How to expand your search sources

Image: Andy Wolber/TechRepublic

If you’re searching the web in English, you’re probably using Google. Search engine market share lists consistently show Google (Figure Aleft) with more than 80% market share, with Microsoft’s Bing (Figure A, right) a distant second with about 8% market share. On mobile devices, even Apple chooses Google as the default search provider.

Figure A

The vast majority of people rely on Google search, while far fewer turn to Microsoft’s Bing.

For searches with one specific and factual answer, your choice between Google, Bing, or another search provider may not matter. For example, both search engines provide fast and accurate results when you want to know what year the IBM PC was first manufactured (1981) or which team won the 2022 FIFA Men’s World Cup (Argentina).

However, when your goal is to gather information from a wide range of sources, it makes sense to query different search engines. For example, searching Google and Bing for “edge computing best practices” or “use vi and tmux” provides slightly different sets of linked pages for review.

The search alternatives below include not only truly independent search sources, but also secondary search services. These secondary search services often rely on results from Bing or Google, which the service then filters and sorts differently than the source search indexes.

Go to:

Discover independent search services

Beyond Google and Bing, the most important independent English-language search engine is Mojeek, featured Figure B, left. An October 2022 blog post claimed that Mojeek has over 6 billion pages indexed. As a privacy-respecting service, Mojeek also chooses not to track you.

Another truly independent search engine is Gigablast, featured Figure B, right, which also serves as the source index for searches in However, the two sites prioritize and present results differently, with Gigablast grouping results from prominent sources and providing a regular list of links.

Figure B

While most search services rely on indexes and data from sources such as Google or Bing, there are independent search indexes. Mojeek, left, has indexed over 6 billion pages. Gigablast, on the right, also retains its independent figure.

Look for a secondary search provider

Most search services rely on Bing or Google as the source of some, if not all, of their results. DuckDuckGo (Figure C:left), for example, partners with Microsoft for Bing results, while Startpage (Figure C:right) syndicated results from Google.

Figure C:

Many search providers rely on Bing and Google results. DuckDuckGo, for example, partners with Microsoft Bing, while Startpage is based on Google.

What differentiates DuckDuckGo and Startpage from their respective search data sources, however, is their respective privacy policies. both promise greater privacy and less tracking than Google or Bing. Qwant and Yahoo similarly get Bing results, while Brave Search mixes Bing and Google results. At least a few search engines for beginners, such as Kagi and Neeva, offer both free and paid programs that allow you to prioritize, filter, and customize results.

Unlike the secondary search services listed above, which are all for-profit organizations,, which is featured. Figure D:, operated by a non-profit organization based in Germany. Like other secondary search services, it pulls results from other sources, including Bing, Yahoo, Scopia and Infotiger. Not only can you enable or disable any of these four sources, MetaGer also allows you to choose to exclude certain domains or subdomains from the results.

Figure D:, run by a non-profit organization, relies on search sources Bing, Yahoo, Scopia and Infotiger. You can enable or disable any of these sources.

Search for a suitable site instantly

Some answers are best obtained directly from the appropriate source. For example, answers historically found in an encyclopedia or atlas can be resolved by searching or Major search and mapping services rely on these sources.

Although generally questioned at the time, Wikipedia’s overall reliability as a source in particular has been scrutinized and debated. Likewise, questions you might ask a knowledgeable colleague can be answered by polls on Stack Exchange, Stack Overflow, Quora, or Wikihow. Responses from these sites may need to be evaluated with appropriate caution and consideration.

WolframAlpha (Figure E) provides an interesting example of a specialized research engine. The system relies on a number of sources selected for accuracy. For example, if you ask the system to give you the human population of Mars, it returns the number zero, as you would expect. WolframAlpha excels at math and science calculations and questions with answers that can be derived from established history and facts. Both free and paid editions of WolframAlpha are available.

Figure E

As a specialized research engine, WolframAlpha provides answers obtained from highly selected sources to help ensure the accuracy of the results.

Tor browser search options

People who use the Tor browser generally place a high priority on privacy, which likely extends to their preference for privacy-friendly search results. DuckDuckGo, MetaGer, and Brave offer search services that can be accessed through the Tor browser onion service, formerly known as the hidden service. You should only access the onion links in the previous sentence from the Tor browser, as they will not work in a standard browser.

Results from these three providers return the usual sites and resources. However, because requests are routed through the Tor network to maintain privacy, response times tend to be longer than a normal search.

What is your search experience?

Which search engines or secondary search providers do you use regularly? Are you relying solely on Google or Bing for results? How often do you use additional sources like DuckDuckGo, Mojeek, or WolframAlpha? Tag or message me on Mastodon (@awolber) to let me know your preferred search services.

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