Google Alternatives: Search Engines, E-Mail, Analytics and other Tools
One day I banned Google search bots on my blog. After that I felt more confident about becoming independent from Google.
You don’t have to be a minimalist self improvement guru who wants to live a perfect life to realize that Google is a problem.
Google encroaches you from everywhere, knows and controls almost everything you do on the Web.
Despite being aware of Google’s domination of the Web I had a really scary moment one day when Google started to advertise medication to me on completely unrelated sites about technology.
Why? I didn’t tell Google that my wife was sick and what exactly was wrong with her. How the hell the Google creeps found out?
Google is Scary!
The scariest thing was that it happened on a clean browser where I delete cookies, including Google cookies after each session. How the heck did they know?
In fact I didn’t even want to find out anymore. I was scared enough that they knew it already. It just showed that it was about time to finally act and un-Google myself for real.
I have tried to become independent from Google over the years as the corporation gradually became scarier over time. Why? Think about it:
- Google co-authored CISPA to allow the government to spy on you
- Google works together with the RIAA to censor the Web
- Google sold hundreds of millions worth of illegal drugs ads and got away with a fine.
There is a myriad other reasons to stop trusting Google.
I won’t list them here anymore. In case you still love Google you probably do not even want to know.
Today I want to focus on the viable and often better alternatives to popular Google products and services. You can un-Google yourself with these tools.
Alternatives for Commonly Used Google Tools
Here is a list of Web tools that are often even better than their Google counterparts. You can even greatly improve your Web experience using these Google alternatives.
Google search – DuckDuckGo
They show real search results not ads above the fold in the first place. Google had even to adapt and offer secure search as a reaction to DuckDuckGo and its innovations.
DuckDuckGo is still tiny but among the best alternative search engines. I use it for private searches (sometimes I have to use Google for my work as an SEO).
In case you also want to something to save the world you can use Ecosia instead. This search engine that serves Bing results plants trees from 80% of its ad revenue.
Ecosia is also easier to use, has the same privacy level of DuckDuckGo as far as I can see and serves far fewer ads than Bing itself. It’s also easy to customize.
Gmail – Proton Mail
I have a Gmail address but but I don’t use it for my business E-Mail. I’ve never used Gmail for more than newsletters or as an spam-filter. I use it to register with online tools and services so that
my main business mail address stays clean.
I only scan my Google mails when I have some time left. Many people use Gmail as their main e-mail address. They get distracted by contextual ads while writing private messages.
Many business people use Gmail also for their business e-mail despite Google being a US company so that it’s subject to the Patriot Act. Thus
all kinds of US government agencies are allowed to read your e-mail.
Gmail got even “hacked” via a built in backdoor for the CIA. Even if you have “nothing to hide” you might prefer to only let those who you write to read your e-mails.
For truly private mail you may want to consider Proton Mail. It’s a fully encrypted and Switzerland based service which is also free to some extent. They make money by offering additional premium features instead of ads.
Google Analytics – Matomo
I love Matomo not just for it’s ease of use. After the multiple redesigns and feature additions Google Analytics is by now very difficult to use even for advanced users like myself.
Features that have been there for years have been removed or displaced so that you won’t find them anymore.
The additional ongoing feature creep made GA so complex that it is difficult to use even for those who have started with the latest version.
On top of that analytics is run by Google so you give up your data to the competition. You can even compare yourself to others on GA!
Remember that Google competes in search results with you in most lucrative sectors like travel or ecommerce.
Thus when you show them how much money you make next year they will make the money instead of you.
Matomo is an open source self hosted Google Analytics alternative where you own and control the data. It also adds privacy options Google Analytics does not have.
Are you looking for a simple and easy to use Google analytics alternative for your WordPress site? Then Koko Analytics is your friend.
Koko does not save any user data so it’s the best solution for privacy and it shows the actual visitor stats right away on your WordPress dashboard.
Google Webmaster Tools – Bing Webmaster Tools
By using Google Webmaster Tools you let Google know everything about your site. Google knows who you are and what other sites you own as well.
Google sends threats over Webmaster Tools telling you that you have to remove some links or face a penalty but without telling you what links actually can hurt you.
Most of the data that Google Webmaster Tools offers Bing Webmaster Tools does show as well but you don’t depend on Bing traffic.
The risk of giving up valuable information to your competition is not there either as Microsoft is rarely a competitor in search.
Sure, they own sites like Ciao for shopping search but Google has axed them long ago before they pushed their own shopping search results to the top.
Google Docs – Zoho Writer
When Google acquired Writely to turn it into Google Docs I already used Zoho Writer. I switched for a while until I’ve read the Google Docs TOS .
The Google Terms of Service state that you give up Copyright for all documents published on Google Docs. They can use them on Google products wherever they want!
I returned to Zoho Writer again. I use it to this day. It has more features than Google Docs. Also there are plenty of other tools that offer free Office software for writing, spreadsheets, presentations etc.
Blogger – Tumblr
I’ve tested Blogger around 2001 for the first time. I didn’t use it for blogging though. I ended up using WordPress over the years.
By now Blogger is owned by Google for many years and it still hasn’t improved much. It’s not versatile like WordPress but it’s difficult to use nonetheless.
In recent years the mini-blogging platform Tumblr has filled the void between Blogger and WordPress.
Tumblr is really easy to use but offers lots of customization options once you get into it. Even after Yahoo acquired it the service remained stable.
Now that Automatic (the company behind WordPress) also owns Tumblr it’s again a viable alternative for hosted blogging.
The best thing about Tumblr is its community though. It’s almost like Facebook but for cool people.
You don’t have to use your real name so the content shared there differs significantly from boring Facebook.
YouTube – Vimeo
I live in Germany so in recent years I couldn’t watch many YouTube videos. Most of them have been blocked by Google for copyright violations.
This way Google tried to force the German music industry to grant them licenses.
Additionally there are no ridiculous copyright restrictions for videos containing music.
Now they also “demonetize” content creators who do not sell many ads. I love parkour videos but Google considers parkour dangerous and demotes them.
Vimeo in contrast allows you to charge for your videos by “pay per view”. Last but not least Vimeo is easier to use.
It simply has a much better design and lacks the obnoxious comments that are the bane of YouTube.
Google Chrome – Firefox
Firefox was the best browser on the Web long before Google Chrome appeared. Google’s Chrome is officially “open source”.
Yet Firefox is the only non-corporate and thus truly open Web browser. I still use Firefox mostly, especially for work.
Privately – that is during leisure time – I use a spyware free version of Chrome called Brave that does not call the Google mothership.
Chrome does it even before you hit enter on your search query. For professional users Firefox is still the best option.
In case you want to ensure your browsing is private but also works perfectly you can also use Brave.
Brave is also using the Chromium engine like Google Chrome but without all the intrusive “call mothership” features Google forces upon users.
Some websites indeed do not support Firefox anymore so tat they break when you visit them using FF. Brave is a good replacement in such cases.
How to Become Google-free? Do it Gradually!
I know there are even better open source alternatives for some of the above but I wanted to show you those most similar to the actual Google products.
What Google service do you use that you nee a viable alternative for? Tell me in the comments and I will try to provide one.
Do not let yourself get covered by all the Goo from Mountain View.
Google doesn’t care about you. They want your data to sell it to advertisers. The US government has access to it as well.
When you care at least a bit about privacy you should opt out now of the Google empire. I know it’s difficult.
I still use many Google tools on others projects but I will gradually “sunset” the Google addiction. I do it gradually though!
Are You Giving up Googling?
It’s like giving up a bad habit, smoking or drinking alcohol. While at it it’s difficult but afterwards you feel much better. Giving up Googling is even easier.
You don’t have to boycott Google. It’s like the occasional beer with friends, it’s OK. I have to use Google tools for my work.
I can’t go Google-free completely but I am on the way to become independent of it. Privately I mostly use alternatives.
Are you trying to give up your bad habit of using Google? Tell us more about it! Which alternative tools you you prefer? Maybe I’ll add them above.
* Creative Commons image by Steve Atwell.