To speak of search engines is to speak of Google Search. If your market share exceeds 70% in almost all world regions, your influence is even greater than what the data reflects. Not even Microsoft’s strategy of joining forces with Yahoo! It has produced compelling results against Google’s dominance.

Yahoo! It has ended in disaster after being one of the great pioneers of the Internet of the 90s, while Bing maintains an acceptable share, but without the ability to overshadow Google. And this despite Microsoft’s “tricks”, installing (forcibly) its engine in the same Chrome for Office 365 users or forcing Windows 10 users to use it in the general system search tool. Google also uses its ‘techniques’ and, for example, the manufacturer who wants certificates from Android or Chrome OS to market new equipment, should use Search by default.

And it is that this type of applications are essential in the network of networks of today and are used in a massive way although the user often does not even notice it, in many Internet services and access to the billionaire online advertising cake. This is how it is understood that the entire base of Google’s business has been built around its engine and has allowed it to become the giant we know.

The problem is that the online advertising industry has crossed the red line and it has become one of the biggest violators of users’ privacy rights, with tracking of personal data without due control. Users have grown tired of these practices, and the Web has become an endless ‘cat and mouse’ game between privacy advocates and a host of advertisers. Choosing the search engine is key to start.

Alternative search engines

Although the situation cannot be described as monopoly, after accusations of anti-competitive practices and abuse of a dominant position, several governments (especially Europeans) are studying the update of regulations that lead to allowing smaller companies to compete with technology giants.

This, together with mass surveillance scandals, data breaches and untransparent practices, has allowed the emergence of alternative engines that promise greater privacy and a return of results that is not as influenced by commercial and advertising reasons as what Google Search and Microsoft Bing offer.

Most alternatives are unknown to the general public, but exist, exist. Its incidence in the global search is still minimal and its results in some types may not be as accurate as that offered by the large ones, but its focus on one greater privacy and neutrality In times when the evaluation of these aspects is on the rise, it has caused a significant increase in its use. We leave you with the five most interesting alternative (and private) search engines.

DuckDuckGo

The most interesting of the alternative search engines is an open source development that commitment to privacy as main feature and in fact it is the default engine in the TOR browser. Its increase in use has been enormous in recent quarters.

This search engine does not sell any personal information, because it never stores it in the first place. DuckDuckGo displays advertising (sponsored links) related to the term that the user has just entered in the search bar, but without tracking the activity or generating any user profile.

DuckDuckGo uses search results from Yahoo! and this means that those accustomed to the efficiency of Search or Google, may find the results less accurate. The results are simplified with specific metadata, allowing the country of origin to be selected to obtain more consistent results with what is being sought. DuckDuckGo recently launched the Tracker Radar service to improve privacy. It is the proprietary set of tracker data that you use alongside your search software for anyone, user, or developer to use to protect themselves online.

Startpage

A development that comes from the Netherlands for those looking for a search engine that is more like Google, but with a different operation. In fact, you use your results and then use them for your own service without collecting your information.

Startpage ensures privacy with “Anonymous View”, which works alongside any search result. The engine routes traffic through a proxy server, so it will never reveal your identity to websites. This makes Startpage one of the best anonymous search engines available.

This engine is also careful with search recommendations. Typically, a search engine will recommend search terms as you type based on what other people are searching for. However, this requires the search engine to collect personal information, which Startpage does not support.

MetaGer

A privacy-based search engine based in Germany. Like Startpage, also uses proxy server technology to hide your location when you visit a website.

When searching for a term, you will notice an additional option under each result called “Open anonymously.” When clicked, MetaGer will configure a proxy server and direct the website you want through it. In this way, the visit is anonymous.

Unfortunately, MetaGer is pretty basic for settings and options, and uses Scopia and Bing for its search results. However, operates as a non-profit organization backed by donations. This is good news for anyone who doesn’t trust a business that has revenue and profit as its goal.

Qwant

A French development (with servers in Europe and under European standards) that has become the second most popular of the alternative search engines and surely it is the most complete. It has music search services, maps and provides through trending topics searches and a powerful and well-organized news section that competes in quality with Google’s offer.

However, some of these characteristics require obtaining your location or your personal data. This means that it is not an ideal choice for people who want maximum privacy, although it should be noted that does not store search histories.

If you don’t mind a little extra tracking for a few more features, Qwant fills a niche without selling your data. An intermediate point between humbler engines in benefits, but more private, and the giants of the sector.

Mojeek

A pattern of previous search engines is that they trust their results to external developments. If this is a problem for you and you prefer a development that generates its own results, this is one of them.

It is a search engine based in the United Kingdom, which uses its own databases to guarantee respect for privacy at all times. Its managers speak of “independent and impartial” search results.

The problem of not having a base as gigantic as that of Google or Bing is that the results may not be as accurate, but if you are looking for something totally independent as well as private, it is a solution to value.

More alternative search engines:

Ecosia It is a somewhat particular search engine, since apart from offering more privacy than Google, it has the noble objective of helping in tree planting. For this you only have to do one thing: use the search engine.

Swisscows is a search engine based in Switzerland that is part of the Hulbee AG project. For its results it relies on Bing and when a search is made it shows on the right side a tag cloud that can be useful to know the related terms.

searX it is defined as a “metasearch engine”. What it does is accumulate the results obtained from different search engines when the user makes a query, but without storing data, they can end up generating a profile. Being Open Source helps to reinforce the trust that can be placed in this search engine, which can also be modified and reimplemented on another server.

Peekier It is a search engine that implements its own algorithm and has the peculiarity of generating a preview of each website shown in the search results. This, as it could not be otherwise, has a price, and that is that Peekier is not the fastest to search.

How do I change the search engine

All browsers include a default search engine, but the alternatives can be used. For example, Chrome obviously uses Google Search, but it can be easily changed as follows:

Access Chrome settings.

Click on “Search engine” in the block on the left side and you will see the default installed search engine and the basic listing with Yahoo! Bing and others.

Although they are not in the list, you can add other alternatives from «Manage search engines» and then select the one you want to work by default. Or use them interchangeably. Once included in the list it is quite easy to change from one to another.

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