Table of Contents
- Best for Privacy, Customization, and AI Summaries: Brave Search
- Best for Anonymity: DuckDuckGo
- Best for Supporting the Environment: Ecosia
- Best for Rich Results and AI Tools: Microsoft Bing
- Best for Emotion-Ranked Results: Mojeek
- Best for Web3 Fans: Presearch
- Best for Maps and Music Search: Qwant
- Best for Showing Reliability and Political Leaning of Results: Seekr
- Best for Team Charity Fundraising: Seva
- Best for Anonymous Proxied Results: Startpage
- Best for Music Search: Swisscows
- Best for Rich Result Pages, News, and Financial Information: Yahoo!
In today’s digital age, Google has become synonymous with online search. However, there are numerous alternative search engines available that offer unique features and benefits. One of the main reasons people look for alternatives to Google is to avoid privacy concerns associated with a large corporation having access to their personal information. Additionally, some alternative search engines provide rewards or donate to worthy causes based on user search activity. While Google has long been considered the gold standard for search engine quality, many alternatives now offer comparable results. The primary difference you are likely to notice is the ranking of the top results. If you value privacy or believe in a more diverse search engine landscape, it’s worth exploring the best search alternatives to Google.
Best for Privacy, Customisation, and AI Summaries: Brave Search
Brave Search, developed by the creators of the privacy-focused Brave web browser, claims to offer unmatched privacy. In testing using the EFF’s Cover Your Tracks Tools, Brave was found to be the most private browser, lending credibility to their privacy claims. Brave Search does not track users, their searches, or their clicks. It does not require users to sign in to an account, and IP addresses are only used to localise search results without being stored. Additionally, Brave Search offers features like the AI-powered Summariser, which provides a paragraph summarising the source results for a query. The search engine also includes a Discussions section that aggregates comments from platforms like Reddit. A beta feature called Goggles allows users to customise search results based on parameters like content preferences and news sources. Brave Search retrieves results from its own web crawling index and through anonymous API calls to third parties.
Best for Anonymity: DuckDuckGo
DuckDuckGo is a widely recognised name in private search and is known for its commitment to not collecting or sharing users’ personal information. The search interface is simple and the results are generally accurate, although they may lack the extensive information panels found in Bing and Google. DuckDuckGo offers search options for images, videos, news, maps (powered by Apple), and shopping results. Additional features include header options specific to certain search terms, such as definitions, meanings, nutrition information, and recipes. For the ultimate level of privacy, DuckDuckGo even offers a Tor .onion version of its search engine. The company also provides its own browser for mobile devices and now offers desktop browsers for Windows and macOS.
Best for Supporting the Environment: Ecosia
Ecosia is a search engine that allows users to contribute to tree planting initiatives in environmentally sensitive areas. The company has planted over 180 million trees in collaboration with local environmental organisations worldwide. While Ecosia may not have the most polished results pages, it generally provides reliable search results. In terms of privacy, Ecosia does not create personal profiles based on search history and anonymises all searches within a week. The search engine utilises cookies, but users have the option to disable them. Ecosia’s commitment to environmental sustainability makes it a great choice for those who want to make a positive impact through their web searches.
Best for Rich Results and AI Tools: Microsoft Bing
Bing, owned by Microsoft, offers a search experience comparable to Google in terms of richness of information on the results page. In fact, Bing often provides even more useful instant result cards. While Bing receives a smaller share of search traffic compared to Google, it offers a range of AI tools and features. One standout feature is Bing Chat, an AI search bot powered by ChatGPT. Bing Chat remembers the context of queries, allowing users to refine their searches without retyping the entire query. Bing also offers strong news, image, video, and map searching capabilities, with superior options for image and video searches. Other AI tools include visual search, voice search, and the ability to provide links to sources. Bing’s comprehensive features make it a viable alternative to Google.
Best for Emotion-Ranked Results: Mojeek
Best for Web3 Fans: Presearch
Presearch is a decentralised search engine that prioritises privacy. Unlike other search engines, Presearch does not operate on a single company’s servers. Instead, it anonymises user queries using distributed nodes to ensure that no single provider stores the information. Presearch does not track or store user data and offers a customisable search provider button for users who sign in to an account. The search engine uses its own Ethereum-based cryptocurrency token called PRE, which can be earned by using Presearch’s search engine. However, there are limits on how much cryptocurrency can be earned each day, and some users have reported issues with withdrawing PRE tokens. While financial rewards may not be guaranteed, Presearch offers a decentralised and privacy-focused search experience.
Best for Maps and Music Search: Qwant
Qwant is a search engine based in the EU that positions itself as an anti-Google alternative. Qwant has a visually appealing design and uses its own indexing robots to scan webpages for search results. However, it also integrates APIs from Microsoft Bing, Twitter, YouTube, and iTunes. Qwant offers maps based on the open-source OpenMapTiles project and allows users to privately save their map history. The search engine also provides a kid-friendly version called Qwant Junior. Qwant emphasises privacy by not storing user browsing history, profiling users, or targeting them with personalised ads. While uBlock Origin, an ad and tracker blocker, may detect some Qwant trackers, they are all from the qwant.com domain and not third-party trackers.
Best for Showing Reliability and Political Leaning of Results: Seekr
Best for Team Charity Fundraising: Seva
Seva, named after the Sanskrit word for “selfless service,” offers a search engine that allows users to turn their searches into donations for charitable causes. Seva encourages users to organise into teams for fundraising purposes. The search engine allows users to donate to various charities, including Best Friends Animal Society, Eden Reforestation Project, Elliot For Water, Ocean Heart, SaveUkraine.org, St. Jude’s, and World Food Program. While Seva’s search results may be more basic compared to larger search engines, the company’s focus on team charity fundraising makes it an appealing choice for those who want to make a positive impact through their web searches. Users should be aware that uBlock Origin may detect Google trackers on Seva result pages.
Best for Anonymous Proxied Results: Startpage
Startpage offers privatised search results powered by Google. The search engine claims to be the world’s most private search engine and provides users with the option to browse anonymously. Startpage’s Anonymous View feature allows users to view web pages through a proxy server without disclosing any personal information to the site being visited, except to Startpage itself. The search engine removes users’ IP addresses and other identifying information before submitting queries. Startpage offers search options for web, images, videos, and news. While uBlock Origin may block Startpage’s own ads, it does not detect any third-party trackers on the site.
Best for Music Search: Swisscows
Swisscows is a Switzerland-based search engine that prioritises privacy. In addition to its search service, Swisscows offers a VPN, a private messaging app, and private email. The search engine excludes nefarious sites and adult content from its results, making it suitable for younger users. Swisscows provides search options for web, images, videos, and even music. The music search feature allows users to play tunes from the free Soundcloud service. Swisscows also offers an anonymous preview feature, enabling users to view a website without being tracked by the site itself. uBlock Origin does not detect any suspicious trackers on Swisscows, indicating a strong focus on privacy.
Best for Rich Result Pages, News, and Financial Information: Yahoo!
Yahoo Search has undergone significant improvements in recent years. The search engine now offers a range of features and a polished user interface. The main Yahoo page includes a search box, as well as panels for news, weather, sports, and trending searches. For users who prefer a simpler search experience, search.yahoo.com provides a streamlined page with trending searches and access to Yahoo’s other services, including Yahoo Finance. Yahoo Search offers quick answers and comprehensive result pages, although they may not be as refined as those of Bing and Google. Yahoo uses Bing to power search results but also incorporates its own technology for features like Trending searches. While uBlock Origin may detect trackers from Google and Bing on Yahoo’s site, the search engine’s maps are provided by the open-source Open Maps service.
While Google remains the dominant search engine, there are several viable alternatives available that offer unique benefits. Whether you prioritise privacy, support environmental causes, or seek rich result pages, there is a search engine suited to your needs. By exploring these web search opportunities beyond Google, you can find a search engine that aligns with your values and delivers accurate and relevant results.