Google might be the dominant search engine in the world, but it is not the only one. There are many search engines out there, but we are focusing only on the best.
A web search engine helps the operator sift through mountains of data to produce a specific result. This can range from articles to images, videos, and even content from books.
Many websites like Facebook and Amazon have internal search engines, but they do not focus on the web. So, the engines on this list below are strictly web engines that poll their data from across the Internet to give you just what you want.
Top 10 best search engines
|The Pirate Bay
It took Google about one month to crawl and index 50 million pages in 1999. But by 2012, similar jobs took Google less than a minute.
There are at least 5 billion pages in the engine’s index and it should similarly handle billions of search requests per day. But the search giant has become stingy with information regarding its operations since 2012.
We know, however, that Google.com is the most visited website on the planet and that it dominates both the desktop- and mobile search markets.
Google brings you the best results for any search performed. You can query whatever you want and receive the best results, including images, videos, news, trending topics on social media, and even calculations.
But simple Google searchers are just the beginning. You can use operators like intitle:, allintext:, inurl:, and so on to define specifically what you want. There are also quotes and “Google dorks” to do some amazing stuff on the platform.
You can check out this comprehensive list of Google search operators, as well as Google’s Advanced Search page to get more insights on what this beast can do.
For cons, Google is heavily dependent on ads for revenue. So, while it produces highly relevant results, the returned page is often packed with ads, which are sometimes less relevant.
The company also tracks user activity and searches, which is the source of the data it sells to advertisers and marketers.
Highlights: Very relevant results, robust infrastructure, 88% market share
Cons: Ads, tracking
2. Microsoft Bing
Back when Google was still a startup, Microsoft was already a software giant. So, drunk from the success of its Windows OS platform, it failed to innovate on the web front.
Microsoft grossly misjudged the Internet, as it did the smartphone market as well. Because Bing is the company’s 4th attempt at a web search engine.
First, there was MSN Search in 1998, Windows Live Search in 2006, and then Live Search in 2007, which was renamed Bing in 2009 and again to Microsoft Bing in 2020.
I think people who use Bing are either Windows loyalists or less savvy computer users, who are stuck with it as a default engine and do not know how to switch.
It can still be useful, however. But that is mainly for SEOs and website owners who want to rank on the engine.
Highlights: Microsoft integrated, 6% market share
Cons: Less impressive results
Once upon a time, the Internet was Yahoo and Yahoo was the Internet. Seriously, Yahoo was the most popular destination back in the late 1990s, because it launched the web’s first successful search engine in 1994 and added online portals to its domain.
So, at the height of Yahoo’s fame and power in 1997, two Ph.D. students from Stanford offered to sell their Page Rank algorithm to Yahoo for $1 million to help improve its search services. Yahoo declined, but the Page Rank algorithm was so successful that Yahoo started using it as its search engine by 2000. That engine was Google.
About three years later, Yahoo offered to buy Google for $3 billion, Google countered with a $5 billion request, and for the second time, Yahoo refused to buy Google. Then it slowly lost the search industry to it over the years.
Microsoft offered to buy all of Yahoo for $44 billion in 2008. But Yahoo refused. In 2016, however, Verizon bought all of the company for a mere $4.8 billion. Meanwhile, Google is currently worth over $1.6 trillion.
The moral of this story is that there is little use in searching on Yahoo today, except you still maintain an @yahoo email address or love using the portal. Secondly, tech firms are best run by techies.
Highlights: Fallen web giant, 2.5% market share
Cons: It has lost relevance
Founded in 2000, Baidu started serving search ads before Google in 2001. The company is a tech giant with over 45,000 employees and controls 90% of the Chinese search industry.
Baidu is designed to index and rank Mandarin websites and this is why it is so popular in China. You can visit the site from around the world, but it is only available in Mandarin.
Baidu is the world’s 4th most trafficked website on the Alexa ranking list. It also places more weight on websites with a .cn domain, but its results are less relevant than Google’s, generally.
In addition to search, the platform also offers news, Internet television, government searches, anti-virus software, and is heavily invested in artificial intelligence research.
Highlights: 90% of the Chinese market, a giant corporation
Cons: Only available in Chinese
Over 40% of Russia’s search traffic passes through Yandex and the platform is available in Russian, English, German, French, Ukrainian, Kazakh, and other languages.
It gained popularity because of its understanding and application of the peculiarities in the Russian language. And this lets it provide more relevant search results, including news, videos, images, and so on.
The company started in 1997 and its name stands for Yet Another iNDEXer. It is very popular in Eastern Europe, including Ukraine, Kazakhstan, Belarus, Georgia, Azerbaijan, Estonia, and even Turkey.
Yandex is much more than a search engine anyway. The company offers many online services, including a popular email service, cloud storage, market platform, taxi service, food delivery, news, and lots more.
Highlights: Russian language engine, extensive services
What makes DuckDuckGo stand out from the rest is its focus on user privacy. The search engine does not store your searches, neither does it track your movements like Google.
This means that you can comfortably search for whatever you are searching for, without feeling like someone is tracking you.
It also means that your results are not biased in any way. And that you are getting the generally best results for your query, regardless of who you are.
You should note, however, that it does not have as many features as Google. And this includes safe-search and so on. It also serves ads, but they are based solely on your search term and have nothing to do with you personally.
Highlights: Privacy, impressive results
Cons: Fewer features than Google
7. Wolfram Alpha
Okay, Wolfram Alpha is not exactly a search engine. It is rather referred to as a computational engine, which generates its output by computing the inputs it was fed.
So, why is it here? Well, if you tend to use google for simple computations and conversions, there comes a time, when the giant just cannot fulfill your needs anymore. That is when you turn to Wolfram Alpha.
Whether you need to calculate the diameter or area of a circle, square, or whatever, it is a piece of cake for Wolfram|Alpha. You can use it to solve complex homework from school, execute calculations for your design project, and so much more.
The engine is free for non-commercial use. But it also offers a Pro plan for $5.49 with extra features and a Premium plan for $9.99 with even more features.
Highlights: AI-powered computational engine
Cons: Not a pure web search engine
While most servers on this list and around the world, return web content in their result pages, Shodan returns device banners, open ports, default passwords, webcam addresses, and so on.
It is a search engine for Internet of Things. So, you can use it to search for any device that is connected to the Internet. And this means routers, printers, servers, smart door cams, smart speakers, and even refrigerators.
You can search using a phrase like “Cisco”, Netgear”, or “webcam”, then filter your results by location, hostname, IP range, operating system, open ports, and so on.
But while the site is free to use, you will get the best results after you register a free account and log in. This allows you to see more results and to use the filters properl.
You can even find devices and servers with default passwords, which makes for easy hacks. But be careful though, as web intrusion is illegal in most jurisdictions.
Highlights: Searches hardware, IoT devices
Cons: Best results after login
9. The Pirate Bay
BitTorrent is a decentralized P2P file-sharing protocol. Many organizations use it, including for the distribution of operating systems like Linux. Many, however, use it to share copyrighted material, just like Napster from the early 1990s.
The Pirate Bay is a BitTorrent tracker, meaning that it helps members of the P2P network search for and find torrents (files) to download. Given the abundance of copyrighted files on the site, the Pirate Bay has faced lots of civil action in the past.
The site got shut down several times. Its founders were jailed and released. And it even influenced the founding of the Pirates political party in Sweden and other European countries, fighting for the freedom of information.
After 17 years, however, the Pirate Bay is still up and running, though a shadow of its old self. But the controversy continues.
Highlights: Long-running torrent tracker
Cons: Lots of controversial files
Based in Berlin, Germany, Ecosia is an eco-friendly search engine. It donates 80% of its profits to non-profit organizations that plant trees around the world.
So, if you feel like doing something positive, then try the Ecosia engine. Every search increases their contribution to save the planet. At least, statistically. It also encrypts your searches, deletes your logs, and does not sell your data in respect to your privacy.
You should note, however, that the company has little technology of its own. Rather, it uses Microsoft Bing to function behind the scenes.
Highlights: Eco friendly, helps plant trees
Cons: Uses Bing search
We have come to the end of this list of the top and best search engines in the world. Yes, Google remains the champ here, but there are niches where others shine as well.
This means that the engine that will best serve your needs depends on your preferences and what you are trying to find.