Search engines are at the heart of our internet and online activity. Whilst Google continues to dominate the majority of searches, there are a plethora of alternative search engines out there, each aiming to offer a different experience. Since Edward Snowden’s NSA revelations regarding surveillance, people are becoming increasingly concerned about their privacy and just what is being tracked or stored online. And it is this concern that has given search engine minnows the chance to grow.
One company has seen this effect better than others – DuckDuckGo. Besides having a great name (based on the childhood game of DuckDuckGoose), DuckDuckGo saw a 600% increase in searches via their platform once the details of the NSA’s surveillance efforts were made public. Why? Well this company’s key feature is privacy. DuckDuckGo’s search engine does not collect or share any personal information about their users, which also means that results are not personalised because no previous history is recorded.
The job of a search engine is to provide you with a list of relevant results that are based around your target keywords. To rank highly in Google, sites must adhere to quite a strict and ever changing set of rules that Google puts in place and if the site does not meet these, then rankings will suffer. Whilst Google looks to continue its domination within the search sphere for a long time to come, it does not mean it is your only option.
In this post, we take a closer look at some of the alternative search engines that are available, including some of those that have prominence over Google. Lets begin…
Ask (Ask Jeeves)
One of the original question and answering search engines. Formally known as Ask Jeeves, the title of the site comes from a character out of P. G. Wodehouse’s famous books – Jeeves & Wooster, with Jeeves being the personal valet to Bertie Wooster. Like a personal valet, the idea is that Ask would act as a valet to search users and provide relevant answers to the questions they search for. Jeeves is a user’s online search valet.
Today Ask is still one of the top ten search engines and if you have a specific question that needs answering then this may just be the site for you.
Bing & Yahoo!
In 2009, Microsoft relaunched their Bing search engine to combat Google and whilst Bing’s share of the market is growing it still has a long way to go. Yahoo! on the other hand was the original search engine giant way back in the 1990s but has since been drastically overtaken by Google. In an aim to combat Google, Bing and Yahoo! announced a deal that would see Yahoo! search powered by Bing. The partnership has seen Bing and Yahoo! rank as the 3rd and 4th most popular search engines worldwide, but still a long way off from truly threatening Google market share.
The second most popular search engine in terms of unique monthly visitors but one that not many people in the English speaking world will be that familiar with. Baidu is China’s answer to Google and is so popular in China that Google only has a single figure market share there. Baidu is a Chinese language search engine but they are making steps to attract English speaking users and have recently launched an English language website for overseas developers.
Is it time for Google to watch their back?
An unusual name, but one that makes sense when you understand how Dogpile works. Dogpile is a search engine that uses results from other search engines to compile their listings. Put another way, Dogpile ‘fetches’ results from other search engines and piles them into one list of results. It is this ‘fetching’ and ‘piling’ approach that gives it its name.
We’ve already covered DuckDuckGo in this post’s introduction but here is a quick summary: DuckDuckGo’s search engine does not track your search activity, meaning each time you use it, the searches will be unique and not based on your previous search history or results. If you don’t want your search activity recorded, then this is the search engine for you.
If finding a specific person, profiles or material they have posted online is your thing, then Pipl may be worth a look. Pipl differs from other search engines in that it populates results based around people and their material. Search results can include social network profiles, court records, blogs, online memberships and other databases. It can also be used to find old profiles and posts that may have been forgotten about.
To ‘Google yourself’ is now mainstream language, will we hear people say ‘pipl yourself’? We have ‘pipl-ed’ ourselves and were amazed at the amount of links that came back (of course if your name is popular, like John Smith for example, then the results may need a bit of filtering). Our only concern is that Pipl may have a stalker-ish feel to it…
A competitor to DuckDuckGo, SmartPage proclaims itself as the ‘world’s most private search engine‘. Eagle-eyed spotters will notice that the landing page states ‘enhanced by Google’ and may question how private they can be given the amount of data that Google is known to collect but StartPage have that answer covered. To ensure total privacy when searching, StartPage strip all identifying information about you and other users before a query is submitted. This prevents Google from logging any internet address, installing cookies on your devices and recording your history.
Like DuckDuckGo, the search results won’t be personalised as no history or location data is recorded, but if you want a fresh set of results every time you search, then give StartPage a go.
If you are looking for a search engine where no results are censored (or not censored easily), then YaCy may be worth a look. Pronounced ‘ya see’, YaCy is a peer-to-peer search engine that anyone can use to build their own search portal. YaCy is fully decentralised, meaning that all users of the search engine are equal and is only limited by the number of users it has throughout the world. The aim of YaCy is to create freedom of information via a distributed web search powered by its users. If this sounds like your kind of thing or you would like to know more about it because our explanation makes no sense :), then click below.
Yandex also operates in the Ukraine, Kazakhstan, Belarus and Turkey as well as having an English language option.
So there you have it. Whilst we have highlighted a handful of alternative search engines for you to explore and use, there are of course a vast number of additional platforms that haven’t been mentioned. Don’t worry though, as we’ve listed a few of these below just in case the above links do not quench your thirst for search engine knowledge. Happy exploring!
- Aol Search
- My Web Search
- Naver – South Korea’s number 1 search engine.
- Way Back Machine (Archive.org) – The internet archive search engine, research back to 1996.
- Web Crawler
- Wolfram Alpha – Great if interested in calculations.
- Yippy Search
- YouTube – YouTube process more than 3 billion searches a month, making it one of the biggest search engines around.
We have worked on international SEO and PPC campaigns across a range of search engines platforms and if you would like to know where your site currently ranks or would like to talk about your digital marketing, get in touch.
We are also part of the Taan network of advertising and communication agencies giving us international reach when it comes to digital marketing.