Choosing the best search engine: surveillance, advertising, algorithms

The Internet for an ordinary user begins with two main things – social networks and a search engine site. Need to find the right information? View recipe? Check the schedule? You need a search engine. And the search engine (more precisely, its creators) needs you. Websites remember all your actions and bombard you with targeted ads. It seems that this is an inevitable fee for using the service … Or is it not always? Let’s look at the main pros and cons of the most popular search engines.

Among domestic users, the most popular search engines are Google and Yandex. They are used by the vast majority of Runet users. Other popular sites include Mail.Ru, Rambler, Bing, and DuckDuckGo.

Google

The great and terrible corporation Google is one of the richest in the world. Her search engine occupies the undisputed first place on the Web. In Russia, half of all search queries are made through this site.

Google search engine takes the first place quite deservedly. It is fast and has a lot of additional features, like voice search and image search. The performance of the Google search engine on slow connections and poor connections is one of the best. Google is often the innovator. He is the first to introduce new features, analogues of which are later introduced by competitors.

However, there is one big fly in the ointment in this barrel of honey – privacy. Megacorporation earns on advertising. And the best advertising, as you know, is targeted, that is, aimed at each person individually. Therefore, they try to collect the maximum amount of data about users.

Google is not just a search engine, but a whole ecosystem that includes mail, maps, analytics, its own Android OS with an application store, a translator and other services. That is why the corporation collects the largest amount of information about the user. A “filter bubble” is also used, a tool that analyzes past search queries and link clicks. Based on this data, the results of each search are sorted. That’s not all: the results of the search for goods and services are selected in a way that is beneficial to the company. The latter is true for most searches, but still.

How do Google algorithms work? In general, all sites have similar operating principles. All search engines first crawl and index pages, then their “smart” sorting comes. Google search for this uses the following algorithms:

Analysis of words and expressions entered by the user;
Spell checking and automatic addition of corrected variants of misspelled words to the search results;
Selection of verified pages with trusted content for the first lines of the search;
Sorting of search results pages – from higher quality to lower quality;
Optimization of results depending on the country where the user is located – both in terms of content and the language of the pages issued;
The use of the BERT algorithm – a large neural network that analyzes the words and expressions of the user to produce results that are appropriate in meaning;
Formation of the final form of search results, taking into account advertising preferences and based on past queries.
Pros – high speed, good search results.

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Cons – the collection of user data, targeted advertising, the dependence of sorting results on past user requests.

Yandex

The domestic search engine is not inferior to Google in terms of speed and functionality. In addition, Yandex is optimized specifically for the Russian user. It gives the maximum number of results in Russian on the initial page of the search. Foreign language options are offered in the second turn.

The search engine competes with Google in terms of the number of queries, sometimes skipping it, sometimes pulling ahead. Yandex is also an ecosystem that has its own mail, maps, translator, and cloud storage service. Therefore, the problems here are the same as in the case of Google. The company uses its developed ecosystem for targeted advertising, uses the same “filter bubble”. Moreover, taking into account the local market, it is much easier for her to do this.

You can still put up with advertising (or fight), but data privacy problems begin. If Google provides your data to the conditional “Uncle Sam”, then Yandex provides the conditional “Comrade Major”. What to talk about, even if the top news of the Yandex portal is formed with an eye on state propaganda.

Another disadvantage is the excessive obsession of Yandex. It is worth going into the search, and on the main page there will immediately be a banner “Log in to use all Yandex services.” Even Google does not allow itself this. What is only one notification “Install Yandex.Browser” worth? At the same time, if you do not pay attention to the installation components, you can get a bunch of different unnecessary services in your OS. The removal of this browser has long been the talk of the town. This screenshot illustrates the situation best.

The Yandex engine uses algorithms similar to Google. But here there is a specificity associated with the focus on Runet.

Separate regional search formula for each of the regions and cities;
Improved accounting for the user’s location, up to the settlement and area;
Adjusting the results for the user not only based on past queries, but also based on actions in the current search session;
Accounting for the use of the mobile version of the search with the priority of issuing mobile versions of sites;
The use of the YATI algorithm – an analogue of Google BERT, using neural networks for “search by meaning”.
Pros – high speed, good search results, priority for issuing sites in Russian.

Cons – the collection of user data, targeted advertising, the dependence of sorting results on past requests, the obsession of authorization requests and installing your own browser.

Mail.Ru

Mail.ru is not very popular in the search engine market. The company is known mainly for other projects. But she also has her own search. Like Yandex, Mail.ru Search is focused on the Russian user. However, in terms of speed, it is seriously inferior to the market leaders.

The most notable feature of Mail.ru is its ecosystem: a tandem of popular Russian social networks VKontakte, Odnoklassniki, My World and an email service. It is well suited for finding people and information about them. In addition, Mail.ru has a good news block from the “everything about everything” category on the main page.

The search engine still has the same privacy concerns as Yandex. The site imposes its proprietary Atom browser in the same way (but at least it does not constantly ask for authorization).

In recent years, Mail.ru search has been used by only a few percent of users. The reasons are obvious: mediocre speed and quality of search results. The Mail.ru search engine itself uses several of its own features.

Direct search for information on social networks – people, photos, music or videos;
Search based on “likes”: results pages are accompanied by informers with the number of recommendations from social network users. This allows you to immediately identify more popular content;
Manual mechanism for ranking results. The quality of content on websites is evaluated not only by algorithms, but also by people themselves. Thus, search results become more useful for the user.
Pros – good search results, convenient search in Russian social networks, priority for issuing sites in Russian.

Cons – mediocre speed, collection of user data, targeted advertising, dependence of sorting results on past requests, requests to install your own browser.

bing

The search engine from Microsoft is the second most popular in the world. However, in the Russian market, its popularity fluctuates around a couple of percent. However, this brings it to an honorable fourth place in terms of the number of users.

Bing is the default search on the Windows operating system and browsers from Microsoft. It is fast and accurate enough to work. With one “but” – this is true for the global network, and not for its Russian segment. Finding something using Bing on RuNet is extremely problematic: it gives only the most obvious results. This explains its low popularity in the Russian Federation.

Of course, Bing collects user data. When you sign in, your profile information will be received by Microsoft. Therefore, expect appropriate advertising in all mega-corporation products you use.

Search algorithms differ little from Google, among the key features:

Vector algorithms that allow you to most correctly issue results to user questions;
Additional data for each result;
Using your own prediction engine based on neural networks.
Pros – high speed, good search results.

Cons – collection of user data, targeted advertising, mediocre search results in the Russian-speaking part of the Internet.

Rambler

The Russian search engine, popular at the beginning of the 2000s, has practically lost its positions today. A decade ago, he lost his own search engine. At the moment, Rambler uses the Yandex engine – accordingly, the search algorithms are the same there.

At the moment, little remains of the former greatness of the Rambler. Search results for the most part coincide with Yandex. The search functionality has been stripped down. Large parts of the user interface are occupied by ads, and the main page is full of “yellow” headings. However, the search engine at least does not ask for authorization and does not impose its browser. Yes, and it still works faster than the notorious Mail.Ru.

Pros – high speed, good search results, priority for issuing sites in Russian.

Cons – collection of user data, a huge amount of targeted advertising, truncated functionality.

DuckDuckGo

This search engine does not take the first lines in the overall ratings of Runet search engines. However, in the world DuckDuckGo is very popular. The main difference from other search engines is the confidentiality of user data, the lack of information collection. In any case, this is what its creators say. The “filter bubble” does not apply here either. As a result, the search results do not take into account the user’s past activity and are obtained as adequate as possible. According to the creators, search results come from multiple sources, not just one. In addition to its own search robot, results from Yahoo, Yandex and other search engines are used.

The functionality of the search engine is a little primitive – for example, there is no image search. And the speed of the search is not impressive, competitors are better with this. However, DuckDuckGo has the largest audience among the few confidential search engines. Moreover, the search engine is more or less adapted to Runet. Other confidential search engines work much worse in the Russian segment of the Internet.

The main differences between DuckDuckGo and other search engines:

Independence of search results from past user queries;
No targeted advertising, only contextual;
Search within the system is carried out using several search engines with the final combination of results.
Pros – good search results, no data collection and dependence of sorting results on past user queries.

Cons – low speed, limited functionality.

What is the result?

The ideal search engine, of course, does not exist. Each solution has pros and cons. In terms of speed and quality of work, two leaders can be distinguished – Google and Yandex. At the same time, they monitor the user. One sends data across the ocean. Another, if necessary, will share them with our law enforcement agencies. Of the two evils, choose the one that you consider the lesser for yourself. If privacy is your top priority, use DuckDuckGo. In this regard, it has no competitors in the Runet segment.