The best alternatives to Google search

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Even the most privacy-conscious, Google-hating Internet users are afraid to ditch Google Search. But you don’t need Google to get accurate 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 – just pick one you like to use.

Most of the search engines listed in this article offer some form of privacy protection. But this is not an article about “private” search engines. Instead, it’s an extensive 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.

Note: These selections are organized in alphabetical order. The first search engine mentioned in this article is not necessarily the best option.

Brave search: privacy with a great interface

Brave Search home page image
Bravo

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, using 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.)

Brave Search also has a strong privacy policy. It does not collect your location data or search history, and it does not track you. That said, you can enable anonymous IP-based searches for local results (like restaurants), and Brave Search uses “anonymous cookies” to remember certain preferences (like safe search settings or your preferred temperature unit).

Additionally, Brave plans to open up some aspects of its search engine. This should open the door for community projects, such as apps, widgets, or integrations based on Brave Search. (But the search engine as a whole is not open source.)

DuckDuckGo: privacy and “bangs”

DuckDuckGo home page image
Duck Duck to win

Of all the Google search alternatives, DuckDuckGo is the most popular option. It doesn’t collect personal information about its users or engage in targeted advertising – those are the main selling points. But for what it’s worth, DuckDuckGo is most notable for its search results and powerful “Bangs” feature.

DuckDuckGo pulls search results from a variety of sources, primarily Microsoft Bing. Effectively, you’re getting the search engine of a big corporation without the creepy stuff. And with the “Bangs” feature, you can use DuckDuckGo to search thousands of different websites, all without leaving the search engine of your choice.

If you want to find a Wikipedia article on cows, for example, you can search for “!w cows” on DuckDuckGo. It will automatically take you to the corresponding web page. This also works for things like Github, Google Images, Reddit, and Twitter. (See the full list of “Bangs” if you’re interested.)

There is only one problem; DuckDuckGo was caught lying about how he is browser handle 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. browserbut it’s a black mark in the company’s privacy-focused image.

Microsoft Bing: Cool Features Without Google

Bing home page image
Microsoft

If you’re not a fan of Google Search, maybe it’s time to give Bing a try. Microsoft’s main search engine is almost 15 years old, and while it doesn’t have a glowing reputation, it’s a powerful tool with unique features and strong search results.

Bing’s home page is pretty clean, and it routinely alternates its background with a new “photo of the day.” Otherwise, it offers most of the same features as Google. You can search for images and videos, use your voice to perform a search, or request a reverse image search to find information about an image.

Using Bing as your home page also gives you easy access to news, weather, sports, and the Office suite online. But my favorite feature of Bing is Bing Rewards. That’s how it is; Microsoft will give you reward points just for using Bing, and you can redeem these points for gift cards. If you are going to give your data to someone, it is better that they pay you for it.

Searx: The Power User’s Search Engine

an image of a Searx instance.
SearX

Instead of using a traditional search engine, why not try a “meta search” engine? Searx aggregates results from over 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’re a trusted person, you can visit around 100 different Searx instances that are maintained by members of the community. This saves you the hassle of setting up Searx, but puts you in an awkward position in terms of privacy. Instead of trusting a corporation with your data, you are trusting a stranger on the Internet.

To be clear, Searx is not for the faint of heart. I have included it in this article for advanced users who want a lot of privacy. Y a ton of control. If you have never used a command line before, you should skip this one.

Swisscows: a family option

Swisscows home page image
swiss cows

Even Google Search can get a little raunchy. If you are looking for a familiar search engine, Swisscows may be your best option. It gets accurate results from Bing, doesn’t track users, and most importantly, blocks porn, violence, and other explicit content.

And just 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 a month.

I should point out that Swisscows is based in Switzerland, which has the strictest data privacy laws of any country. The company owns its own servers and its data center is located in the Swiss Alps. This does not mean that Swisscows offers perfect privacy protection (zero companies are perfect), but it is a good sign.