Even the most privacy-conscious, Google-hating internet users are afraid to give up on Google Search. But you don’t need Google for precise search results or fancy features. Alternative search engines have finally come of age and now offer a compelling experience that can easily replace Google search. You just have to choose one that you like to use.
Most of the search engines listed in this article offer some kind of privacy protection. But this is not an article about “private” search engines. Instead, it’s a broad list of Google search alternatives. The goal here is not to find a perfectly private search tool; we just want to help you find a good search engine that is not made by Google.
To note: These choices are organized in alphabetical order. The first search engine listed in this article is not necessarily the best option.
It’s a relatively new search engine, but it’s still a winner. Brave Search offers fast and accurate results with a beautiful and clean interface. And it’s completely independent of Google or Bing, as it uses community-created data from the Web Discovery Project to aggregate search results. (Although you can check a box to see Google and Bing results in Brave Search.)
Additionally, Brave plans to open up some aspects of its search engine. This should open the door to community projects, such as Brave Search-based apps, widgets, or integrations. (But the search engine as a whole is not open source.)
Of all the Google search alternatives, DuckDuckGo is the most popular option. It does not collect personal information about its users and does not participate in targeted advertisements, these are the main selling points. But for what it’s worth, DuckDuckGo is more notable for its search results and powerful “Bangs” feature.
DuckDuckGo pulls search results from various sources, primarily Microsoft Bing. You actually get a huge company’s search engine without the scary stuff. And with the “Bangs” feature, you can use DuckDuckGo to search through thousands of different websites, all without leaving your search engine of choice.
If you want to find a Wikipedia article about cows, for example, you can search “!w cows” in DuckDuckGo. It will automatically take you to the appropriate web page. It also works for things like Github, Google Images, Reddit, and Twitter. (Check complete list of “Fringes” if you are interested.)
There is only one problem; DuckDuckGo was caught lying about how his Navigator manages trackers. As part of its Bing search agreement, the DuckDuckGo browser does not block Microsoft-owned trackers on certain websites – again, this is specific to DuckDuckGo Navigatorbut it’s a black spot on the company’s privacy-focused image.
If you’re not a fan of Google search, it might be time to give Bing a try. Microsoft’s first search engine is nearly 15 years old, and while it doesn’t have a glittering reputation, it’s a powerful tool with unique features and solid search results.
Bing’s homepage is pretty clean and regularly scrolls its background with a new “picture of the day.” Otherwise, it offers most of the same features as Google. You can search for images and videos, use your voice to search, or request a reverse image search to find information about an image.
Using Bing as your homepage also gives you easy access to news, weather, sports, and the Office suite online. But my favorite Bing feature is Bing Rewards. It’s true; Microsoft will give you rewards points just for using Bing, and you can redeem those points for gift cards. If you’re going to give someone your data, you might as well get paid for it.
Instead of using a traditional search engine, why not try a “metasearch” engine? To research brings together the results of approximately 70 search engines (including Google and Bing) without exposing your private data or bombarding you with trackers.
Here’s the thing; Searx is an open source tool. To use Searx, you need to set it up on a private server (which can just be your PC). You can then access and customize Searx from a dedicated web page or your browser’s search bar, or even share access with friends and family.
If you are a trustworthy person, you can visit 100 different instances of Searx which are maintained by community members. This saves you from having to configure Searx, but it puts you in a difficult position in terms of privacy. Instead of entrusting your data to a company, you trust a stranger on the Internet.
To be clear, Searx is not for the faint of heart. I included it in this article for power users who want a ton of privacy and a ton of control. If you’ve never used a command line, you should skip this one.
Even Google search can get a little steamy. If you are looking for a family search engine, swiss cows may be your best bet. It pulls accurate results from Bing, it doesn’t track users, and most importantly, it blocks pornography, violence, and other explicit content.
And like Brave or DuckDuckGo, Swisscows is more than just a browser. The company also offers a secure email system with personalized addresses and sells a VPN subscription for $10 per month.
I should note that Swisscows is based in Switzerland, which has the the strictest data privacy laws from any country. The company has its own servers and its data center is located in the Swiss Alps. This does not mean that Swisscows offers perfect privacy protection (zero company is perfect), but it is a good sign.