Why Use SearchScene?

The searches you perform online can reveal your innermost thoughts and feelings. But did you know that most major search engines, like Google, store all the searches you perform on their site and on the other sites they own, like Youtube? Your searches are usually tied to your IP address, which means they are tied to you: not only does Google know what you searched for, but it knows that you searched for it.

All of your searches can also be tied together to create a detailed profile of you. Major search engines, like Google, can then use this information to target their advertising towards you, which ultimately makes them more money.

SearchScene is a private search engine. We do not store your searches. We do not store your IP address (or any other information that could be used to identify you). We do not track you. We do not share your data (we have nothing to share). On SearchScene, you are anonymous. And all your searches are private.

How SearchScene Works

SearchScene uses the search engine Bing to deliver most of its search results. However, instead of your search queries being sent directly to Bing (which would reveal your search terms and IP address to Bing, and thus compromise your privacy), your search terms are sent to our SearchScene servers. We then query Bing on your behalf (without revealing your IP address), so that Bing can't see that the search query came from your computer – all they see are our servers making the request. Bing may well store these search terms themselves, but they have no way of knowing where they originated from – they have no IP address to store besides the IP address of our servers and they also have no user agent to store.

Bing then send their search results back to our servers. We then send those search results back to you. With our servers acting as a proxy between Bing and your computer, Bing cannot see who you are or know anything about you, other than the country code you selected before you made your search.

For certain search terms, we may also augment Bing's search results with information from other sources, e.g. Wikipedia. However, in all cases, our servers will act as a proxy between you and the source site, making it impossible for them to know who you are.

We don't log your search terms or your IP address on our servers (we don't even log your country code). In fact, we don't log anything about you or the search you performed.

Privacy

Regular, big-name search engines, such as Google, track your searches and record your IP address along with your user agent and store it along with your search terms and a time and date stamp. Your IP address and user agent can both be used to identify you, so these search engines can tie your search terms to you. Not only that, but this data can be stored forever. It can also be shared and sold on to third parties. It can be shared with law enforcement. And by storing it on their servers, it can be downloaded by hackers in the event of a successful hack or security breach.

SearchScene is one of only a handful of private search engines on the web that does not track you. We do not store your IP address. We do not store your user agent. We do not store your search queries. We don't know who you are or what you searched for. We believe that your searches are your business, and nobody else's, and we aim to keep it that way.

By not storing your IP address, user agent or any other information that could be used to identify you, we have no idea who you are or where you live. By not storing your search terms, we have no way of knowing what you searched for. This keeps you anonymous and your searches private – for all time.

See our privacy policy for more information.

Preventing Ad Tracking

By analysing your search history, most regular search engines build a profile of you and they then use this profile to target their advertising towards you. This profile isn't just based upon everything that you've ever searched for, it can also be based upon various web sites that you visit.

By targeting their advertising to suit you, search engines like Google can make more money by increasing the likelihood that the ads they show you will be of interest to you. This is better for the advertisers themselves, who can be sure that their ads are more likely to be shown to end-users who are interested in them. It is also better for the search engines, who will make more money from users clicking on these ads. These search engines will also argue that it is better for you too, because you will see ads that are more relevant to your interests. But isn't it creepy to see ads popping up on Google and on other sites you visit that show you products and services based on the last few searches you made, or based on the last few websites you visited?

If you use SearchScene, you can forget all of that creepiness. We don't know who you are. We don't know what you searched for. And you will not be tracked around the web with any ads that are targeted to any searches you made using our site.

Bursting Your Filter Bubble

Most search engines, like Google, will constrain you into what's called a filter bubble. This means that the search results you see may be tailored to you and your interests. Your search results may depend on your profile (which largely depends on previous things you searched for). These search engines will argue that they are doing you a favour, by giving you the results that are most likely to be of interest to you. For example, if you searched for a news story that was trending, you might be more likely to see a search result from Fox News or a search result from CNN, depending on your political leanings, which in turn is determined from your profile (which is based on your search history and web history). This can be a good thing if that's what you want. But it can also limit your ability to be exposed to alternative viewpoints and make you more entrenched in your own opinions.

This means that you could get different search results than someone else sitting right next to you who searched for the exact same thing! We think this is wrong.

Whether you also think this is wrong or not, don't you think it's creepy that a search engine should profile you in this way and use that information to constrain you into a filter bubble where you only ever get to see the parts of the web that they want you to see?

By using SearchScene, you will burst your filter bubble. Because we don't store your IP address or your search terms, we can't profile you in any way. You will therefore see the same search results that everyone else sees.

Geographically-Based Results

One of the downsides of a private search engine, such as SearchScene, is that we can't show you geographically-based search results. This is because we don't know where you are searching from.

Your search results may be country-specific, based on the country code you select when you perform the search. However, they will never be more geographically relevant than that. For most searches, this doesn't really matter. However, if you were to search for "Chinese restaurants" in a regular search engine, you would most likely get a list of Chinese restaurants in your local vicinity, which is actually quite useful. But because we don't know where you are, we can't do this. But all you need to do is add your city or town to your search term and you will get search terms that are geographically relevant. So for eaxmple, if you live in Manchester, you would just search for "chinese restaurants manchester" and you will get a list of Chinese restaurants in Manchester. This is the only price you pay for using a private search engine – and we think it's a small price to pay for your privacy.

If you want to change your country, you can change this from the footer on the homepage or from the top of any of the search results pages (just under the search box). Where appropriate, you will then see searches that are relevant to the country you selected.

Preventing Inadvertent Logging (by using POST requests)

Most website servers log the HTTP requests that they receive. These logs are often stored in perpetuity. The HTTP requests will contain the URL that is being requested. For a search for "North Korea" on a regular search engine like Google, for example, the URL being requested will look something like this...

https://www.google.com/search?q=North+Korea...

The URL contains your search term (in this example "North Korea"). This is logged on the server along with your IP address and user agent, as well as the date and time of your request. Your search term is tied to your computer and stored, in some cases indefinitely.

By contrast, here is the URL request for a search for "North Korea" on SearchScene.com...

https://www.searchscene.com/search

As you can see, this URL does not contain your search term. This is because we use POST requests for all your searches on our site. You will notice that (unlike regular search engines, as well as many other private search engines) your search terms will NEVER appear in the URL address bar of your browser. This means they won't appear in any server's HTTP Access Logs either.

We do not log your URL request, IP address or user agent on our server in any case (our logs are disabled), but even if we did accidentally log these things, your search term would still not appear in the logs and your privacy would still not be compromised.

Preventing Search Leakage (by using POST requests)

When you use a regular search engine to perform a search and you then click one one of the search results, your search terms are visible to the website you visited as part of the URL via the HTTP referer header. Your search terms will usually be logged on the website's server and the website owner can see the terms you searched for that brought you to their site. As with any site you visit, your IP address and user agent are also logged. This means that your search terms can be connected to you via the logs of the websites whose search results you clicked on.

SearchScene is different. Because we use POST requests (as opposed to GET requests) to request your search results, your search terms are not sent to any website whose link you click on in our search results. Whilst they will still be able to see (and log) your IP address and user agent (unless you use our built-in proxy service), they will not be able to see the terms you searched for that brought you to their site. Therefore, your privacy is protected when you use SearchScene to perform your search, even after you leave our site.

Our Built-In Website Proxy Service (via our "Open in Proxy" Links)

All our search results contain an "Open in Proxy" link next to them. This allows you to open any website featured in our search results using our built-in proxy service. This proxy service works much like our search results, whereby SearchScene acts like a proxy between your computer and the website.

For example, if you performed a search and clicked on one of our search results and visited a third-party site, that site would normally be able to see your IP address and user agent, as they would if you visited that site directly. (Note that they would not be able to see your search terms if you used SearchScene to perform your search.) This information would then most likely be logged along with the date and time you visited the site. However, if instead of clicking on the search result link, you clicked on the accompanying "Open in Proxy" link, your request for the web page would be sent directly to SearchScene instead of being sent to the web server of the site you wished to visit. SearchScene would then act as a proxy by requesting the web page on your behalf. Our server would download the page and then serve the page up to you. The website you visited would not be able to see your IP address or user agent – all they would see is the IP address and user agent of our server. The same goes for all the content on the page, including all images.

The downside of this is that the page effectively needs to be downloaded twice – once by our server from the website, and then once again by your browser from our server. This slows things down considerably, especially if lots of images are involved.

Another downside is that javascript and forms are disabled (for reasons of security) and videos are also disabled (for reasons of performance).

Our proxy service allows you to maintain your anonymity even when you leave our site by following any of the links in our search results. Very few other private search engines offer this feature.

Our Double Proxy Service (via our "Open in Proxy" Links)

Taking things to the extreme, SearchScene also features a built-in double proxy service. This is switched off by default but can be enabled from the settings page.

The double proxy adds a second proxy in a location of your choice – choose from Worldwide, United States, United States East, United States West, United Kingdom, Canada, Europe, Middle East, Africa, Oceana, South America or Asia. If Worldwide is chosen then the additional proxy node will use one of up to 1,500 random IP addresses around the world.

The upside of this is that it allows you to view the webpage as it looks from any of these worldwide locations. Some sites change their appearance and load different content to different users based on their location. Certain other sites block content to users from certain locations. The use of our double-proxy service allows you to circumvent this issue. For example, if you choose Canada as the location for your second proxy node, any website you visit via our "Open in Proxy" links will see a Candian IP address requesting their web page. For all intents and purposes, the website you visit will think you're in Canada, even if you're in the Middle East.

The downside of this is that the website has to be downloaded three times – once from the website server to the second proxy node (in a location of your choice), once from there to our server, and once from our server to your browser. This slows things down considerably.

The second downside is that, as with our standard single proxy node, javascript and forms are disabled (for reasons of security) and videos are also disabled (for reasons of performance).

End-to-End Encryption (using HTTPS)

As with banks and all major, reputable search engines, SearchScene uses the HTTPS protocol for end-to-end encryption between your browser and our server. This means that no man-in-the-middle (for example your Internet Service Provider) will be able to see your search terms, because they are encrypted.

HTTPS is standard on most search engines these days, but it is worth noting here anyway.

All Images Proxied (unless you optimise for speed)

By default, all images loaded on SearchScene are loaded via our server, which acts as a proxy. This prevents the search results provider (in our case this is usually Bing) from being able to see that you requested the images. This maintains your search privacy.

However, if you find the website slow to load all the images, you can optimise for speed instead of privacy by switching off the thumbnail image proxy on individual search results pages on our site, i.e. our web search tab, image search tab, videos search tab, and news search tab. This can be done from the user settings page.

The upside of this is that images will be loaded directly from the source (usually Bing) and so will load much faster. The downside, however, is that your image request may be logged by Bing, along with your IP address, user agent and timestamp. This may compromise your search privacy: although your search terms will still be private, it is possible that Bing may be able to guess your search terms based on the images that it serves up to you. As such, we only recommend disabling image proxying if you are having real performance problems in downloading the images that form part of our search results.

A First-Class Search Experience

By using Bing as a basis for the majority of our search results, we are able to give our users a truly first-class search experience. This gives you the enriched search experience that you get from a mashup of web results, top stories, image results, video results and topic summaries (knowledge graph) that only Google and Bing provide.

It is also worth noting that most users have shown a preference for Bing's search results over Google's search results in a blind test.

If you've checked out other private search engines, then you've seen how devoid of rich content most of them are, usually only showing you web links and nothing else. Your search experience on some of these sites will be a bit like it was on Google back in the 1990's! SearchScene is the only private search engine to give you a truly modern Bing-like or Google-like search experience, so that you don't have to compromise on your search experience just to maintain your privacy.

A First-Class User Experience

Who said search engines have to be boring? Apart from Bing, SearchScene is one of the only search engines to provide stunning background wallpaper images on its homepage that change daily.

Not only do you get a first-class, totally private search experience, but you can also slowly discover the world's most beautiful places via SearchScene.

If you want to keep today's wallpaper in place every day (instead of having it change daily), you can Pin It by selecting the Pin icon at the bottom right of the homepage's footer. Simply select it again to Unpin it and revert to the daily changing wallpaper image.

You can change your image category within the side menu and change your image resolution within Settings. If you prefer, the homepage scenery can be switched off completely within the settings page, resulting in a faster loading homepage.

You can also set your own homepage wallpaper by choosing an image from your computer or mobile device. Want a wallpaper image of your children, cat or favourite football team? No problem. Just select your own image using the button in the side menu of the homepage. It is worth noting that this image will not be uploaded to our servers, it will just be set locally on your machine.

What Makes SearchScene the World's Best Private Search Engine?

There are a number of private search engines that allow you to search the web anonymously. Some are better than others. Here's how SearchScene stacks up against the best of them...

SearchScene DuckDuckGo StartPage Qwant SearchLock
Search Features
Main results provider Bing Mixed Google Bing Unknown
Google/Bing-style search experience, using a mashup of search results (inc. images, videos and news) on the main results page
Image search
Video search
News search
Instant answers
Topic summaries (knowledge graph)
Auto-suggest feature (on by default)
Homepage daily wallpapers
Privacy Features
HTTPS encryption to prevent your ISP from seeing your search terms
Search terms not logged on server
Personally identifiable information (e.g. IP address, user agent) not logged on server
Search terms hidden from all query strings (by using POST requests by default)
Disassociates your searches from your online accounts (e.g. Google, Facebook, Twitter)
Prevents leaking your search terms to other sites
Built-in proxy service
Double proxy service