For most Internet users, search engines often are the center of their online experience. Since search engines are the guide to most of the Internet, the companies powering the systems typically have a wealth of search information on users — information which is often used to target advertisements, analyze trends, and even determine how businesses perform their day-to-day operations. The pool of information that search engines have on users is commonly referred to as a “big data” pile because of the extent of the information retained on users.


Making Money From Basic Information

As discussed in an article from VentureBeat, when it comes to targeting advertisements, there are literally a googol (meaning the number one followed by 100 zeroes) possibilities to target customers. Ad targeting is so important that search engines such as Google and Bing have teams of scientists working around the clock to figure out more efficient ways to identify Internet users and target ads accordingly. Since search engines typically only make revenue from advertising, it is in their interest to do whatever it takes to ensure that users are clicking advertisements.

Google and Bing Aren’t the Only Options

When it comes to conducting online research, you don’t have to rely on Google and Bing. A handful of alternative search engines don’t retain search information or have strict privacy practices to protect user information. The How-To Geek provides an overview of five such engines. One of the most popular ones among Internet users is DuckDuckGo. The key feature of the service is that its privacy page outlines numerous precautions taken to protect user privacy. Overall, the key takeaway is that you can use DuckDuckGo without having to worry about your search information being retained indefinitely for tracking purposes.

When You’re on Google

Of course there are times when you need to use Google your search activities. Fortunately there are ways to protect your privacy when you use Google. Google provides users with a control panel to manage their search history preferences. This allows users to control which keywords are used for ad targeting. Unfortunately, Google still retains search information behind the scenes, which is a significant privacy risk.

For cases where privacy is needed when searching the web, you will want to use DuckDuckGo or a similar search engine, because the major search engines rely on user information to generate most of their revenue.

Paul Williams
Paul Williams

Paul Williams brings a wide range of experiences to his writing. He worked extensively in technology, as a software engineer, technical writer, and now a technology writer. Known as the leader of one of the top American Spacerock bands, his forward-looking music continues to be heard all over the world.