Alternative search engine research

Google’s threat to pull its search engine out of Australia to force it to pay for local news content has highlighted alternatives to the digital giant, writes Gianluca Demartini.

Australian government to push forcing Google to pay news agencies to link to their content, the search giant threatened to get out of australia.

Google Australia chief executive Mel Silva said if the government’s proposal went ahead, “we would really have no choice but to stop making Google search available in Australia.”

Prime Minister Scott Morrison pushed back saying he would not respond to “threats”. Even the Council of Small Business Organizations Australia says Google needs “strong and rigorous”Regulation because of its monopoly on web search.

What if Google pulls out?

Google’s proposal to make Google search unavailable in Australia means that we would need to search the web using other systems and tools. If this really happens, we won’t be able to go to google.com and google.com.au to search the web.

It’s important to note that Google isn’t just about searching the web. Google’s parent company Alphabet Inc also manages key web portals like YouTube and productivity tools like Gmail, Google Calendar, Google Docs and Google Maps (which makes it started in Australia). These services will not be removed from the Australian market, even if the web search is removed.

Another industry where Google is the market leader and making money is online advertising. Removing Google’s web search from Australia does not mean that businesses will no longer be able to advertise using Google’s services.

But without the Google search here, these ads would no longer appear before other search results and would be visited by Australian users.

A Google search result showing an ad for The Conversation before any search results.
Google search puts paid advertising ahead of all search results.
Google.com/screenshot

Companies could still run their ads on other Australian websites using the Google Ads a service.

The problem with this scenario is that Google’s main competitive advantage is the ability to access personal data using its search services. Withdrawing web search from the Australian market would mean Google would miss out on data from people in Australia.

Alternatives to Google

Google is the dominant search engine in Australia – it has 94% of the web search market in Australia – but there are other search services.

the second most popular search engine in Australia is Bing, developed by Microsoft and often integrated with other Microsoft products such as its Windows operating system and Office tools.

Another less popular search option is Yahoo, which also offers its own news and email service.

Other alternatives include niche search engines which offer unique tools with special features.

For example, DuckDuck Go is a search engine that has recently gained in popularity thanks to a commitment to protecting the privacy of its users.

DuckDuckGo home page
DuckDuckGo is gaining support.
DuckDuckGo / Screenshot

Unlike Google and Microsoft’s web search products, DuckDuckGo does not store its users’ search queries or track their interactions with the system.

The quality of DuckDuckGo’s search results has improved over time and is now comparable to that of the most popular search engines.

He says he now processes a daily average of over 90 million search queries, compared to just over 51 million in the same period last year.

While it doesn’t rely on user data to refine its search algorithms, the technology behind DuckDuckGo and other smaller players is based on the same machine learning methods others use.

Search the web, save the planet

Another interesting and recent proposal for an alternative web search engine is Ecosia. This system is unique because it focuses on sustainability and positive impact on the climate.

Its mission is to reinvest the revenue generated from search ads (the same business model that Google Search uses) to to plant trees in key regions around the world.

So far, he says he has 15 million users and has helped plant over 100 million trees, roughly 1.3 per second.

Is Google really going to give up on Australia?

Tim Berners-Lee, widely regarded as the inventor of the Web, underline that the idea of ​​asking web platforms to pay to post links goes against its fundamental concept.

Having said that, it’s also unfair for a search engine to make money using content that others have created.

It’s also true that most of Google’s income already comes from asking others to pay for links on the web. It is how Google’s online advertising works: Google Ads charges advertisers for each impression that users get or click users to go to the web page being advertised.

If users end up buying the advertised product, Google gets an even higher payout.

More likely than the withdrawal of Google from the Australian market, the government and the search giant should diplomatically find a compromise in which Google still provides its web search product in Australia and there will be a return to news agencies for Google to use. their content.

Gianluca Demartini, Associate Professor, University of Queensland

This article is republished from The conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read it original article.

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