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Google Search dominates global search with a market share of approximately 90%. However, alternative search engines offer many benefits, such as enhanced privacy, niche content and users, and new growth areas.

Here is a list of alternative search engines. There are engines for media-specific searches, community-powered platforms, social search, encrypted search, and more.

Search Engine Alternatives to Google

Bing is the second largest search engine in the U.S. A recent upgrade of enhanced shopping features, including proactive price comparisons and a shop-the-look deals hub, has made Bing even more useful for consumers. Bing offers search for web pages, images, video, shopping, maps, and news. Brands can advertise through the Microsoft adCenter.

Bing

Yahoo! Search is the third largest search engine in the U.S. The search is powered by Bing, and advertising is via the Microsoft adCenter. In addition to search, Yahoo! offers editorial content, including news, finance, and sports.

Yandex is a Russia-based search engine platform that uses machine-learning in nearly all its services, including search-result rankings and serving online ads. Recent platform improvements include video timestamp responses to search queries, detailed quick answers to a greater number of queries, improved object recognition in real-time, and the ability to view a summary of customer feedback. Brands can serve ads through Yandex.Direct.

Amazon is the world’s largest search engine for eCommerce products. A9, Amazon’s algorithm, runs the engine. Text, price, availability, selection, and sales history determine whether or not a product appears in a customer’s search results.

DuckDuckGo is a search engine dedicated to safeguarding user privacy. It delivers the same search results to every user. Its mobile browser and desktop extension come with private search and seamless protection from trackers for all users.

duckduckgo

CC Search accesses more than 300 million free images from open APIs and the Common Crawl dataset, aggregating results across multiple public repositories into a single catalog. A planned expansion will add texts, audio, and images. Creative Commons, the nonprofit behind CC Search, is the maker of CC licenses, which facilitates creators sharing their work online.

AOL Search offers results from web, image, video, shopping, and local content. Organic listings primarily come from Google, though additional results appear as well. Sponsored links appear from the Google Ads program. Users can set SafeSearch to avoid explicit content in results.

Gibiru is an uncensored private search engine. Find sites that have been shadow-banned or blocked from mainstream search engines and browse anonymously. The Gibiru Wormhole acts like a browser but automatically blocks history, cookies, and malware from being saved in your browser.

Swisscows is a “family-friendly” search engine that excludes pornography and violent content from its results. It does not collect or track data and, to ensure privacy and security, does not work with cloud or third-party servers.

Swisscows

Ecosia is a socially-responsible search engine, using the profit made from advertising to plant trees. Ecosia does not sell data to advertisers and has no third-party trackers.

Mojeek, based in the U.K., provides a global alternative search engine. It does not track users nor retrieve results from another engine. Mojeek has its own searchable index of web pages and its own ranking algorithm according to what it considers the highest quality and most relevant.

Searx is a free metasearch engine that aggregates results from more than 70 search services. Users are neither tracked nor profiled. Searx can also be used over Tor for anonymity.

Qwant, an E.U.-based search engine, does not track user devices. User queries are encrypted and confidential. Qwant unites all search results from the web onto a single page, including news, social networks, images, videos, and shopping.

Qwant

Facebook Search includes people, posts, photos, videos, places, Pages, groups, apps, links, events, and more — all on Facebook. Results are based on your Facebook activity, shared content, and community content.

Twitter is a microblogging platform. Search for real-time news, trends, and content from industry leaders and influencers.

Neeva is an ad-free, private, and customizable search engine founded by two ex-VPs of Google. Choose retailers and news sources you want to see results from. Discover products aggregated in one place and easily read through reviews from reputable sites and verified customers.

WolframAlpha is a resource for obtaining knowledge and answers, driving computations based on a collection of built-in data, algorithms, and methods. Its mission is to collect and curate all objective data, implement every known method and algorithm, and make it possible to compute whatever can be computed about anything.

Brave Search offers a new way to get relevant results with a community-powered index, while guaranteeing privacy. Brave Search is built on top of an independent index, and doesn’t track users, searches, or clicks.

Brave 1

OneSearch has enhanced privacy features, such as encrypted search terms and search-history links that expire after one hour. OneSearch doesn’t use cookies to identify users or track their online behavior uniquely. OneSearch doesn’t share users’ personal data with advertisers, doesn’t allow ad retargeting, and doesn’t support behavioral retargeting of users.

Wiki.com lets you search Wikipedia, independent wikis, and encyclopedias. Find content from collaborative community-led wikis.

LinkedIn, the professional networking platform, searches for jobs, professional contacts, or new skills to learn.

YouTube Search lets users search through the site’s massive video content (over 500 hours uploaded every minute). Results are prioritized by relevance, engagement, and quality.

The Internet Archive is a resource of internet sites and other digital artifacts. It works with 750-plus libraries and partners through its Archive-It program to identify important web pages. It provides 25-plus years of web history accessible through its Wayback Machine search engine.

[Source: This article was published in practicalecommerce.com By Sig Ueland - Uploaded by the Association Member: Deborah Tannen]
Categorized in Search Engine

Is FLoC switching from cohorts to topics?

With the rollout of FLoC delayed until 2023, there may be an indication that Google is adjusting how the privacy-focused ad-targeting system may work.

“A lead engineer helping guide Google’s Privacy Sandbox development has revealed signs of what may be next for the firm’s most advanced cookieless ad targeting method. The potential update of the Federated Learning of Cohorts targeting technique detailed at a recent engineering research event would involve assigning topic categories to websites and people rather than assigning opaque numerical cohort IDs to them,” wrote Kate Kaye with Digiday.

This may be a response to evidence that the previous method of FLoC (which did not pass muster with GDPR) might enable fingerprinting, which means bad actors could still track individuals — something FLoC is expressly created to prohibit. “Topics have a number of advantages over cohorts. Users can see what’s being said about them and understand it,” said Josh Karlin, a tech lead manager of Google’s Privacy Sandbox team in its Chrome browser division at an Internet Engineering Task Force meeting. 

“We are always exploring options for how to make the Privacy Sandbox proposals more private while still supporting the free and open web. Nothing has been decided yet,” a Google spokesperson told Search Engine Land.

Why we care. While Google is buying itself more time (testing for the latest version of FLoC ended July 13 and it’s taking feedback from the advertiser community into consideration too), this pivot could potentially be better for everyone involved. “Adopting a topic-based approach could give advertisers, ad-tech firms, website publishers, and people a clearer understanding of how ads are targeted through the technique,” said Kaye. 


The SEO Periodic Table: HTML success factors

These elements encompass the HTML tags you should use to send clues to search engines about your content and enable that content to render quickly. Are you describing movie showtimes? Do you have ratings and reviews on your e-commerce pages? What’s the headline of the article you’ve published? In every case, there’s a way to communicate this with HTML. 

Search engines look for familiar formatting elements like Titles (Tt) and Headings (Hd) to determine what your page’s content is about, figuring that these cues to human readers will work just as well for them. But search engines also utilize particular fields like Schema (Sc) markup and Meta Descriptions (Ds) as clues to the meaning and purpose of the page.

 As Google has removed the AMP requirement, we’ve gotten rid of that element and added two new ones: Image ALT (ALT) and Content Shift (CLS). ALT text for images improves accessibility and image SEO. Screen readers use ALT text to help those with visual disabilities understand the images on the page. ALT text for images can also help with image search — surfacing your site in image search results. Content Shift (CLS) focuses on the elements of visual stability. 

Cumulative Layout Shift, which is part of the Core Web Vitals and overall page experience update, refers to unexpected changes in a page’s layout as it loads — it’s annoying for users at a minimum and can cause real damage depending on the severity of the shift and content of the page.

Read more about the HTML success factors or download the whole SEO Periodic Table.


Search Shorts: Get more GMB photos, remote working SEOs and automation advice

Google My Business ‘Photo Updates’: A new way to get customer pics. Another solid local SEO piece by one of our faves, Claire Carlile. “It is now possible to add a photo update without leaving a review if you click… on ‘Add a photo update.’”

Remote forever? Kelvin Newman asked his SEO and digital marketing Twitter followers if they were back in the office yet. Over 60% said no (with 19% saying they’d always been remote). Many replies and QTs expect that trend to stay for a while. 

“Definitely don’t do this.” That’s what Kenny Hyder said in response to a Google Ads tweet about Smart Bidding. Just another case of ads automation vs. ads consultant.


What We’re Reading: Reddit’s new round of funding will go toward driving new users and expanding advertiser options

Reddit announced that it raised $140 million in venture capital which increased the company’s valuation from $6 billion to $10 billion. While initially not planned, the fresh capital gives Reddit more time to figure out how to IPO eventually.

“The company makes most of its money selling advertising, which appears in the feeds of users who browse the many ‘subreddits,’ or topic-focused forums, across the site,” said Mike Issac for The New York Times. But this also means “Reddit must compete against digital advertising giants like Google, Facebook, and Amazon, as well as other ad-based social networking sites, including Twitter, Snap, and Pinterest.”

But the company has been steadily improving its metrics, according to the NYT article: 

  • Reddit surpassed $100 million in revenue in a single quarter for the first time this year, up 192 percent over the same period in 2020.
  • More than 50 million people now visit Reddit daily.
  • The site has more than 100,000 active subreddits.

The company has also been working on moderating subs recently, as well, including banning ‘The_Donald’ and other subreddits that degraded into forums of hate speech and violent conspiracy theories. Many of the other major players competing in the space (Facebook, Twitter) have been trying to do the same.

So what’s next for the cash? The latest round of money means that the forum/social media platform can figure out new ways to garner more users and continue to build its business, especially internationally. Plus they plan to explore more options for video ads and opening their system up to be easier for small businesses looking to take advantage of the niche and targeted advertising. 

[Source: This article was published in searchengineland.com By Carolyn Lyden - Uploaded by the Association Member: Daniel K. Henry] 
Categorized in Search Engine

Google is changing the way that minors experience the internet, including changes to ads, content & more. Here's what you need to know!

Google is making changes to create a safer space for kids and teens on the internet, with a list of new features and tools.

Over the past year, parents and kids alike were moving toward virtual workspaces, creating a heavier reliance on the internet in their everyday lives. As a result, parents, educators, policymakers and privacy experts have expressed concern about creating a safe environment for adolescents.

Advertising Changes

Google will be expanding safeguards to prevent age-sensitive ad categories from being shown to teens. Ads will be blocked based on the age, gender, and interests of people under 18. These changes will begin to roll out globally over the coming months with the goal of ensuring that they are delivering age-appropriate experiences for ads.

Giving Minors Control Over their Digital Footprint

Google offers removal options for folks using Google Search but recognizes that children are at particular risk when it comes to controlling their imagery on the internet.

Google is planning to introduce a new policy that allows anyone under the age of 18, or their parent or guardian, to request the removal of their images from Google image results. Removing it from the SERP will not remove it from the web but will decrease exposure.

Improving the Web Experience for Kids & Teens

YouTube Upload Settings

The upload setting for teens on YouTube will default to the most private option. Google will also provide additional safeguards and education about commercial content.

As part of this change, YouTube will begin to remove overly commercial content – content that encourages kids to spend money, from YouTube Kids. YouTube gives the example of content that focuses on product packaging.

YouTube is also updating the disclosures that appear on supervised accounts and “made for kids” content to be very clear when a video contains paid promotions.

YouTube is also taking a break from bedtime reminders and autoplay for users under 18. An autoplay option will be added to YouTube Kids – though it will be turned off by default – to give parents the ability to decide what is right for their families.

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Location History Updates

Location history is off by default and children with supervised accounts don’t have the option to turn it on. This will soon be extended to all users under the age of 18 globally, meaning that location history will remain off for all adolescents.

Google Play Updates

Google is launching a new safety section, which will let parents know which apps follow the family policies. Apps will be required to disclose how they use the data they collect, making it easier for parents to decide if an app is right for their child before they download or use it.

Google Workspace for Education Changes

With children using the internet for schoolwork, there have been concerns about safeguarding that experience. Google has been working to improve administrators’ ability to tailor experiences for their users, such as restricting student activity on YouTube and enabling SafeSearch technology by default for all users.

Safe Search

Google has settings in place to help prevent folks from seeing mature content that they haven’t searched for. SafeSearch filters out explicit results when enabled and is already on by default for signed-in users under 13 who have accounts managed by Family Link. In the coming months, Google plans to extend this technology for users under 18.

Google Assistant Updates

Google is planning to introduce new default protections to prevent mature content from surfacing for a child.

[Source: This article was published in searchenginejournal.com By Amy Bishop - Uploaded by the Association Member: Daniel K. Henry]
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Categorized in Search Engine

A new spam algorithm is rolling out over the next two weeks aimed at fighting link spam more broadly. 

Google is rolling out the link spam update today and throughout the next two weeks. This link spam update targets spammy links “more broadly” and “across multiple languages,” Duy Nguyen, a Google search quality analyst, said.

The announcement. Google wrote “in our continued efforts to improve the quality of the search results, we’re launching a new link spam-fighting change today — which we call the “link spam update.” This algorithm update, which will roll out across the next two weeks, is even more effective at identifying and nullifying link spam more broadly, across multiple languages. Sites taking part in link spam will see changes in Search as those links are re-assessed by our algorithms.”

Nullifying link spam. You can see the word Google used here was “nullifying,” which does not necessarily mean “penalize,” but instead, to ignore or simply not count. Google’s efforts around link spam have been to ignore and not count spammy links since Penguin 4.0 was released in 2016.

Might feel like a penalty. While Google may not penalize your site for these spammy links if Google ignores or nullifies links that may have been helping a site rank well in Google Search, that might feel like a penalty. In short, if you see your rankings drop over the next two weeks and if it is a sharper drop, it might be related to this update.

Best practices on links. Google’s Duy Nguyen published a blog post about link spam and best practices that you can read here.

Why we care. Again, if you see ranking declines in Google over the next two weeks, it might be related to this new link spam update. Make sure your links are natural and in accordance with Google’s webmaster guidelines. Work on improving your site, so it can naturally attract new links over time.

As Google wrote, “Site owners should make sure that they are following the best practices on links, both incoming and outgoing. Focusing on producing high-quality content and improving user experience always wins out compared to manipulating links. Promote awareness of your site using appropriately tagged links, and monetize it with properly tagged affiliate links.”

[Source: This article was published in searchengineland.com By Barry Schwartz - Uploaded by the Association Member: Jeremy Frink]

Categorized in Search Engine

Google holds over 92% market share in the search engine and also comes as a default option on Mac. However, if you find your Mac changing the search engine from Google to Yahoo, then that's a problem worth fixing. If your Mac is the affected one by the search engine change, read along to learn how to to change the search engine from Yahoo to Google on Mac.

Yahoo search results are mostly inferior to Google, and you would want to use Google to get things done. The main reason behind the search engine change is the browser hijacking code or extensions.

Browser hijackers are a threat to millions of users. Some browsers are more affected by them, while there are a few exceptions.

Those in a habit of downloading PUAs (Potentially Unwanted Applications) are more vulnerable to browser hijackers. We will explain how to change the search engine from Yahoo to Google on Safari and Google Chrome.

1. Change the default Search Engine in Safari

On paper, the Safari browser is more secure than Google Chrome or Microsoft Edge. You can easily change the search engine from Yahoo to Google from the browser. Here’s how.

Step 1: Open Safari browser on Mac.

Step 2: Click on the Safari name in the menu bar.

Step 3: Select the Preferences menu.

prefrence step3

Step 4: Go to Search > Search Engine and select Google from the drop-down menu.

2. Change the default Search Engine in Chrome

Those using Google Chrome as the default browser on Mac can change the search engine from the Settings menu. Follow the steps below to change the search engine from Yahoo to Google in Google Chrome.

Step 1: Open Google Chrome on Mac.

Step 2: Click on the three-dot menu at the top and go to Settings.

step 2

Step 3: Select the Search engine from the left sidebar and select Google from the main menu.

That's it. You have successfully changed the search engine from Yahoo to Google on Mac's Safari and Google Chrome browser.

On Google Chrome, if you are still facing search engine automatically switching from Google to Yahoo, try using other tricks below.

3. Disable Chrome Extensions

Apple verifies every Safari extension and distributes only valid extensions from the Mac App Store. That’s not the case with Google Chrome though.

Extensions play an important role in the Chrome ecosystem. However, not every extension is actively maintained and could be out of date. Some malicious extensions might take over your Chrome home page and change the search engine to Yahoo.

It can be difficult to pinpoint a single extension. You can disable all the Chrome extensions and move back to Google.

Step 1: Open Google Chrome and click on the three-dot menu at the top.

Step 2: Go to More Tools > Extensions.

More Tools

Step 3: From the Extension menu, click on the Remove button or disable the extension for Chrome.

4. Reset Chrome Settings

A wrong setting tweak in the Chrome browser may leave you with Yahoo search engine as the default option. Google Chrome offers a handy option to reset Chrome settings on the go. Here’s how to use it.

Step 1: Open Chrome and go to Settings.

Step 2: Select the Advanced option.

Step 3: Select Restore settings.

Step 4: Click on Restore settings to their original default option.

reset setting

Step 5: Press the Reset settings button to confirm your decision.

This will reset your startup page, new tab page, search engine, and pinned tabs. It will also disable all extensions and clear temporary data like cookies.

Your bookmarks, history, and saved passwords won’t be cleared.

Tips for Safe Browsing on Mac

Apple calls the Mac a potential threat to security due to its open nature. Unlike on iOS, anyone can go ahead and install apps from the web. This puts the user at risk of installing unverified apps from the web. Follow the tips below to make sure to create a safe environment on the Mac.

  • Try to verify if the app you want to download is available from the Mac App Store.
  • If the app isn’t available from the App Store, use the official website to download the app file.
  • If the website looks suspicious to you, scan the web address with VirusTotal and make sure it doesn’t contain any malicious files.
  • Try out CleanMyMac X that scans for corrupt files in the background, and removes them periodically.

Use Google On Mac

Using Yahoo as a search is surely a pain for Mac users. It is a headache, especially when you don’t know what’s going around and how the OS changes the search engine without your permission. By following the steps above, you can take care of those browser hijackers and go back to using Google as the main search engine on Mac.

[Source: This article was published in guidingtech.com By Parth Shah - Uploaded by the Association Member: Deborah Tannen]
Categorized in Search Engine

Auto deletes are also rolling out to Google Accounts now.

Google is rolling out new privacy-focused features for those who sign into search with a Google Account.

Now, in the Google Account Menu, there's a new "quick delete" option on the Google mobile app that deletes the last 15 minutes of search history with a tap of a button. The option is viewable by tapping the avatar icon and selecting "Delete last 15 minutes".

Google announced the feature at its IO 2021 conference this May. It's a mobile-only option and is available now in the Google iOS app and is coming to the Android Google app "later this year", says Google

It offers users a simple two-click option to get rid of anything in their search history that a person might want to delete as soon as the mobile search has been completed. 

Google Search web users, meanwhile, are gaining "auto-delete" controls that let people choose to automatically and continuously delete their search history at specified intervals. Users can instruct Google to purge Web & App Activity from an account after three, 18, or 36 months. 

Google says that enabling Web & App Activity allows it to tailor the experience across Google services by saving search history. This history can be deleted from the My Activity section of user settings. 

Catering to people who share a device with family or friends, Google now lets users lock their My Activity page. Protecting this section of the account requires a password or two-factor authentication to view the records of a user's search history.

Another key privacy feature Google announced at I/O was the ability to passcode-protect a Locked Folder in the Photos app. 

This lets phone owners hand a device to a friend to show a photo on the camera roll without having to worry the person scrolls down to a sensitive pic. This rolled out to Pixel devices in August and is coming to other Android devices this year. 

quick delete max

[Source: This article was published in zdnet.com By Liam Tung - Uploaded by the Association Member: Clara Johnson]
Categorized in Search Engine

Google has become so synonymous with the search that the company’s name has found its way into the dictionary as a verb—and all those times you’ve asked Google something can reveal a lot about your life, from the medical conditions you’ve been worried about, to where you’ve been on your vacations.

With so much sensitive data involved, you want to make sure that your search history is safe from prying eyes. There are ways to make extra sure that no one else can get a glimpse at what you’ve been searching for, and to block Google itself from knowing anything about your online queries.

Put a password on your Google search history

Google Search Password Option

Use extra verification on computers that other people have easy access to. David Nield

Your Google account is protected both by a password and two-factor authentication if you’ve switched that on (we recommend you do). That should minimize the risk of anyone else being able to log into your Google account and take a peek at what you’ve been searching for.

However, if you’re on a computer where you’re regularly logged into Google, your browser has your password saved, and other people (maybe housemates or colleagues) are likely to be wandering past, you might feel like an additional layer of security is required.

That’s perhaps why Google has introduced an extra password step just for your search history. Even if someone makes it to your Google account page, they’ll need your password to enter the search history section.

You can enable this by going to your Google account page, then clicking Data & personalization, Web & App Activity, Manage activity, and Manage my activity verification. Choose Require extra verification, then click Save.

Automatically delete your Google searches

Delete Google Search History

Google can clean up your search history after a set period of time. David Nield

Google will automatically clean up your search history if you want it to. Go to your Google account page, then click Data & personalization, Web & App Activity, and Auto-delete. On the next screen, you can delete search history data older than three months, 18 months, or 36 months.

If you choose Manage activity rather than Auto-delete, you can manually wipe everything you’ve ever searched for or just some of it. Use the search and filter options at the top to look for something specific, and either the Delete box at the top of the X buttons next to individual entries to erase what you want to erase.

Google has also added the option to delete just the last 15 minutes of your search history. For the time being, this is only available in the Google app for Android and iOS, though it should roll out to the web interface soon.

From inside the app, tap your profile picture (top right), then tap Delete last 15 min. You can also choose Search history instead, which gives you access to the screens we’ve already looked at. From here you can manually or automatically delete queries you’ve run through Google on the web.

Avoid Google entirely

Google Incognito Mode

Incognito mode keeps no record of your searches. David Nield

Another way to keep your Google search history private is not to allow Google to log it in the first place. If you open up an incognito or private window in your browser of choice before visiting Google and running your search, it won’t be recorded—as soon as you close the window, the browser (and Google) will forget the query ever happened.

In Google Chrome, for example, click the three dots in the top right-hand corner of the browser interface and choose New Incognito Window from the menu that appears. In Microsoft Edge, click the three dots (top right) then New InPrivate Window; in Firefox, click the three lines (top right), then New Private Window; and in Safari you can click File and New Private Window.

 

When you start off in an incognito or private browser window, you won’t be signed into any of your accounts, including your Google one. Make sure you don’t sign in to Google during the browsing session though—otherwise Google will log your search requests as normal, even if you’re using a private browsing mode.

You also have the option to run your web searches elsewhere: You can pick from Microsoft’s Bing or the privacy-focused DuckDuckGo, for instance. The developers behind the browser Brave have also launched a web search engine that you can try, which doesn’t track you or anything that you’re searching for.

Manage your browsing history and syncing

Clear Google Browsing Data

Your web browser has history clean-up options of its own. David Nield

If you use Chrome while signed in to your Google account, everything you search for on Google will be saved to the browser and your Google account. These lists of queries are one and the same, though the lists might be presented slightly differently. You can see your history in Chrome by clicking the three dots (top right) and then choosing History.

Having this setup also means you can delete your history from your browser as well as your Google account page on the web. From the History screen, you can select individual entries and then choose Delete, or click Clear browsing data for some more comprehensive options. Select Browsing history and the time period you want to cover, then select Clear data.

At the bottom of the dialog, you’ll see whether or not you’re signed into Google. If you want to clear the history in the local Chrome browser without affecting the history records in your Google account, you’ll need to sign out of Google first to break the sync—then repeat the steps that we’ve outlined above.

If you’re using a browser other than Chrome, you’ll have two separate search and browsing histories to think about: The one stored by Google and the one stored by your browser (unless you’re using private mode for all your searches). SafariEdge, and Firefox all have helpful options for clearing the history logged in your browser, across whatever time period you like, but you need to remember to run these wipes regularly.

[Source: This article was published in popsci.com By David Nield - Uploaded by the Association Member: Edna Thomas]

Categorized in Search Engine

Pro-privacy browser Brave, which has been testing its own brand search engine for several months — operating a waitlist where brave (ha!) early adopters could kick the tires of an upstart alternative in internet search — has now launched the tool, Brave Search, in global beta.

Users interested in checking out Brave’s non-tracking search engine, which is built on top of an independent index and touted as a privacy-safe alternative to surveillance tech products like Google search, will find it via Brave’s desktop and mobile browsers. It can also be reached from other browsers via search.brave.com — so doesn’t require switching to Brave’s browser to use.

Brave Search is being offered as one of the multiple search options that users of the company’s eponymous browser can pick from (including Google’s search engine). But Brave says it will make it the default search in its browser later this year.

As we reported back in March, the company acquired technology and developers who had previously worked on Cliqz, a European anti-tracking search-browser combo that closed down in May 2020 — building on a technology they’d started to develop, called Tailcat, to form the basis of the Brave-branded search engine.

The (now beta) search engine has been tested by more than 100,000 “early access users” at this point, per Brave. It’s made this video ad to tout its “all in one” alternative to Google search + Chrome.

The company recently passed 32 million monthly active users (up from 25 million back in March) for its wider suite of products — which, as well as its flagship pro-privacy browser, includes a newsreader Firewall+VPN service.

Brave also offers privacy-preserving Brave Ads for businesses wanting to reach its community of privacy-preferring users.

Growing public awareness of surveillance-based business models has been building momentum for pro-privacy consumer tech for a number of years. And several players which started out with a strong focus on one particular pro-privacy product (such as a browser, search engine, or email) have been expanding into a full suite of products — all under the same non-tracking umbrella.

As well as Brave, there’s the likes of DuckDuckGo — which offers non-tracking search but also a tracker blocker and an email inbox protector tool, among other products, and reckons it now has between 70 million-100 million users overall; and Proton, the maker of E2E-encrypted email service ProtonMail but also a cloud calendar and file storage as well as a VPN. The latter recently confirmed passing 50 million users globally.

There is also Apple itself too, of course — a Big Tech giant that competes with Google and the adtech complex by promising users a privacy premium to drive sales of its hardware and services. (At the start of this year Apple said there are now over 1 billion iOS users globally — and more than 1.65 billion Apple devices.)

Tl;dr: The market for privacy consumer tech is growing.

Still, even Apple doesn’t try to compete against Google search, which perhaps underlines the scale of the challenge involved in trying to poach users from the search behemoth. (Albeit, Apple extracts massive payments from Google to preload the latter’s search engine onto iOS devices — which does conflict with [and complicate] its wider, pro-privacy, pro-user promises while also adding a nice revenue boost for Apple… ).

DuckDuckGo has, by contrast, been at the non-tracking search coalface for years — and turning a profit since 2014. Though clearly not in the same profit league as Apple. But, more recently, it’s also taken in rare tranches of external funding as its investors spy growing opportunities for private search.

Other signs of expanding public appetite to protect people’s information from commercial snoopers include the surge of usage for E2E-encrypted alternatives to Facebook-owned WhatsApp — such as Signal — which saw a download spike earlier this year after the advertising giant announced unilateral changes to WhatsApp’s terms of service.

Credible players that have amassed a community of engaged users around a core user privacy promise are well-positioned to ride each new wave of privacy interest — and cross-sell a suite of consumer products where they’ve been able to expand their utility. Hence Brave believing the time is right for it to dabble in search.

Commenting in a statement, Brendan Eich, CEO, and co-founder of Brave said: “Brave Search is the industry’s most private search engine, as well as the only independent search engine, giving users the control and confidence they seek in alternatives to Big Tech. Unlike older search engines that track and profile users and newer search engines that are mostly skin on older engines and don’t have their own indexes, Brave Search offers a new way to get relevant results with a community-powered index, while guaranteeing privacy. Brave Search fills a clear void in the market today as millions of people have lost trust in the surveillance economy and actively seek solutions to be in control of their data.”

Brave touts its eponymous search offering as having a number of differentiating features versus rivals (including smaller rivals) — such as its own index, which it also says gives it independence from other search providers.

Why is having an independent index important? We put that question to Josep M. Pujol, chief of search at Brave, who told us: “There are plenty of incentives for censorship and biases, either by design, or what is even more difficult to combat, unintentional. The problem of search, and how people access the web, is that it is a mono-culture, and everybody knows that while it’s very efficient, it’s also very dangerous. A single disease can kill all the crops. The current landscape is not fail-tolerant, and this is something that even users are becoming aware of. We need more choices, not to replace Google or Bing, but to offer alternatives. More choices will entail more freedom and also get back to real competition, with checks and balances.

“Choice can only be achieved by being independent, as if we do not have our own index, then we are just a layer of paint on top of Google and Bing, unable to change much or anything in the results for users’ queries. Not having your own index, as with certain search engines, gives the impression of choice, but in reality, such engine ‘skins’ are the same players as the big two. Only by building our own index, which is a costly proposition, will we be in a position to offer true choice to the users for the benefit of all, whether they are Brave Search users or not.”

Although, for now, it’s worth noting that Brave is relying on some provision from other search providers — for specific queries and in areas like image search (where, for example, it says it’s currently fetching results from Microsoft-owned Bing) — to ensure its results achieve adequate relevancy.

Elsewhere it also says it’s relying upon anonymized contributions from the community to improve and refine results — and is seeking to live up to wider transparency claims vis-à-vis the search index (which it also claims has “no secret methods or algorithms to bias results”; and for which it will “soon” be offering community-curated open ranking models to ensure diversity and prevent algorithmic biases and outright censorship”).

In another transparency step, Brave is reporting the percentage of users’ queries that are independent by showing what it bills as “the industry’s first search independence metric” — meaning it displays the ratio of results coming exclusively from its own index.

“It is derived privately using the user’s browser as we do not build user profiles,” Brave notes in a press release. “Users can check this aggregate metric to verify the independence of their results and see how results are powered by our own index, or if third-parties are being used for long-tail results while we are still in the process of building our index.”

It adds that Brave Search will “typically be answering most queries, reflected by a high independence metric”. Although if you’re performing an image search, for example, you’ll see the independence metric take a hit (but Brave confirms this will not result in any tracking of users).

Transparency] is a key principle at Brave, and there will also be a global independence metric for Brave Search across all searches, which we will make publicly available to show how we are progressing towards complete independence,” it adds.

 

On the monetization side, Brave says it will “soon” be offering both a paid ad-free version of search in the future and an ad-supported free version — while still pledging “fully anonymous” search. Though it specifies that it won’t be flipping the ad switch during the early beta phase.

“We will offer options for both ad-free paid search and ad-supported free search later,” it notes. “When we are ready, we will explore bringing private ads with BAT revenue share to search, as we’ve done for Brave user ads.”

Users of the search engine who do not also use Brave’s own browser will be served contextual ads.

“In Brave Search via the browser, strong privacy guarantees for opt-in ads are a norm and a brand value that we uphold,” adds Pujol, confirming that users of its search and browser are likely to get the same type of ad targeting.

Asked about the pricing of the forthcoming ad-free version of the search engine he says: “Although we have not finalized the launch date or the price yet, our ad-free paid search will be affordable because we believe search, and access to information, should be available on fair terms for everyone.”

In an interesting recent development in Europe, Google — under pressure from antitrust regulators — has agreed to ditch a pay-to-play auction model for the choice screen it offers regional users of its Android platform, letting them pick a default search engine from a list with a number of rivals and its own brand Google search. The move should expand the number of alternative search engines to which Android users in Europe are exposed — and could help chip away at some of Google’s search market share.

Brave previously told us it would not participate in Google’s paid auction — but Pujol says that if the new model is “truly free to participate” it will likely take part in the future.

“Google and free-to-participate seem difficult to believe, given plenty of precedents but if this model is indeed truly free to participate, without contracts or nondisclosure agreements, then we would likely participate,” he says. “After all, Brave Search is open to everyone who would like to use it, and we are open and happy to put Brave Search on any platform.”

“We have localized browsers throughout the European market, so in addition to growth via the Brave browser growing, we intend to grow Brave Search’s usage by marketing our best-in-class privacy on all media that reach prospective users,” he adds.

[Source: This article was published in techcrunch.com By Natasha Lomas - Uploaded by the Association Member: Martin Grossner]
Categorized in Search Engine

Google is now letting its user's password protect the Web & App Activity page. It contains the histories of the web search with the Google Maps usage. A password can now prevent the activity of a user from having easy access by other people who are using the same device.

Google lets its user's password to protect their search history

The Web & App Activity page contains a lot of private data. Moreover, to the activity in the Search and Maps, track all your YouTube watch history. Also, it tracks the Google Play Usage, Google Assistant queries, and many more.

This data is usually helpful for those users who look back while trying to retrace how they found something. But the reason behind why Google tracks it is to serve the search results and ads with personalized suggestions.

Also, for the first time, users can prevent their data from getting the view from those people who should not see it. Previously those who wanted to see someone’s search history had to pick up their device and type activity.google.com from the address bar.

With this new verification option, users can easily set a password that will need to be entered before anyone views the Web & App Activity page. First, they have to log into your Google account. Then they can navigate to your activity.google.com. After that, one has to click on Manage My Activity verification. Then they have to click on the Require Extra Verification and Save. The next one has to enter the users password to confirm the identity.

As you have successfully protected your activity page, you will be able to see a Verify button in a historic place. Clicking on that button will take you to a screen. There you have to enter your account password. It will then take you to the activity page, where your fill history is visible. Google is also offering multiple ways to manage your activity history. From the top of the page, there is a row of buttons to toggle the data collection off and on.

[Source: This article was published in flipweb.org By Ishita Paul - Uploaded by the Association Member: Edna Thomas]
Categorized in Search Techniques

Artificial Intelligence offers "unprecedented potential to revolutionize" spam fighting. Blocks estimated 99% of spam from search results

Google announced the introduction of new artificial intelligence (AI) tools to help fight against a range of spam. Internal estimate calculates that the AI has the ability to block 99% of spam.

Unprecedented Potential to Fight Spam

There are multiple forms of spam that Google fights at different points in which Google interacts with web pages.

What Google has done is to create a spam-fighting artificial intelligence that Google describes as providing an “unprecedented potential to revolutionize” spam fighting.

Google specially focused its spam-fighting algorithms on sensitive searches that were especially important to users like those related to important topics like finding medical testing sites.

“By combining our deep knowledge of spam with AI, last year we were able to build our very own spam-fighting AI that is incredibly effective at catching both known and new spam trends.

For example, we have reduced sites with auto-generated and scraped content by more than 80% compared to a couple of years ago.”

Hacked Site Spam

Spammers will hack a site and add new pages with links to other sites. A widespread site hack that Google warns about is called the Japanese keyword hack because it adds Japanese language pages. It can also take over your Google search console account.

Google claimed to have caught “most” spam generated by site hacking. AI technology was able to increase Google’s ability to catch it by over 50%.

Three Areas Where Google Blocks Spam

Google published a diagram outlining three levels at which it encounters spam, diagnoses it as spam, and then rejects it.

Illustration: Three Area Where Google Blocks Spam

Diagram illustrating where Google AI blocks spam

Where Google Blocks Spam

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  1. Crawled Spam
  2. Indexed Spam
  3. Spam Caught by Manual Action

Spam Blocked Before Making it to the Index

Google’s crawler (GoogleBot) is software that crawls the Internet to find web pages to include within Google’s search index in order to show those pages in search results.

The crawler itself can catch spam as it encounters it so that the spam doesn’t make it to the index.

Spam added through the Search Console Request Indexing tool is also caught and discarded before it is included in Google’s search index.

Spam in Search Index Blocked Before it is Ranked

These systems don’t catch all the spam and some spam makes it into Google’s search index. Whenever Google responds to a search query Google will scan web pages that are being considered for ranking in order to find more spam.

Spammy pages that are found at this level are used to create better spam-fighting algorithms at the web crawling level.

Where Manual Actions Come From

Google claims that these systems block 99% of spam from reaching users. What makes it through is culled through manual actions.

“We estimated that these automated systems help keep more than 99% of visits from Search completely spam-free.

As for the tiny percentage left, our teams take manual action and use the learnings from that to further improve our automated systems.”

Review Site Spam

Google added low-quality reviews and shopping sites to the list of sites that are analyzed by their AI tools. Google says it wants to reward content that is in-depth and useful.

“…we wanted to make sure that you’re getting the most useful information for your next purchase by rewarding content that has more in-depth research and useful information.”

Google Spam Fight Enhanced by AI

The AI tools were added sometime in 2020. It’s unclear how much this may have influenced search results but some sites may have received better rankings because of the removal of spam sites that were previously high ranking.

It’s difficult to say from our side how successful Google’s spam fight is. Everyone has an anecdote about a spam site that is getting away with ranking on Google.

[Source: This article was published in searchenginejournal.com By Roger Montti - Uploaded by the Association Member: Joshua Simon] 
Categorized in Search Engine
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