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Brave Search passes 2.5 billion queries in its first year, and debuts Goggles feature that allows users to choose their own search rankings
Private, independent search engine exits beta phase on its first anniversary, with innovative features that help users de-Google their search
One year ago, we launched Brave Search to give everyone online a real choice over Big Tech: a privacy-protecting, unbiased alternative to Google and Bing, and a truly independent alternative to providers—such as DuckDuckGo or Startpage—that rely on Big Tech to run.
Today, Brave Search is exiting its beta phase. It’s the default search engine for most new Brave browser users, and any user can search privately using Brave Search in their favorite browser by going to search.brave.com. It’s had rapid user growth, released a slew of innovative features, and challenged the Big Tech monopolies head on. All while staying true to core principles:
- Independence: We serve results from our own built-from-scratch index of the Web
- Privacy: We don’t track you, your searches, or your clicks
- User-first: We put you first, not the advertising or data industries
- Transparency: We don’t censor, bias, filter, or downrank results (unless legally required to)
- Seamlessness: Brave can offer a best-in-class integration between the browser and search—from personalization to instant results as you type—without compromising privacy
To celebrate this one-year anniversary, we’d like to take a moment to highlight growth, give a sneak peek of Goggles, and review other innovative features of Brave Search.
Brave Search has grown faster than any search provider since Bing. Some numbers:
- 2.5 billion queries in the past 365 days
- A high of 14.1 million queries per day
- 5 billion queries annualized (projection based on current monthly totals)
While we’ll never stop improving, in many regions Brave Search already has a level of quality that competes with other established search engines such as Google and Bing. Thanks to this quality, growth, new features, and continued rise in global independence scores, we’re pleased to announce that we’re removing the “beta” label from Brave Search.
“Since launching one year ago, Brave Search has prioritized independence and innovation in order to give users the privacy they deserve. The Web is changing, and our incredible growth shows that there is demand for a new player that puts users first,” said Josep M. Pujol, Chief of Search at Brave. “Today we’re releasing Goggles to alter the way search has traditionally been done and to put users in charge at last. The world is too diverse for a single ranking, so Goggles opens search ranking and filtering transparently for everyone to use, share, and improve.”
Search without limits: Goggles beta release
We’re excited to announce the long-awaited beta release of an innovative new Brave Search feature: Goggles. Goggles will enable anyone, or any community of people, to create sets of rules and filters to constrain the searchable space and / or alter the ordering of search results. Anyone could then choose to apply a Goggle—or extend it—to their view of Brave Search results. Essentially, Goggles will act as a re-ranking option on top of the Brave Search index.
This means that, instead of a single ranking, Brave Search can offer an almost limitless number of ranking options, enabling search use-cases that could be too specific for a general purpose search engine. While Brave Search doesn’t have editorial biases, all search engines have some level of intrinsic bias. Goggles allows for users to counter any intrinsic biases in the algorithm.
Brave Search is committed to openness in search. It does not manipulate its algorithm to bias, filter, or down-rank results (unless it’s compelled by law to do so). Contrast this with the world’s two largest search providers—Google and Bing—who openly manipulate their rankings based on political leanings or other factors.
Goggles takes this commitment to openness a step further by allowing users to choose, alter, or extend the ranking of Brave Search results. In the sample query “search engine” below, you’ll see the power of Goggles in action. You can see that a simple query that would normally favor more common news outlets instead here shows results from individual bloggers.
Goggles can work much the same way for any topic, any media, any website. With Goggles, users can search without Big Tech’s bias—they can search without limits.
To get started with the Goggles beta, simply conduct a search at search.brave.com and click the Goggles tab on the results page.
Anybody can make Goggles, use ones created by others, and see the source code for already existing Goggles—and extend it—by visiting the Github repository.
Read the full Goggles white paper.
The Goggles available at launch (listed below) are demos, created by Brave for educational purposes only, and to showcase the Goggles’ syntax and their simplicity. They’re meant as examples so users can understand the impact and potential for new Goggles, and developers can extend or fork them. Brave will not actively maintain or extend those Goggles, and will delete these specific Goggles once the community has begun building their own.
Tech blogs—Rerank results to boost content found on technical blogs.
Hacker News—Prioritizes domains popular with the Hacker News community, minus those that would rank among the top 1000 most-viewed websites.
No Pinterest—Rerank results to remove pages / threads hosted on Pinterest.
Rust programming—Rerank results to boost content related to the Rust programming language.
Copycats removal—Rerank results to remove “copycat” content (e.g. StackOverflow threads or GitHub translations).
1k short—Rerank results to remove pages found on the top 1,000 most-viewed websites.
- The lists of tech blogs are drawn from multiple sources, including blogsurf.io and refined.blog, and not vetted by Brave. The list of top sites in the “1k short” Goggle are drawn from tranco-list.eu. Newly up-ranked sites are not vetted by Brave.
Community engagement with Goggles has already started. The team at Allsides has built Goggles based on their knowledge of political biases in the media. Note that Brave is not affiliated with any of the Goggles’ independent creators.
- Left-leaning sources—Rerank results to boost content from left-leaning sources.
- Right-leaning sources—Rerank results to boost content from right-leaning sources.
Brave Search isn’t just about offering a newer, more private alternative to the same old search. We’re also adding brand new features to improve search results.
In addition to Goggles, in April, 2022 we announced Discussions. With Discussions, search results on Brave Search are augmented with actual conversations related to the query, pulled from popular forum sites including Reddit. This allows users to easily see what various communities are saying about a topic, rather than just reading content curated by websites.
Discussions bring multiple points of view to search, and a readymade method—upvotes and likes—to measure an answer’s quality. They also allow Brave Search to combat the so-called “SEO spam” that’s become so prominent on Google. Brave Search is already better than other search engines at handling SEO content—with Discussions, we’re enhancing results even more to bring real human conversations (and answers) right to the search results page.
How we’ve grown
Of course privacy, independence, and innovation are nice. But search lives and dies on accuracy. From the beginning, we set out to build a search engine that delivers the quality, nuance, and depth that people expect from Google or Bing. And we set ourselves that mission all while committing to stay true to our principles.
So Brave Search then became an enormous engineering challenge: How to build the index—and the ranking algorithm—without collecting user data? We came up with a handful of ways:
- The Web Discovery Project: A privacy-preserving way for users to anonymously contribute browsing data, and thus improve the coverage and quality of Brave Search.
- Fallback mixing: An anonymous way for Brave to check Google in cases where our index isn’t complete or refined enough (especially for “long-tail” queries), and “mix” the results for you.
- Anonymous local results: A way for Brave Search to serve localized search results (e.g. for the query “restaurants near me”) without knowing your physical location or broadcasting your IP address.
- Listening to your feedback: We have a strong community of Brave Search users who provide feedback, requests, and suggestions on everything from results, features, infoboxes and widgets, and more. And we act on as much of this feedback as we can.
Together, the above show it is possible to thread the needle: to both improve the index for all users, and preserve their privacy and anonymity online. In addition to the rapid growth Brave has seen, we’re also checking another metric to measure the success of this mission: the independence score.
In isolation, this score—shown for both individuals and users globally—is a measure of the percentage of our results served directly from the Brave Search index. But it also does something much more important: It ensures free access to information, without Big Tech’s manipulation. Search engines that depend too much, or exclusively, on Big Tech are subject to their censorship, biases, and editorial decisions. The Web needs multiple search providers—without choice there’s no freedom.
Brave is building an alternative to what already exists, not window dressing the same old thing.
- The global independence score for all Brave Search users is 92%
- This is up from 87% when Brave Search first launched one year ago
Let me de-Google that for you (LMDGTFY)
When Brave first acquired the Tailcat team and began to lay the foundation for Brave Search, we knew what we were up against: The monolith of Google. It was audacious enough to take on a global brand that dominates 85% of search volume and over 60% of desktop browser usage worldwide. Doing so in a way that preserved user privacy and relied on an independently built index of the Web was a huge challenge. But it was consistent with Brave’s mission of putting users first and fixing the Web.
Coupled with our privacy browser, Brave now provides the first truly viable, private browser+search alternative to the Big Tech platforms. We’re making it seamless for users to browse and search with guaranteed privacy, all while fighting the censorship and overreach of Big Tech companies. And, rather than just offer a privacy-first copy of Google, we’re continuing to innovate with features such as Discussions and Goggles.
Ever hear the phrase “Let me Google that for you?” How about letting Brave de-Google that for you instead?
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