I am a Google fanboy through and through. I have an Android phone, use Google apps for basically everything and have had Google as my default home page since I was a kid. They are a huge part of my life. Which is a problem…
You see, I’ve decided to drop Google search completely and move on to greener pastures.
Search has been Google’s flagship since its inception. They have thousands of engineers working day and night on it; they update it all the time (the most recent being Google Instant and Caffeine) and seem to really care about it. No matter how much they ‘care’ about it though, it just seems to keep getting worse.
Spammers have taken over.
A recent poll by Lifehacker.com finds that over 70% of the respondents have seen a drop in relevant results when making searches on Google. The top results these days seem to be from SEO spammers, data scrapers and similar nefarious websites.
Danny Sullivan of Search Engine Land says that sites such as data scrapers are “definitely a problem, and especially irritating when you understand that Google earns off of [them],” and that “it’s clear how much garbage that Google has caused to be generated, simply by publishing the trends. But that garbage wouldn’t happen," he affirms, "if it didn’t know it was going to be rewarded. It is, both with traffic from Google and from revenue from Google for those carrying its ads.”
These nefarious sites that clog up Google’s top results usually run Google's Adsense to make money. That’s money being sent directly to Google’s pocket. Why should Google shoot themselves in the foot and take these sites off the rankings, therefore taking money away from themselves?
If poor results wasn’t reason enough to switch, the lack of privacy may push you over the edge.
According to Google CEO Eric Schmidt himself: “We know roughly who you are, roughly what you care about, roughly who your friends are.” This information is given directly to advertisers so they can run demographics based ads, which bring in more income for Google.
Just imagine someone with full access to your search history. What can they figure out by the information you seek? It’s scary to think about. Sure you can run your searches from behind a proxy or behind the Tor service, but that seems like a bit too much work just for some privacy.
Which is why I’m switching.
I’m not going to switch my email or get away from Google apps, but I intend on choosing a new search engine. One that doesn’t display mostly spam and useless websites when I search for something, one that doesn’t keep logs of everything I do.
Here are a few of my choices:
These guys have a bill of rights for searching that I love. It includes the following two points which I think are vital:
1. Spam does not belong in search engines.
2. Privacy of searchers shall not be violated.
They use an interesting “slash” technique to searching. You type in your search and then can filter it down to the specific sites you’re looking for. It’s hard to explain, but after a little experimentation you’ll learn to love it.
So far embraced by geeks everywhere, Duck Duck Go made waves early in its life as a search engine that keeps your privacy secure. They are fast, give great results and have a lot of really interesting tools to play with.
They also have an https search option that lets you search even more anonymously (keeping wifi hackers from knowing that you like princesses and Barbies.)
Sometimes you go to a search engine and just want a straight forward answer. Something like “How many days have I been alive?” or “What’s the age of the world minus the weight of the earth?” Introducing Wolfram Alpha. A data based search engine that is suited to answering almost any question you might have. It’s amazing at math.
This is a tech blog so I’m going to assume you’ve heard of Bing and have a pretty good idea of what it does. If you want a flat out replacement of Google that offers many of the same features I highly recommend it. It does have its privacy issues though.