It seems like you can’t turn on the television or browse to any news related website today without seeing some type of reporting concerning the PRISM scandal. Americans are well known for their love of privacy and individual rights. With the perceived infringement of these rights by the government millions of Americans are not only angry, but they are doing what they can to improve the privacy of their activity online.
Several small and relatively new search engines have reported dramatic increases in the number of searches being performed on their services since this scandal broke. StartPage put out a press release which states that they and their counterpart lxquick have now surpassed 3 million unique daily searches. While this may seem insignificant compared with the number of searches Google or even Bing are doing, it does represent a lot of people changing their search habits.
The numbers continue to grow, and while the outrage over this scandal will likely die down over the coming weeks or months, the concerns over privacy might not. If search engines like StartPage which focus on giving users a private and even anonymous search engine experience can manage to hold on to their new found popularity it could have some serious implications for marketers.
These sites have essentially brought together a specific type of people who would most likely be interested in some of the same things. Those selling products in the doomsday or disaster prepping niche, or conspiracy theorists could do extremely well marketing on these search sites. The question is, however, how will the marketing take place.
StartPage doesn’t have advertisers on their results pages at this point and it might be difficult to figure out SEO strategies that work since they draw in their search results from other sites (including Googe). Ranking a site in one of these niches on Google may help it show up on these smaller, more private, search engines.
While at this point nobody expects any of the major search engines to suffer any significant loss over the long term, it is interesting to see just how quickly people will abandon them if they think their privacy is being violated.
What do you think, have you used any of these small search engines? What do you think about Google & Bing possibly providing search information to the US Government? You can see the press release from StartPage HERE.