Today, most search engines collect a huge amount of data about you to make money from targeted ads. When a search engine collects this personal information, such as your name, address, user agent, and political beliefs, it can share this data with advertisers.
You need to upgrade from your everyday browser to prevent unauthorized access and use. This is where private search engines come in. Their developers created them so that they do not collect user data. In addition, they return results with enhanced privacy levels and do not store search queries or track your steps online.
How to Choose the Best Private Search Engine
Various private alternatives to Google give users a more personalized search experience. However, these are not all the same. For instance, some of these are not as private as they claim to be and can offer a poor user experience.
When identifying the best private search engines, you should consider that they maintain your privacy, provide appropriate search results, have customization options, and have a simple interface.
Some private search engines are real search engines that crawl websites to deliver relevant results. These may not provide the best possible results, but they offer more privacy since they do not interact with Bing or Google.
Metasearch engines, on the other hand, act as intermediaries between the user and the various linked sites, hence offering a better experience overall. In this article, we shall look into both types of search engines and shall cover the top 5 privacy-focused search engines;
The Presearch platform is the first decentralized and truly privacy-focused search engine that is blockchain-powered. Currently, it has over two million registered users and around 900,000 daily search queries.
It features a unique selling point: Every time you use it, you will receive Presearch tokens(PRE). Users earn 0.25 PRE for every search. Users can then store their PRE on the wallet offered by the platform or transfer them to another wallet of choice. This innovative strategy attracts users as they can convert the tokens to real cash.
Unlike other search engines, Presearch does not collect or store personal information. Instead, it gives users the power to control their data. It also features a variety of interactive search functions. Users can access the platform’s various features through its search bar, which includes Google, YouTube, Twitter, and more. Its main search engine, on the other hand, provides comparatively better results.
Another interesting and unique feature is keyword staking. That works because when someone searches for a particular term on Presearch, your ad will show up if you have the most tokens against it. However, if you remove or reduce the number of tokens you stake against that term, or if someone else stakes more than you, the search engine will not show your ad.
Swisscows offers both content curation and privacy. It doesn’t collect your IP address and doesn’t register what browser you use to search. Instead of using cookies or geotargeting, Swisscows only collects necessary information to provide its users with the best possible experience. It also doesn’t share this information with third parties.
Another unique feature of Swisscows is that it doesn’t display harmful results to children. According to the company, it aims to make its site as family-friendly as possible. It also promotes digital media education and moral values, which is helpful for parents who want to limit their kids’ exposure to potentially harmful content.
Since Swisscows doesn’t collect user data from search results, it cannot effectively monetize its services through ad partners. That means it relies on donations and sponsorships to continue its operations where sponsors get a banner ad at the top of the results.
Mojeek is different from other search engines. Instead of relying on results from other sites, it is building its web index. Like Google and Bing, the company’s search engine crawlers collect information about pages to improve the quality of its search results. Notably, they have managed to index more than 4 billion web pages and are close to reaching 5 billion.
Mojeek’s privacy-focused search engine doesn’t collect personal information about its users, such as their IP addresses or click behavior. Instead, it uses the data collected to improve its search results and serve you better content. The company is hosted in a secure environment, and an additional bonus is that it runs on one of the greenest UK-based data centers, CustodianDC.
Although you can customize your region search results using various tools, such as a region filter, you can only do so in the UK, France, Germany, and the European Union. Aside from region filtering, you can narrow your results to images or news. With an advanced search, you can add or remove specific words.
Mojeek features an easy-to-view interface with a simple results outlay. It is also privately funded by investors; hence it does not display ads to users. However, the company has mentioned that they might change in the future.
In the settings menu, Mojeek also offers a variety of options to customize the site. These include switching your language(German, English, or French) and setting your theme(light or dark).
DuckDuckGo, founded in 2008, is a popular search engine often referred to as Google’s rival. By the start of 2021, it mentioned that it had already surpassed a hundred million daily search queries and has also been averaging around 90 million monthly searches.
The platform is a popular search engine that’s been around for a while and is the default search engine in the Tor browser. The service’s US-based team pulls information from over 400 sources such as Wikipedia, Oath, and Bing.
Although DuckDuckGo doesn’t collect personally identifiable information about its users, it does save searches. It does so in a non-personal way where the searches do not have a tie to an individual user, and it uses the data it collects to improve its search experience. In addition, it does not store user agent strings or IP addresses. However, it does use your IP address to serve local results.
Similar to Google, this search engine makes money by displaying ads that appear when you search for specific terms. However, these are different from the advertisements that appear on Google’s search results, which are targeted and show ads based on your search history.
DuckDuckGo has a similar interface to Google and other popular search engine platforms. It lets you search the web and refine your search to videos, images, maps, and more. In addition, you can customize your search by setting various settings such as auto-suggest and infinite scrolling.
SuMa-eV, a non-profit organization based in Germany, runs MetaGer, a metasearch engine that provides results in various languages; German, English, and Spanish. It has its indexers and web crawlers, but it mainly searches for results using up to 50 search engines, such as Bing and Yahoo. The software used for this search engine is open-source, meaning anyone can audit and view its code. MetaGer also features a .onion site accessible through Tor.
MetaGer does an excellent job of protecting your privacy. It can convert your search requests into anonymous ones through a proxy server and offers an “open anonymously” option when viewing all results. The platform also keeps track of your IP addresses but does not pass along user agent details to its search partners and does not feature cookies or tracking methods.
Although MetaGer does keep logs on its servers, these data are erased automatically after around 96 hours. Notably, the platform relies on donations and user fees to fund its operations, including placing ads on partner networks, such as Bing.
However, you can receive ad-free search results by subscribing as a MetaGer member. According to the company, it would not be able to continue its operations without these personal donations and memberships.
Although the MetaGer interface isn’t as refined as other platforms on this list, it’s still straightforward. There are only a few search options that you can choose from, such as shopping or the entire web. Other options include using a safe search or filtering by language or date.
The settings page doesn’t provide you with many additional options. It only allows you to select the search engines that will deliver the best results.
Despite its dominance in search, Google has been in trouble with regulators worldwide for abusing its position. Plenty of other companies have come up to compete against it.
These Google alternatives agree that they can’t compete with Google, as it has been in the business of crawling and indexing the web for a long time. Instead, they try to put people’s privacy first by not collecting personal data and instead focusing on providing users with the best possible experience.
Sometimes, the search experience is not as smooth as Google’s. However, it’s also a compromise people are willing to make for privacy.