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Beyond Google: New Search Engine Alternatives

Beyond Google: New Search Engine Alternatives

Not too long ago, Google Search was the go-to search engine, so much so that it became synonymous with finding information on the web. However, how people search for information has evolved, and social media has played a crucial role in this shift.

Shift in Search

In the early days, social media was only used for networking and, over time, entertainment. Years later, its role has expanded beyond its original purpose.

Users now turn to social media for many reasons, including search. While Google Search remains the dominant search engine, with a 91% share, TikTok (17%), Twitter (12%), Facebook (7%), and Pinterest (7%) are emerging as popular alternative search engines.

Platforms like Instagram and Pinterest are used for visual inspiration and brand discovery (even supporting image search). Meanwhile, Twitter and Facebook have become the go-to search engines for real-time news and updates.
TikTok has also become an alternative search engine where users look up diverse topics, from the latest celebrity gossip to surprising world facts.

TikTok: The Google Alternative

TikTok is one of today’s most popular search engines among Gen Z, dubbed the "new Google." In a 2024 survey by Adobe, 41% of users said they turn to TikTok as an alternative search engine for recipes, music, DIY tips, fashion advice, beauty tips, and more.

Why do people use TikTok as their Google alternative? TikTok’s user-friendly interface and unique algorithm make it easy for users to find exactly what they're looking for—whether that’s learning a new skill, discovering a viral trend, or finding product recommendations.

Additionally, the rise of user-generated content and the unique, engaging formats offered by social media platforms prompted this shift in preference. TikTok's emphasis on user-generated content means that the information found on the platform is often more relatable and authentic.

User-Generated Search Results

It’s not just a matter of how information is presented—trustworthiness is also a major concern among users. Google Search results often contain spammy content, proving more aggravating than useful.

On alternative search platforms like Reddit, TikTok, and Twitter, it's a whole different story.

Most, if not all, search results on alternative search engines are user-generated and organic. Whether you're seeking home remedies for stomach aches or asking for top note-taking app recommendations, you get practical advice from real-life people with real-life experiences on the subjects you’re looking for.

Users trust the advice and insights shared by their peers, especially organic ones. This level of authenticity is something that traditional search engines, with their reliance on SEO-optimized content, often lack.

Pros of Alternative Search Engines

Alternative search engine platforms are different from what we're used to, but that’s what attracts people. In fact, users prefer alternative search engines to mainstream search engines like Google Search, Yahoo! and Bing mainly because of four factors:

Information Made Entertaining

Unlike the static search results on traditional search engines, social media search results are more dynamic (often incorporating videos and images), resonating more with users. It's not just articles or long PDFs—you can swipe through infographics, watch long-form marketing videos, or browse through comments to get the information you need.

Ease of Discovery

Discovering content on social media is effortless, even if you’re not actively searching. Algorithms customize your feed based on your preferences and activity, serving the newest and most relevant content in a few swipes.

Your social media behavior feeds into its algorithm, helping to understand your interests and tailor your feed accordingly. For instance, if you frequently engage with posts about travel, your feed will gradually start showing you more travel-related content, from beautiful destination photos to travel tips and guides.

Highly Relevant Information

Traditional search engines often serve up content designed to rank highly in their algorithms, which can sometimes lead to generic or less specific results. With alternative search engines, information is user-generated. This means you're likely to get responses that are much more targeted and relevant to your query.

Support-Oriented Community

Instead of receiving information from a single source, you gain access to a multitude of perspectives. When you search for something on social media, you're not just getting one answer—you’re tapping into a diverse pool of user-generated content.

Moreover, social media platforms allow you to engage directly with other users.  You can also reply to existing comments, offer additional insights, or seek further clarification. This interactivity creates a dynamic, supportive community where everyone can contribute and benefit from shared knowledge.

Google Improves Search Engine Features

Looking for information online isn't what it used to be. Tech leaders like Google are noticing this shift and are focusing on enhancing their search engine features to adapt to this trend.

Google introduced a new feature called Perspectives, allowing users to filter information specifically from social media channels. They can quickly access images, videos, and posts from Reddit, Quora, StackOverflow, TikTok, YouTube, and Twitter, offering a diverse range of user-generated content.

Here, content is ranked by quality and authenticity. Google's Perspectives aims to quickly provide users with real people's insights. However, this doesn't mean brands can ignore optimizing their traditional SERP content.

Adapting to the Shift

The changing search landscape is pushing businesses to rethink their content marketing and digital marketing strategies. Marketers must adapt by leveraging data from diverse, non-traditional sources to remain competitive and relevant in SEO.

By incorporating insights from various platforms, such as social media, online communities, and user-generated content, marketers can gain a better understanding of their audiences. This approach allows for more personalized and effective strategies, ensuring marketing efforts resonate with users and meet their ever-changing needs.

The Downside? Disinformation

While alternative search tools are useful, the reliability of information from social media platforms is a major concern. Over the years, Facebook, Twitter, and TikTok have faced criticism for contributing to the spread of misinformation, hate speech, and privacy issues. According to Ipsos' Global Trustworthiness Monitor, 38% of users find these platforms untrustworthy and dangerous.

Nora Benavidez from Free Press warns that the flood of fake, hateful, and violent content is set to get worse. The reversal of content policies meant to curb misinformation is likely to increase these issues, raising concerns for the future. What happens if the primary source of truth becomes inundated with fake news?

Future of Search

Every innovation comes with its own set of challenges, and our changing search landscape is no exception. Tech leaders must adapt to meet users’ changing needs while ensuring innovations are used for what they were made for.
For businesses and marketers, this means rethinking their approach to content creation and distribution. Focusing solely on traditional SEO strategies is no longer enough. To stay relevant, brands must leverage social media platforms to reach their audience effectively.

Learn more about the latest trends in the marketing world in our recent white paper.