The Best Search Engines — Based On Actual Result Relevancy

Based on my research, these are the best search engine currently.

I’ve rated each search engine based on relevancy and usability.

Subscription-Based Search Engines

  • Kagi (USA) — 9/10 (fast, very good relevancy and organization of results)

Free and Subscription-Bases Search Engines

  • Neeva (USA) — 8/10 (very good relevancy, search results could be presented better)

Independent Search Engines With No Ads

  • Mojeek (UK) — 6/10 (nice independent search index, some relevancy issues)
  • Gigablast (USA) — 4/10 (somewhat slow and low relevancy results)

Meta-Search Engines with No Ads

  • SearXNG (Worldwide) — 8/10 (good relevancy but some presentation issues)

Ad-Supported Search Engines

  • DuckDuckGo (USA) — 6/10 (privacy-oriented, but results are somewhat cluttered and contain ads)
  • Qwant (France) — 7/10 (good privacy and overall relevancy)
  • Bing (USA) — 5/10 (good relevancy but tracking and interface issues)
  • Google (USA) — 6/10 (good relevancy but ruined by commercial interests, tracking & clutter)
  • Brave (USA) — 7/10 (a cluttered interface obscures good quality results)
  • Yandex (Russia) — 6/10 (mediocre relevancy)
  • MetaGer (Germany) — 7/10 (good free meta-search, sometimes defaults to German)
  • SwissCows (Switzerland) — 3/10 (often returns server errors, decent results)

Search Engine Details

Kagi

  • Search Engine Type: Subscription-Based
  • Created in: June 2022
  • Headquarters: Palo Alto, CA, USA
  • Search results source: Google, Bing, Wikipedia, DeepL, Teclis, TinyGem, and an AI for instant answers

Kagi produces some of the best search results regarding relevancy and presentation.

Kagi’s search results include anonymous requests to search indexes like Google and Bing and vertical sources like Wikipedia and DeepL or other APIs. Kagi also has its own non-commercial index (Teclis) and news index (TinyGem). Teclis and TinyGem are created using a web crawler to focus primarily on non-commercial content.

Neeva

  • Search Engine Type: Free and Subscription-Based
  • Created in: 2021
  • Headquarters: Mountain View, CA, USA
  • Search results source: Bing and Neeva’s own crawled index

Test Search


Notes

Neeva has its own crawler and an independent web index. Search results are currently powered by a combination of their index and Bing.

Neeva has a free service that is ad-free, private, and customizable (subject to certain usage limits). Users can also set news and shopping preferences, and search from multiple devices. Neeva says these accounts will have “No obligation to pay, ever.”

The Neeva App offers one the best search experience on mobile devices. The app uses Neeva’s private search engine, which means the search results are ad-free and customizable.

Neeva has now introduced a “FastTap” feature that allows ssers to type straight into the app’s URL field and have relevant links appear instantly. This means they can skip a visit to a search results page entirely.

SearXNG (fork of Searx)

  • Created in: 2015 (as Searx)
  • Headquarters: Decentralized — various locations worldwide
  • Search results source: User-defined selection from 70 different sources

Test Search


Notes

SearXNG (GitHub page) is an ad-free metasearch engine that can combine results from seventy different search services.

SearXNG offers ad-free Google results, which are fresh, not cached results (like the ones found in StartPage). In addition, you can add Bing, Qwant and Mojeek results into the mix. Overall, this makes the search results very relevant and diverse.

SearXNG has good “Instant Answers” but it has a weak Image Search.

SearXNG development started in the middle of 2021 as a fork of the Searx project (GitHub page). Users are neither tracked nor profiled. Additionally, SearXNG can be used over Tor for online anonymity.

SearXNG has a better user interface, comes with light and dark versions, and works well on mobile browsers. An administrator can block and/or replace the URLs in the search results. Overall SearXNG is simple to maintain as an instance administrator.

Regarding privacy, be advised that unknown organizations and individuals run these interfaces.

Of course, you can also run your own instance of SearXNG. Here is an in-depth test of various search engines including SearXNG.

SearXNG supports the external bangs from DuckDuckGo. To directly jump to an external search page use the !! prefix.

To set category and/or engine names use a ! prefix. To give a few examples:

DuckDuckGo

  • Created in: 2008
  • Headquarters: Paoli, Pennsylvania, USA
  • Search results source: Bing, Yahoo, Yandex, Wikipedia, DuckDuckGo Bot, and other sources

Test Search


Notes

DuckDuckGo is a privacy-friendly public search engine.

It is the most popular alternative search engine in the United States and worldwide. DuckDuckGo states that it obtains its results from more than 400 sources, but it primarily relies on Bing.

DuckDuckGo uses many sources for its “Instant Answers”.

The search engine licenses map data from Apple Maps and weather from Dark Sky. In both cases, DuckDuckGo draws the information in a privacy-friendly way and does not share information with Apple.

DuckDuckGo generates revenue from ads, but they are not personalized – instead, they are based solely on search queries.

The search engine stores cookies to save settings changes, but this feature is optional. Alternatively, users can use URL parameters to change settings without using cookies.

DuckDuckGo has been recently criticized for downranking state media sites in Russia.

Qwant

  • Created in: 2013
  • Headquarters: France
  • Search results source: Bing results and Qwant‘s index of 20 billion pages.

Test Search


Notes

Qwant is an alternative search engine based in France. The French Government uses Qwant it for web searches.

Qwant states that it has its own web crawlers and is working to build its own index. In the interim, it partners with Bing to buttress its indexing capabilities and provide useful results. It does not share information with Microsoft.

Qwant serves map results from Open Street Maps. Qwant has a weak video search.

Like DuckDuckGo and Startpage, Qwant generates revenue from non-personalized ads that appear as a result of specific search queries.

Qwant has a solid privacy policy.

Yandex

  • Created in: 1997
  • Headquarters: Moscow, Russia
  • Search results source: Yandex’s independent search index

Test Searches


Notes

Yandex has a particularly good Image Search, but its Video Search is weak.

Mojeek

Yandex is a Russian search engine that is popular in Eastern Europe. Many of the search results are likewise sourced from Eastern Europe.

Test Search


  • Created in: 2004
  • Headquarters: UK
  • Search results source: Mojeek’s independent index of 5 billion pages.

Notes

Mojeek is based in the United Kingdom. The search results from Mojeek’s index of 5 billion pages. However, Mojeek’s image results are still served by Bing and Pixabay. Mojeek’s news results seem to draw almost exclusively from UK sources.

Mojeek has a good privacy policy.

Gigablast

  • Created in: 2000
  • Headquarters: USA
  • Search results source: Gigablast’s independent index.

Test Search


Notes

Gigablast is based in the United States. Along with Mojeek, it is the only alternative search engine that relies exclusively on its own index. It contains no ads or third-party trackers.

Gigablast’s search speed is slow and it presents search results in a 90s retro style.

Gigablast cannot index Linkedin, Facebook, and Youtube because it’s blocked from doing so.

The search engine has a short privacy policy page. It states that no third parties are given access to user information, and that query logs are deleted regularly. Gigablast also stated in 2013 that it does not share user IP addresses with third parties.

Gigablast is open source, making it the only open source search engine that does its own indexing.

SwissCows

  • Created in: 2014
  • Headquarters: Switzerland
  • Search results source: Bing

Test Search


Notes

SwissCows is a privacy-friendly search engine. SwissCows states that it is also a “family-friendly” search engine which means it doesn’t index pornography or other sexual content.

SwissCows often respond to searches with error messages, such as when searching for “latex pillow” (give it try).

SwissCows has a strong privacy policy and the company asserts that it does not create personal search profiles, and it anonymizes all search queries after seven days.

SwissCows generates revenue through non-personalized ads based on individual search queries.

Brave Search

  • Created in: March 2021
  • Headquarters: San Francisco, CA, USA
  • Search results source: Bing with some ranking adjustments from Brave

Test Search


Notes

Brave Search is a search engine created by the same company that makes the Brave Browser.

The search results from Brave are a mixture of Bing results with other results generated by Brave’s index.

The company says they anonymously check Brave’s search results against third-party results and mix them on the results page. Additionally, an option exists to include Google results anonymously. 

For the sake of transparency, Brave provides a “Results Independence” metric. This anonymous calculation shows the percentage of search results from Brave versus these third parties.

Additionally, Brave relies on Bing for most image and video results. However, even when using these external results, the Brave search engine still preserves user privacy, according to the Frequently Asked Questions page.

StartPage

  • Created in: 2006
  • Headquarters: The Hague, Netherlands
  • Search results source: Google

Test Search


Notes

StartPage is majority-owned by System1, a U.S.-based advertising company. This has been the subject of concern, but Startpage’s privacy policy still seems sound.

Like DuckDuckGo, Startpage generates revenue through non-personalized ads.

Startpage is unique among alternative search engines because it licenses its results from Google. Most smaller search engines use Bing results.

Unfortunately, StartPage often produces Captchas for VPN users.

Metager

  • Created in: 1996
  • Headquarters: Hannover, Germany
  • Search results source: Bing, Google, and Yahoo

Test Search


Notes

MetaGer is a non-profit search engine run by SUMA e.V. in Germany. MetaGer states that it draws results from 50 sources, but Bing strongly influences its results. MetaGer has a strong privacy policy.

However, MetaGer does put several ads above the organic search results. The organization has stated that it serves non-personalized ads to cover costs, but it hopes to earn enough donations to drop the ads.

MetaGer is one of the three open-source search engines on the list, along with Gigablast and SearXNG. The company is proud of its ranking process designed to avoid censorship.

MetaGer notes where specific search results come from. It also includes an internal blacklist and allows certain sources to be toggled on and off.

Google

  • Created in: 1997
  • Headquarters: Mountain View, CA, USA
  • Search results source: Google’s index of 60 billion pages

Test Search


Notes

Google is the dominant search engine around the world. It has a huge index, covering somewhere between 60 billion or perhaps hundreds of billions of web pages.

Google’s search results are ad-filled and cluttered.

Currently Google account for 92% of all search queries. This is the search engine market share worldwide:

  • Google: 92%
  • Bing: 3.33%
  • Yahoo: 1.34%
  • Yandex: 0.97%
  • DuckDuckGo: 0.71%

Unfortunately, StartPage often produces Captchas for VPN users.

Bing

  • Created in: 2009
  • Headquarters: Seattle, Washington, USA
  • Search results source: Bing’s own index of 15 billion pages.

Test Search


Notes

Bing is a search engine with a large index of at least 15 billion pages. Many other search engines use Bing to provide their results (including DuckDuckGo and Qwant).

Like Google, Bing has an ad-filled interface cluttered with videos and other distractions.

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