Google Alternatives: Search Engines that Show More than Ads Above the Fold
When you search Google many results are not search result pages at all (we call them SERPs here) they are just showing Google ads, sponsored listings and other Google services. A good example I often use is the query [hotels new york]. There is no single real search result left in the visible screen area.
On Google.com you only see two listings from the Google local business directory, the artist formerly known as Google Places.
I’m not even sure how you call it now as the name has changed so often. Some refer to it as Google Local, others as Google Maps, Google itself sometimes says Google Places for Business. In any case these items are not algorithmic search results from the Web but just businesses that decided to register with Google’s Yellowpages competitor.
Are these “ad results” Google displays useful? They are to some extent. You can never be sure how biased they are as Google gets paid to show them though.
So some people look for alternatives, that is search engines that show true results that are not paid and solely based on merit. They probably know Bing and Yahoo already and dislike them. Do they have some choice left? Yes, they do! Some pretty advanced dark horse search engines are by now full fledged alternatives to the Google ads overkill. Most notably I refer to search engine contenders
Let’s just take a look at the [hotels new york] example:
Hotels New York
On Google.com I get zero organic results above the fold, only ads, sponsored listings and directory entries. In case you count the local listings as “search results” then it’s two hotels. You see the screen shot on top of the article.
On Blekko I get 6 organic results in the visible area. Two sites about hotels (Hotels.com and Kayak, two hotels (Ace Hotel and Marriot) and two articles dealing with hotels.
On DuckDuckGo I see 3 or 4 organic results depending on whether you count Wikipedia or not. Personally I’d count Wikipedia as the entry includes a list of the largest hotels based on the room numbers so it’s not just a definition of “hotels”. Sadly one of the results – #4 or newyorknewyork.com – is a hotel based in Las Vegas. Luckily we get Wikipedia, Expedia and hotels.com on top of that false friend.
On Yandex I find 5 natural search results above the fold. 4 of them make sense. Unfortunately #1 is the Las Vegas based hotel I mentioned above. Results #2 to #4 are very helpful though. Newyork.com, Expedia and Hotels.com precede the Marriot hotel.
When it comes to hotels from New York Blekko is the clear winner. Yandex and DDG are good enough. Google is the least useful unless of course you prefer ads to search results.
Christmas is near and thus many people will search for gifts. What will they find?
On Google.com they will find two organic results in the visible screen area. Both are OK in my case. They are stores offering lots of gift ideas. I search from Germany so I get a result from the UK on #2. Your results from the US may differ. I try to search with proxies but Google somehow manages to offer me a German site despite that so I can’t replicate US results completely due to the heavy localization features.
On Blekko I get 6 results above the fold. Many of them, the first two for example are actually “Christmas crafts”, gifts you can “do it yourself”. You also get gift ideas and recipes. Mostly blogs and informational resources rank on top rather than only commercial entities.
DuckDuckGo shows only three results above the fold. There are two large stores, Gifts.com at #1 and Zazzle at #3 plus one website telling you what kind of gifts people want.
Yandex shows the two stores DDG has found and two others additionally without scrolling. Not bad but pretty commercially biased.
Blekko wins when it comes to finding DIY ideas. Christmas is not only a shopping spree it’s also about spending time with your loved ones. Creating something yourself may be a good idea to start with. Don’t forget that Christmas is about love and Christ and not just commerce. In case you just want to buy something Yandex is your friend. Google comes in last.
The query [seo] is a good place to start assessing the result quality of any search engine. Thousands of SEO practitioners compete here for apparent reasons.
The Google.com results for SEO were awful for almost a decade but recently they finally got them right. Sadly you don’t see those results though these days. You only see ads now and one result which is Wikipedia obviously.
Depending on the size of the ads you sometimes see a second real result, the beginner’s guide to SEO by Moz.
BTW.: Google has successfully banished all SEO companies from the first page results. Not even SEO.com still ranks somewhere despite having high quality content for years.
Blekko shows 5 categorized results. First the Wikipedia definition, then SEO.com and SEO by the Sea, two good but not the best choices IMHO. Finally two of the latest more or less relevant articles about SEO from around the Web.
DuckDuckGo shows only three search results in the visible screen area. First Wikipedia, SEO.com comes second and #3 is What is SEO?” By Search Engine Land.
Yandex wins this one by a large margin. The Russian contender shows 5 results above the fold and no ads at all. At #1 SEL with “What is SEO?”, #2 is Wikipedia, #3 is SEO.com, #4 is Search Engine Watch with the SEO category and #5 is seobook.com. An excellent choice, SEL, SEW and seobook.com are perfectly enough for all levels of searchers.
For results about SEO Yandex is best. Again Google is last only serving first time searchers well.
These are just some slightly random searches. On the other hand I have chosen commercially viable queries. Google still performs well for not so lucrative informational search results, especially for the so called long tail of complex search phrases.
When it comes to “money keywords” results you see how Google fails to show useful non-paid links without scrolling.
Now with additional Hummingbird features you will see even less real search results on Google. The public is slow to react especially as one of the best Google alternatives comes from “evil” Russia but some Internet-savvy early adopters who are fed up being force-fed ads by Google are using these dark horse alternative search engines already.