Google is obviously the leading search engine on the planet. And everyone knows its business model is to give away organized search results in exchange for serving up advertisements. If it were as simple as that users would only have to decide if being presented with adverts was worth the quality of the search engine results.

Unfortunately, it is much more complicated than that.

In order to expand their reach into advertisers pockets, Google takes advantage of collecting and selling all manner of data on users of its search engine, going so far as to endlessly track them across the Web. And therein lies the rub. Even if the personal data is anonymized, it just feels like there is some creepy dude watching everything you do.

And even that seemed okay given all the free things Google offered in exchange, like email, customizable news, search results, etc. But these days there seems to be an increasing awareness of privacy issues and while Google isn’t about to go away, a small window of opportunity to do something different has opened.

A new search engine has emerged and it comes with the promise of no ads, no tracking, and they won’t sell your search history. How do they intend to make money? Selling subscriptions. Users will actually pay for the services of a search engine. The thought seems so foreign that most recoil at the notion and yet, I think I’m willing to pay five bucks a month for the added privacy without advertisements if the search is good.

Former Googlers launch Neeva, a $4.95 p/m search engine with no ads and a privacy focus:

Sridhar Ramaswamy and Vivek Raghunathan, two former Google executives (about 30 percent of their company’s staff are ex-Googlers), hope their newly launched search engine Neeva will be able to steal some of the 90% market share enjoyed by their one-time employer. Unlike Google, which makes most of its money from ads, Neeva uses a subscription-based model, meaning no privacy concerns or search results populated by advertisements.

I signed up and am getting three free months before the subscription fee commences:

Welcome to Neeva, the world’s first ad-free and private search engine. We’re deeply committed to building a high-quality search experience to help find real results that matter to you. And we believe you should be able to find relevant information without sacrificing your privacy. Search behavior shouldn’t be used to target you with persistent ads that follow you around the web. Thanks for joining our mission to put you back in control of your information. Happy searching!

I’m using it across the many platforms in use here and I have to say I’m impressed with the results. They’ve been good. Very good. And I don’t wonder if the algorithm has been tweaked to favor results from higher paying advertisers. The home page includes customizable news and weather information in a simple, clean format.

I’m using it with Firefox on most of my machines though to use it on iOS requires the Neeva Browser for now. I like it enough after only a week that I am determined to keep it. I don’t need “free” search I just need affordable privacy.

Yes, more of that please…