The most private search engine in the world
9 mins read

The most private search engine in the world

With so many people searching the web every day in search of helpful, quick, and accurate information, it makes sense that there are many great search engines that can help connect people to the resources they need.

Though over the years more than a dozen laudable search engines have hijacked or merged into larger players, there are a few that have continued to stand the test of time, attracting millions of searches each month.

One is Startpage, a lesser-known search engine that’s been thriving for more than 20 years — serving the web with search results on par with the leading search engine, Google.

What is Home?

Startpage is a Dutch search engine that prides itself on its strong privacy features, but also prides itself on having among the best quality of its search results in the world.

That’s because the search engine literally delivers Google search results to its users (and pays Google an undisclosed amount of money for it), while protecting user data and removing all forms of tracking to ensure maximum privacy.

The search engine is classified as a proxy site because users can use the platform’s anonymous view to view search results through a proxy server and further protect their experience if needed.

What began as a web directory in 2002 evolved in various ways over the next few years – including mirroring a site it later merged with, Ixquick – before soon becoming its own unique search engine entity, which began the Search results provided by Google solely without personalization or ad tracking.

Startpage and Ixquick would merge under the Startpage name in 2016, and despite initial privacy concerns due to a lack of transparency early in the merger, Startpage announced that the companies’ merger would not change the brand’s mission to protect user privacy while delivering high-quality products search results.

And since its headquarters are in the Netherlands, Startpage has been able to continually circumvent any invasive laws that might put users at risk, while still delivering high-quality search results.

It is also a multilingual search engine that allows searching in 82 different languages ​​while providing multiple verticals for searching images and videos.

Who Uses Startpage?

While Startpage is free to use by anyone in the world (as long as they use one of the supported languages ​​to search), there are some more likely users of the search engine, which has grown into a formidable player over the past seven years.

The first (and probably the most obvious) group of people who decide to use Startpage on a regular basis are those who care or care about privacy.

They may like Google and the experience that comes with it, but don’t support it, which can seem overly intrusive when it comes to collecting and using user data – something Google admits, but ostensibly in the name of improving the search experience.

On the other hand, there are also people who simply don’t care whether the ads they see are targeted or not. And if they can prevent their data from being collected by a company, then they do it.

One of the most common reasons why others refuse to use Google and look for another, more obscure search engine for their daily life is that they are more or less not a fan of Google in general.

This could be because Google is one of the wealthiest companies in the world, is known for walking a number of ethical tightropes, and as a pioneer in the technology industry can easily give the impression that it’s more about generating revenue than improving humanity .

Whatever the reason for someone looking for an alternative search engine instead of Google, it means an opportunity for all other platforms in this space.

What is Home good for?

Startpage is great at achieving its two main goals as a company.

It’s a search engine. A search engine’s job is to help people find what they’re looking for quickly, easily, and exactly – often with limited information or directions.

It is essentially a recreation of the search experience of the world’s most popular search engine – and its world-class technology and algorithms – without any user personalization.

Startpage has a recipe for success when it can give users something else they want: privacy.

The concept and respect for privacy is Startpage’s value proposition as a brand, so Startpage must do this well to maintain a respectable reputation.

While users may sacrifice an overall more personalized search experience at the expense of privacy, they still receive a quality experience that is comparable to other search engines.

Of course, adding your location to the platform for more personalization gives you an even more useful search experience while still having to collect and store very limited data.

Is Startpage as good as Google?

While Startpage is essentially a privacy-bound Google search results provider, it depends on what criteria you would use to determine whether Startpage is as good – or better than – Google.

The user experience differs in many ways, and since there’s no personalization to what results a user sees or the nature of the results, Startpage may be missing a part of the equation that has made Google the powerful tech company it is.

Startpage can still serve ads to its users — it’s a for-profit company that generates revenue from search ads — but those ads are served solely based on contextual clues provided by a user’s search query, and not based on history – or behavioral data collected by the search engine (such as Google and other popular search engines).

So what really matters is the quality of the ads shown on the search engine results pages (SERPs), not just whether they are present on those platforms.

Startpage also doesn’t support Google’s “Featured Snippet” feature – which “scrapes” web pages and content to display specific snippets of web pages directly at the top of the SERPs.

However, just like Google, Startpage provides its own information spread on the right-hand side of the SERP, and it’s largely Wikipedia-generated information that builds its knowledge panel (also just like Google).

Google is an advertising company that makes hundreds of billions of dollars every year.

And while Startpage also makes money from advertising, it makes far less money than Google — closer to 7 million to 10 million a year.

Home vs. DuckDuckGo

Startpage isn’t the only popular search engine to emphasize its privacy as a search engine either.

DuckDuckGo has been doing this since 2010.

The biggest difference of this privacy-focused search engine compared to Startpage is how it generates its search results.

While Startpage accesses Google’s API and offers a similar experience to Google without personalization, DuckDuckGo offers its own unique search results and platform experience.

In addition to its own proprietary web crawler, DuckDuckGo uses a variety of APIs from other websites to answer queries, as well as other search partners like Bing to ensure it delivers a positive experience and results.

DuckDuckGo has certainly gained a lot more notoriety and popularity over the last decade compared to Startpage, but that goes beyond the products and services themselves.

These include differences in marketing budgets, company size, and more.

But DuckDuckGo still holds about 2% of the search market share, while Startpage holds a fraction of that (0.06% in America).

Overall view of the home page The search engine

The idea might not sound groundbreaking or even necessary, but Startpage is a simple, high-quality search engine that offers a safer experience than other platforms while collecting virtually no user data.

While it’s not likely that Startpage will pose a legitimate threat to Google any time soon, it will be interesting to see how the search engine’s privacy model continues to help it thrive in a competitive landscape that has now become dominated by social -Media platforms belong. retail sites and much more.

Try Startpage if you want an experience that focuses on privacy and is also focused on delivering quality search results.

It feels a lot like what a search engine should be: intelligent but general and not too intrusive.

You might just like it.

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Featured image: Luis Molinero/Shutterstock