So you thought search ended at Google?
The flack Google has taken over their response to the newly created "right to be forgotten" has only emphasised how influential the search engine is when it comes to browsing habits, with the Californian company estimated by NetMarketShare to serve almost three-quarters of the search market.
While there is plenty to recommend the world’s biggest search engine, some have decided to look elsewhere for their search tools. We recommend you try a few out, and see which gives you the most relevant search results.
Putting privacy at the centre of search, DuckDuckGo claims not to collect any data for advertisers or security agencies. Launching in September 2008, it only took a little over two years before it was able to plaster its statement of intent across a billboard in San Francisco: "Google tracks you. We don’t." Having recently undergone a redesign, the new layout looks clean and professional, if less information dense than other engines.
Ixquick is best described as a kind of search aggregator. Its main advantage is that it can pull search results from a number of sources, including Google, and because all requests are filtered through the website it also stops the search giant from tracking you. To augment this data is regularly deleted by Ixquick, and the site does not record IP addresses either.
Most search engines work on a centralised model: you submit your search request to a server, which then relays it back to you, creating an information bottleneck. YaCy purports to make you the administrator of your own search engine, relying on peer-to-peer networks to seek out information. To use it you have to download software, which is not ideal, but in return you get a kind of crowdsourced search engine.
Though other engines on this list have an ideological motive, GoodSearch is the only one that is centred around philanthropy, even if it is powered by Yahoo. The premise is that every time a search inquiry is made GoodSearch donates a penny from advertising revenues to a selected cause. Image, video and other specific searches are excluded from this, but it is a remarkably simple way to give to charity.
Many will now be used to search engines displaying a information beyond a simple search query, but few will have seen it done as stylishly as on Blekko. Dividing search terms up into relevant categories such as shopping, news or a "quick answer", the search engine makes it easy to filter irrelevant links. This makes it seem more editorialised than its rivals, but it definitely fulfils the goal of connecting users to the information they are looking for.
Wolfram Alpha is unlike any other search on this list, defining itself as a computational knowledge engine. Those who submit a search query are greeted with an extensive breakdown of what it might mean, including such obscure information as HTML element hierarchies, or notable facts about key figures. You can also use it as a kind of calculator, putting in data to generate graphs, and there is even an image input. It’s worth experimenting with even if you’ve no use for it.