Unlike popular centralized search engines such as Google, Bing, Yahoo and Ask, decentralized search engines have no central control and are distributed across networks. With a decentralized search engine, no search engine company owns your data or even has access to your search information. All of this data is encrypted and stored on a blockchain. Instead of a search engine company like Google or Microsoft owning your data, you own it, and have control access to your own data with a private key. A reliable resource for the latest ICOs and for being in the know with trends and stats for decentralized search engines is ICO Holder.
Non-blockchain decentralized search engines have been around for over a decade, however, have failed to make an impact due to scalability issues. As such, they lack a promising future with most now being dormant. This article focuses on blockchain-based decentralized search engines since they show greater potential in terms of growth and scalability.
How decentralized search engines work
When a person searches for a keyword, the search engine looks for it within its distributed ledger and lists the results. Details about the search are encrypted and stored in the distributed ledger. The distributed ledger is compiled from the collective effort of a peer-to-peer network, with every node (computer) on the network acting as a potential source of searching and updating the distributed ledger.
The key benefits of decentralized search engines
- Privacy – your search profile is not secretly recorded for purposes of targeted adverts or eavesdropping.
- Transparency – since the search ledger is public and available to everyone, there is no secrecy, only the identity of the person doing the search is withheld.
- Community-driven – unlike centralized search engines which are largely driven by corporations with vested interests, distributed search engines are run with the community’s interest at heart.
- Shared resources – the public ledger is distributed and owned by anyone on the network who has a copy of it.
- Neutral – decentralized search engines do not distort search results based on paid adverts, corporate policy, or government policy.
The key disadvantages of decentralized search engines
- Lack of progressive rules – other than the few rules inherent in the system, there are hardly any rules adaptable to changing circumstances.
- Lack of flexible control – since there is a lack of progressive rules, the only control is the inherent one and new control measures need universal consensus.
- Unfavorable to internet marketing – while decentralization is great for individual users, it is unfavorable to marketers who want to take advantage of data captured by search engines, so they can carry out targeted marketing. There is room to address this as the technology matures.
- Lack of monetary incentive – most decentralized search engines lack monetary incentives for contributors. This is unlike centralized search engines such as Google which experienced exponential growth due to monetary incentives for developers and content providers. However, Presearch is one engine that has been designed to address this challenge. Bitclave is also developing a system where users will be compensated for their activity using CAT (Consumer Activity Token).
The most popular decentralized search engines
Decentralized search engines are still relatively new, with many at an early developmental stage. Nonetheless, the following decentralized search engines have shown some level of growth and stability.
- Desearch makes it easy to search for information relating to any cryptocurrency in the market. It provides a quick search menu for five popular cryptocurrencies and platforms – Bitcoin, XRP, Ethereum, Bittrex, and Bitclave. Despite billing itself as a crypto search engine, it also performs general search queries.
- Presearch is a new decentralized search engine, still at trial stage, which uses its own crypto tokens to reward users (early adopters), developers, and other players that contribute to the growth of this engine. It offers marketers an opportunity to use the token system to purchase targeted ads.
- Nebulas is fondly referred to as the Google of blockchain by the crypto community. This is because it is the most diverse in terms of services offered. It suits the needs of searchers, publishers, advertisers and content marketers among many others. It has its own crypto coin, NAS, and aims to become the best alternative to Google in the cryptocurrency and blockchain world.
Can decentralized search engines beat giants like Google, Bing, and Yahoo?
None of these giant centralized search engines started off as being ‘big’, except for Bing which had a large backing from an already-established multibillion-dollar giant: Microsoft.
Blockchain technology is highly scalable. The community approach, if well-harnessed, can lead to an explosive exponential growth that could quickly engulf the traditional market. In short, there is every potential for decentralized search engines to topple the centralized corporate giants. It all depends on how they go about unleashing their immense potential.
The need for decentralized search engines is compelling due to monopolization of the market by two leading giants – Google and Bing. The difference is in the billions these companies make annually from their discrete algorithm.
While decentralized blockchain search engines exist, they are still far from maturity. The most advanced systems are at an early-adoption stage while many are still at the conceptual stage. Nonetheless, the potential for success is high.