Privacy based search engines like DuckDuckGo or Startpage have doubled or even tripled their daily visits ever since the Prism story broke on the Internet. While the daily visits they get is a drop in the bucket for the omnipresent Google or even Bing, it shows that more users are looking for solutions that promise better user privacy.
Most privacy-based search engines have in common that they tap right into the results of one of the big search engines. DuckDuckGo uses Bing results, while Startpage taps into Google results. While they do use the data, they are not recording user IP addresses, a user's search history, or other identifiable data.
The front page displays the search form, which can be used to search the whole web or local (country-based) websites. It also provides us with information about the search engine, and how it differs from other privacy based search services on the Internet.
Zeekly uses data from various sources, Google, Bing, Amazon or YouTube are mentioned, to power the search engine. This is similar to how Ixquick handles search, as it is also using different sources to compile the results listing. What is different is that Zeekly is also using its own spider technology on top of that.
This means that the search engine is not relying solely on third party sources, but also using its own spider to improve or verify search results.
I cannot say anything about the ratio though between third party results and spider results. The website uses https on all its pages, which is another plus.
It is rather difficult to rate the quality of results. I'm always happy when I see my site listed in the search results on test queries, and think that this is a good thing. Your results may differ highly though, and I think the best way to find out more about it is to check it out for yourself.
I'd like to point out a couple of features and concerns that I have.
Search results are not tagged, which is something that Google has been criticized for.
An advanced search feature is available, but it is limited in comparison to Google's or Bing's. You can search by domain and exclude domains or words, but that is about it.
You get the option to add Zeekly as a search plugin to Firefox, which is useful if you want to use it as your primary or a secondary search engine in the browser.
Results have been good for the test searches that I ran on the site. One search that I'm always running to test a search engine's quality is for "firefox xx.x changelog" with xx.x being a development version of the browser, e.g. Firefox 24.0 changelog. If the first result points to the correct changelog on Mozilla, it is well done.
Not so good
There are three things that are cause for concern. First, the service is hosted in the United States, or at least the domain is registered to an US address. Some users prefer not to use US-services anymore because of their legal obligation to comply with requests from the US government.
Second, it is displaying only partial urls for some search results. The aforementioned changelog points to the right page on Mozilla, while the displayed url on the Zeekly website only displays the main domain name and nothing else.
Third, and this is probably the biggest issue of them all, it is using Google ads on the website. If you want your searches to remain private, you probably do not want your search engine to run code from companies that have been linked to PRISM.
If you are not bothered by the "not so good" part of the review, then you may want to give it a try. Note that you can mitigate the "ad issue" by running an ad blocker or other extension that prevents the ads from being loaded in first place.
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Ghacks is a technology news blog that was founded in 2005 by Martin Brinkmann. It has since then become one of the most popular tech news sites on the Internet with five authors and regular contributions from freelance writers.