When Google started out it offered just the search engine, slowly adding features over time. Today, it dominates the search engine world, but it also has a habit of tracking you across the web.
Though it’s easy to use without any costs, you might want to start thinking about your privacy, or you might want to just use a non-Google search engine.
Here are some Google Search alternatives, in case you’re a bit sick of the search giant. PSA though, you’re still allowed to say “Google it” – nobody can take that away from you.
Just be aware though, it’s very, very hard to go completely off-grid on the internet. You could have a VPN and could use an anonymous browser like Tor and your internet traffic would still be collected by your internet service provider. That’s the way of the internet these days.
DuckDuckGo is probably the most well-known Google Search alternative and for good reason. This cutely named browser doesn’t collect or store any of your search or personal information to be used against you through advertising. Instead, DuckDuckGo saves your search history in a way that stays private, inaccessible to anyone except for yourself.
Though DuckDuckGo uses ads, you’ll find that they’re not as accurate as Google ads. It’s a good choice if you’re after a Google detox. Although we recently learned DuckDuckGo is also a pretty popular Google alternative among conspiracy theorists.
Another privacy-focused search engine, StartPage doesn’t track you or target you online and allows you to search anonymously. A highlightable feature of StartPage is its ability to open any page in “Anonymous View”, which kills any ads on a web page and puts a blanket over your IP address. Web pages might be a little slower to load in this view, but it’s a nice feature.
Again, StartPage runs ads to keep its service alive, but they’re not targeted directly at your online profile. These browsers need to stay afloat in some way.
You might know about the Brave browser, which is intended to be a Google Chrome alternative, but did you know that Brave also has a search engine? Currently in beta, Brave Search doesn’t profile you and doesn’t hammer you with personalised ads (instead providing contextual search ads).
To generate results, Brave relies on anonymous community members to filter through and refine search results. Although you’ll find the search experience similar to Google, you’ll notice that there is no results page selector at the bottom of a search.
This can make searching for things quite difficult, but at least Brave supplies quick links to the same search through other providers (like Google, Bing and Mojeek).
Probably my favourite name for a search engine, SwissCows allows you to search anonymously without any tracking and with a focus on family-friendly results. The company is even repositioning itself as an all-around Google competitor, offering an email domain and a VPN service.
Additionally, when you search for something, Swisscows provides an anonymous preview feature, allowing you to scope out a web page before entering it for real. It’s a bit slow and you can’t interact with the page you’re previewing, but it’s a nice touch.
The last browser on our list, MetaGer is another privacy-focused browser worth considering. Like all the others mentioned above, MetaGer cares about your privacy first and foremost. Run by a not-for-profit (that makes some money through affiliates), MetaGer doesn’t track you or collect data on you. It’s also run on 100 per cent renewable energy and even allows you to open tabs anonymously through a proxy page, without revealing your IP address.
MetaGer is also a metasearch engine, compiling the results of several search engines into one readable page. It throws out a big net and relays back to you results trawled from other engines.
The above browsers are all privacy-focused, but you might be thinking of just needing a change. Bing and Yahoo might impress you, although they’re not privacy-focused and are owned by large companies, so it might also be worth checking out Qwant and Mojeek.
As long as you’re doing what you need to do easily and you are comfortable with how your search engine treats you, you should be all set.