With a record use rate of 93%, Google is still the most popular search engine with French web users in 2017, to such an extent that it is becoming an automatic choice. And with good reason: today, it indexes 30,000 billion pages and manages to display search results in just a few tenths of a second. While it is undeniably useful at a time when sites are appearing at a phenomenal rate, some users refuse to work with the US giant from Mountain View and consider potential alternatives. There are alternatives available, each offering interesting functions and specific features. Here is The Collective’s selection for a different surfing experience.
The Collective has tested six alternatives to Google for you.
The complaints made by certain web users who are tired of Google’s dominance include the need for total confidentiality when browsing to guarantee the protection of their personal data. With this in mind, several services have emerged guaranteeing a fully anonymous and secure experience for web users.
Confidentiality is not a new issue, but it has gradually moved into the spotlight following the actions of whistle-blowers, explains Sally Payze, Vice-President of StartPage. “When I joined the company, just a few groups and people who were concerned about data confidentiality were talking about this. When Edward Snowden released the various documents highlighting the lack of security for online data, the general public started to feel concerned about this”. StartPage is another initiative which, unlike DuckDuckGo, uses Google’s search algorithms and results, but adds an additional layer of protection by encrypting the data transmitted. It also has an option to use a proxy for slower, but fully confidential browsing.
— DuckDuckGo (@duckduckgo) 15 juillet 2016
After just looking at international initiatives so far, we could believe that France is lagging behind when it comes to innovation for content research. But French search engines, although rare, are available and ensure more relevant results for their users thanks to their expertise with French language semantics.
From this entire selection, Qwant is probably our favorite. Created between Nice and Rouen, where it was designed then secured, it is quick, comprehensive, smart and highly accessible. “Four years ago, we registered patents concerning the links between social responses and the web, because for us, the comments posted below YouTube videos and in social media must be factored into results”, explains Éric Léandri, the Company’s Co-Founder and Director. So, Qwant searches not just the web itself, but all the content that might appear on blogs, Facebook, Twitter or YouTube. We also appreciate its editorialized homepage, which highlights popular articles and searches, as well as people who are in the headlines. The cherry on the cake is the Junior version, specially designed for younger users and safe from all the dubious or dangerous sites that can be found online.
Simple and fluid since its launch, the Orange Engine is still one of the most popular French initiatives with web users. Adapted for all platforms with its responsive design (adjusted for browsing on your computer, mobile or tablet), it promises search results that are organized by theme, with a particular focus on videos. Its “elastic” vision, explained in this fascinating interview with Jean-Pierre Paris, enables the service to deliver suggestions for content and related searches that are even more relevant. After existing for 18 years, the Engine has already proven itself!
Qwant Junior, a secure search engine for children.
While they all share a core idea – helping web users to find the information they are looking for – the engines sometimes allow themselves some eccentricities. So it would be a real shame to miss out these last two surprising alternatives.
What if your future searches could benefit useful initiatives? That is the promise made by Lilo, a search engine that has chosen to donate half of its advertising revenues each quarter to social or environmental projects chosen by its users. More specifically, it is a meta-search engine, because Lilo reuses Google’s algorithm in full: “What are the benefits of investing tens of millions of euros to recreate what others have already done and on what they have already built up a phenomenal lead?”, explains the team. A year and a half on from its launch, over 161,000 euros have been donated, thanks to a monthly average of 16.4 million searches converted into small “drops”, which are like symbolic bonus points corresponding to a donation. A real success!
Million Short stands out with its surprising positioning: it is a discovery engine rather than a search engine. For this, the site’s algorithms invite users (who have developed the habit of trusting results pages) to remove the most popular responses by excluding the 100 to 100,000 first sites usually displayed. What is the benefit with this? It makes it possible to head off the beaten track and discover new portals and blogs, at the expense of more relevant information. In the past few years, the team behind this service has been working to optimize their technology (“differentiated searches”) and make Million Short compatible with all web users, on both computers and mobile devices. Would you be interested in discovering new unexplored regions online?
“In 2017, Google is still the most popular search engine with French web users, to such an extent that it is becoming an automatic choice.”