What’s behind the trend towards private search engines?

By Rebecca Sentance

Recently on Search Engine Watch, we rounded up six newcomers to the search engine landscape that are worth keeping an eye on for the future.

Each new search engine takes a slightly different approach to searching the web, but there is one trait that many of the recent ones have in common: private, secure searching.

Oscobo, WhaleSlide, Gyffu and GoodGopher are just some of the non-tracking, private and secure search engines that have been launched in the last two or three years, joining more well-established engines like StartPage, DuckDuckGo, Mojeek and Privatelee.

Is this cluster of private search engines just a passing fad, or is it indicative of an increasing trend among users towards secure, private search? And if so, what does this mean for more mainstream search engines like the all-seeing Google?

I spoke to leading figures at three private search engines, both new and established – Gabriel Weinberg, founder and CEO of DuckDuckGo, Robert Beens, CEO of StartPage, and Robert Perin, co-founder and Managing Director of Oscobo – to find out why they thought more and more people could be turning to private search, and what the ramifications are for the wider industry.

Why launch a private search engine?

All three search engines whose leaders I spoke to came to the industry at very different times: StartPage was originally founded as Ixquick in 1998, and made the transition to private search in 2006; DuckDuckGo was founded in 2008; and Oscobo officially launched at the beginning of 2016.

For StartPage, the decision to become a private search engine was taken when the company noticed the sheer amounts of user data that it was accumulating and not using, and made a conscious decision to get rid of it.

For Beens, who led the initiative for StartPage to become a private search engine, it was a way for StartPage to distinguish itself in an already competitive industry, and the business case for this decision outweighed the benefits of any potential income from selling user data.

“From a business perspective, [monetizing our users’ data] makes absolutely zero sense. The only thing that sets us apart from bigger search that do monetize people’s user behavior is the fact we don’t. That’s what attracts people to us. It’s true that the revenue we make on our ads is far less than what others tend to make – so be it. It’s what makes us unique.”

Beens couldn’t have known for sure, as early as 2006, whether his gamble on a private search model was going to pay off in the long run, but he was looking for a point of distinction from Google, which was already dominant by then. “I thought that it would give us a differentiator in a difficult market at the moment. It’ll make us stand out. I’m proud of doing that.”

Beens believes that Google, along with most tech companies, has a “blind spot” when it comes to privacy – providing an opening for other search engines to compete in spite of Google’s attractive search product. His Go to the full article.

Source:: Search Engine Watch

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