When it comes to searching the Web, the current belief is that Google is king. While many people share that belief, others believe Google is synonymous with privacy invasion. Pair that with other complaints about poor search results, and you have a need for other search engines. Fortunately, not only do other search engines exist, they are comparable, or even better, than Google and well worth checking out. Here is our list of the best alternatives to Google search.
Likely the best-named alternative on this list, DuckDuckGo has from its infancy focused heavily on privacy. Leveraging hundreds of sources, including Microsoft’s own Bing browser or its own web crawler, search results are highly customizable. On top of its privacy focus, the search results page is fairly minimal, so your attention is on quality results.
One of the best aspects of this choice is how spam is kept to a minimum. DuckDuckGo ends the ad overload on search result pages that Google is best known for. Users can choose between light or dark experience as well as an infinite scroll of results.
Founded in 2008, the company does not collect, sell or use personal information from anyone. On top of that, IP addresses are also not collected, and cookie use is minimalized, so users are not tracked as they move about the Internet.
Region-specific searches can also be incorporated if you want to find results from only a specific part of the world. Browser extensions are available for nearly all browsers to further keep all searches under wraps. Last but not least is the fan-favorite DuckDuckGo feature called “bangs” that allows users to search directly on sites like YouTube, Amazon or Wikipedia. Searches are performed with an exclamation point: !amazon and then the search term.
If Google is the most popular search browser, Microsoft’s Bing is the second, although a distant second, favorite. Search results, which come from Yahoo by the way and not Microsoft, focus heavily on visual appeal. It is an interesting dynamic by two companies that teamed up to take on Google and ultimately lost the search engine war. With that in the past, Bing has relied heavily on a visually engaging homepage with an ever-changing background to lure in users. Everything including animals, places, sporting events and people decorate the page at any given time. It is a striking difference from Google’s polarizing white page that is very much a love-it-or-hate-it experience.
While not a privacy-focused search engine, per se, Bing does enable users to tweak ad preferences for better targeting. Where Bing really sets itself apart is the Bing Rewards system. Bing users are allotted points with every mobile or desktop search. These points can then be cashed in for gift cards or other items. If a Bing user takes the time to do quizzes and polls for extra points, these can be accrued and cashed in fairly quickly. One final bonus of Bing is that video results are included alongside the rest of your search results which can be helpful depending on your query.
A little known but privacy-focused search engine, Search Encrypt is dedicated to ensuring user privacy. Instead of tracking users and showing personalized ads, sponsored ads are shown on the search results page. Those ads are based solely on the search term itself and not on your history. Each search is encrypted and redirected to Search Encrypt’s “privacy-enhanced search engine.” The AES-256 bit encryption doubles down on security and helps hide all of your search activity. As if that was not enough on the security front, any Search Encrypt user inactive for thirty minutes will see their search results expire.
While Bing and DuckDuckGo offer varying degrees of customization, Search Encrypt offers little if any customization options. However, the plain white homepage is similar to Google’s own famous Google.com landing page and works well. Aside from that, Search Encrypt is really quite basic. Heavily focused on its privacy-first approach, this option is best for users who want to avoid Google’s tracking. Data is not stored, so it cannot be hacked or leaked. While this is likely not a concern for most Internet users, it provides valuable peace of mind all the same.
4. Start Page
Unsurprisingly, Start Page is another privacy-focused browser that is designed to protect its users. Interestingly enough, instead of its own algorithm for search, Start Page utilizes Google for its search results but strips away the trackers and cookies. In other words, you are getting all of Google’s search results without having to use Google. Because of this, the company claims it is the world’s most private search engine. What it lacks in personalized results, it more than makes up in terms of overall privacy. Start Page never stores IP addresses or personal data. Instead, a single cookie is kept on file for 90 days so browser preferences are saved. After 90 days, it is deleted.
Included with Start Page is “Anonymous View” which enables users to visit any site in complete privacy. Basically, this site never knows you were on the page. That option is available next to every search result, so it is always front and center. Such stripped-down features do come at a small price, though, as only two filters are available on the homepage: web results and images. Unlike Google, there are no individual video search results. Instead, they are included within your original search.
The pushback against Google’s invasion of our lives has been growing for years. Some web users have long since left Google’s grasp and gone on to greener pastures. Others choose to use what is most comfortable and, in many cases, that is Google. The good news is that for everyone who wants to do away with the big “G,” there are great alternatives available. If the above list doesn’t satisfy you, you can also check out this list of the best search engines for privacy.