I'm paying for my search engine. Maybe you should too.

I'm paying for my search engine. Maybe you should too.
Photo by Markus Winkler / Unsplash

Back in 1998, Larry Page and Sergey Brin launched Google Search, a revolutionary website that gave users access to millions of relevant information and websites in milliseconds. This was done using a result ranking technique involving counting the number of backlinks a website had. The more a certain website was referenced on other websites, the higher it would be ranked in search results. Thanks to this technique, high-quality resources were easy to find at first glance. However, Google was always about the advertising potential, not necessarily the user experience. For example, in 2003, "Google spent $102 million to acquire Applied Semantics [...], the makers of AdSense," and in 2006, "Google [...] paid [...] for another Web advertisement business, dMarc Broadcasting." Search results were injected with advertisements and sponsored placements, leading to these high-quality resources being bumped down in the page. While these advertisements kept Google free to use for all, it also gave the company incentives to favour advertisements instead of the most relevant results. Since websites can pay to be ranked higher, Google later added user tracking to their business model to serve more relevant ads. This led to decreased privacy because users were being profiled and cross-tracked across Google products and other partnered websites, like news websites, social media and more. Unfortunately, the search industry remained this way for a very long time because this business model succeeded in its goal to make the most profit possible.

One day, a startup called "Kagi Inc." stepped in to disrupt the search industry and create a search engine revolving around the user, not advertisers. At $10 a month, Kagi serves as a premium search product that fixes all of these issues. Paying for a search engine is a pretty new and weird concept to most people, but there are many good reasons to do so. Kagi aims to "develop a refined search experience for sophisticated customers who value high-quality results, privacy and speed".

High-Quality Results

Kagi serves zero ads to its users. Since there are no ads, there is no incentive to please advertisers by adding bias to search rankings, meaning Kagi's results are pure without affiliate links or sponsored placements. Users can find information quicker since there are no ads to sift through and results are truly relevant to their queries.

Lack of advertising aside, Kagi's technology is simply superior to Google's. Kagi's AI is a lot more efficient and concise and delivers better quick answers faster as a result.

Take a look at this screenshot:

"who invented the quantum computer" - Kagi on the left, Google on the right

At first glance, Kagi fetches results in 290 milliseconds, while Google fetches results in 580 milliseconds. That's a whole 200% improvement in speed.

As for results, Kagi's AI spits out the exact name of the person who invented the concept of quantum computers, while Google gives a longer and less relevant snippet. In my opinion, Kagi's interpretation of the query is better than Google's. Kagi finds the person who invented the concept of a quantum computer, while Google finds the people who built the first quantum computer.

Kagi also shows a relevant Wikipedia page on the right-hand side of the results, while Google doesn't. Google does show a link to the "Quantum Computing" Wikipedia page lower in the results, but it's definitely no where as easy to find as with Kagi.


Kagi prides itself in prioritizing and respecting user privacy, unlike Google. Kagi logs very little information, no IP addresses, no search queries and no browser fingerprinting. API responses and images are also proxied through Kagi's infrastructure, meaning third-parties cannot gain this information through Kagi's results.

In comparison, Google collects a lot more information with every search query:

We collect information about your location when you use our services, which helps us offer features like driving directions, search results for things near you, and ads based on your general location.

- GPS and other sensor data from your device
- IP address
- Activity on Google services, such as your searches and places you label like home or work
- Information about things near your device, such as Wi-Fi access points, cell towers, and Bluetooth-enabled devices
When you’re not signed in to a Google Account, we store the information we collect with unique identifiers tied to the browser, application, or device you’re using.

With the logging of search query data and user data comes the risk of a data breach. Google has very high standards of security, but nothing is bulletproof. If Google is compromised, would you feel comfortable with all of your searches being published and associated with your identity? I certainly wouldn't. The best way to prevent this is to use end-to-end encryption or simply not collect this information in the first place.


Due to Kagi being a premium search product, users fund its development and operational costs. Kagi has more financial resources from each user and incentive to constantly develop new features and refine the user experience with each update. Infrastructure is also able to scale as the userbase and demands grow.

As shown above, Kagi is up to 200% faster than Google for certain searches, and this is a great example of the power of premium crowd-funded services. In addition to rendering search results faster, Kagi retrieves data from third-party APIs and its own AI engines at lightning quick speeds. This amount of speed is unheard of in the search engine industry, and it's fantastic to see Kagi innovating in a saturated market.


The work that Kagi has done with their premium search product is phenomenal. For me, paying for a search engine used to feel outrageous, but after using Kagi, I can confidently say that it's worth it. They are crafting a truly user-based search experience with high-quality results, privacy-preservation and speedy queries, and I cannot wait to see what's in store. If you believe in the same core values of Kagi, I recommend giving them a try and supporting their mission to humanize the web.