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.
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.
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.
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:
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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.