blocks. It is sometimes difficult for users to distinguish between sponsored posts and organic ones. Therefore, many people want to find an alternative tool to search for information on the Internet.
2.1. Ease of use
It’s hard to imagine anything simpler than Google, but sometimes, users have problems when typing queries into its search bar. Yet, the service features a minimalist design and very convenient navigation, provided there are no ads in the results.
Even the most advanced interface can seem flawed, and you can’t change that. So, we do need search engines other than Google. While the world’s main search engine, undoubtedly, copes with its tasks, an alternative is always welcome.
2.2. Enhanced privacy
Google collects data about users to display personalized ads. Even if your browser does not save browsing history and cookies, most ads will be relevant to your interests.
Google makes a huge profit from ads, and the company has no interest in giving up even a small part of its revenue to take care of its audience’s needs.
Improved privacy is one of the main reasons to switch to search engines other than Google. There has long been a bundle of anonymous search engines, which collect no data about users’ preferences.
You won’t need a proxy or private VPN to use them. The services are downloaded via a secure HTTPS protocol and retain all the advantages of Google, such as fast content download and filtered search results.
2.3. Better quality of results
Not everyone knows that there are several types of search engines. For example, a metasearch engine does not have a database and generates search results from the content of other services.
Google and other major search engines work based on their indexes and do not use data from intermediaries. As for the quality of search results, it all depends on objectives. Yandex is better at image search, and DuckDuckGo ensures maximum privacy.
There is no point in arguing about the quality of Google search results. Sometimes, irrelevant results can be found in SERPs, but the algorithms do a good job for the most part.
Query processing requires significant resources, but work with data is not revealed to users. They see the final page ranking and have no idea of how much data were processed by neural networks.
2.4. Ability to customize layouts and colors
Personalization is very important to some users. And if a service does not offer the option to customize the interface, one needs to look for alternatives.
In September 2021, Google added a dark theme available for all users. It can be switched on in the settings on the home page, and it looks elegant. However, you can’t change the font or other search engine settings.
DuckDuckGo offers five themes to choose from and the option to flexibly configure content display settings. You can change the font family and size, set your color scheme, and enable a favicon.
The possibility to personalize the interface is not the main reason to switch to a different search engine, but it can be a key advantage when coupled with other factors.
2.5. Less advertising
Ads are often quite annoying. Inexperienced users can’t differentiate between sponsored and organic results, despite the Ad label.
The focus on increasing profits rather than user needs biases the target audience against a search engine and motivates the users to find a fallback option for getting answers to any queries.
Some search engines have no ads while boasting high-quality ranking algorithms, and users manage to solve their problems with the help of non-Google search engines.
3. 10 Best Alternative Search Engines Reviewed
It is quite difficult to find an alternative to the world’s main search engine, but some services are almost as good as Google. They have a small market share, but the available tools and benefits encourage their use.
You should search for information using several search engines at once because the results can vary greatly. It is desirable to see the overall picture rather than one viewpoint, which may not always be accurate.
It is among the most popular search engines, ranked second in popularity after Google. Bing belongs to Microsoft Corporation, and it was launched in 2006.
The design and quality of search results are very similar to Google. Bing can search with pictures; it supports voice search and allows you to filter the results according to specified parameters.
Among the pros are a good content ranking algorithm and flexible settings. The disadvantages are a large news block on the main page, advertisements, and minimal personal data protection.
Users choose Yahoo as an alternative to Google because of its user-friendly interface and plenty of tools. It is not just a search engine but a whole set of useful services, from e-mail to news and weather.
The main page contains a lot of news content, and the search bar is surrounded by an abundance of widgets. The design of the search engine is very similar to Google. There are searches for images and videos and the option to sort results by date.
Like Google, Yahoo is interested in making a profit, which is why there are so many ads in the search engine. In addition, there is a paid Premium subscription, which turns off ads in the mail and other services.
The service collects personal information to personalize ads. Over the history of Yahoo, there have been several scandals because of data leakage. Privacy researchers have criticized the company many times for weak security algorithms.
Users love the service for the possibility of searching for information privately. Search results are not personalized but are generated based on ranking algorithms.
DuckDuckGo offers high privacy, protection from ad trackers, and site encryption. The interface can be fully customized to your preferences, from the theme to the choice of font family and size.
One of the main features of the service is !bang search. This feature allows you to search for information on a particular site. For example, you can enter the query «!amazon watch» and get a complete selection of watches on Amazon.
DuckDuckGo can be referred to as anti-Google in the world of anonymous search engines. It collects data from more than 400 different sources, and the quality of search results is quite high. The service neither saves user IP addresses nor tracks cookies.
The service positions itself as an environmentally friendly search engine. 80% of the search engine income is sent to projects dedicated to planting trees, and the servers are powered by Ecosia’s solar power plant.
It takes 45 searches for one user to «plant» a tree. At the same time, according to open sources, Google produces about 40% of the carbon footprint of the entire Internet.
Ecosia search results are generated based on Bing data and its own ranking algorithms. It’s impossible to customize its design, but it doesn’t have an abundance of ads like in Google.
Ecosia is considered a search engine with high privacy, but its algorithms collect data on user activity. The data are deleted within seven days, yet it is known that Bing gets some information because of the tight integration.
When users are looking for a search engine better than Google in terms of privacy, Swisscows is a perfect option. The service neither tracks your IP address and search history nor analyzes browser cookies.
The service has its own data center in the Swiss Alps and a self-hosted analytics system. Swisscows is considered one of the best solutions for secure search. It is recommended by parents concerned about protecting their child in a digital environment.
The company owning the search engine shows a staunch position on social issues. Part of the money earned from advertising is spent on helping children from deprived backgrounds.
Like Ecosia, this search engine runs on Bing data but transmits them through a firewall. So, you don’t have to worry about the mutual exchange of information between the search engines.
It is another popular anonymous search engine with a focus on privacy and data protection. The service generates results based on data from Ixquick and Google, but it does not transmit any data that could be used to identify the user to third parties.
The company that owns Startpage is based in the Netherlands, where privacy is taken seriously. The refusal to track cookies and IP addresses cannot be called innovative, but essentially, this search engine is Google without tracking.
The main disadvantage of the service is the presence of ad blocks. You have to scroll through at least three ads before you can see organic results. You can turn on the family filter in the settings and find content for a specific region.
It is a popular anonymous search engine with ads on the main page. You can disable the display of trends in the settings, but at least one ad will remain.
The design of search results is similar to the Google layout, but they are more colorful. You can search for images, videos, or news and see information on maps. You can choose a region and date of results in the settings.
Qwant hides an IP address and acts as a great alternative to Google search. Data for the generation of results are taken from Bing and supplemented with the content of the company’s crawler.
It is a search engine serving as an online encyclopedia. The service processes formulas and handles calculations well.
WolframAlpha offers brief background information with a set of important parameters for every query. For example, if you search for information about Google, the stock price of the parent company and a summary from Wikipedia will be displayed.
WolframAlpha has no ads and trackers, but it is suitable for specific tasks only. It can be considered among other search engines besides Google only in terms of performing calculations.
The main search engine in Russia ranks fifth in the world ranking of search engines. Users like it for the accurate algorithm of image search and advanced services. Yandex is often called the Russian analog of Google.
The situation with advertising and privacy of personal data is the same as with Google. So, there is no point in switching to the search engine if the goal is to get rid of annoying advertising or trackers.
Among the advantages are a beautiful minimalist design and the option of filtering search results. The main page of the service displays ads, but they can be turned off after logging in to the profile.
The leading search engine in China is virtually the only tool for a legal search of information in the country. The service owns more than 63% of the local market.
Baidu is not inferior to Google in search capabilities. It’s possible to search for content by images, videos, or news and on maps. The ranking algorithms are based on AI.
Voice search is very popular among users. According to recent studies, Baidu processes more than 2 billion queries per month thanks to the voice assistant DuerOS.
4. Features You Won’t Find in Google
Few people would argue that Google is considered the world’s best search engine, but it is inferior to competitors in some aspects. The company focuses on gaining stable profits; therefore, it is no sense in talking about the audience’s personal data protection.
Google is often criticized for displaying spam and advertisements in search results. Despite more than 20 years of development, the search engine still has problems assessing page quality.
4.1. Performing a Bang Search on DuckDuckGo
The anonymous search engine offers a !bang search allowing you to quickly search for content on other sites. For example, if you enter the «!ebay watch» query, the online retailer’s site with relevant results will appear.
Google allows you to filter results from one site, but it doesn’t redirect users to the target resource with an autocomplete search box. This feature can be useful in some situations.
Firefox offers an alternative in the form of smart queries that can be customized for any site. But DuckDuckGo saves time on pre-creating templates and automates the task.
4.2. Image preview on Bing
Users often search for images on Google and other services. Bing not only offers a preview of images in good quality but also allows you to search for a specific area on an image.
Bing can be called the best alternative to Google in terms of image search. The visual search feature is very helpful when you need to find relevant content or products by image.
4.3. Comparing Websites on WolframAlpha
The search engine with a focus on calculations offers the option of comparing multiple websites. Just write down URLs and add «vs» to get technical information about the sites.
Using Google, Wikipedia, and Amazon as examples, you can see data on company revenues and site traffic. This can be useful for webmasters engaged in selecting donor sites for link building.
WolframAlpha takes traffic data from Alexa, but the leader in the search analytics niche is SimilarWeb. The task of searching for authoritative donors can be solved with the help of the PRPosting service.
The service interface displays data on link metrics, traffic, and the cost of posting an article. All customers get a guarantee of posting or a refund if the site owner refuses the offer.
It is quite difficult to find the best search engine other than Google. The only one that can be equal to the niche leader in terms of search results accuracy is Bing. Many anonymous search engines get data from this source.
You should pay attention to socially-oriented projects built on crowdsourcing. Ecosia plants trees, and Swisscows helps children. Google also focuses on charity, and many users like to know that part of the money they give to the company will be used for good purposes.
Bing, Yahoo, DuckDuckGo, Ecosia, and other search engines besides Google. They perform the same task but do it in their own way.
Because Google collects a lot of personal data to show ads based on previous activity. Anonymous search engines other than Google don’t track user actions but generate results based on specified keywords.
There are alternative search engines for specific tasks, for example, to search for images and videos or perform calculations.