For over two decades, Google has been the search engine that most people use for everyday searches, product research, and staying up to date on the latest news.
Because of this market dominance, Google has also been the main search engine of focus for SEO and marketing professionals.
However, following the introduction of ChatGPT and Bing Chat, Google founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin reportedly returned to take an active role in Google’s plans to add chatbot features to Google Search.
Shortly after that, around May of 2023, Google introduced the chatbot Bard and Search Generative Experience in Google Search. As of writing this article, Google SGE is available in Google Labs only, and may roll out this year.
The next few years in search engine development will certainly be interesting.
However, no matter what happens, there are still several alternative search engines that offer distinct advantages over Google, such as enhanced privacy, specialized content, unique algorithms, and tailored user experiences.
Here are 20 of the best alternative search engines you can try.
AI-Powered Search Engines
Where search engines include AI chatbots based on large language models, they become prone to errors and hallucinations.
Always verify critical information you get from AI-based search engines, such as medical, financial, legal, safety, etc., using authoritative sources.
[Editor’s note: Creating content using generative AI is subject to the implications of a number of unresolved legal proceedings, and you should avoid publishing generative AI outputs as your own content.]
One could argue that Bing outperforms Google in certain respects.
For starters, Bing has a rewards program that allows one to accumulate points while searching. These points are redeemable at the Microsoft and Windows stores, which is a nice perk.
In my view, the Bing visual search API is superior to its rivals and much more intuitive.
Bing carries that same clean user experience to video, making it the go-to source for video searches without a YouTube bias.
On February 7, 2023, Bing announced an all-new, AI-powered version of its search engine called “Bing Chat,” which is now called Copilot. The stated goal is to “deliver better search, more complete answers, a new chat experience, and the ability to generate content.”
According to Satya Nadella, chairman and CEO of Microsoft, there are 10 billion search queries a day, but approximately half of those go unanswered. Bing is looking to fill that void.
Unlike traditional search engines that primarily link to webpages, Perplexity.ai is a chatbot that directly answers questions by citing sources from which it fetches information, with an option to ask follow-up questions.
This feature allows users to delve deeper into their initial queries by asking subsequent, related questions. This interactive approach mimics a conversational style, making it easier for users to refine their search and get more precise answers.
This evolving, dialog-based search experience positions Perplexity.ai as a compelling choice for users seeking a more intuitive and responsive search tool. Below is the feedback from Tobi Lütke, the CEO of Shopify, on Perplexity.ai.
However, since it uses LLMs for answer extraction, it can hallucinate, leading to incorrect or misleading answers.
The site operates in two modes: a personal mode and a private mode.
In personal mode, users can configure their source preferences. While in private mode, they enjoy a completely untraceable experience; no telemetry data is recorded.
The open search platform encourages developers to build apps and contribute to a more open and collaborative internet.
A Revenue-Sharing Search Engine
Yep.com (by Ahrefs) promotes itself as being a search engine with a difference that emphasizes user privacy by not tracking users or selling their data.
It monitors the frequency of specific word searches and the popularity of certain links in terms of clicks. However, it doesn’t compile a personal profile for the purpose of targeted advertising.
It is designed to directly reward and compensate content creators by using a 90/10 revenue share business model.
This means that 90% of all advertising revenue goes directly to the creators of content, allowing them to earn money for their work.
In addition, this business model allows users to directly support their favorite content creators and ensures that content creators are fairly compensated.
A Copyright-Free Search Engine
Openverse should be your first stop on the hunt for nearly any type of copyright-free content.
While Google provides a broader range of search results, Openverse stands out with its focus on a vast, searchable collection of open-source media, including images, audio, and videos.
This search engine is perfect if you need music for a video, an image for a blog post, or anything else without worrying about angry artists coming after you for ripping off their work.
Mainstream Search Engines
Mainstream search engines are the Google alternatives that have managed to maintain a modest market share over the past several years.
Yahoo’s strength is in diversification by offering services like email, news, finance, and more in addition to search.
Yahoo has been innovating and evolving for more than two decades.
It made a cryptic tweet on January 20 about making search cool again but did not take me up on my request to explain what that means.
Ecosia’s primary distinguishing feature is its commitment to using ad revenue for environmental purposes, specifically tree planting.
The company is a not-for-profit business and dedicates 100% of its profits to the planet, collaborating with local communities to plant and care for trees around the world.
It partners with Microsoft’s Bing to use its search index and web advertisement and offers a browser extension for quicker access to the search engine.
AOL Search is one of the first search engines on the Internet, with a market share of 0.08% in the US.
It relies on partnerships with Google and Bing for its search results.
Unlike Google’s broad focus, AOL leans towards curated content, prioritizing news, entertainment, and a mix of AOL-owned, syndicated, and external website results.
While AOL tracks user data to personalize its advertising, it’s generally considered less sophisticated compared to Google. Its targeting relies more on broad demographics and interests than the highly granular individual profiles Google often builds.
Privacy-Focused Search Engines
Privacy is an increasingly important issue among internet users.
Privacy-focused search engines prioritize users’ privacy, and their appeal is that they do not track users’ activities or collect personal data.
Some of the most popular include:
As of December 2023, DuckDuckGo had a search market share of 1.77% in the United States.
DuckDuckGo is a search engine that could also fit into the mainstream category, but the primary “selling feature” is that it doesn’t collect or store any of your personal information.
Unlike Google, which collects extensive user data to personalize search results and advertisements, DuckDuckGo does not track or profile its users. This means that when you search on DuckDuckGo, your activity remains anonymous.
Because DuckDuckGo does not track search history or create user profiles, it does not offer filter options based on a user’s search history profile, and there are no persistent targeted ads.
That means you can run your searches in peace without having to worry about the boogeyman watching you through your computer screen.
DuckDuckGo is the perfect choice for those who wish to keep their browsing habits and personal information private.
DuckDuckGo Lite is the mobile version.
Instead, it utilizes a metasearch approach, fetching results from multiple search engines, including Google, Bing, DuckDuckGo, etc., and prioritizing links that appear in all.
It’s a great choice for those who prefer Google’s search results but aren’t keen on having their search history tracked and stored.
It also includes a URL generator, proxy service, and HTTPS support.
The URL generator is especially useful because it eliminates the need to collect cookies. Instead, it remembers your settings in a way that promotes privacy.
Swisscows is a unique option on this list, billing itself as a family-friendly semantic search engine.
It utilizes Bing for its web search capabilities but has also developed its own index for the German language edition.
It also prides itself on respecting users’ privacy, never collecting, storing, or tracking data.
It uses artificial intelligence to determine the context of a user’s query.
Over time, Swisscows promises to answer your questions with surprising accuracy.
According to its website, Gibiru features “Uncensored Private Search” with no retargeting and no selling of private data.
It claims its search results are sourced from a modified Google algorithm, so users are able to query the information they seek without worrying about Google’s tracking activities.
Gibiru earns commissions when users buy something or take action through its search results, aligning with its privacy-centric approach by not relying on personal data for advertising.
Brave Search has experienced rapid growth; as of January 2024, it had 24.57 million daily active users. This growth reflects the increasing popularity of privacy-focused search engines.
It features free video calls, offline playlists, and a customizable news feed.
Advanced security features like IPFS integration, Tor (Onion Routing), and a crypto wallet are also available.
Brave offers rewards for opting into privacy-preserving ads. It claims over 65 million people use its browser each month for a faster and safer web experience.
Knowledge-Based Search Engines
Wiki.com pulls its results from thousands of wikis on the net.
It is the perfect search engine for those who appreciate community-led information, as found on sites like Wikipedia.
15. X (Formerly Twitter)
X is hard to beat as a real-time search engine.
It’s the perfect place to go for minute-by-minute updates in case of an emergency.
Google will catch up eventually, but nothing beats a tweet in the heat of the moment.
To make the most of it, check out our guide to X/Twitter Advanced Search.
SlideShare allows you to search for documented slideshow presentations.
You can also search for ebooks and PDFs, making it an excellent tool if you have a business presentation to prepare for.
SlideShare also allows you to save slides and even download the entire slideshow for use on your local computer.
17. Wayback Machine
Internet Archive, a.k.a. the Wayback Machine, is great for researching old websites, but it’s also so much more.
As the name implies, this search engine queries a massive collection of documented material, including millions of free videos, books, music, and software.
Essentially, the Internet Archive is a vast online library where you can access just about anything you could imagine.
Specialized Search Engines
Specialized search engines cater to particular needs, providing results based on specific criteria. For example:
WolframAlpha is a computational knowledge engine that allows you to compute answers to problems and search through expert-level data on a variety of subjects, from algebra to words and linguistics.
It also offers Pro features for individuals, students, and educators who need professional-grade computation and analysis of imported data.
Pricing starts at $5.49 per month.
LinkedIn, recognized as a professional networking platform, is increasingly being utilized as a business-focused search engine which has 61 million searches a week.
For instance, an organization named “Innovative Tech Solutions” would likely rank higher than one named “Professional Technology Services” due to the uniqueness of the name.
However, overloading a profile with keywords can be counterproductive, as it might trigger spam detection algorithms and negatively impact search visibility.
The algorithm also factors in the number of Page followers, connections between the Page and the searcher, the activity level on the Page, and the ratio of relevant search terms in the organization’s name.
International Search Engines
International search engines cater to specific regions and provide results based on local language and culture.
Some popular international search engines include:
Like Google, it offers a broad range of services, including maps, music, videos, and an app store.
Baidu also has a mobile browser and mobile app.
Yandex is an overall easy-to-use search engine.
As a bonus, it offers a suite of some pretty cool tools.
It had a data leak in January 2023, leaving many speculating about the relevance of what was revealed.
Sogou Search is an interactive search engine supporting WeChat, article search, English search and translation, and more.
It prides itself on providing users with professional, accurate, and convenient search through self-developed artificial intelligence algorithms.
It also has a mobile app for searching on the go.
Naver is a great option for those looking for a search engine tailored to the Korean market.
Google may be the most popular choice in search engines, but it may not always be the best choice, depending on your needs and priorities.
Alternative search engines can offer a wide range of benefits, including a better search experience and higher levels of privacy.
Nonetheless, do yourself a favor and give some of these a try.
- How Search Engines Use Machine Learning: 9 Things We Know For Sure
- ChatGPT & Search? NeevaAI’s Real-Time AI Search Is Already Here [Podcast]
- How Search Engines Work
- Meet The 7 Most Popular Search Engines In The World
Featured Image: Dilok Klaisataporn/Shutterstock
How can I switch to an alternative search engine?
Switching to an alternative search engine is a relatively simple process. Simply change your default search engine in your web browser to the desired search engine.
How do private search engines make money?
Unlike mainstream search engines that may use extensive data for personalized ads, private search engines rely on search terms for contextual ads, affiliate links for purchases via their platform, and user donations for funding.