You know you have made it when the name of your company gets added into the Oxford dictionary as a verb. According to StatCounter, Google has a whopping 92.19% of the global search engine market share. Bing is a distant second with 2.61% and Yahoo is third with 1.85%. That’s how dominant Google is in the search engine market space. There’s no competition.
However, concerns over privacy and Google’s business practices have left many wondering if it is really possible to ditch Google Search and use alternatives like Bing and Yahoo. Wonder no further, for I have braved the unknown and have used Yahoo, Bing, and DuckDuckGo exclusively for a week. This is my verdict.
It is after this little exercise that I realised how important and overlooked search engines are. For many of us, when we open our web browsers, we either launch our favourite sites or we start searching. The search engine is, therefore, our window to the Internet. Change your search engine, and by virtue of the wildly varying search results, you might just experience a diﬀerent version of the Internet. It’s refreshing but also scary. It makes you wonder what you are missing out on just because your search engine of choice is Yahoo and not Google.
Google, because of its size and massive umbrella of services, makes the Internet seamless in a way most of us don’t think about. Take, for example, searching an address such as “183 Jalan Pelikat.” Google will automatically show you a map ― courtesy of Google Maps ― along with relevant search results. Thereafter, you can hop straight into Google Maps and get directions, estimates of travelling time, and even visit the locale with Google Street View. None of its competitors is as powerful or seamless.
Relevancy can be a problem too. For example, searching for Paris’ Place Vendôme in DuckDuckGo yielded a return for a German melodic hard rock band of the same name. Bing, on the other hand, was more interested in showing you ads for tours and hotels in Place Vendôme first. Yahoo’s results, in this instance, was refreshingly on point.
Therein lies the problem with search engines. Without knowing more about you, the search engine is unable to provide results that are most relevant to you. If it didn’t know you were a comic fan, it won’t know you were searching for Shazam the superhero and not Shazam the app.
At the end of the exercise, I learned two things. One is that Google Search’s popularity is well-deserved. It is the best search engine but one can argue that it has an unfair advantage because it knows a lot about you. Two, it is possible to live without Google Search, but it can, and will be inconvenient at times. You can make it less bothersome and improve the quality of your search results by being using more considered and thorough search terms. So if you are looking up Shazam the superhero, use “Shazam comic” instead of just “Shazam.”
Of the three alternatives that I tested, I was surprised to find that DuckDuckGo was a very capable alternative. Its search results were, for the most part, sensible, accurate, and relevant. Yahoo wasn’t too bad either and it was quite usable if you are thoughtful enough with your search terms. Bing was the worst by far as it often displays distracting ads before actual search results.
SEARCH HERE INSTEAD
Bing was, for a long time, the only viable alternative to Google in the English-speaking world. It first began life as MSN Search and underwent a series of renames and rebrands until it finally became Bing in 2009. Today, it’s the second most popular search engine after Google.
Hard to imagine, but a lifetime ago, Yahoo was the most popular starting point for web browsers. In the late Nineties, it enjoyed over three times the page over its closest rival, Excite ― another legendary name in Internet history. Today, the company is a shadow of what it once was and largely relies on Bing for its search results.
Founded over 10 years ago, DuckDuckGo recently got thrust into the spotlight following concerns around Google’s privacy and business practices. DuckDuckGo claims to protect searchers’ privacy by not profiling users. Instead, it shows the same results to all users who enter the same search term.