4 Alternative Search Engines to Consider Besides Google
Last Updated: 29th November 2019
It will come as no surprise that here in the United Kingdom, Google has long been the dominant search engine for most internet users. In fact, by recent counts it holds 87.46 percent of the desktop, tablet and mobile search engine market in the UK.
That’s over 50million people searching multiple times every day using Google.
But that hasn’t come without a cost. Most users are now well-aware of how companies like Google track and use our data for ‘personalisation’ or for sharing with advertisers, and are opting for more privacy-friendly options.
Even searchers who are willing to forgo privacy in exchange for a fast, convenient search experience are exploring Google alternatives, who in some cases provide an even better search experience!
Here’s our list of the four best search engines other than Google:
Despite massively lagging behind Google in terms of market-share (just 8.2 percent of the UK search market) Bing offers all the same functionality as we’ve come to expect from Google: translation, conversion, rich results, knowledge panels for hotels and flights, etc.
But, with further exploration, Bing offers some far more advanced features to make it a superior search experience.
Moving beyond Bing’s beautiful image-rich homepage, the search engine excels at providing unbiased search results showing multiple perspectives on a topic side by side, helping to reduce the spread of misinformation.
Bing’s rich results are far more visual than Google’s, combining image and video with rich text results. Furthermore, they offer a wider variety of rich results including machine-learning predictions for sports events, elections and the like.
Bing’s image search has exceeded that of Google for some time too, with object-detection within image searches, a clean user-interface and the option to save searches as collections which you can head back and review at any time. In my opinion, Bing is the best search engine for image search.
Finally, our geek out over Bing wouldn't be complete without mentioning Bing Rewards. By searching through Bing, you’ll earn Reward points which can be exchanged for things like Tesco or Argos vouchers, Xbox gift cards and more. Just a couple of months of searches on Bing will earn you enough points for a meal out at Pizza Express - not a bad deal really!
DuckDuckGo has rapidly risen in popularity as the best search engine for privacy but still only holds around 1% market-share in the UK.
DuckDuckGo doesn’t track, collect or store any information on you or the searches you make so you can browse the web in complete privacy without the worry of third-parties getting their grubby mits on your data.
DuckDuckGo delivers their search results from multiple sources including their own web crawler, alongside Bing, Yahoo, Wikipedia and hundreds of other information sources. As such, the results are just as reliable as those from Google but without all the extra bloat and ‘personalised’ ads.
The feature I really love is Bang search. Bangs are shortcuts which take you directly to search results on other websites - for example !w will take you to Wikipedia, whereas !a takes you straight to Amazon. DuckDuckGo supports over 13,000 Bangs encompassing everything from Steam to Reddit to Twitter and Zoopla.
Moreover, the search engine is winning the hearts and minds of users thanks to bringing a clean, intuitive, modern interface to search with a friendly user interface (and dark mode!). They’re also pushing for more innovative search features too, including allowing you to choose your preferred units of measurement (imperial or metric), your favourite maps provider and whether you prefer infinite scroll or paginated results amongst others.
If you’re looking for a search engine that works incredibly well and values keeping your information private, you should switch over to DuckDuckGo immediately.
Another search engine growing at breakneck speed thanks to their focus on driving environmental change is Ecosia. As an entity, Google pumps out thousands of tonnes of CO2 and search contributes to that - Ecosia hopes to counter their own environmental impact by using their search revenue to plant trees around the world.
They’ve calculated that each search contributes to removing 1kg of CO2 from the atmosphere, and for approximately every 45 searches Ecosia plants a tree. On top of this, they’re powered entirely by 100% renewable energy and amazingly if Ecosia were as big as Google, they would absorb 15% of all global CO2 emissions!
Search results on Ecosia are powered by Bing, meaning you’re still going to get a great search experience including rich features, video and image search, and recommended searches.
However, Ecosia also place value on user privacy, though not quite to the extent of DuckDuckGo. They openly state that whilst they track initial search data to provide a better immediate experience, this is all deleted within a week of the search being conducted, and none of this information gets passed to advertisers. In fact, if you want to you can even turn off any kind of tracking for a completely private search experience.
Unfortunately, Ecosia currently only has 0.3 percent of the UK search market, so do your part to save the world and switch over to Ecosia search today!
Ekoru, a new entrant to the search engine landscape operates in a similar vein to Ecosia. Founded in the land down-under, Ekoru is a web search engine that helps animals and the environment. 60% of their revenue goes to charity partners involved in causes covering animal welfare, reforestation, ocean conservation, and climate action.
Search results are powered by Microsoft’s Bing, so your search results will still be reliable and will include all the features you’d expect from a modern search engine. Browser extensions are available too for users of Chrome or Firefox to ease your transition to a new search experience.
Again, very similarly to Ecosia, Ekoru has user privacy at its heart, promising not to retain user or personal search information on it’s servers - which by the way are located in hydro-electric powered data centres, reinforcing their environmental focus from top to bottom.
There really aren’t any downsides from switching to Ekoru, or for that matter Ecosia. Both work hard to make a positive impact on different areas of our natural world and provide the opportunity for you to do so too when you next search for the closest pizza joint or who’s playing at the local comedy club.
Which Google alternative is best?
There’s no doubt that Google is the largest, most popular search engine out there - but if you asked me if it’s the best, I’d have to give it serious thought.
Conflicted by privacy issues, continuous underhand tactics to blend paid and organic results, and an ongoing shift towards no-click search to keep users on Google rather than the websites they first set-out to index and categorise begs the question:
Should we all still be supporting them?
Make the switch to an alternative today and see what you think. Naturally it will probably be a little weird at first to move outside the Google-zone, but with browser extensions and mobile apps available for all of our recommended alternatives, you’ll quickly feel at home with your new search provider.
After all, in 99.9% of cases, any of these search engines will provide the results you’re looking for so why not use one that actually benefits you, your privacy or the planet instead of only themselves?