Neeva is Yet Another Search Engine Not Named Google

Posted on June 30, 2021 by Paul Thurrott in Cloud, Web browsers with 27 Comments

The search wars are heating up. A new paid contender, called Neeva, was started by former Googlers and is ad-free and private.

“The current state of search is broken,” the Neeva teams explains. “Mainstream search engines no longer primarily serve the user. They are littered with advertisements, burying organic search results far below the fold. What started as a well-intentioned way to organize the world’s information has turned into a business focusing most of its resources on monetizing clicks to support advertisers.”

To that end, Neeva is “search reimagined.” It’s not free—the cost is $4.95 per month, but you can get three months for free—but it comes with no advertising, protects your privacy, and is customizable. So instead of relying on ads—and being beholden to advertisers—as Google is, Neeva promises to be “100 percent focused on providing the best search experience for the user,” and to deliver more relevant results and higher quality content.

Neeva blocks third-party trackers, and it can optionally integrate with your email accounts, calendars, and cloud storage platforms so that it can surface the information you need without sacrificing privacy. Neeva also says it will share at least 20 percent of its revenue with content creator partners when their content is used to directly answer Neeva user queries.

Obviously, there are alternates to Google Search, like Microsoft Bing, DuckDuckGo, and now Brave Search, but each has its flaws, mostly from a results comparison perspective. But if Neeva can deliver on its promises, it could be well worth the asking price. (After all, I’ve been asking for a paid Google option for years so I can opt-out of their privacy invasions and advertising.)

Neeva provides web browser extensions for Chrome, Firefox, Brave, Edge, and Safari. There’s also a dedicated iPhone app. You can learn more at Neeva.com.

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Comments (27)

27 responses to “Neeva is Yet Another Search Engine Not Named Google”

  1. nbplopes

    Something I would pay for … in the waiting list

    • wright_is

      Yes, it certainly looks interesting. Private search would be great. I want to know more about their privacy policies and security, but I wish them luck and I’ll at least try it.

  2. Daekar

    Paul,

    Thanks for drawing my attention to this one, hadn't seen it before. I jumped through their hoops to get six months of free service and so far I'm pleased. It's actually a jarring experience to search and get such simple, straightforward results, I hadn't realized how much noise my brain was automatically filtering out.


    We'll see how it goes, I'm not against paying for a search engine but they do have to earn it.

  3. jeffrye

    There's a lot of back and forth on whether it's worth paying for. I believe that for some, it will never be worth paying for because they're not willing to pay for something they can get for free. For others it won't be worth paying for until it's head and shoulders better than all the free search engines. Then there are those who will use it because there are no ads and it's not harvesting their data - and that's worth paying for.


    I for one am trying it out because I like the idea of being the customer instead of the product. I also love the fact that there are no ads. So far the search results seem fine - I'm finding what I'm looking for (not very scientific but that's all I've got).


    Everybody is different. However, if there are enough people to support Neeva's business model, then they'll do well. If not, then we just lost a measure of choice and I think that would be sad.

  4. markbyrn

    Been using it and not going to use it unless it's much improved. If I'm going to pay for a search engine, it has to be as good or better in its primary function and IMO, it's not nearly as good as Bing or Google. Another issue is it filters out anything it judges to be adult content and there isn't a Safe Search setting like Bing or Google to turn it off. I suppose they can tout that to sell subscriptions to schools but with a mountain of subscription services, I can't imagine people wanting to pay for a search engine.

  5. cnc123

    Neeva uses Bing for their results. I think they may do some tweaking, but the starting point is Bing. Neeva has added some nice features that Duck doesn't have like "Find X near me" and some customizations for technical results. I really like the weather being on the front page of search as well. Google search results have turned bad due to endless blogspam. I'm hoping another company can do a better job of filtering that crap, or give me the control to say "I never want to see results from this site again."

  6. scottcc

    $5/mo for not-Google-quality search results is a rip-off. If they bundled it with 1 TB cloud drive storage, some sort of streaming service, hosted email, etc. MAYBE $5/mo would be worth it. But if the results are at best quality Bing...uh, no thanks.

    • Paul Thurrott

      Yeah, that plucky little start-up should be giving each subscriber a Ferrari too! :)

    • Oreo

      Look at it from the other side: this just says that your data about your online and offline behavior is worth more than $5 per month. If you want to have nightmares, dig down what can be inferred from all the digital foot prints we leave.


      If that can be mitigated, I’d gladly pay for that.

      • ringofvoid

        Microsoft Rewards will pay you more than $5/month just to use Bing. That should give some perspective to how much value they see in you being the product.

      • jensengregory

        But why pay for it? DuckDuckGo doesn't track your behavior, is powered by Bing, and all of the advertising is based on keywords and not any sort of demographic/audience segmentation.

        • Oreo

          It’s choice: IMHO the search engine space needs innovation in the realm of business models. I have been using DuckDuckGo as my default search engine for quite a few years now. I like their business model, I trust them (up until now), it certainly beats everything else that is currently broadly available. (Neeva isn’t available in my locale yet.)


          But their business model is just one possible alternative to being the product that Google et al. are selling. Neeva is trying another one that is straightforward to understand as a customer. It asks point blank how much privacy and being ad-free is worth it to the users. I like the simple idea behind the exchange. Neeva depends on its users to make money, so their interests align much, much better with that of their users. The same can’t be said for the ad giants. Or even smaller players in the ad business such as DuckDuckGo that have to strike a compromise between making advertisers and users happy. (Just to be clear, I really like DuckDuckGo, and I think they are doing nothing creepy or untoward.)

  7. jeffrye

    Having been very frustrated by the amount of ads in my search results I am cautiously optimistic. I'll try it out and see.

  8. mdlynam

    Ah, Cuil. Good times.

  9. timdavis33

    I've been testing Neeva for a few months now.. still not quite as good as Google results but I find them better than Bing and Duckduckgo already. I will probably continue using it when I have to start paying.

  10. bettyblue

    I just tried searching for "Best Mattress" with DuckDuck, Google and Bing.


    Bing was hands down the worst when it came to ads with at least half of the first page being ads...and this is with multiple ad blockers. Google was just messy, hardly any ads but directions, then some links, then some videos. DuckDuck was as good as those Neeva results in terms being clean.


    So IMHO, Firefox, with DuckDuck, Ublock, and you have free, secure solution.

    • jensengregory

      DuckDuckGo is more or less Bing results in a different skin though. All of their ads are sourced from Microsoft Advertising, too, so the ads/results shouldn't be drastically different across the two.

    • Paul Thurrott

      Which brings us back to the big issue: Search result quality. And how those services might compare to Neeva, not just with one search but with many.

      • wright_is

        That is going to be the big sticking point, can they produce good (as well as clean) results?


        I've been using DDG as my main search engine for a couple of years and I am generally very happy with the results. I think I've had to resort to Google searches less than a dozen times in that time - and I do hundreds of searches a week.

  11. yaddamaster

    I'm interested. But will wait and see how they handle the pressure to manipulate search results.


    No political, cultural, religious, economic or whatever filtering. Just give me a stack ranked result of what I want. I'll filter what I don't want to see. I don't need someone else doing that for me.

  12. jensengregory

    As much as I understand the desire to escape advertising, the reality is that paid ads in search often level the playing field for businesses that have no realistic path to high organic search rankings. Something like 95% of searchers (I can't remember the exact stat) never go beyond the first page of results, so massive sites with huge content budgets and technical prowess can dominate them by default. I know no one likes advertising, but people too often overlook its necessity.


    Also, the fact that one of the product demo images features a shopping tile that says "Our Pick" gave me pause. Are they favoring specific products based on unbiased reviews/recommendations, or is that another avenue for favorable rankings that's simply being pitched as organic to the end user?

    • wright_is

      For me, it has nothing to do with the ads. I'll watch the ads, if you throw them at me, but only if you aren't tracking or profiling me in the process - which throws out about 99% of current advertising.


      Profile the page I'm visiting and show me an ad based on that? Great, go ahead.


      Put tracking cookies and use fingerprinting techniques to track me across the web? Nope, not going to happen, I'll block you.

      • jensengregory

        That's a fair attitude to be sure, and millions, if not billions, of people see it the way you do, too. At the same time, many of those people also turn to Google for email, easier logins across the web and other services without any care or regard for their privacy. It's an odd form of cognitive dissonance in my opinion.

        • wright_is

          I agree. I currently have an Android phone, but I don't like it being reliant on Google. I have disabled almost all the Google services and uninstalled or deactivated the majority of the Google Apps. I think it currently has YouTube and that's about it.


          It is the same, generally, for Google products and services. I use YouTube and I do have a Gmail account for collecting spam. I register unimportant services on Google, where I am not sure if they are going to spam me to death. Anything that I really want goes through one of my "real" email addresses.

        • Oreo

          There are several issues with that: most people are not aware what the ad industry can do and what it knows about you. Nor should they in a sense, governments have been doing a bad job of protecting the privacy of its citizens here.


          But the bigger problem in my mind is that many people on earth won’t be able to afford the luxury of having a search engine that doesn’t track them. I can spare $5 per month, but many people on earth can’t.

  13. Fuller1754

    Interesting. I'm always supportive of good alternative search providers. I've been using DDG for a few years, but now I'm using Brave's new search engine unless it doesn't give me the desired results (which is rarely). No one has mentioned yet that Brave will also be offering paid, ad-free search down the road.

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