Toolbox 4, article to read and try
Duration: approx. 30 min
Lessons: How does search engine marketing work? Which search engines protect you? Which search engines protect your privacy? Try one of the suggestions and compare.

In this short lesson, I’ll explain why you shouldn’t use search engines like Google, Bing, and Yahoo. I recommend three search engines that respect your privacy and don’t manipulate you.

How does a search engine work – very roughly?

When we look up something on the Internet with our smartphone or computer, we really just want to find the “right” thing quickly. Right?

For many people, Google has become the epitome of Internet search. Once started with the motto “Don’t be evil” is Google today one of the most powerful Internet companies and much more than just a search engine.

The Google web crawlers search through billions of web pages on the Internet every day and use them to create the Google index of the Internet. If you are not in the Google search index, you do not exist for many people in the world.

Each page found by the web crawler is analyzed by a Google algorithm. A process that takes into account thousands of parameters (e.g. text analysis, usefulness, linking, search terms, etc.). The algorithm assigns each page a score (based on keywords users search for). This rating is called the Google PageRank.

PageRank then controls where your website appears in a Google search. Of course, only Google knows the full PageRank algorithm. It is also regularly expanded and modernized.

How do you make money with a search engine?

Of course, every website operator now tries to convince the Google algorithm that their page on a topic is the best and most relevant on the web. There are essentially two approaches for this:

Organic – using search engine optimization (SEO) to improve Google PageRank over time. For example, continuous operation of the website and good, relevant and multimedia content help. In addition to texts, the Google algorithm is also very impressed by images and videos.

With advertising – you buy certain keywords and are thus displayed in the first five results of the search engine, for example. Over time you can also improve the “organic” PageRank. The more competition there is for a keyword, the more expensive it becomes for the Google advertiser.

Why is it bad if Google makes money from our data?

In order to be successful with search engine advertising, it is very important for Google to recognize who is using the search engine.

Important information is of course your location, your language, your device (smartphone, pad, PC) with which you “google”. So that Google always recognizes you, it simply assigns you an ID.

(1) Every search query, every new location, every new device that can be assigned to this number (you) will be stored, possibly forever, in a Google data center and assigned to your ID there,

(2) A comprehensive profile about you can be created from all of this stored information. You could also say that over the years Google has known you better than you know yourself. The advancing possibilities of artificial intelligence will also make the data collected about you more and more usable.

(3) The Snowden publications (2013) have also shown that Google (like other large Internet companies headquartered in the USA) shares information obtained about you with investigative authorities like the NSA and the FBI. For example, the NSA is able to collect data about all people worldwide.

(3) With the knowledge collected about you, Google algorithms could also make assumptions as to what type of information interests you and what does not. This could make you more likely to see certain search results than others. The effect is also called “intellectual isolation” or “filter bubble” with which our horizon is artificially restricted.


Of course, the whole thing is even easier for Google if you use a Google Chrome browser or a standard Android smartphone, because you are most likely surfing with an activated Google account.

Other commercial search engine operators such as Bing, Yahoo or Yandex work in a very similar way.

What are search engines that respect your privacy?

Since we are here in BaseCamp and we are just changing our usage behavior, I recommend you to start with the following three search engines. It is important that you use the “private search engine” together with the “ Internet browsers that protect you ” that I recommend.

Brave Search

At Brave(Internet browsers that protect you) offers its own search engine with its own search index since June 2021. You can use the search engine directly in the Brave browser or link it as a search engine in any other browser.

StartPage is a search engine that is using the Google index, but respects your privacy. Startpage BV is a Netherlands-based company and has existed since 2006. StartPage is financed by advertising. However, only with “good” so called contactual advertising. They show you 3 entries based on your search input without incorporating behavior-based knowledge (which they don’t have anyway). Using StartPage is easy and the search results are great.

DuckDuckGo is a “search engine that also respects your privacy. The company is based in the USA. DuckDuckGo is based on the Microsoft Bing index . Therefore, the search engine (in my opinion) does not provide quite as good results.

Sources, tips and links for further reading

Google, how does google search work? , 05/05/2021

PrivacyGuides, Web Search, 12.12.2021

Brave, Brave Search Beta Announcement , 12/12/2021