Breaking Down Search Engines, Part 2
We started this series on web browsers by focusing on the biggest of them all: Google. Now it’s time to look at some of the other options users have for their search engine needs. This time, we’re focusing on Bing, Microsoft’s proprietary search engine, and DuckDuckGo, a different search engine altogether.
Bing Is Kind of the Same as Google… Sort Of
Bing is the second most popular search engine out there, sitting pretty at 3.5 percent of the world’s Internet searches. It is quite similar to Google in how it runs, prioritizing accuracy and using anonymous information from you to customize your search results. There are differences, though.
For one, Google’s sleek minimalist design is in stark contrast to Bing’s. Bing provides users with a daily backdrop for their searching, which takes the form of a photograph and a little bit of background information about the photo. The photo could be anything, ranging from exotic animals to historical photos to current events. It’s not always what you’re looking for, but it’s something to look forward to when you boot up the search engine.
Additionally, Bing can curate headlines, provide local weather, and sponsored posts that it thinks you’ll find helpful. It’s not for everyone, and that’s okay. Simply put, Bing is a busier Google, even without using the search function.
One other note to consider is that Google was built with mobile devices in mind, meaning that sites which perform well on mobile devices will be prioritized by the search engine compared to those that don’t. This means that websites that haven’t kept up with the times and aren’t responsive will get left in the dust by Google. Bing doesn’t care much about this, but then again, it also doesn’t index nearly as many pages as Google, so you can expect different search results depending on the browser you use. On the images and videos side of the house, Bing has additional filters that can help you find exactly what you’re looking for, too.
All things considered, using Bing isn’t painful; it’s just not Google, so using it will feel a bit different. Whether it’s right for you or not will depend on how much time you give yourself to transition to it.
DuckDuckGo - A Private Alternative Search Engine
The popular search engines curate your results based on user data. Google, for example, wants to show you the best results, so it will use the data collected to improve the user experience. Google also uses data to help advertisers make the best decisions about who and where to market their goods and services. While this data collection probably isn’t a huge deal, it’s a little unsettling to think about, as marketers and advertisers can use the data to word and display their ads in a way to generate the most revenue. Depending on who you ask, it could be considered manipulation, but that’s not why we’re here today.
If you are concerned about data privacy, then perhaps the DuckDuckGo search engine is up your alley. DuckDuckGo will give you vastly different results compared to Google or Bing, but that’s because it’s not taking your data into account when giving you results. That said, it doesn’t have as many layers to protect you from threats like malware, scams, and other potentially fraudulent activity. The results also won’t be localized to suit your current location, either, meaning that you’ll get less accurate results.
DuckDuckGo is a fairly safe option to go with if you don’t want to deal with Google’s data collection, so why not give it a try? If you want another similar option to DuckDuckGo, you could also give Qwant, a French search engine, a try as well.
Making the Right Search Engine Decision
Few search engines can compete with Google, but you do have options if you think privacy is something of a concern. Always be mindful of what you share with your search engine, and be sure to do your research before you go to any website, even if it’s recommended to you by the search engine. Just because it was in the search results doesn’t mean it is secure.