Google has transcended from being just another search engine.
It has become ubiquitous, often used as a transitive verb.
If you have any doubts, just Google it!
No one serves up better search results than Google.
At least that’s the common perception.
but is that always the case?
Google’s easy-to-use interface and personalized user experience comes at a cost.
It’s no secret the search engine giant catalogs the browsing habits of its users and shares that information with advertisers and other interested parties.
If you are unwilling to trade privacy for convenience or have specific search needs, there are a number of Google alternatives that offer a better search experience.
Here are 17 search alternatives to Google.
As of January 2020, Microsoft sites handled a quarter of all search queries in the United States.
One could argue that Bing actually 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 image search GUI is superior to its rival’s and much more intuitive.
Bing carries that same clean user experience to video, making it the go-to source for video search without a YouTube bias.
Looking for a search perspective outside of the United States?
It is also used in Belarus, Kazakhstan, Turkey, and Ukraine.
Yandex is an overall easy-to-use search engine. As an added bonus, it offers a suite of some pretty cool tools.
3. CC Search
CC Search should be your first stop on the hunt for nearly any type of copyright-free content.
This search engine is perfect if you need music for a video, an image for a blog post, or anything else without worrying about an angry artist coming after you for ripping off their work.
The way CC Search works is simple – it draws in results from platforms such as Soundcloud, Wikimedia, and Flickr and displays results labeled as Creative Commons material.
If privacy is important to you, consider:
Swisscows is a unique option on this list, billing itself as a family-friendly semantic search engine.
They also pride themselves in 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.
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.
StartPage serves up answers from Google, making it the perfect 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, a 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.
Search Encrypt is a private search engine that uses local encryption to ensure your searches remain private.
It uses a combination of encryption methods that include Secure Sockets Layer encryption and AES-256 encryption.
When you input a query, Search Encrypt will pull the results from its network of search partners and deliver the requested information.
One of the best parts of Search Encrypt is that your search terms will eventually expire, so your information will remain private even if someone has local access to your computer.
According to their website, “Gibiru is the preferred Search Engine for Patriots.”
They claim their 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.
Because Gibiru doesn’t install tracking cookies on your computer they purport to be faster than “NSA Search Engines.”
Verizon Media launched its privacy-focused search engine, OneSearch, in January 2020.
- No cookie tracking, retargeting, or personal profiling.
- No sharing of personal data with advertisers.
- No storing of user search history.
- Unbiased, unfiltered search results.
- Encrypted search terms.
Looking for crowd sourced search results? Then try…
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.
If you’re interested in finding a forum or message board about a specific subject, Boardreader should be the first place you turn to.
This search engine queries its results from a wide variety of message boards and forums online. You should be able to find the forum you want with just a few keystrokes.
Prefer search engines with a mission of doing social good? Check out:
GiveWater is a self-described “social impact search engine” which aims to have a positive impact on the world by empowering users to solve the issue of poor quality water and ineffective sanitation across the developing world.
It was founded after the company’s CEO met the founder of Charity: Water, Scott Harrison and was inspired to try to make a difference through his own work.
Ekoru is taking on the ever-present threat of climate change by donating 60% of its monthly revenue to one of several partner charities, ranging from those focusing on reforestation and climate action to those who are dedicated to animal welfare and conservation.
They also aim to select a different charitable cause every month.
Interestingly, Ekoru puts its money where its mouth is, using renewable energy sources for its data centers and taking a stand for civil rights by not storing any user or search-related data on their servers.
Looking to save the planet, one tree at a time? Then check out this environmentally friendly search engine!
This may come as a surprise, but your Google searches actually contribute to the creation of quite a bit of CO2.
To battle this issue, Ecosia uses the revenues generated from search engine queries to plant trees. Typically Ecosia needs around 45 searches to plant a new tree.
One can debate if the following are search engines, but there is no question there’s loads of information to be found at:
Twitter is hard to beat as a real-time search engine. It’s the perfect place to go for minute by minute updates in the case of an emergency.
Google’s algorithm will catch up eventually, but nothing beats a Tweet in the heat of the moment.
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. Internet Archive
The Wayback Machine is great for researching old websites, but it’s 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.
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.
Many of these alternative search engines can provide a better user experience than Google.
Whether you are concerned about privacy or just want to explore your options, there are plenty of search engines to experiment with.
Do yourself a favor and give some of these a try.
- How Search Engines Work
- The 7 Most Popular Search Engines in the World
- The 10 Best Image Search Engines
All screenshots taken by author, March 2020