Can Pro-Privacy Search Engines Replace Google?
Consumers of all ages and demographics are becoming increasingly aware of their increasing reliance on technology — in many cases at the expense of their privacy.
According to the Pew Research Center, 80% of Americans believe that the potential risks of personal data collection by companies outweigh the benefits and 79% of adults are very or somewhat concerned about how companies use that data.
As a result, privacy as a service (PaaS) is something that consumers increasingly see less as a reward and more as a necessity.
Non-Google search engines feed user desires for something that is lacking today – digital privacy. Search engines provide a basic service, but while they are financially free, they are certainly not free.
This cost is a certain level of intrusion into users’ lives, as technology companies (namely Google) collect data about online habits and use that data to improve their marketing efforts.
The best site for looking for privacy is DuckDuckGo, but a new privacy-focused competitor for Google has recently launched – Brave.
According to the “Privacy First” search engine:
Brave Search does not track you, your searches, or your clicks; it is impossible for Brave to reveal any information about you to anyone.
Any future ads we may support will be anonymous (like all other Brave ads), and will not affect ranking. In the future, we will also offer paid search without ads.
Even compared to DuckDuckGo, Brave is (in some ways) ahead of the competition:
- Brave offers its own index, which gives it independence from other search providers. Conversely, DuckDuckGo results are a compilation of “more than 400” sources, including Bing, Yandex, Yahoo! Find BOSS, Wolfram Alpha and its web crawler, and more.
- Ad-free option. Brave Search users can opt for a paid version that lets them explore the web without ads.
- Greater control over the site. Regardless of which region you choose for search results, Brave search offers an additional option to filter results based on locality.
Should marketers care about non-Google search engines?
Google has really become; Term synonymous with online search completion.
It is where the vast majority of consumers search, carrying approx 87% of search engine usage, with Bing at 7%, Yahoo at 3%, and DuckDuckGo (the veteran private search engine) at 1%.
Not surprisingly, Brave hasn’t made the charts yet. However, with digital privacy making frequent headlines, privacy at risk may start to worry consumers enough to take action.
The problem is – awareness of non-Google engines is low. ‘Secondary’ search providers face the challenge of increasing consumer awareness.
The barrier is that they need to offer users a strong value proposition and a way to change their default search engine in an easy and sacrifice-free way.
To this point, non-Google search engines continue to innovate in hopes of attracting new loyal users.
Bing just announced IndexNow, a new initiative that allows site owners to ping IndexNow with new or updated content.
Only Bing and Yandex currently use IndexNow, but this initiative is clearly an effort to attract SEO professionals and webmasters who have the potential to get faster indexing and faster rankings.
With that said, Google shouldn’t be afraid of being dethroned.
But that doesn’t mean marketers shouldn’t be prepared for a future that — as we’ve learned over the past year or two — can turn around at the drop of a dime.
What should search marketers keep in mind as privacy becomes a bigger concern for consumers?
Use alternative search engines
You will only understand the feasibility of switching to search engines other than Google by experiencing them firsthand. You will undoubtedly find feature holes, especially if you are a super user.
For example, DuckDuckGo lacks the reverse image search capabilities that both Google and Bing offer.
Given the value of personal privacy, especially if you don’t need the bells and whistles, it can be all too easy to forget about Google.
Consider alternative search engines when developing marketing strategies and reporting on performance
It’s becoming increasingly important for marketing teams to get out of the way with Google when it comes to strategy and analytics, especially with organic search.
Take steps to understand how other search engines operate and recognize that user demographics vary by search engine.
For example, Bing users tend to be older and use Microsoft devices and Alexa. It’s also likely that your company’s share of traffic from different drivers will vary – especially if you’re in a niche industry or targeting a niche audience.
Plus, by only reporting Google’s performance, you’re missing out on a piece of the puzzle. Monitoring performance across a wide range of engines ensures that you get a complete picture of your organic search performance.
Quality, competition, and relevance are often Trump’s search volume
Because of its small size, expect little traffic from the smaller engines. However, competition in ranking is often lower due to fewer SERP features and ads in the top positions.
For example, a query related to healthcare with high search volume appeared on the second page of Google search results due to high authority aggregator sites and ads saturating the first page but appeared in the fourth position (first page) of organic search results in Brave search (without the ads to be see it).
While search volume on Brave is low, a high ranking position can level the playing field and begin to significantly bridge the gap between the two engines.
Often, marketers focus a lot of attention on search volume. But the truth is (unless your marketing goal is just awareness), even three visits with a 50% conversion rate is better than 1,000 visits without conversions.
With stronger potential to rank higher on Google’s Brave or DuckDuckGo, you have a much better chance of getting both click-throughs and conversions.
I challenge you to use an “alternative” search engine for a week or simply check the rankings for the most important keywords. See how it stacks up.
Is there less competition? Fewer ads? Is your arrangement better?
Alternative engines are probably more viable than you think.
- Going beyond Google: SEO over other search engines
- 7 alternative search engines that work socially
- How search engines work
Featured image: New Africa / Shutterstock