Zeekly: another privacy based search engine

Martin Brinkmann
Aug 28, 2013
Internet, Search

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.

Zeekly was mentioned in another article here on the site and I made the decision to take it for a test ride to see what it is all about.

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.

First, the good stuff

When you search Zeekly you will notice a quick look feature that the developers have integrated into search. It displays a preview of the website using JavaScript right on the Zeekly search results page.

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.

Closing Words

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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  1. ilev said on August 4, 2012 at 7:53 pm

    Doesn’t Windows 8 know that www. or http:// are passe ?

    1. Martin Brinkmann said on August 4, 2012 at 7:57 pm

      Well it is a bit difficulty to distinguish between name.com domains and files for instance.

    2. Leonidas Burton said on September 4, 2023 at 4:51 am

      I know a service made by google that is similar to Google bookmarks.

  2. VioletMoon said on August 16, 2023 at 5:26 pm

    @Ashwin–Thankful you delighted my comment; who knows how many “gamers” would have disagreed!

  3. Karl said on August 17, 2023 at 10:36 pm


    The comments section under this very article (3 comments) is identical to the comments section found under the following article:

    Not sure what the issue is, but have seen this issue under some other articles recently but did not report it back then.

  4. Anonymous said on August 25, 2023 at 11:44 am

    Omg a badge!!!
    Some tangible reward lmao.

    It sucks that redditors are going to love the fuck out of it too.

  5. Scroogled said on August 25, 2023 at 10:57 pm

    With the cloud, there is no such thing as unlimited storage or privacy. Stop relying on these tech scums. Purchase your own hardware and develop your own solutions.

    1. lollmaoeven said on August 27, 2023 at 6:24 am

      This is a certified reddit cringe moment. Hilarious how the article’s author tries to dress it up like it’s anything more than a png for doing the reddit corporation’s moderation work for free (or for bribes from companies and political groups)

  6. El Duderino said on August 25, 2023 at 11:14 pm

    Almost al unlmited services have a real limit.

    And this comment is written on the dropbox article from August 25, 2023.

  7. John G. said on August 26, 2023 at 1:29 am

    First comment > @ilev said on August 4, 2012 at 7:53 pm

    For the God’s sake, fix the comments soon please! :[

  8. Kalmly said on August 26, 2023 at 4:42 pm

    Yes. Please. Fix the comments.

  9. Kim Schmidt said on September 3, 2023 at 3:42 pm

    With Google Chrome, it’s only been 1,500 for some time now.

    Anyone who wants to force me in such a way into buying something that I can get elsewhere for free will certainly never see a single dime from my side. I don’t even know how stupid their marketing department is to impose these limits on users instead of offering a valuable product to the paying faction. But they don’t. Even if you pay, you get something that is also available for free elsewhere.

    The algorithm has also become less and less savvy in terms of e.g. English/German translations. It used to be that the bot could sort of sense what you were trying to say and put it into different colloquialisms, which was even fun because it was like, “I know what you’re trying to say here, how about…” Now it’s in parts too stupid to translate the simplest sentences correctly, and the suggestions it makes are at times as moronic as those made by Google Translations.

    If this is a deep-learning AI that learns from users’ translations and the phrases they choose most often – which, by the way, is a valuable, moneys worthwhile contribution of every free user to this project: They invest their time and texts, thereby providing the necessary data for the AI to do the thing as nicely as they brag about it in the first place – alas, the more unprofessional users discovered the translator, the worse the language of this deep-learning bot has become, the greater the aggregate of linguistically illiterate users has become, and the worse the language of this deep-learning bot has become, as it now learns the drivel of every Tom, Dick and Harry out there, which is why I now get their Mickey Mouse language as suggestions: the inane language of people who can barely spell the alphabet, it seems.

    And as a thank you for our time and effort in helping them and their AI learn, they’ve lowered the limit from what was once 5,000 to now 1,500…? A big “fuck off” from here for that! Not a brass farthing from me for this attitude and behaviour, not in a hundred years.

  10. Anonymous said on September 28, 2023 at 8:19 am

    When will you put an end to the mess in the comments?

  11. RIP said on September 28, 2023 at 9:36 am

    Ghacks comments have been broken for too long. What article did you see this comment on? Reply below. If we get to 20 different articles we should all stop using the site in protest.

    I posted this on [https://www.ghacks.net/2023/09/28/reddit-enforces-user-activity-tracking-on-site-to-push-advertising-revenue/] so please reply if you see it on a different article.

    1. RIP said on September 28, 2023 at 11:01 am

      Comment redirected me to [https://www.ghacks.net/2012/08/04/add-search-the-internet-to-the-windows-start-menu/] which seems to be the ‘real’ article it is attached to

  12. RIP said on September 28, 2023 at 10:48 am

    Comment redirected me to [https://www.ghacks.net/2012/08/04/add-search-the-internet-to-the-windows-start-menu/] which seems to be the ‘real’ article it is attached to

  13. Mystique said on September 28, 2023 at 12:13 pm

    Article Title: Reddit enforces user activity tracking on site to push advertising revenue
    Article URL: https://www.ghacks.net/2023/09/28/reddit-enforces-user-activity-tracking-on-site-to-push-advertising-revenue/

    No surprises here. This is just the beginning really. I cannot see a valid reason as to why anyone would continue to use the platform anymore when there are enough alternatives fill that void.

  14. justputthispostanywhere said on September 29, 2023 at 3:59 am

    I’m not sure if there is a point in commenting given that comments seem to appear under random posts now, but I’ll try… this comment is for https://www.ghacks.net/2023/09/28/reddit-enforces-user-activity-tracking-on-site-to-push-advertising-revenue/

    My temporary “solution”, if you can call it that, is to use a VPN (Mullvad in my case) to sign up for and access Reddit via a European connection. I’m doing that with pretty much everything now, at least until the rest of the world catches up with GDPR. I don’t think GDPR is a magical privacy solution but it’s at least a first step.

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