Alternatives to Google Search

Are you tired of the usual searches and are you looking for alternatives to Google Search? The amount of trackers and the profiling capacity of Google could be alarming for many people, also because in addition to an obvious ethical and moral problem in being constantly followed and profiled, there is also the problem of the so-called ‘cultural bubble‘. In short it means that knowing you so well Google will propose you mainly things that, according to him, you are interested in avoiding to expand your horizons because you will always see only the same sites and the same references.

Why look for alternatives to Google Search? I surf incognito!

In addition to this, there is also the problem that many believe it is enough to surf incognito to be invisible and “unique” but remember that it is not so. Surfing incognito only serves to hide your history from yourself , Google (and your provider) will know everything you’re doing and will continue your profiling.
Did you know for example that even porn sites contain trackers? Yes, you are being tracked even in your digital intimacy. Do yourself a favor and when you want to be alone with yourself use a secure browser like Firefox with its extensions, and if you really have to search for something on Google do it using the Temporary Containers extension.

It’s good to remember, however, that giving up Google and giving to a similar company all our data, we lose a lot of comfort to which Google has accustomed us, such as personalized searches and searches full of information thanks to the immense database that Google has


managed to create over the years. The compromise is also this and that’s why we’re going to look for alternatives to Google Search. We don’t want to give our data to the first person who comes along just because one thing is more convenient than the other, our privacy is a right.

If you want to learn more about what crawlers are and which search engines have one you can read this article called A look at search engines with their own indexes. It is in English but you can translate it with DeepL or with the extension Mate Translate.

Try it yourself

If we haven’t convinced you yet, here are some online games that can help you understand, without going into boring technical explanations, what the potential of trackers and advertisements of the sites you visit is
:- https://www.nothingprivate.ml/ Did you think you were anonymous? Put a name on this site. Open an incognito page and visit the same site. Ooops, you are not as invisible as you thought!
https://clickclickclick.click this site (in English) shows you in an ironic and funny way how many things can be known about you while browsing a site. Try to play with it!
https://iknowwhatyoudownload.com do you download or have you ever downloaded Torrents


? Take a look at this site, it’s possible that you have already been tracked!

Alternatives to Google Search

DuckDuckGo

It is undoubtedly the most famous duck on the web and is one of the alternatives to Google Search, perhaps the best. DuckDuckGo was born from the idea of Gabriel Weinberg in September 2008. It has come a long way and in 2019 it beat all its previous records. This is definitely a good sign for digital privacy!
DuckDuckGo ‘s searches are the result of a combination of various sources including Wikipedia, Yahoo!, Bing and Yandex as well as its own crawler. DuckDuckGo does not track or store any of the searches made. There is no profiling, no IPs are registered and there are no ad hoc results. There are no trackers and cookies are saved only if you want to keep some default settings.

No censorship


Unlike Google Search, DuckDuckGo does not do any kind of censorship so you can also find torrents and much more.
Warning: we would like to include an update for this last sentence. During the Russian invasion in Ukraine, the CEO of DuckDuckGo, Gabriel Weinberg, explained with a tweet1 that will be lowered automatically the score for sites that make Russian propaganda. Although the initiative is still noble this strikes a bit ‘with what has always been declared by the same Weinberg, or how dangerous and harmful are the filter bubbles andecho-chambers(echo chambers) even during searches2. The choice was also criticized for the way it came: with a tweet. Without official explanations of how the algorithm would work, if there is a list of sites considered reliable and if this list is somehow viewable or something else. The sum of these factors has left many people baffled and unable to trust DuckDuckGo.

On top of all this, DuckDuckGo collects annual donations in favor of privacy projects such as Tor Project and many others.
Last thing, DuckDuckGo allows the use of !bangs. Explained briefly, you can use some shortcuts, called bangs, to search on other sites. For example ! g hello will search the word hello directly on Google.
ANDROID both on the Play Store and especially on F-Droid you can find the browser of DuckDuckGo (as you can imagine focused on privacy). Alternatively you can use your favorite browser (here are our recommendations) and set DuckDuckGo as your default search engine.
APPLE
STORE also on theApp Store you can find the DuckDuckGo browser or , alternatively, set it as the default search engine on your favorite browser.

AGAINST DuckDuckGohas
servers only in the U.S. and with the Patriot Act we have already discovered that theNSA
can do almost anything it wants.
You just have to trust it because these are just speculations without any basis or revelations behind.







servers in the United States

Ecosia

Ecosia is a German search engine that exists since 2009 but only recently had a boom, thanks to the cultural and environmental change that is experiencing the new generation thanks to the figure of Greta Thunberg. Ecosia is not the perfect search engine for privacy but it is certainly the best compromise for those who love the environment as80% of its revenues are allocated to WWF in projects for the preservation of the tropical forest. To date, 71 million trees have already been planted.

On Ecosia without uBlock!


If you decide to use Ecosia as your default search engine remember to disable your ad blockers (such as uBlock) and try to favor sponsored content (sometimes it takes very little, instead of going on amazon.it just look for Amazon and click on the sponsored link and buy through that, for example).
Last thing, if you really can’t find something on Ecosia you can use at the end of your search #g to search directly on Google without making other efforts and useless clicks! In short, if you are looking for alternatives to Google Search this search engine is really for you.

ANDROID you can find Ecosia ‘s browser on the Play Store it doesn’t exist on F-Droid. It’s a poorly customized Chromium with very few privacy options. It’s definitely better to use your favorite browser (our recommendations here) and import Ecosia as your default search engine.
APPLE STORE also on theApp Store there is Ecosia, we haven’t tested it yet so we can’t tell you if and how much it is recommended. You can always import it as a search engine on your favorite browser.

AGAINSTAlthough
Ecosia
does
not sell data to third parties and does not use tracking to advertisers, it stores the searches made but makes them anonymous within a week
.
Ecosia ‘s search engine is Microsoft ‘s Bing with which some data is shared.






🌳 100% renewable energy
server in Germany

Search for Planet

Search for Planet is an opensource project ((Search for Planet source code)) (which we have already talked about) that allows you to search, in an automatic and totally random way, on several solidarity search engines. Enter your search, it will be immediately made on one of the many solidarity engines such as Ecosia, Lilo, Givero and giveWater.
In this way you don’t have to worry about choosing an ethical campaign over another, you will help them all indiscriminately!

servers in Italy
🔓 open source

Presearch

Not long ago ((Presearch – BitcoinWiki)) there is this new very interesting search engine. Presearch is open source ((Presearch – Source code)) and its business model is the cryptocurrency they created, called PRE.

It’s a decentralized search engine, meaning they don’t run their own server but allow anyone to run a node. Unlike Searx ((Searx – Wikipedia)) (which we discuss below) the software to run a node is not open source ((Presearch – Run a Node)). Whoever decides to run a server with Presearch on it receives cryptocurrency(PRE) in exchange.

Users who use the search engine also get cryptocurrency(PRE) for their searches. Presearch doesn’t have its own index but uses that of other engines, plus it allows you to fully customize the homepage by creating quick bookmarks to search on multiple search engines in a very simple way.

We’ve been using this for a while and the searches have often seemed well done.

AGAINST

The fact of not being completely open source and a little bit the slowness of the site not always 100%. The minimum to reach in order to receive the cryptocurrency is too high and this does not give much confidence risking to pass the message that it is impossible to receive the accumulated proceeds.

Qwant

The first real European search engine. Among all the alternatives to Google Search, the only one that is 100% European. It’s called Qwant, a French search engine that respects privacy. It was officially born in 2013 and since a few years there is also an Italian version. Unlike Ecosia which is European but uses Bing for its searches, Qwant aggregates third party results such as Bing and Amazon and has its own crawler. Qwant is a very interesting search engine because it offers a 360° service by including in its searches also social and news just like Google, but without creating a ‘cultural bubble’ because no search is tracked. Qwant also allows you to use the“QOZ“, donations that Qwant will make to various non-profit organizations thanks to your research.

Quick answers? DDG is the real alternative to Google Search

Unlike DuckDuckGo it doesn’t seem to have ‘quick answers’ in searches (if you search for ‘capital France’ it won’t answer ‘Paris’ but will only show you the current results). We don’t see this as a bad thing because many of the ‘quick answers’ provided by Google literally take users away from sites that have written those answers themselves.
There is also a lightweight version called Qwant Lite for slow connections and poorly performing browsers. Finally there is also a very useful version called Qwant Junior, very useful for those who have children. All versions of Qwant respect privacy, do not track searches, do not make personalized searches and do not do profiling.

AGAINSTAccording toan
article of theirs from 2015 and a news from 2017
,
Qwant
‘s servers are backed on
Huawei
(can’t really tell but still seems on European soil).
This for some is a big flaw on privacy (and ethics) as Huawei is Chinese and in China they don’t go too light on infringing on personal freedoms.
Partnership with Microsoft to which they also pass some pseudo-anonymous data3.




server in France

Swisscows

Swisscows is the most recent search engine on this list, it was born in 2014 in Switzerland and its server is located in a bunker in the Swiss Alps. It is precisely for these reasons one of the most promising search engines, at least on paper, regarding privacy and data tracking as Switzerland is outside EU and US jurisdiction and has important and serious privacy laws.

Excellent alternative to Google Search for the family


It’s totally family-friendly so censorship takes the cake. It could be useful if you have children or if you yourself want to be safe from violent and explicit content. Unlike other search engines, and here I quote Wikipedia, Swisscows “relies on the interpretation and recognition of the semantic data of the search string”. During the search you will see a series of‘tags‘ appear related to your search that according to the developers should help you refine it.
ANDROID there is an app on the Play Store, unfortunately there is no open-source one on F-Droid.
APPLE STORE doesn’t seem to have an app on theApp Store.

There areno
obvious contradictions in this search engine, but unfortunately searches are still a bit ‘immature and do not always seem to work very well
.
As we have already said, Swisscows heavily censors the results and not everyone agrees with this




server in Switzerland

Lilo

This search engine was born in France in 2015. Lilo promises to be a private search engine using in turn the algorithms of, among others, Google, Bing and Yahoo. Lilo claims to act as a barrier between you and the results you receive and not track any of your data. The interesting thing about this search engine is the possibility of financing social and environmental projects with its use. Unlike Qwant, where the projects are mostly French, on Lilo there are many Italian projects. If you decide to use it, remember to disable the ad blocker, otherwise it makes little sense to use it. Lilo promises to reserve 50% of its earnings for social and environmental projects. Lilo.org

server in France

Ekoru

Ekoru is a recent Australian search engine based on privacy and respect for its users. In fact they promise not to keep the history of our searches and not to sell our information to anyone. In addition, each search on Ekoru will allow you to help clean the oceans from plastic. In fact Ekoru, like Ecosia, does not have its own crawler but uses the results of Microsoft. The 60% of its earnings, however, will be allocated to Big Blue Ocean Cleanup, a non-profit company that has as its main mission to clean the oceans from plastic. If you want to do good deeds even if only by searching the web give Ekoru a chance!

Ekoru, to clean the oceans from plastic, a good alternative to Google Search

For this reason, just like with Ecosia, avoid using it with ad blocking active. Otherwise, there is very little sense in using such a search engine as their profits are also based on the number of views made by the banners on the site. You can search online at Ekoru.org or on Android with their app available on the Play Store.

AGAINST
Unfortunately Ekoru has recently received an important update that has worsened its use. As well as Ecosia and Lilo uses Bing for their searches. But instead of acting as a wall between us and Microsoft our searches now go directly to Bing.com. It remains interesting oceans clean thanks but puts our privacy at more risk than other search engines.

🌳 100% renewable energy
🇨🇦 server in Canada

Startpage

This search engine is often named by those most concerned about their online privacy, as the search engine par excellence, better even than DuckDuckGo. Yet as you can see we put it last in our list. Not because it is actually the worst, but its method of use is really particular. Without going into too much technical detail, thanks to this search engine you can search on Google without Google knowing it! Basically it’s Startpage that will search for you on Google, so Google will not be able in any way to track or profile you. From their site we can read that:“You can’t beat Google when it comes to online search. So we’re paying them to use their brilliant search results in order to remove all trackers and logs“.

Google searches without Google

Startpage searches are certainly at least as good as Google searches. And they promise, like DuckDuckGo, zero tracking, zero cookies and no profiling.
ANDROID on the Play Store you can find Startpage Private Search, a browser with Startpage search by default. It does not exist, unfortunately, on F-Droid.
APPLESTORE also on theApp Store you can find the Startpage browser . Alternatively I remind you that you can always set Startpage as default search engine on your favorite browser .

AGAINST using
Google‘s censored results, continuing to give him power in the search using his system even paying him to get his results (obtained with a nonchalant privacy
policy) is in our opinion morally less acceptable than other search engines.
Startpage has also recently co-influenced Privacy One Group, a privacy-focused arm of a marketing company, and this may turn the noses of many.




Brave Search (beta)

Brave browser is determined to wage war on Google’s monopoly. After trying to destroy the ad market ((Brave – Ads)) it has now thought of creating its own search engine. It is still in beta stage although open to all.

Brave Search does not want to be the usual search engine that relies on others, for all the web part have in fact created their own index ((Tweet by Brendan Eich on Brave Search)). So they seem really decided to revolutionize everything. As for the part “images” and “video” currently use Bing but, according to its CEO, it is only a matter of time because it will soon arrive an index of images and videos to no longer depend on anyone ((Tweet by Brendan Eich on Brave Search)). There’s also a part dedicated to maps using OpenStreetMap coming soon ((Tweet by Brendan Eich on OpenStreetMap)).

AGAINST

It’s not entirely clear how they want to make money with this search engine, one of the things that is asked during the beta signup though is if you are willing to pay for a decent search engine. They will certainly try to spin their cryptocurrency BAT in this new project as well.

Peekier

Peekier is a search engine with alternative and interesting graphics. He also like many others uses the results of Bing. So what differentiates it from the various Ecosia, Ekoru or Bing itself? The way in which it allows you to view the results. In fact instead of seeing only links, you’ll see real previews with very large thumbnails: here’s an example. It is also a privacy-oriented search engine that does not use cookies and does not track your searches. A nice alternative really different from all the others!

possibility to use european servers

Runnaroo

Update 03/06/2021: As of today, it seems to no longer work. Let’s wait a few more months to understand it better and then take it down.

We like to search for alternative projects, so we propose you this recent search engine. It is unfortunately not an open source project, but it has a very good privacy policy4 and the search results are promising ((Runnaroo on Reddit)). It uses data from many different search engines including Google, Yelp, Wikipedia, Twitter and Stack Overflow. When it makes this request for us, however, it does so totally anonymously. So it doesn’t retain any information, no search queries are stored and nothing is sold to third parties. In short, try it!

LAST BUT NOT LEAST

The search engines listed above are for us the best compromise between privacy and everyday use. They are all excellent alternatives to Google Search. We mention only for completeness of information that there are many other independent, secure and open source search engines. This is the example of searx, open source search engine that can be self-hosted by anyone or you can try any instance here: searx.space. We also report the Italian instance searx.devol.it. We add, on a recommendation arrived in our Telegram group5, also the instance searx.neocities.org to search on random instances of Searx and searx.neocities.org/nojs.html to search on different instances with ease.

Besides Searx there is also Whoogle, a meta-search engine based on Google that respects privacy. Again it is self-hostable so you can try using this instance.

Mojeek is also interesting because unlike all the others that use Google/Bing or Yahoo crawlers, it has its own crawler. Unfortunately, searches do not always go well, especially in the Italian language. Finally we want to mention YaCy, P2P search engine without central server but totally decentralized. There is also metaGera search engine of the German non-profit company SUMA-EV.

  1. Tweet by Weinberg, link Nitter []
  2. Why you should change your default search engine []
  3. Data Protection Information []
  4. Runnaroo privacy policy []
  5. Report on our Telegram group []

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