Guest post submitted by Leah Fink
We all know Google has an overwhelming monopoly when it comes to web search. Over 80% of all the searching of the internet that is done on a daily basis occurs via Google’s application.
Remember the good old days of the small town grocer? Neither do I. Walmart has effectively forced mom-and-pop grocery stores out of business across America. We all agree that this has had a negative impact on our economy. Why hand that kind of power to Google? Walmart’s prices really are lower than their competitors, it’s true…but are Google’s search results really better than those of their competitors? Why not explore some of the other search engines that are out there, and spread your searches around a bit?
We’ve all heard of Bing and Yahoo, so let’s ignore those for now. Google would love for you to believe that they are the only reasonable consideration and that if competitive search engines even exist beyond the two I just mentioned, they are poor and paltry by comparison to the search giant. This is absolutely not true. Let’s explore just a few of the many fantastic search applications that are out there. Who knows? You might discover a new favorite.
Another advantage to using DuckDuckGo is that they don’t filter your search results according to your search history. Google arrogantly assumes that their robots can figure out your personality well enough (by drawing conclusions based on your search and click history) that they can deduce (mathematically) which results you will be more interested in, and which you won’t. Basically, when you search Google for “honeybees” you will get different results than your best friend in another state who also searches Google for “honeybees” based on your search filter. Not concerned about your search results being filtered by Google? You should be.
DuckDuckGo also returns far more than just 10 results on their first page. I counted about 20 for the commercial queries I put in. Without all the ads, image results, and other items that clutter Google’s search results, DuckDuckGo has the space to display more of the information I’m really looking for.
Their tagline says it all: “the spam-free search engine.” By their own description, blekko attempts to remove spam from their index by ignoring low-quality sites (like content farms and MFA sites.) They also use good old-fashioned human judgment (what??) to help determine which sites will be returned in their search results. In a world completely dominated by automation and algorithms, blekko’s human approach earns an honorable mention here.
Frustrated by out-of-date information returned for your search queries? I wanted to know if anything had changed since Marissa Mayer took over as Yahoo’s CEO less than a month ago. NowRelevant gave me all the most recent news about Mayer – without having to sort through the general bio pages that Google returned, like her Wikipedia page and LinkedIn profile.
Twitter Advanced Search
According to SocialMediaToday.com, Twitter handles 32 billion search queries a month, which is more than Bing and Yahoo combined. People tweet about everything – but unlike other social sites like Facebook or Google+, most tweets are publicly searchable. Try out their Advanced Search feature the next time you are looking for news in your industry or a guest posting opportunity. Note the “Near this place” search feature, which allows you to add a geographic location to your search, such as “USA” or “Atlanta.”
Need help finding that adorable dress you saw on Pinterest? ChicEngine is a visual search engine, where you plug in an image or the URL of one, and the search feature helps you locate more information about the clothing, like who made it or where it can be purchased. How many times have you wondered where a star purchased their outfit, or how much the First Lady’s coat cost? Cool technology and fun to play around with.
These are just a few of the many fantastic alternatives to Google. I want to see a shift in our thinking, from “Just Google it!” to “What do the search engines say?” No one writes a research paper citing only one book on their topic as a source. Getting in the habit of researching topics across several search engines is a lot like going to several different libraries to find great books and sources to cite in your work. It is a far more balanced approach than trusting only one source of information.
As independently-owned grocery stores have become virtually extinct across the US, ask yourself if Google deserves an unchallenged monopoly. Do you use Google as your default search engine purely out of habit? Why not take action right now by bookmarking a few alternative search engines? Why not take radical action and change the default web page in your browser to DuckDuckGo.com? Make it harder for Google to own the market. Former grocers everywhere will thank you.
Leah Fink offers SEO services and consulting for small businesses, and is the owner of Charlotte Works the Web. She lives in Atlanta with her husband and three young daughters, and refuses to seek help for her raging addiction to espresso.