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5 alternative search engines to Google and Bing

Search engines have become an extremely difficult market for anyone not named Google. Despite increasing competition, the Mountain View giant’s search engine is still by far the most popular. In fact, according to Statcounter, it holds more than 90% of the market share. Not even the strong campaigns against it due to privacy concerns have managed to dent it.

Google and its ethical…domain?

Although Google is seen on many fronts as a villain, that has not always been the case. Especially when the company, now officially called Alphabet, used the slogan don’t be evil in reference to using user data only for ethical purposes. However, that image faded over the years until it officially disappeared in 2018.

Google’s leadership among search engines is undoubtedly meritocratic, if not entirely so. The Mountain View corporation knew how to hit the key with a service that offered much more accurate results than those of its competitors. An element that today is still awaiting what Microsoft can do with artificial intelligence in Bing.

At this point, we have implicitly mentioned one of the main reasons why Google maintains a clear dominance in the sector: the fact that it has to compete with giant corporations. Companies like Alphabet and Microsoft have huge financial resources and armies of engineers. That, of course, makes it very difficult for smaller competitors to gain a significant foothold. Unless they manage to get ahead in something and that something is a commercial success. We know that, unfortunately, the mass market is often not meritocratic when it comes to the quality of products and services.

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Google has a dominant position. In addition, advertising is one of the cornerstones of the company’s business model. This has meant that its privacy policies have been criticized by many. Microsoft, the main rival with Bing, is not to be trusted either. Especially, if we see the way it has pivoted towards services with the introduction of questionable things on Windows.

Hope is not lost

Fortunately, and although they have a tough time against two of the biggest giants in the business world, over the years many alternatives have emerged that are more ethical. And that also show a greater commitment to privacy, an aspect that unfortunately is of less concern to the masses than it should be. Although privacy on the Internet is in reality an unrealistic utopia, that should not be a reason to give up and not fight to improve the current framework.

DuckDuckGo

It is the best known alternative search engines in the western half of the world. This service needs no introduction at this point. Indeed, within its context it is quite popular. It has even reached 100 million searches per day by the end of 2021.

DuckDuckGo was officially launched in 2008. It was born with the mission to change the direction of the sector. Especially with regard to a competition that was becoming less and less in the face of Google. Two years later, those responsible decided to take a turn to make a greater commitment to privacy. This reaction stemmed mainly from the growing concern about privacy. Also, the doubts that Google was already generating at the time.

Considering that privacy does not really exist on the Internet, what DuckDuckGo does is not track the user. If one accesses the website provided by the search engine without employing any kind of blocker, one will see that there is advertising. However, this is only linked to the search term entered by the user in a totally aseptic manner. That is, there is no data collection or profiling.

For a long time, it was the great champion of privacy among Internet search engines. In recent times, however, its reputation has been somewhat damaged by scandals. For example, the Microsoft trackers and the blocking of The Pirate Bay. However, the company has been developing DuckAssist, an artificial intelligence-based response mechanism, for several months now

DuckDuckGo has expanded at the product level to offer privacy-oriented web browsers. The Android app is based on Chromium. The Mac app wraps the WebKit engine used by Safari. The Windows app is also expected to do the same with Microsoft Edge. One of the search engines focused on privacy.

Qwant

Qwant is basically the European rival of DuckDuckGo. It is based in France, within the European Union. Consequently, it is directly subject to the direct application of the GDPR. This is the regulation governing the protection and processing of personal data within the EU. In a world that generally focuses too much on the strictly technological. However, it does not hurt to keep the legislation in mind when it comes to operating services over the Internet.

Qwant was officially launched in July 2013. It is also committed to respecting privacy. To this end, it does not track users for the purpose of displaying targeted advertising or selling their personal data. In short, nothing new. Although, it has a European touch that possibly makes it more attractive than other options with similar characteristics.

An interesting detail of Qwant is that it allied with Mozilla Foundation for the development of web browsers based on Firefox. This has resulted in apps for Android and iOS that internally work very differently. This because Apple prohibits the use of other rendering engines in its mobile operating system. I am glad to say that it seems like it won’t be around for much longer.

One of the weak points of this search engine is that it is not officially operational in numerous countries.

Brave Search

And now we jump to Brave Search. We are talking about a much younger exponent than those mentioned so far. In fact, the company responsible for developing the largest Chromium derivative, which is released as free software, launched it in 2021. One can therefore imagine a privacy-centric approach and some originality. Recall that the most prominent feature of the web browser is that it pays you to view advertising.

Brave Search is an independent search engine. Or at least it tries to be as much as possible, since it got rid of Bing’s influence recently. Besides that, it tries to avoid spam and low-quality content and has a paid premium plan that eliminates advertising and avoids public IP harvesting.

Other noteworthy features include Discussions. This feature shows conversations related to the search query as comments posted on Reddit. It also offers Goggles, a feature that allows users to apply their own rules and filters to a search. Finally, there is Summarizer, a summary function powered by Brave’s own artificial intelligence.

Brave intends to drive an ecosystem of products and services in order to gain users and be sustainable. The browser is currently set by default in the web browser of the same name. Additionally, you can set it in others such as Firefox, Chrome, and Edge by following the standard procedure.

Yandex

According to Statcounter data, Yandex is the third most popular web browser in the world, after Google and Bing. It is also closely followed by Yahoo. This may be mainly due to the fact that it is the most used search engine in its home country, Russia. There it has about 60% share. It is also popular in other countries, mainly in Asia, including Turkey, Belarus, China, and Uzbekistan. As we can see, this is a search engine whose main audience is in countries close to Russia. In fact, there are many who see Yandex as an answer to Google by the historical enemy/rival of the United States.

When you enter the website that gives access to the search engine, the user will see an indication about the weather in a location near his or her own. In addition, they will also see links to game services, images, video, weather, maps, and e-mail. It is capable of indexing content in many formats, but possibly most notably indexing text located within Flash Shockwave objects.

SearXNG

And we close the list of top mentions with SearXNG, an improved fork of Searx. To be more specific, it is actually a metasearch engine that aggregates results from other popular search engines. Similarly, it does not store user information on a remote server. This, far from being a compromise in order to look good to the public, is materialized by the fact that it works in loco. Therefore, the user will have to follow a series of somewhat advanced steps and meet certain requirements to have it running.

Of course, not everyone may find SearXNG suitable, but those who have concerns about using remote servers can try it out and see if it meets their requirements. Additionally, SearXNG’s source code is available on GitHub under the AGPLv3 license, making it free software

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