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Alternative Search Engines

Despite Google’s dominance of the search market – particularly in the English speaking world – there are other search engines available which some people do use. You may sometimes see these appear as organic sessions / visits in Google Analytics traffic reports, so which are the main alternatives and how good are they?

When Google launched at the end of 1997 the search market was occupied by sites like AltaVista, Lycos, Excite, HotBot, FAST and others, as well as the Yahoo! directory. The improved quality (relevance) of Google’s results saw it quickly grow in usage, through positive reviews and word of mouth as the search engine of choice. The other search tools have now mostly disappeared as Google dominates over 90% of the search market and makes every online business reliant on this search engine as a key traffic generator.

However, there are still alternative ways to search the web – should you choose to do so – and although these other search tools mostly have a very small share of the market, some are growing their user base for various reasons. Here are some of the main ones:

Bing search engineThis is the main alternative to Google, but still have a low search share of less than 5% as Microsoft was late to develop a search tool and missed the boat with this product. It is still quite widely used in the US in particular, or by computer users who don’t change their browser or search engine from the Microsoft default!

The Bing interface is very similar to Google’s and their paid ad service – Bing Ads – is also a carbon copy, with the ease of attracting Google accounts with a few clicks. However, Bing is generally slower to index the web and has a hard job convincing Google users that their results and search experience may be better.

DuckDuckGo search engineThis search engine has started to grow its user base by promoting itself as an anonymous search tool, as it claims not to collect IP information, store search data or use cookies, so that users can be confident of keeping their search activity secure.

Started in 2008 it takes its search results from multiple sources, including Bing, Yandex and its own web crawler. Wikipedia and other crowdsourced results are also used to supplement content.

Ecosia search engineThere are a number of environmentally focused search engines getting some attention, with Ecosia starting to see some growth in usage.

This search engine uses results from Bing, adapted with their own algorithms, and they claim that revenues generated from search queries are used to plant trees, with typically around 45 searches needed for each new tree.

Swisscows search engineThis is another search engine that promotes itself on the privacy platform, claiming not to collect, store or track search data. It uses Bing’s search engine but adds artificial intelligence to improve the context of search results, so that increasing usage should improve the accuracy of results.

Yahoo! search engineYahoo! deserves a mention here, although it has become a shadow of its former self, when it was a leading directory to help web users find information online. With the rapid growth of the web, directories started to become less relevant and Yahoo! is now a news portal with a search engine, using the organic results from Bing.

Yandex search engineThis is a Russian search engine with a large share of the local country market, but is also available in English. The search results have a clean interface with many similar features to Google, although it looks slightly dated.


If you’d like to know more about these other search engines and how you might attract more visits from them, please ask us about our search engine marketing management.