Google is far more powerful than most of us realize. Their search engine comprises most of the advertising that takes place on the internet. Even unrelated sites often contain Google trackers and ads that promote its network of information gathering and location tracking.
Additionally, we use many of its apps to make important decisions every day, such as where we eat, which doctors we see, what loans we take out, and what we do with our businesses. With all this information going through Google, it’s important to realize the potential danger to your privacy.
That’s why you should consider these search engine alternatives to Google, next time you need to find something out.
Am I being tracked?
Before we go into the alternatives, we should talk about why finding one is important.
When you search for something online, you’re probably being tracked. This means that your information is being recorded by a server and sent to an ad agency or lead generator to personalize your online experience.
Whenever you see something pop up that seems spookily relevant to you, that’s because previous information was recorded and used to make that ad.
Here’s why this is a problem. We use the internet for everything nowadays, including buying our homes and calculating our calorie intake. This information that goes to places you can’t even imagine could be information that you want to keep private. It could put make you the target of dangerous scams.
People use search engines for many different things. For those looking for the private services of Hot.com, they may not want to search on a more public engine like Google. Hot promises to keep your information confidential, to refrain from sending you personalized ads, and to give you a clean, efficient experience.
When talking about alternatives to Google, this one is always going to come up near the top. DuckDuckGo is a privacy-focused search engine that specializes in creating interesting shortcuts to a network of other search engines instead of a personalized search algorithm like Google’s, which would require recording your information.
They promise that the data you enter on their site isn’t sold to third parties or used to generate ads. This one doesn’t have the same interface as Google, but if you get used to it you may find that you like it even more.
Any search engine in the US is subject to US privacy laws. Your information may be requested by or sold to the government at any time. For some people, this is a scary thought.
That’s where Swisscows comes in, a Switzerland-based search engine that uses its own proxy servers way outside of US jurisdiction. Switzerland is known for its harsh data retention policies and that means that when you use Swisscows, you get a share of that reliance on privacy.
This is also a good choice for parents since Swisscows automatically censors its results of violent or pornographic content.
Sometimes, you may be searching for a specific file. Maybe you want to explore Torrent clients without the hassle of dealing with Google’s ads, tracking devices, and data collection. In that case, searX may be the perfect option for you.
They’re privacy-oriented and focused on giving you the most transparent search engine experience possible. Their code is open source and available for download by anyone. For those who know how to manually remove trackers and rewrite search engine code, searX offers freedom and customization that the others just can’t match.
While it’s not the most versatile search engine of the bunch, Peekier is interesting. It uses its very own search algorithm to give you its own unique list of results, which includes a sneak peek of the pages you find in the form of a preview image.
It promises not to store your data when you search, but it doesn’t do anything to help if the pages you visit contain any of Google’s secret trackers.
Google can be a blessing and also a hassle. It sports a huge financial advantage over its competition and can give you an insanely personalized experience when you’re searching for things online.
The tradeoff to personalization is that it doesn’t happen without collecting and selling your information. Sometimes, the hassle created by dealing with aggressive ad agencies and the possibility of falling into a scam because of your search history makes seeking out an alternative a better option.
Starting with the options listed, consider looking for a better way to search. Many of them protect your privacy while sacrificing very few of the search engine features you’ve come to know and love.
Interesting related article: “What is Search Engine Marketing?“