Five Alternatives to Google Search
From its launch in 1997, Google has emerged as the pioneer of internet search engines..
In April 2019 alone, Google search queried approximately 9.5 billion searches in the U.S., dominating 93% of all mobile searches and about ⅔ on desktop. All of this, however, comes at a price. A price that we don’t pay with money, but rather with our information. Using 'targeted marketing', Google netted Alphabet Inc. $116 billion in 2018, and they have been trending upward since. Although Google seems like the go-to for all of our internet search needs, there exists many just as good -- if not better, for some -- search engines that don’t get the attention they very well deserve. These search engines prioritize your privacy over their own wallets.
I might be a little bit biased, but I had to put DuckDuckGo as the first entry on this list because I've been using it for years and have zero complaints. DuckDuckGo is an extremely versatile privacy-oriented search engine. It will protect you from the phenomenon known as 'search leakage' -- it’s just as frightening as it sounds. Search leakage occurs when, during a redirection to a webpage (like when you click on a Google link) information about your IP, user-agent, and the search terms that brought you there is given to that website to better understand how to get more people like you to their website. DuckDuckGo will never hold anything against you; the only things it will keep from you are cookies (not the tasty kind), search terms for the sole purpose of better understanding mis-spellings, and affiliate codes so they can earn a small commission when you get to eBay or Amazon through them.
Alright, this seems all good and dandy, but what makes it more versatile than Google? One word: 'bangs'. Using 'bangs' or '!' in your DuckDuckGo search will have the search engine pivot off into whatever you put after the exclamation point. For instance, say you want to find the Wikipedia page for Kevin Bacon. Instead of searching 'Kevin Bacon Wikipedia', or just searching the name and clicking the link, all you have to do is type '!w Kevin Bacon' and DDG knows to go to Wikipedia and search 'Kevin Bacon' instantly. Many websites like Wikipedia ('!w'), Yahoo! ('!y') and even Google ('!g') have these shortcuts, but for those websites that don’t, just type the domain name after the ! and let DuckDuckGo take it from there. Why should you do all the work?
Microsoft’s Bing doesn’t get a lot of love. Coming in late to the game and squaring off against the search engine behemoths Google, Yahoo! and Ask, most people counted Bing out before it had a chance to prove itself. In recent years, Bing has undergone a lot of change, allowing it to earn its place at number two, second only to… you know who, for most widely used search engine. What Bing lacks in power and search-relevancy it more than makes up for in innovation. After Microsoft partnered with programming website HackerRank, Bing can now bring you executable code snippets. While this feature is not useful for everyone, those who need it will sure be glad they have it. Simply enter a query, like 'quick sort in c' and you will be presented with fully functional code that you can edit right from the search result.
Bing also has a very handy video search feature that rivals YouTube. Not only does it include YouTube videos in its results, it also includes videos from sites like Vimeo and DailyMotion. Check it out.
European users may already know about this one, but as for the rest of us, allow me to explain. Qwant is home to France and looks more like a social media site than a search engine. The homepage shows you trending stories and personalities, as well as trending social media hashtags. Qwant is another one of the good guys -- same goes for the last two -- who respect your privacy as a user and does everything it can to protect your information. What makes Qwant stand out is that it offers a music streaming service through Qobuz that's similar to Apple Music and Spotify. It’s like if iTunes could give you directions to the dentist. Okay, maybe iTunes isn’t the best example, but you get the idea. While it does seem a bit pricey if you’re already paying for another music service (their starting price is 10€/month for MP3 quality files), I think it means a lot that the feature is even offered in the first place. I guess we all Qwant what we can’t have, huh?
Priding itself on being 'the world’s most private search engine', Startpage offers you everything Google does, since it uses Google search results, without all the hassle of stealing your information and selling it to corporations. Startpage actually pays Google to use their search engine, but stands as the middle man so your information stays with you.
Startpage also includes a URL generator, it obfuscates your cookies (for keeping searches more hush-hush), allows you to choose between POST and GET requests for searches (to keep the evil webmasters away), a proxy service and HTTPS support. Startpage may not look like much, but they’re out here fighting the good fight for you and I.
Last but not least on our list is a search engine by the name of Swisscows. Swisscows goes as far as never collecting your personal data, so there is no worries of it falling into the wrong hands. It bills itself as a 'family-friendly' search engine, filtering out profane searches and responding with 'Dear user, the entered word is not allowed for under 18 year olds, since we have decided on the protection of minors, the word "_____" is excluded from the search. Thank you very much for your understanding!'
What’s cool about Swisscows is that when you search something, rather than offering a few related searches, the engine builds a 'semantic map' showing what other people searched with that term- scaled to show search density. Along with the semantic maps, Swisscows also integrates AI into the engine, learning from your queries and the semantic tiles you select (the only information they retain from you) to be able to better understand the context and quickly answer whatever questions you may have.
While I already made my opinion clear on which search engine I prefer -- *quack* -- I really do encourage you to give one or two of these a shot; you might actually find one you like better than Papa G. Trust me when I say, it will feel all the better knowing that no one is trying desperately to sell you something.
If you found this Mod helpful, you might also enjoy learning about this hidden privacy feature on your iPhone. Please share this Mod using the social media icons below. Any comments or questions? Let us know on Twitter!