The Top 5 Google Alternatives and Why You Should Use Them

Dean Sherwin 05-01-2010

google classicGoogle has been the leading search engine for as long as I can remember. Launched as a small beta start up in 1996 at the domain using inexpensive hardware, you wouldn’t think then that it would ever become the success it is today with so few useful Google alternatives available.


In fact, in 1998 when it first went live on the official domain, the beta was publically labeled by its creators as a “might-work-some-of-the-time-prototype”.

While the mechanics of it have improved dramatically since then, it still relies on the number of backlinks to theorise how important a webpage is. A lot of us have grown sick of what could be called an outdated way to display results and maybe even resent their market dominance.

If you want to shed that mentality of instantly “Googling it” then you’ve got to take the leap, here are five excellent Google alternatives – each one has their own specific goals and a different way of doing things; and no, they’re not Bing, Yahoo! or Wolfram Alpha The True Power of the Wolfram Alpha Knowledge Engine Read More .


Normally, when you search for something on Google, or any of the big search engines for that matter you’re returned results based on the popularity of the page. That’s because search engines link relevance with popularity. FactBites however draws on the web’s vast amount of encyclopedias and information websites such as Wikipedia and more specialised ones to provide you with factual information.

This search engine is great for things such as school work and research for articles or other such works. To put it bluntly, it cuts off all the excess fat that you don’t need and gives you the best of the best.


google alternatives

For example, in the search results above I have searched for ‘American Civil War’ and the results returned are purely factual including many educational websites, Wikipedia and historical sources. The same search on Google returned some educational websites though poorly organised amongst various online stores and enthusiast websites which would not be very useful for those in search of facts.


google alternatives

This search engine I liked a lot because it redefines how search results should be displayed. Instead of just showing you a list descending in order of relevance, they have this accompanied by a tag cloud to the left of the screen. This allows you to quickly display alternative results by just hovering your mouse over them. This tag cloud can also be shared or embedded using the appropriate buttons.


Quinturq uses the same method to display results for web, images and videos.

Clusty Search

Ever been doing research for a topic or just searching for stuff in general and get pretty annoyed at how disorganised the results can be? A more organized Google alternative is in order. Often, when I’m looking for sources for an article I have to perform multiple refined searches to get the kind of results Clusty Search could get in one – and organize them into their respective categories too.

google alternatives

Say you’re looking for articles and material relating to Nintendo. Instead of doing five or six different searches, just search for Nintendo and Clusty will gather them into their respective groups while still displaying traditional style results as you can see in the screenshot above.


Results can be clustered into different ways depending on what you’re searching for. Examples include sources, type of material (blogs, reviews, news etc..) and size, quality and so on for images and videos.

Dog Pile

search engine showdown google alternatives

Surprisingly, over 85% of everyday searches return different results when you use different search engines such as Google, Yahoo, Bing and Ask. DogPile performs multiple searches for your term and then aggregates those results into one quality set of results.

Their mission is to have a simple yet effective search engine to give universal results instead of what one engine thinks may be best suited for you.


They have all the standard search functions too for filtering your results and search categories such as Image, video, Web etc, as well as the Yellow and White Pages!

(no longer online)

search engine showdown google alternatives

The homepage of Cuil is minimalistic, mostly black with your run-of-the-mill search box in the middle. You can also select what language you want your results in. They index websites in English, French, Turkish, Italian, Polish and much more.

The way they display search results is most intriguing. Firstly, you have your traditional results as per usual. In the right sidebar, depending on what you have searched you could have a map, historical timeline, streaming results, category tags and other specific features relating to your search.

For example, I searched for NASA and in the right sidebar there was tag clouds for ‘Space Agencies’, ‘Space Centres’, ‘NASA Problems’ as well as a timeline and resources.

search engine showdown google alternatives

They also have tabs along the top which refine where your results come from. Examples seen in the screenshot are NASA TV and NASA Ames. Thumbnails and favicons are also displayed beside the search results for better presentation and to help you decide if it’s the one for you.

So there you go. Five great Google alternative search engines enabling you to break free from Google and other traditional search engines in style. Do you have any suggestions for other alternative search engines? What do you think of the ones profiled?

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  1. Michelle
    March 14, 2017 at 1:17 pm

    I really like - they still use google on the back end but they use 90% of their ad revenue to plant new trees which is really nice to see in todays world.

  2. Dwayne
    February 13, 2010 at 9:59 pm

    Its good to say my old timer website when i was back in school: DogPile :D It's a very great search engine.

  3. 1fastbullet
    January 13, 2010 at 11:00 pm The name is a fair indicator.

    Google search without Google's nose up your butt.

  4. Carol
    January 9, 2010 at 5:44 pm

    For secure searches, and entry into websites - - and their HTTPS v. is slower but more secure. Isn't it time Google stopped harvesting our lives?

  5. Neomotion
    January 8, 2010 at 7:25 pm

    Nobody mentioned the new awesome searchengine Wolfram?

    Love how they present the results, awesome for scientific research.

  6. benny
    January 8, 2010 at 2:10 pm

    i use this instead of google :

    it scrapes google's results, but doesn't store your search terms or implant long-lasting, user-unique cookies like google does. i like using google alternatives because i think it's dangerous to blindly trust one company with such a massive amount of data. never know how it might be used in the future....

  7. Mark Johnson
    January 7, 2010 at 4:57 pm

    Clusty is an old favorite of mine, *especially* when it gets the categories spot-on. You should also check out Kosmix (my former employer). They have a very different take on search that I find refreshing and appealing, especially when I'm researching a topic and know that it's not a single page that I need.

    -Mark, Program Manager at Bing

  8. Bas
    January 7, 2010 at 2:52 am

    not in your list, but good and very un-google since the search data is NOT recorded. So, unlike Google and co, this engine is privacy-SAFE.

    As they say on their website: "When we search, we share our most private thoughts with our computers.
    These private thoughts should be safe."

    In my ears this sounds like it should be.

    • Carol
      January 9, 2010 at 5:54 pm

      That IS Ixquick !

  9. aya
    January 7, 2010 at 1:12 am

    The old fashioned search engine but truly worthy :)

  10. d
    January 6, 2010 at 11:44 pm

    i cant believe u didnt mention ixquick

    • Carol
      January 9, 2010 at 5:46 pm

      Agree with you "d"

  11. Inside the Webb
    January 6, 2010 at 7:54 pm

    As much as I have to say I like your list, it does have it's pointlessness. Think about how popular Google is - not only the brand, but how many people work for Google and how many tools and web applications they have. There's no reason to use any alternative, they run the internet!

    • the old rang
      January 6, 2010 at 10:39 pm

      Always allow for alternatives.

      When there is no competition, you get crapware or worse. The practices of monopolies by and large are the reasons we are 20 years behind in real computing power.

      Intel slowly fed low speed processors until AMD made real competition. Since then Intel, with many times the R&D budget compared to all the money AMD has, has to cheat on the playing field to stay ahead (Google, if you will about Intel software crippling AMD and Via's chips since 2003 or so. Couldn't beat them so they sabotaged them. I remember when computers cost so much more, not because of cost to make, but Intel kept stodgy chips in the line, forever. Reaping fortunes for the 286, 386 and 486, until AMD wiped their clocks. The only reason you are not paying $2,000 for a 100 mhz processor is because there are alternatives.

      I am not saying Google is 'bad'...

      I am saying if there are no alternatives, the temptation is large. Google may relegate Microsoft to a similar pile as Commodore/Amiga. Both failed when they lost a battle to inferior products, and poor management after Tramiel left (may have spelled that name wrong... sorry). The old Amiga would run, in real time Animation of a dancer, while she was dancing, display the picture of her dancing next to the animation.. and run 18 other processes at the same time.

      Way before GPU, and with a 486 speed processor. Try that on many computers today...

      It isn't better that wins. It is better business and good competition.

      Microsoft is reaping the losses today, of sometimes considered shady practices of yesterday.

      Competition from Linux, a tad from Mac, and other options, is showing it will have to really write (or take over) some good software that is worth the ridiculous prices for what the deliver. (Don't tell me what the invitees to diners hosted by Redmond say. Google the anti-Redmond opinion, or the Courts world wide to see what is happening.

      Competition keeps the leaders on their toes, instead of our butts.

      Is Google good... Somewhat. But, most commentators don't do serious searching. I have, for years done such. The search engines of today find a lot.

      Are they better? No. But, there is a lot more to find. Most have trouble going back a few years. Some don't. Most have trouble with essoteric searches (Google included)

      As long as you are looking for 'pop' information about topics of today, Google is great. It is even getting better on older topics. I can usually guarantee, before I start a search, IF Google will find the answer... With out knowing how to track some things down, Almost all search engines today are not that good... But, getting better.

      That is why you have to have alternatives. Competition makes for better products.

      Without it, you have Yugos and Windows ME abd Vista.

      • Mark
        January 16, 2017 at 11:47 pm

        Good points. I loved my Amiga! But rendering ray trace animation took about 10 hours per frame.

  12. Mutantone
    January 6, 2010 at 4:32 pm

    I have to agree with the Old Rang there have been many other search tools many far better than Google As he has stated theirs works and has a proven record now that exceeds what the other search engines have or had to offer

  13. Matt Bacak
    January 6, 2010 at 3:16 pm

    Now the stuff on this post brings back some old memories :-)

    Dog pile I totally forgot about that!

  14. Confused
    January 6, 2010 at 3:03 pm

    Tell me again why we need an alternative to Google? It didn't become a verb in the English language because it is inherently flawed. It became a verb in the English language because it works, To google is synonymous with to search. Or is this merely just another instance of coporatism? A company starts small, markets a novel idea, executes the idea, we love the idea, we love the company, the company makes money off of the idea, becomes a successful profitable corporation, we hate the company.

    • the old rang
      January 6, 2010 at 3:18 pm

      There were other search engines before Googel, and some were even better. They were not 'successful' for several reasons, one, being the business model that Google used, that they didn't (they sold positions, and had more money coming in, than the others. They got more positions on web sites, and took off.)

      That does not mean they were or are a better search tool. Nor, does it mean they are not. It means they are a better profit making business.

      Some searchers do not want to 'wade' through many of the 'non-correct' answers, or would rather have answers better suited towards their areas of expertise. The search 'engine' often have pre-screened locations or data areas, and may even use Google to help scan those locations.

      The point is, some are trying to make a profit, or a name, in a niche market.

      Some are even trying to take on Google (like Microsoft).

      I noted many years ago, niche search tools find some things easier than Google, Yahoo, or even Web Ferret (when it was top dog at searching).

      They will succeed, fail, or get bought out, depending on how well they do.

      Or, is you objection, that there is only one way to do things, and Google has found the best, because they make money?

      • Vanessa Hooper
        December 11, 2016 at 12:31 am

        Amen! Google DOES NOT work for everybody anymore! When Google was not a top down pay model, in thebeginning. You used to get EVERYONE'S voice! Now, you only get people who pay to have their site's seen, not what people might actually be looking for. Case in point: I created a memorial website for my uncle David. Since he has passed, the info doesn't change. Back when Google was peer reviewed, (like Bleeker-gone too soon), my site was in the top 3. Now, Google doesn't even find it. The only result it does find about my uncle David, is 'find a grave'. If you're looking for results about him, my site has much more than that. The little guy gets trampled in the New World, and it SUCKS! I get that there aren't going to be tons of people searching for this site, but I've created tons over the years, and small voices (that used to be appreciated) have been smothered by the giant. These voices made Google what it is, and now it kills us. FU GOOGLE! That's why we need alternatives!

  15. Rahul - Web Guru
    January 6, 2010 at 1:34 pm

    These are alternative to Google right... Google... that makes Google even bigger :0

    Google rocks man.

  16. Aminul Islam Sajib
    January 6, 2010 at 1:32 pm

    But I will always live with Google. :) I think it gives me all I need to lead a happy and healthy life in cyberspace.

  17. Joe Thomas
    January 6, 2010 at 1:19 pm blows all of these out of the water.

  18. Someone
    January 6, 2010 at 9:05 am

    You should take a look at
    It is really amazing

  19. the old rang
    January 6, 2010 at 9:05 am

    The five search engines were tested, for a simple, commonly used topic, by me.

    The top two failed miserably.

    A search for "climate gate"

    found NOTHING by those two. You would almost think they were run by the UN/DNC/Main Stream Media.

    Politics aside, finding nothing for that search (with quotes. Without quotes only gave things about chinese 'gates' or various weather minutia... nothing on the topic I was searching for. With quotes returned NOTHING... as in nothing found.

    That is no search tool, but something guided worse than most.

    The other three returned very good and expanded data results.

    Cut your list by those two, or get them off the top, and you might have something.

    I have been using search tools for many years on the net. I have used many search tools. For a topic of this nature, the 'null' returns by anything of the nature you described, is a 'deleted' return, meaning, the search engine manages the topic, and nulls it out.

    Kink of like searching for porno on the Chinese search tools.

    • Tselby
      January 6, 2010 at 9:51 am

      Its not a left wing conspiracy its your spelling. If you spell it climategate you will find tons of results. Matter of fact its the very first search suggestion when you start typing climate on Google.

      • the old rang
        January 6, 2010 at 12:05 pm

        Avast, little one...

        I tried that variation...

        But, even if your criticism was correct, Google does indeed return on the one I specified, and so do the three that I said did return.

        Maybe your politics differ than mine, But, I have been known to know how to find things even the people that developed them could not. But, that was in the days before search engines took money for placement of 'finds'... And before more places learned much about keeping 'finders' like myself out.

        They may have changed what they 'find' and how. BUT... I did the testing several ways, several combinations, including the school, country, county, city and NASA... nada...

        Limiting it to the actual text I described...

        Got what I described. I don't divulge all the tricks I know. But Simply put...

        If it can find nothing on that, and other tools can...

        And if it can not find other combinations of same data, and other tools can...

        The data is managed.

    • Dean Sherwin
      January 6, 2010 at 1:24 pm

      Hi Old rang,

      I think two of the sites you're referring too may be two bogus links that I somehow posted by accident. My bad, they're fixed now.

      - Dean

  20. Melissa
    January 6, 2010 at 7:46 am

    For a visual search engine, I really like

  21. Sachin Bhatt
    January 6, 2010 at 5:21 am

    I have played with cuil earlier and I did not like the results it was throwing out. So went back to Google.
    Whereas for dogpile have used it quite a bit and generally go there IF I DON'T LIKE GOOGLE RESULTS.
    I have started playing with Kartoo which is recommended here ( makeuseof ) a few days back

  22. Spiffy
    January 6, 2010 at 5:16 am

    The URL for Clusty is

  23. Mark
    January 6, 2010 at 4:52 am

    I just tried FactBites, which is great, but the first thing it shows at the top is Google AdWords!

  24. Christophe Jean
    January 6, 2010 at 12:51 am

    Exalead ( ) is not bad too

  25. Virendra
    January 5, 2010 at 11:09 pm

    Cuil rules!!!!!

    • woodrackets
      January 7, 2010 at 11:26 pm

      Yeah, but I hate the black. Bad choice.

  26. James
    January 5, 2010 at 9:47 pm

    Now, this still uses primarily google, but i think i'm starting to prefer it over google:

    plus it has keyboard shortcuts and the dev has some other cool projects.

  27. Crazy Dave
    January 5, 2010 at 5:21 pm

    Thanks Dean,

    These search engines are now all bookmarked... I'll play around with them at some stage... :)