"Don't be evil" was Google's early motto. It was the search giant's PR call to arms for aspiring do-gooder millennials. "Hey there, you with the beanie hat and no social life; you can earn a fortune, inspire millions, make your peers jealous and all while making the world a better place." But let's be honest, you don't become the world's third largest company without screwing over some of the little guys along the way. And in light of Snowden, it turns out we're all the little guy. Beyond the politics, it also seems like Google just ain't cutting these days. According to Greg Sterling, a writer for Search Engine Land, "At one time Google was clearly a better search engine - now we can debate that point." You don't have to be a zealot member of Anonymous, Julian Assange or a Silicon Valley plonker to consider spreading the wealth a little when it comes to your search engine of choice.
Bing is Google's arch-rival and accounts for a healthy chunk of UK based searches. It's also "following" (Read: ripping-off) Google's lead by branching out into a hybrid of social media based search results. With results showing hand-picked blogs and Facebook friend suggestions. No doubt the thorn in Bing's side is that one of the most popular searches in Microsoft's pre-installed IE search engine is how to remove Bing and install Google.
\#12 Yahoo! Search
Another big player which customises content based on what its users are searching for. This basically means it keeps close tabs on what you're searching for and provides you with related content on what it thinks you want. If you're not that bothered by the privacy issue then this can be great but let's be honest; Customised search results has its pitfalls. How well can a computer programme really know what you want as opposed to what you need. By suggesting results based on what it "thinks" you want it essentially makes you ignorant to what else is out there.
Related: Yahoo! Search
ChaCha is often described as a "human-powered" Q&A site. It differs from the now accepted understanding of a search engine but in fact uses a platform that harks back to the early days of Ask Jeeves. It has answered over 2 billion questions from more than 40 million users per month via its Website and popular apps for the iPhone and Android.
Here's when the alternatives become, well, really alternative. 90% of the search engine's power usage comes from wind energy and it "tells you exactly why the search results are ranked the way they are." Transparent and clean. In your face Captain Planet.
Bipplex tagline is "let's make search human again." It is typical of the wave of sites that are attempting to portray themselves as "bespoke" by moving toward a much more touchy-feely, personalised and sensitive Internet for one and all. It puts the user at the centre of the search... or at least until they start making actual money. Time will tell.
With over 70% of the market, Naver is South Korea's leading search engine. It was launched by a bunch of former Samsung employees way back in the Internet heydays of 1999. Its services include "comprehensive searches," news and email. It also launched the Web's first donation portal -- Happybean.
China's favourite and one of the world's top five search engines, Baidu is ahead of the game with embedded videos and songs included in its results. The bad news is that for now it's only available in Chinese. But the Web (and China for that matter) moves quickly.
StartPage is riding the wave and reaping the benefits of the post-Snowden privacy concerns by claiming to be the world's most private search engine. It uses Google's results but protects the user from data recording and tracking cookies. The site plays up on why we should worry about our choice of search engine and how we need to protect ourselves from the search giants, identity theft and government surveillance. The fact is that when it comes to the Internet; fear sells. Perhaps even more than sex. Perhaps.
A "Web search by the people, for the people," Yacy provides software which uses a Peer-to-Peer network that does all the hard work. The principle goes back to the very root of what the Internet was all about.
Pipl claims to produce results that "cannot be found on regular search engines." It's the Yellow Pages of search engines and digs up all sorts of records that are stored online about you in the "deep Web." It all sounds a little Big Brother but the flip side is of course that you can search for yourself and delete any online info stored about your private life.
Blekko and DuckDuckGo are considered to be the leaders in terms small search engines that are posing the biggest threat to Google's huge slice of the pie. Blekko, like most of the niche search engines, take a pro-privacy stance and offer its users one simple but highly effective selling point; peace of mind.
The golden boy of alternative search engines. DuckDuckGo was founded in 2007 by Gabriel Weinberg, who argues that when faced to choose between great results and great results plus privacy, people will choose the latter. The site currently gets about 5 million queries a month. The site ran a huge billboard campaign which stated: “Google Tracks You. We Don’t.” Of course Google isn't taking any of this lying down. In a recent statement the company said: “It’s unfortunate that DuckDuckGo is preying on people’s fears and offering incomplete information in order to garner attention.”
Hardcore geeks only should be WolframAlpha's motto. The site was launched in 2009 and describes itself as a "computational knowledge engine." It computes answers to queries by directly providing "curated data" rather than a list of links. It was founded by Stephen Wolfram, a particle physicist and recipient of the MacArthur “genius" awards. It's a search engine for Rainman.
Related: Wolfram Alpha