The Best Alternatives to Google Search

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Even the most privacy-minded, Google-hating internet users are afraid to ditch Google Search. But you don’t need Google for accurate search results or fancy features. Alternative search engines have finally reached maturity, and they now offer a compelling experience that can easily replace Google Search—you just have to pick one that you enjoy using.

Most of the search engines listed in this article offer some kind of privacy protection. But this isn’t an article on “private” search engines. Instead, it’s a broad list of Google Search alternatives. The goal here isn’t to find a perfectly private search tool; we just want to help you find a good search engine that isn’t made by Google.

Note: These picks are organized in alphabetical order. The first search engine listed in this article isn’t necessarily the best option.

Brave Search: Privacy with a Great Interface

image of Brave Search homepage
Brave

It’s a relatively new search engine, but it’s still a winner. Brave Search offers fast and accurate results with a gorgeous and clean interface. And it’s completely independent from Google or Bing, as it uses community-made data from the Web Discovery Project to aggregate search results. (Though you can tick a box to see Google and Bing results in Brave Search.)

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

Additionally, Brave plans to open-source some aspects of its search engine. This should open the door to 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”

image of DuckDuckGo homepage
DuckDuckGo

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

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

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

There’s just one problem; DuckDuckGo was caught lying about how its browser handles trackers. As part of its Bing search deal, the DuckDuckGo browser does not block Microsoft-owned trackers on certain websites—again, this is specific to the DuckDuckGo browser, but it’s a black spot on the company’s privacy-focused image.

Microsoft Bing: Cool Features Without Google

image of Bing homepage
Microsoft

If you aren’t a fan of Google Search, maybe it’s time to try Bing. The premiere Microsoft search engine is nearly 15 years old, and while it doesn’t have a sparkling reputation, it’s a powerful tool with unique features and solid search results.

The Bing homepage is fairly clean and routinely cycles 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 on a picture.

Using Bing as your homepage also gives you easy access to news, weather, sports, and the online Office suite. But my favorite Bing feature is Bing Rewards. That’s right; Microsoft will give you reward points just for using Bing, and you can redeem these points for gift cards. If you’re going to give your data to someone, you might as well get paid 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 “metasearch” engine? Searx aggregates results from about 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. In order to use Searx, you need to set it up on a private server (which may simply be your PC). You can then access and customize Searx from a dedicated webpage or your browser’s search bar, or even share access with friends and family.

If you’re a trusting person, you can visit around 100 different Searx Instances that are maintained by community members. This saves you the trouble of setting up Searx, but it does put you in an awkward position in terms of privacy. Instead of trusting a corporation with your data, you’re trusting some stranger on the internet.

To be clear, Searx isn’t for the faint of heart. I’ve included it in this article for power users who want a ton of privacy and a ton of control. If you’ve never used a command line, you should skip this one.

Swisscows: A Family-Friendly Option

image of Swisscows homepage
Swisscows

Even Google Search can get a little raunchy. If you’re looking for a family-friendly search engine, Swisscows may be your best bet. It pulls accurate results from Bing, it doesn’t track users, and more importantly, it blocks porn, violence, and other explicit content.

And like Brave or DuckDuckGo, Swisscows is more than just a browser. The company also offers a secure email system with custom addresses, and it sells a VPN subscription for $10 a month.

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