ixquick is a meta search engine of the Dutch company Surfboard Holding B.V. founded in 1998. Similar to DuckDuckGo and Qwant, but Google, ixquick does not store any user-related data. Therefore, the company calls its Web search the “most discreet search engine in the world.” In the United States, ixquick operates under the name “startpage.”
The search engine ixquick was launched in 1998 by David Bodnick of the United States. Two years later, the meta-search engine was acquired by the Dutch company Surfboard Holding B.V. To date, the holding company is solely responsible for the maintenance of ixquick and the US counterpart startpage. The funds for the servers and development of the search engine come from advertising revenue of sparingly placed sponsored text ads. Exact sales figures are not published because ixquick is a privately owned holding company.
Even before extensive discussions about online privacy erupted, the management of ixquick decided in 2006 to promote data protection and since then has not stored personal data. For this reason, the meta-search engine was awarded in 2008 with the Euro Price, the first European Privacy Seal.
Traffic to ixquick has been constantly rising since its establishment even though the company has barely invested in marketing to date. According to statements from the company, it is mainly word of mouth, which is responsible for the increase in the number of users. Certainly, the Snowden revelations in 2013 about the NSA also provided new impetus. Today the meta-search engine processes over 5 million searches in 18 different languages every day.
The search engine is very focused on the protection of the privacy of the user, which is why there are many technical peculiarities as compared to conventional search engines. ixquick generally doesn’t store any IP addresses.
Another special feature of ixquick is that for a given search query not only one index is searched, but several search engines are queried. The results of these searches are compared internally with each other before being output to the user.
The number of how many queried search engines list the site in question among the Top 10 with regard to the search query is indicated in the user interface with blue asterisks next to the snippet. The entire search process is done anonymously, so that the search engines queried will not receive any user data. The standard ixquick also uses SSL encryption and converts any requirements via the http protocol to the https protocol. In addition, you can also use a proxy.
Unlike Google and other search engines, ixquick uses the POST method and not the GET method for searches. This will ensure that you cannot deduce the original search request or the browser used from the parameters in the URI.
ixquick’s servers are both in the Netherlands and in the US. The operators of the search engine assure that searches from Europe are handled exclusively by the server in Europe. However, with regard to data protection in the US, there may be restrictions imposed. Because under US law or the “Patriot Act,” US companies are obligated to provide server data if requested to do so by secret services.
The searches can be refined with ixquick to a large extent similar to other search engines. Thus, the results can be time-limited down to the day. The search can be further specified through search operators. All ixquick search operators can be found here.
In terms of vertical search, ixquick offers its users a specific search for videos, pictures, and phone numbers in addition to the regular web search. Especially the latter function distinguishes this vertical search from conventional search engines.
If you want to save certain user settings, these can be stored via a cookie that has a term of 90 days. Alternatively, you can store your personal settings as a URL. All settings can be stored under preferences.
Ixquick is available as a Firefox plug-in or as an app for smartphones.
In order to be able to use ixquick as the default search engine, it must be set in the browser.
SEO today is primarily done in order to obtain the best position with the world’s leading search engine, Google. With more than one billion daily searches, the search engine giant is hardly comparable to a provider such as ixquick, who processes more than five million queries daily. However, the current privacy debate and evidence of the massive spying on private users by US intelligence shows that many users are looking for alternatives to Google & Co.
To date, barely any SEO has been dealing with the optimization for search results on ixquick or other anonymous web services. But surely it would be very useful in the long term to deal with ranking criteria of search engines that do not collect any user data. When searching for information on content creation or keyword searches, ixquick can be very useful because the search results are not interfered with by annoying advertisements or affected by features such info boxes.