Need something different? – Try some Google alternatives

Variety is the spice of life

For any searches more complicated than a simple look-up, it’s important for researchers and investigators to go beyond Google and try some alternatives. In spite of its size, Google has its limits, for several reasons: 

Google can be too big – For deep research, sometimes we need something more specialized than what you get with a large general-purpose search engine.

Google has a privacy issue – They track your location and searches and sell your data to advertisers. Many of us would rather not share these details.

Google filters your results – Using the information they gather, Google personalizes results, which makes you wonder what’s missing.

We crave something new – Simpler options seem appealing after Google’s cluttered, advertisement-filled interface, or maybe you want to support a cause.

Here are some Google alternatives I’ve recently tested:

I Search From helps you search Google from a different location or device, or using a different search language. Sometimes we need to go beyond our borders and get another perspective. (Thanks to Emmanuelle Welch for her tweet about this one.)

Blackle saves energy by using a screen that’s predominantly black. It’s Google without all the bells an whistles, so you’re still getting Google results, but I enjoy its simplicity (which, as I recall, Google was known for at its start). Note the link at the bottom of the page for country-specific Blackle search engines, which also helps with cross-border investigations.

Ecosia, another eco-friendly search tool, uses its profits to plant trees and even publishes their monthly financial reports so you can see where the funds go. Also, their servers run on renewable energy. On the search side, I like that it’s privacy-friendly, and, in my test searches, I saw some results that Google didn’t turn up.

Privado, founded in 2020, refers to itself as “Private Search in Action.” They don’t track you, store searches in any identifiable way, or store your IP address, so results aren’t personalized like Google’s. Initial test searches show that this might be worthwhile for those concerned about privacy.

Webmii, a people search engine, is a great way to gather intel about someone’s presence on the web and social media. From my test searches and the changes I made in my VPN settings, they seem to track location, and they don’t give out much info about themselves. 

Let me know what you think about these Google alternatives and if you can suggest any others.

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