There is no disputing that Google is the leader of the search engine market. We even ubiquitously refer to looking something up online as ‘Googling’ even if we’re not using the search engine itself! However, the situation when it comes to search engines isn’t as one dimensional as it may seem.
Most people like having a choice, and this leads many to ask, ‘are there better search engines than Google out there?’. Unfortunately, there’s no cut and dry answer to this question and that is because it really depends on your definition of better.
Google has a monopoly on the search engine market because of the search experience they provide. There are other options, however, if you’d like to account for factors such as the amount they give back to their community or charities or how much personal data is collected. Let’s look at those points in a bit more detail.
There are many search engines that do more good and collect less personal information, such as ethical search engines whose focus is on giving back to worthwhile causes.
For most people, their choice of search engine is entirely down to the search experience provided. After all, that’s why we use search engines — to get information or answers to our questions. Google certainly has a monopoly on the search engine market and that’s because their algorithm and search results are reliable, and they are very focused on user experience.
Unfortunately, this is where many of the charitable search engines are currently falling behind Google, as their search experience is still fairly simplistic. However, Google is not the only option.
In terms of search experience, not many engines rival Google but some search engines, such as SearchScene offer a similar experience. SearchScene uses Microsoft Bing for its search results, which is already the second most popular search engine after Google and provides fairly similar web results.
We have also introduced features to enhance the user experience, such as rich knowledge panels for informational queries and instant answers for queries such as definitions, calculations, translations and simple questions. We even have a coronavirus widget for real-time updates!
SearchScene also has a changing daily wallpaper of the natural world as a reminder of what they are working to protect, but it is possible to change the settings to have a plain backdrop like Google. We also have a Dark Mode which uses less energy and can help with eye strain. By using a search engine like SearchScene, you wouldn’t notice much of a difference in the search experience when moving from Google.
Collection of personal information/data
One of the main concerns people have about Google, and a reason they may be looking for a different search engine, is the amount of personal data they collect. Google collects data from searches, browsing history and ad-click/purchase activity, as well as location data. There are also concerns Google keeps this data for longer than they need to.
A paper published in 2018 found that a dormant Android phone with Chrome open in the background communicated location data to Google 340 times in a 24-hour period. Studies such as this are reasons why users may want to look for other search engines for their search needs.
This is an area where there are better search engines than Google. There are many search engines that do more good and collect less personal information, such as ethical search engines whose focus is on giving back to worthwhile causes.
If you value companies who use some of their profits to give back either to charities or their local communities, there are a number of great search engines doing just that, such as Ecosia, Ocean Hero, YouCare, and SearchScene. All of these search engines give a significant portion of their profits to charitable causes.
Google has made some sizable donations to good causes, but these equate to a very small percentage of their overall profits (in 2017 for example, they donated $255 million to charity, but this equates to only 0.9% of their pre-tax profit for the year).
If you compare this to some of the ethical search engines, OceanHero donates 50% of its profits, Ecosia and YouCare donate 80% of their profits and, at SearchScene, we donate an impressive 95% of profits to charitable causes.
These ethical search engines can be seen as a better option because they help you give back to charity and the planet, simply by choosing one of them to perform your searches.
Google are the market leaders when it comes to search engines because of the search experience they provide and the name they have built over the years, but if your definition of a better search engine takes into account other factors as well, then there are some great alternatives out there.
This article first appeared on Medium.