Brief: In this age of the internet, you can never be too careful with your privacy. Use these alternative search engines that do not track you.
Google — unquestionably being the best search engine out there, makes use of powerful and intelligent algorithms (including A.I. implementations) to let the users get the best out of a search engine.
This sounds good until you start to live in a filter bubble. When you start seeing everything that ‘suits your taste’, you get detached from reality. Too much of anything is not good. Too much of personalization is harmful as well.
Therefore, one should get out of this filter bubble and see the world as it is. But how do you do that?
You know that Google tracks a lot of information about your connection and the system when you perform a search and take an action within the search engine or use other Google services such as Gmail.
So, if Google keeps on tracking you, the simple answer would be to stop using Google for searching the web. But what would you use in place of Google? Microsoft’s Bing is no saint either.
So, to address the netizens concerned about their privacy while using a search engine, I have curated a list of privacy oriented alternative search engines to Google.
Best 10 Privacy-Oriented Alternative Search Engines To Google
Do note that the alternatives mentioned in this article are not necessarily “better” than Google, but only focus on protecting users’ privacy. Here we go!
Also, the list is in no particular order of ranking.
DuckDuckGo is one of the most successful privacy-oriented search engines as an alternative to Google. The user experience offered by DuckDuckGo is commendable.
DuckDuckGo, unlike Google, uses the traditional method of sponsored ads and affiliate commissions to monetize the platform. The ads are privacy-friendly and are often relevant, which is a minimal experience.
Of course, DuckDuckGo’s search algorithm has improved over the years (even if it has no idea who you are!).
The quality of search result is on point, for what I tested.
It lets you select a country to get the most relevant result you may be looking for. But, it might be disappointing for your local searches (based on your region/country).
Also, when you type in a question or search for a fix, it might present you with an instant answer (fetched from the source), which works well.
If you loved using Google, you might miss quite a few functionalities (like filtering images by license) that you normally find with Google.
Qwant is an interesting privacy-oriented search engine. It claims to ensure neutrality, privacy, and digital freedom while you search for something on the Internet.
If you thought privacy-oriented search engines tend to offer a very casual user experience, you need to rethink after trying out Qwant.
This is a very dynamic search engine with trending topics and news stories organized very well. It may not offer a personalized experience (given that it does not track you) – but it does offer a rich user experience.
The quality of search is pretty good, and the user experience is impressive.
Startpage is a good initiative as a privacy-oriented search engine alternative to Google.
The UI is like that of Google’s. So, if you want a familiar experience with added privacy benefits, this can be your pick. Startpage also puts privacy-friendly advertisements which you can choose to disable from the settings.
If you do not disable the promotional ads, they might be irrelevant to your search results, which could result in a bad user experience.
The quality of search results is good if not excellent.
To protect your privacy, it offers an “Anonymous view“. You can either select to visit the web pages using a proxy to hide your IP or without it. You also get to change the theme of the search engine. Well, I did enjoy my switch to the “Night” theme and the default theme looks good as well.
There’s also an interesting option with the help of which, you can have a separate copy of your browser settings by generating a custom URL. This method does not store any cookie. But, if you want to save your browser settings with a cookie, the settings go away if you clear the cookies.
Well, it isn’t a dairy farm portfolio site but a privacy-oriented search engine as an alternative to Google.
You may have heard about it as Hulbee– but it has recently redirected its operation to a new domain. Nothing has really changed except for the name and domain of the search engine. It works the same way as before.
Swisscows utilizes Bing to deliver the search results as per your query. It lets you preview a webpage before visiting the site with a click of a button.
The search algorithm makes sure that it is a family-friendly search engine where pornography and violence is ruled out completely, making it a suitable portal for children.
Also, with the revenue they make, they support children who do not have the privilege of getting educated while also helping them survive.
Mojeek has been around for a long time now. They’re an independent ‘crawler-based’ search engine, based in the UK, with their own algorithm and index of web pages.
If you are looking for a privacy-focused search engine that does not enforce any trackers while having its own index for search results, you should be good to go with this. I tried searching for some common queries and was satisfied with the search results. I think you can try it for yourself.
searX is an interesting search engine – which is technically defined as a “metasearch engine”. In other words, it uses other search engines and accumulates the results of your queries in one place. It does not store your search data being an open-source metasearch engine at the same time. You can review the source code, contribute, or even customize it as your own metasearch engine hosted on your server.
If you are fond of using Torrent clients to download stuff, this search engine will help you find the magnet links to the exact files when you try searching for a file through searX. When you access the settings (preferences) for searX, you would find a lot of advanced things to tweak from your end.
General tweaks include – adding/removing search engines, rewrite HTTP to HTTPS, remove tracker arguments from URL, and so on. It’s all yours to control. The user experience may not be the best here but if you want to utilize multiple search engines while keeping your privacy in check, searX is a great alternative to Google.
The only problem here is, you may not have a single domain active for the search engine. Hence, there are multiple searx instances, if the button below does not work, you should browse the list of instances to look for others or just host it yourself.
Peekier is another fascinating privacy-oriented search engine. Unlike the previous one, it is not a metasearch engine. It may not be the fastest search engine I’ve ever used but it is an interesting take on how search engines could evolve in the near future.
When you type in a search query, it not only fetches a list of results but also displays the preview images of the web pages listed. So, you get a “peek” on what you look for. While the search engine does not store your data, the web portals you visit do track you.
So, in order to avoid that to an extent, Peekier accesses the site and generates a preview image to decide whether to head into the site or not (without you requiring to access it). In that way, you allow fewer websites to know about you – mostly the ones you trust.
MetaGer is yet another open source metasearch engine. However, unlike others, it takes privacy more seriously and enforces the use of Tor network for anonymous access to search results from a variety of search engines. They claim that their servers run on 100% renewable energy.
They do house a few number of advertisements (without trackers of course)- but you can get rid of those as well by joining in as a member of the non-profit organization – SUMA-EV – which sponsors the MetaGer search engine.
I used Ecosia for a while as my primary search engine. It’s a one-of-a-kind privacy-focused search engine that plants trees if you use it.
They use Bing’s search results at the core. They make money from sponsored ads on the search result pages. However, they contribute a significant amount of money to notable organizations and activists helping plant more trees.
At first, this might seem to be controversial. But they share monthly financial reports and I’ve also observed respectable organizations involved with Ecosia to help plant more trees. In addition to all this, they claim that their servers run on 100% renewable energy.
With Ecosia, you get a similar user interface to Google.
Gibiru is a privacy-friendly search engine that aims for uncensored search results. It doesn’t enforce any trackers, but it recommends you utilize a VPN of their choice in addition to their search engine service, in order to prevent other websites to track your activity.
The search results may not be the best around – but it puts some interesting uncensored search results.
Privatelee was a kind of search engine specifically tailored to protect your online privacy. It did not track your search results or behavior in any way. However, you used to get a lot of irrelevant results.
The search engine wasn’t perfect to find a hidden treasure on the Internet but more for general queries. Privatelee also supported power commands – more like shortcuts – which helps you search for the exact thing in an efficient manner. It would save a lot of your time for pretty simple tasks such as searching for a movie on Netflix. If you were looking for a super fast privacy oriented search engine for common queries, Privatelee would have been a good alternative to Google.
If you are concerned about your privacy, you should also look at some of the best privacy-focused Linux distributions and private email services. Among the search engine alternatives mentioned here – DuckDuckGo – is my personal favorite.
But it really comes down to your preference and whom would you choose to trust while surfing the Internet.
Do you know some more interesting (but good) privacy-oriented alternative search engines to Google?
Let me know your thoughts in the comments below.