Ixquick


Ixquick was a meta search engine belonging to the Dutch company Surfboard Holding B.V. In 2016, it was merged with Startpage, which was previously a variant service. Similar to DuckDuckGo and Qwant, but unlike Google, Ixquick did not store any user-related data. Therefore, it was described as the “the world's most private search engine.”

History[edit]

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. The funds for the servers and development of the search engine come from advertising revenue of sparingly placed sponsored text ads. The exact sales figures were not published because Ixquick was 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 from then on did not store personal data. For this reason, the meta-search engine was awarded with the Euro Price in 2008, the first European Privacy Seal.

Traffic to Ixquick increased constantly since its establishment despite the company barely investing in marketing. According to statements from the company, mainly word-of-mouth marketing was responsible for the increase in number of users. Certainly, the Snowden revelations in 2013 about the NSA also provided new impetus.[1] Before its merge, the meta-search engine processed over 5 million searches in 18 different languages every day.[2]

Technology[edit]

The search engine was very focused on the protection of user data, therefore there are many differences compared to conventional search engines. For example, Ixquick generally didn't store any IP addresses.

Another notable feature of Ixquick was that, for a given search query, not only one index was searched, but several search engines were queried. The results of these searches were compared internally with each other before being output to the user.

The number of search engines in which the site in question was listed among the Top 10 for the search query was indicated in the user interface with blue asterisks next to the snippet. The entire search process was done anonymously, so that the search engines queried would not receive any user data. The standard Ixquick also used SSL encryption and converted any requirements via the http protocol to the https protocol. 

Unlike Google and other search engines, Ixquick used the POST method and not the GET method for searches to ensure that the original search request or browser could not be deduced from the parameters in the URI. 

Ixquick’s servers were located both in the Netherlands and in the US. Searches from Europe were handled exclusively by the server in Europe, but there were restrictions with regard to data protection in the US, because under US law ,or the “Patriot Act,” US companies are obligated to provide server data if requested to do so by secret services.

Functions[edit]

Similar to other search engines, searches could easily be refined with Ixquick. The results could for example be time-limited down to the day. The search could be further specified through search operators. All ixquick search operators can be found here.

In terms of vertical search, ixquick and now Startpage 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.

Certain user settings can be saved with a cookie lasting for 90 days. Personal settings can also be saved as a URL. 

Startpage is available as a Firefox plug-in or as an app for smartphones.

Startpage can also be set as the default search engine.

SEO benefits[edit]

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 Startpage, which 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. However, in the long term it will be useful 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 unlike Google there are no advertisements or feature boxes.

References[edit]

  1. Home Page ixquick surpass 3 million daily searches searchengineland.com Accessed on 04/09/2014
  2. ixquick Searches History ixquick.com Accessed on 04/09/2014