SEO - Review of Search Engines' Results for Privacy and Quality
Copyright© 2010 - SEO Website Ranking 2010
Copyright ©2008-2023 — July 09, 2023
A little over a year ago, several of us were chatting about which search engine was best for privacy and quality results. Since I used to do SEO for customers up until about five years ago, I told the group that I would spend some time investigating the known search engines.
Considering that all of my customers' websites had usually been ranked #1 for their keywords — (sometimes #2 under Wikipedia, and one customer didn't want good rankings because she did not want business from the public) — and that all of my previous personal sites had often held the #1 spots for their core topics (a mere top-ten was disappointing), I felt that my talent with SEO was adequate enough. I know that my current website is lackluster of rankings (it has had almost no SEO attention whatsoever), but I assumed that I could spot the good and bad in search engines pretty quick. Wow was I wrong!
The results have been rather
surprising dumbfounding. It seems as though most everything that I knew about SEO has changed. In the 'good ole days' (way back about seven years ago), page content was king, followed by the easier things like accurate coding, server uptime, and back-links. At the time, Bing® had become the king for search results that were relevant and of quality, and on the average, about 90% of the time Bing's results were of the best quality, while Google® seemed to be sliding into a mish-mash of 'something' that wasn't worth the trouble of attempting to figure-out.
On the average for a business website, a top ranked website would get about 90% of its search engine hits from Google, but about 90% of a company's online business came from Bing users. For business owners, the choice was simple: focus on making Bing happy, and not sweat rankings elsewhere. Oh how times have changed! First I will give the abbreviated results of the tests, and then give the background information that helps to explain the results.
Brief Quality Results
Of the keywords searched, Google®, Yahoo®, Bing®, and DuckDuckGo® tended to give the best quality results. As compared to similar tests about five years ago, and on a scale of 1 to 10 stars, Google's results have surprisingly improved from about a 1 star, to now being around a 6 star. Yahoo appears to be between a 6 and a 5. Bing has wavered from having once been near a 9, to currently being about 6. DuckDuckGo has wavered several times over the years, occasionally dropping down to a 1, but is currently holding about 6.
Of the search engines with the lowest test scores, Brave®, StartPage®, and Dogpile® are rated at 1.
Information of why the search engines are not performing well will be given further below.
Brief Privacy Results
From what has been observable, DuckDuckGo and Mojeek® appear to be the best search engines for privacy.
Data Base of Results
Since the current results are directly related to similar testing in previous years, then let's take a peek at what SEO was like in 2008. The following is a brief segment from one of my old SEO business articles. The article is interesting because it shows how the few search engines of the day were faring 15 years ago. By comparing the past, we can then better understand the present trends.
Historical SEO Article
"As of 2008, the top three search engines are Google®, Yahoo®, and MSN®. Popularity rates Google at about 50%, Yahoo at about 25%, and MSN at about 10%. Since roughly 75% of all Internet users use Google and Yahoo, then it is very important for the customer's website to be found on both search engines. It appears that MSN has recently been experimenting with its search engine by providing a variety of links that Google and Yahoo might not list. MSN is a good search engine that is steadily improving, and it is important for a website to be found on MSN as well, but the main emphasis should be aimed at achieving high rankings on Google and Yahoo first, and then later do the work to build MSN ranking.
Update 07-06-2010: This page was originally created about two years ago, and since that time the changes that we were witnessing in MSN are now completed in MSN's Bing®.
Update 02-21-2013: Bing is now well-established and growing fast. If Bing retains its quality of results, then we can expect Bing to become the leading search engine within a couple of years.
Update 03-18-2016: Bing is now as important as Google, and often more important for specific types of websites.
Update January 01, 2017: Bing is now far superior than Google for quality search results, and Yahoo too uses Bing's results, but Yahoo's results are sometimes different than what is shown on Bing. DuckDuckGo also claims to use Bing results, but DDG's search results are often extraordinarily bad, and appear to perhaps not always be taken from Bing's search results at all. Bing is suffering from growing pains, but at present it is still the best search engine available online. Google, however, appears to be deteriorating rather rapidly, and if Google's plans for future changes are indeed implemented, then Google may soon self-destruct its search engine.
Update: November 29, 2017: DuckDuckGo's results appear to have been tamed by more closely following Bing's results (I personally prefer DDG because it offers a dark theme that is easy on the eyes). As a general rule of thumb, Bing's search results are around 95% superior to Google's results for the topics that I have searched. The StartPage® - IXQuick® search engine has several advantages of user themes and a virtual network, but it uses Google results, which are often rather low of quality for the topics I search. It is now rare for me to have a need to use Google (I probably do not use Google more than maybe once a year now except to see how a customer's website is ranked). There are several other important variables between Bing and Google, but the variables are insider knowledge that are used for my customers' websites."
The 2017 mention of Bing suffering growing pains relates to Bing having changed from its purpose of being a search engine, to having begun promoting disrespectful anti-family values. Even some of my customers had concernedly asked me about Bing's unacceptably negative behavior. I wrote a letter to Bing's higher-ups, asking them why they were making the changes, but I received no reply. With an audible sigh, the latest search engine investigations have found Bing to be progressively getting worse, not just of its poor choices of 'news topics', but also of its pages being cluttered with ads and an excessive use of expanding menus (reminiscent of Windows® 10's incoherent menus and 3+ control panels), all while giving few actual search results.
2010 had been a good year for Microsoft®; Windows 7 was a big hit for a lot of people, Office 2010 was the last favored Office suite, and Bing was born. Unfortunately, for a lot of us, Microsoft's latest products have not been as good.
Search Engine Comparison Results
The tests were for Google, Bing, Yahoo, DuckDuckGo, StartPage, Web Crawler®, Brave, Dogpile, and a much too brief glance at Mojeek. All of the search engines have their own blend of positive and negative points, and each are able to best suit different users' individual tastes.
Privacy: Since privacy was the most important topic for our discussion group, then let's cover that first. Within my own personal experiences, DuckDuckGo and Mojeek appear to be the leaders. A few years back I had tested the Brave browser because it had claimed to be privacy orientated, but when I saw that it called home (without the user's permission) to update itself each time I booted my computer, I immediately uninstalled it and permanently lost faith in Brave. StartPage sometimes redirects a search-click through a Google domain (as seen in the address bar), which may or may not be innocent, but for me, I would remain wary of StartPage until I could verify whether or not the link is leaving tracking data. Google, of course, has its fingers in many millions of websites, but, in all fairness, Google could not be a privacy problem if website owners did not purposefully insert Google tracking scripts within the owners' own websites. If you truly are concerned about Google's tracking, then you ought not use any website that has the Google tracking. If a website uses tracking, then the chances are high that the website itself is a privacy threat regardless of whether it uses Google tracking or not.
At present, for privacy I myself feel most comfortable with Mojeek and DuckDuckGo.
Quality Results: Within my own experience while searching for topics that I am personally most familiar with, I was surprised that Google sometimes had a noticeable advantage of quality results. Case in point, several known websites strongly focus on specific keywords, and Google and Mojeek ranked the sites as #1 and #2, while other search engines either ranked the sites down in the 30s-40s or not at all.
Yahoo and Web Crawler sometimes had decent results, but the results from StartPage, Brave, and Dogpile were disappointing for their heavy focus on commercial (buy-buy-buy) and artificially popularized websites, while usually fully ignoring websites that were directly related to the search terms. Mojeek had some good results, but also had some very worthless results. Case in point: Mojeek ranked a website well on two keywords, but then fully omitted the website on stronger keywords that were on the same website page. I truly did want Mojeek to be the ideal search engine, but, it isn't there quite yet (at least not for the topics that I searched for).
Too often, Bing's results are terribly watered-down and disheveled, to the point that it can be a painful experience to attempt to find any search result that is not an advertisement to sell a product. Far worse, is that known websites that have the identical same content searched for are not listed at all, and instead Bing and DDG begin inserting web results that do not so much as remotely relate to the search term.
A case in point is that a specific keyword search in Bing/DDG produces long streams of unrelated (and often garbage) results, but when the search keywords are expanded to include technical data, only then will Bing/DDG show quality results. Or in other words, quality sites are hidden to individuals who are unfamiliar with the topic, which is useless to the user as well as to the website. In this example, if a person were new to Confucian ideas, and he was looking for information about Chinese Confucian books, the search engines would suggest hundreds of websites that repeat the same identical misinformation that was written by James Legge, while also offering to sell books written by James Legge (which are now public domain, and it is dishonest to sell books that were copy-pasted from free text files). The search engines purposefully block websites that have Chinese texts, but, if the user enters in specific Chinese names of Chinese titles while using the Chinese language, then the search engines will give links that are useful. The search engines are purposefully hiding websites that would be most useful to people. I am very disappointed in how the quality of Bing/DDG has plummeted over the past several years.
And before I forget, it needs to be stated that Bing/DDG apparently doesn't re-crawl websites very often. It is annoying and disappointing to follow a link to a website that has been offline for over a year or more. Dead links are not near as unhappy as the fact that Bing/DDG listed the dead links while ignoring and not listing at all the good websites that have quality content.
Odds 'n Ends That Cause Search Engines Problems
Huge Amounts of Data: Within the past 15 years, the Internet has grown approximately ten times larger, which equates to search engines having to sift through about ten times more data. The goal of producing quality results is getting more difficult each year.
Generational Language Change: In the olden days (way back about 10 years ago), words like "review" meant a 500 to 5,000 word article about reviewing a book, music, or technical data. Today, "review" more implies a 5 to 20 word customer review on amazon.com or such. Search engines are following the younger generation's use of English, which can make it very difficult for old folks over 30 to find wanted websites.
And with a beamingly playful mouth-wide-open smile, I searched for "cool kitty" and "cool cat" on DDG just for the fun of it. Yep, no cool kitties, and no cool cats at all; all DDG showed was felines.
The rapid change of the English language has also been accompanied with the preponderance of sites that cannot spell, nor create coherent sentences, nor use the correct words. It seems as though I can now more easily read 2,500 year old Chinese texts than to read the new English.
And too, search phrases by users are far too often misspelled. The search engines appear to be trying to compensate for the users' illiteracy by giving links with similarly spelled words. As an example, searching for 'jiggle' might give links to 'wiggle' and 'giggle'. The problem becomes severe when searching for a specific individual or title, while the only search results are of names and titles that are of similar sounding words.
The language barrier has grown so bad that it sometimes seems to be almost futile to use a search engine for anything except buy-buy-buy websites. Oddly-humorously, the new search engine Neeva had boasted of a lot of advantages, but upon inspection a few years ago, it had two major problems:  it was a search engine for buy-buy-buy websites only, and  it required a monthly subscription from its users. However, most Internet users want everything to be free, even if it costs them their privacy and having most all web pages filled with advertisements. As expected, Neeva has now announced that it is closing its doors.
Purposeful Ignorance: A strong tendency is for search engines (especially Google and Bing) to remove a website from search results if the website text has a non-English word. Grumpily, on the surface it appeared that the search engines are as if afraid that a website might be too intellectual if the site's use of language exceeds 3rd grade level. Seemingly, an inclusion of Latin, Greek, Chinese, or even Spanish words can be enough to have a website page hidden from English speaking users. Oh, but today's common English is so bad that it is no longer English at all, but that's okay with search engines. I would give a 'too intellectual' example here, but, that would not be wise for this page's SEO would it? (grin)
Purposeful Conformity to Predetermined Standards of Low Quality: The variables and examples are many, but an easy one to see is when a person is searching for a topic that is not commonly talked about amongst the common public. The topic of ethics is an easy example: almost all ethics-related websites regurgitate the same copy-paste information that is found in old books, and search engine results from Google will focus on college websites. During my searches, Google ignored websites that had unique information about ethics, while Google had page after page of links to colleges. To me, Google's results were biased in favor of a predetermined standard, and the standard was conformity and subservience to the belief in academia. The 'Google Scholar' further impresses Google's conformity to the social belief.
Urban Myths: Wow this one is bad! We all know how common it is for people to exaggerate and to twist facts around (i.e. Chinese Whispers), but some topics have become like legends that people have grabbed onto and now believe to have been true truth. The William Sidis topic is a prime example: regardless of the fact that just about all claims about Sidis are easily proven to be false, the urban myth continues to mushroom by web articles repeating the same nonsense that other websites claimed. Almost no one on the Internet is fact-checking anything they read, which has led to avalanches of avalanches of false information on millions of websites. Search engines have no means of verifying truth from fantasy, and the result is a horrid mess of search engine results showing little more than false information. Years back when my William Sidis pages were ranked #1, much of the urban myth stuff had quietened down some, but after I dropped the website, the myth has regrown with a fury. The moral of the story is that all search engines are vulnerable to giving poor results if the websites themselves are poor.
Search Engine Popularity: The following abbreviated list is a short sum of hits from search engines on one of my previous websites in 2010, and on the current site of 2023. The numbers are useful as guides of which search engine is most popular amongst the public, and additional statistics show which topics are most popular amongst the public. Over-all, although search engines are important, it still remains the trend that well over 90% of the hits on my sites and my customers' sites do not come from search engines.
Search Engine 2010 hits / 2023 hits
Google 1818 / 896
Bing/MSN 54 /77
Bing China (cn.Bing) 0 / 26
DDG 0 / 78
Baidu 0 / 55
Yandex 0 / 29
Yahoo 133 / 0
Numerous search engines have come and gone over the years, but Google continues to hold the lead by around 75%. If this website did not get traffic from Chinese regions, about 90% of the hits from search engines would have come from Google, which has remained the general average for fifteen years.
Keywords Are Changing: Several years back it was relatively common for Internet users to be interested in topics like ethics and philosophies. Those days appear to be dying, and in their place are high percentages of people searching for free social media, free cloud services, free email accounts, and tons and tons of buy-buy-buy websites. It almost makes me miss the creepy 80s.
Explaining Why Search Results are Bad
While doing an investigation of a website that used to be top-notch a couple of years ago — but has now turned into unusable garbage — it was found that the website is currently using the IONOS webhosting, and the website now has 113 external links on the site's home page alone. The external links are an intensely huge security and privacy threat. I myself will never again visit the site except to close my business account.
While further investigating the IONOS hosting and domain service, I found the following on Wikipedia:
(From Wikipedia) "Ionos (formerly 1&1 IONOS and 1&1 Internet) is a web hosting company. It was founded in Germany in 1988 and is currently owned by United Internet."
Ohhhkay. But, it is common (popular) knowledge that Tim Berners-Lee reportedly invented the 'World Wide Web' in 1989, the first website was reported to have been created in 1991, and that the World Wide Web software was reportedly made public domain in 1993. But, according to Wikipedia, IONOS created its web hosting company years before the Internet even existed. And, apparently, a lot of people don't see anything wrong with Wikipedia's 'facts'.
On IONOS' "About" page (ionos.com/about) it states: "1&1 was born in 1988, with the main aim of making information technology easy for everyone to understand and use. Committed to delivering powerful, reliable and secure products, 1&1 engineered its own data center architecture and extensive network, enabling millions of clients to get online, set up their web presence and take advantage of more sophisticated digital services." And there you go, whoever wrote IONOS' "About" page made a booboo on the date (worthy of a small smile), but Wikipedia's author merely copy-pasted the date, and then presented the booboo as true fact. And that is how the vast majority of information exists online, that of people copying-pasting other websites' data, booboos and all.
The inability to fact check and to write coherent sentences is the norm throughout the Internet. Wikipedia is just one of the millions of websites that assume that the sites' visitors are crazy enough to believe the crazy claims to be true truth facts.
Search engines cannot give good website results if no good websites exist.
Some People Cannot Cross-light 3rd Grade Math
Wow, this one is really-really bad!
When searching for how much electricity electric cars use, Google's #1 spot claimed that electric vehicles consume an average of 320 watt-hours per mile. 320 watts is the wattage of five each 60 watt light bulbs plus one 20 watt light bulb. Do you really believe that a full-sized car is able to be propelled with the energy needed to light the light bulbs? Go touch a 60 watt electric light and feel how hot it is. Then go feel a large electric car's motor and feel how hot it is after being run for a mile. Do you sincerely believe that a large metal electric motor can be heated hotter than the heat from six light bulbs?
The '320 watt-hours' claim is a recently invented way of pretending (and deceptively claiming) that '19,200 continuous watts for an hour at 60 miles per hour' is divisible into 60 segments. Yeah, sure, 320 watts sounds like almost nothing, and people are being fooled into believing that it's possible to propel a heavy car at high speeds with less horsepower than what is used to propel a tricycle. Sure, why not? The websites make the claims, and far too few people cross-light that the claims infer free energy and a full and total denial of science's laws of thermodynamics.
Think of a big dual-trailer semi-rig filled with 50 tons of cargo in the enclosed trailers. Visualize the semi having a 600 horsepower engine that struggles to pull the weight. According to the newly invented 'wattage' formulas, the truck only needs 10 horsepower to pull the semi and the trailers for a mile at 60 miles per hour. 10 horsepower is barely enough to propel a lightweight motorcycle at highway speeds, but, according to the 'new-improved' electric car mathematics, 10 horsepower is ample enough to propel 50 tons of weight at highway speeds. Apparently, many people are unable to comprehend that the 'new math' is a purposeful lie.
Everyone who knows anything about physics, or even has an elementary school education of electrical mathematics, knows that the websites' claims are 100% false.
Wikipedia also claims that electric cars have zero emissions. Just because a search engine or a major website makes a claim, it doesn't mean that the claim is true. In most instances, it is very easy to verify that most claims are fully false and/or purposefully misleading.
But that is now the norm of the Internet; misinformation and gross absurdities copy-pasted from one insane website to the next, and done millions of times on millions of websites.
Search engines cannot give good website results if no good websites exist.
The Old Authors Are Leaving
For about twenty years, many websites were authored by individuals who had personal firsthand knowledge of topics. Today, it has become rare to find any website that is written by a person with firsthand experience. What we are seeing are countless websites that copy-paste-plagiarize information from books and other websites. It is so common, that it is also common to see three or more websites on the same search engine results page that have the identical same wording in their descriptions. With few of the old-timers left to write articles themselves, much of the Internet has become worthless for anyone looking for useful information.
And That Is Why Search Results are Bad
If only maybe one website in 100 (or 1,000) has rational information, then yes of course it is likely that all search engines will give poor quality results. It isn't necessarily the search engines' fault, but rather it's the absence of good websites.
No search engine is ideal, but as a general whole, DDG and Mojeek may be the most private. The very best privacy, of course, is to not use the Internet at all, but in today's world, most of us have no other reasonable choice.
Up until the time I did the tests, I would have recommended Bing/DDG as being the best for quality results, but, now, well, all things considered, Google appears to have regained its footing some, and it may now offer similar over-all quality as Bing/DDG depending on which keywords are used. All things considered, with the three search engines giving similar good results, I myself would still lean towards choosing DDG because of it being more private.