StartPage beats Google Search in test. Reason? Privacy

Martin Brinkmann
Mar 28, 2019

When you asked a representative number of Internet users about the search engine that they prefer, you'd probably end up with Google at the top as it is the most widely used search engine in the world (with the exception of some regions).

The result would be different if you'd ask a group of privacy conscious users. Back in 2013, I proclaimed that it was time to switch to the search engines DuckDuckGo or Startpage.

The German customer tests behemoth Stiftung Warentest tested search engines in its latest print issue and concluded that Google provided the best search results. Google's search engine did not come first though as it was surpassed by Startpage. The test focused on German language versions of search engines.

I bought the (German) test online to find out more about test criteria and how individual search engines fared in the test.

search engines test startpage

First, the basics: ten search engines were analyzed by Stiftung Warentest including Google Search, Bing, Qwant, DuckDuckGo, Startpage, and Yahoo Search. The testers analyzed the quality of search results, usability of the desktop and mobile website, and privacy.

The testers ran 50 searches on each search engine divided into 26 general searches, 8 trending searches, 8 image and 8 video searches. Searches included phrases with spelling mistakes and words with different meanings. Usability on desktop computers and mobile devices was analyzed next to that.

Search quality made up 60% of the score and usability 40%. Critical privacy issues, e.g. the sending of data irrelevant to searches on mobile devices, or issues in the privacy policy could impact the overall score negatively (but not positively).

The result

Startpage came in first with a grade of 2.3 (good) using a grading scheme that starts at 1.0. Google Search came in second with a score of 2.7 (satisfactory), followed by Ecosia with 2.8. Qwant managed to get a score of 3.2, Bing a 3.3 score, and DuckDuckGo a score of 3.7.

Looking just at the search related criteria, Google managed to beat all other search engines. Google Search scored best in search quality (1.9), desktop usability (0.9), and mobile usability (1.9). Startpage managed to get 2.5, 2.0 and 2.4 respectively in those categories.

What broke Google Searches' neck was the company's privacy policy and data sending, e.g. location-based data, of the company's mobile search experience which the testers found problematic.

DuckDuckGo users may wonder why DuckDuckGo came in second to last in the test. Search results and usability were not as good as Google's or Startpage's for the most part but not nearly as bad as the end score reflects. What broke DuckDuckGo's neck was the fact that its privacy policy was not available in German.

Closing Words

Privacy played an important part in the test; deficiencies cost Google Search the first place and pushed DuckDuckGo to the end of the listing. It would be interesting to see this test repeated for English results.

Startpage is my favorite search engine; it is not perfect, but it is my go-to search engine. I still have to use different search engines, e.g. Google Search, for some queries if Startpage does not return satisfactory results. Does not happen too often but it does happen.

Here are a couple of guides to get you started with Startpage:

Now You: what is your favorite search engine currently, and why?

StartPage beats Google Search in test. Reason? Privacy
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StartPage beats Google Search in test. Reason? Privacy
The German customer tests behemoth Stiftung Warentest tested search engines in its latest print issue and concluded that Google provided the best search results.
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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 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.

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