Would you pay a monthly fee to a search engine, in exchange for removing ads?
That’s the bet Neeva, a new search engine, is making.
There are many current alternatives to Google Search:
- Microsoft’s Bing
- DuckDuckGo (privacy-focused)
- Ecosia (ad revenue used to plant trees)
Yet Google is still king. It’s estimated there are 5.6 billion Google searches every day. None of the alternatives come close to matching that level of traffic.
Not only is Google an amazing search of free, organic traffic for many businesses, it’s Ads product generates over 60% of Google’s revenue. And it created an entire industry of professionals to optimize Google Ads.
I manage Google Ads for a living, so I know that product extremely well. I’ve spent millions of dollars on Google Ads throughout my career.
But in my personal life I’m a very privacy-conscious internet browser. I use Brave Browser which has ad block built into it. I rarely give out my personal email address when signing up for new products. I use a VPN religiously.
But I’m so hooked into Google’s ecosystem. Gmail. Calendar. Android. Nest. Drive.
My day-to-day internet life touches many Google products multiple times.
So when Neeva was announced, I was curious.
I was not paid to write this review, nor was I given any special access to Neeva. I signed up like anyone else. All thoughts and grammar mistakes are my own.
What is Neeva?
Neeva is a subscription-based, ad-free, and privacy-focused search engine.
It’s Google without the ads and tracking.
Where Neeva differs from other Google alternatives is that it requires a monthly subscription, currently $4.95/month after a generous free trial.
Any new search engine won’t have feature parity with Google Search for years, because Google has been around for 22 years.
But Neeva comes pretty close right out the gate.
Neeva vs Google Search
I compared a bunch of searches in Google and Neeva, and took screenshots.
Chocolate Chip Cookies
The best thing about Neeva? Recipies.
Recipe sites in Google are sinkholes of life stories. They’re notorious for blabbing on and on mostly to increase the amount of ad impressions you see before the recipe.
Neeva takes the recipe and displays it as a widget right in the search result page.
Like most well adjusted adults, I google myself on a regular basis.
Even my, admittedly very low search volume, keyword is different in Neeva compared to Google search.
The main difference is that my website, the one you’re reading right now, shows up first in Neeva. In Google, my LinkedIn shows up first instead, followed up a list result for every Nick Lafferty on LinkedIn.
Neeva also shows some sitelinks to two of my articles, which is a nice touch.
This is the first search that showed how nice it is not to have ads as 40% of the results.
Here’s the top of the Google results for Mailgun, the company I work for.
Ads everywhere. 🤮
Once you scroll past the ads it gets better. A giant result for Mailgun, with many sitelinks, and a People also ask box.
Here’s the same result on Neeva.
No ads and a smaller overall result for Mailgun.
It also pulled in an email I sent to someone at Mailgun from my personal email, because I connected my Google account to Neeva. More on that later.
Neeva really shines with developer-focused searches.
First, a Google result for learn python.
More ads. But once you scroll down.
An organic link from Codecademy, a people also ask box, and a listing from learnpython.org
But look at the same search in Neeva.
Before any of the results is a filter, where you can toggle your results among the official Python docs, Forums, Programming Websites, Blogs, and Coding Repos.
Super cool! Sometimes you want to find a specific repo, which is likely not optimized for SEO, and Neeva enables you find those easily.
How does Neeva make money?
Neeva will charge a $4.95/month subscription fee to access their service. Currently you can get a free 3-month trial .
Does Neeva Use Google Analytics?
It would be pretty hypocritical for a search engine positioned as the anti-Google to use a Google product, right?
So I checked to see if Neeva uses Google Analytics, the most common website analytics tool on the market.
Don’t miss my Plausible Review, which is the google analytics alternative I use for this website.
I’m happy to report that Neeva does not use Google Analytics.
They use a tool called Piwik Pro.
In my first few days of testing Neeva for this review I’ve been really impressed.
Here’s how the homepage looks once you login.
A few things to note in that screenshot. I have selected preferred news sources, which is why The New York Times and The Verge have a green thumbs up.
My location is configurable or can be set automatically. In this case I manually set my location to Austin, Texas.
Like all of my other Neeva screenshots, this one is also in dark mode. There’s a handy checkbox for it in the settings.
- 100% ad-free
- Privacy focused, no invasive user-tracking
- Native support for Dark Mode
- An ad-blocking browser extension
- Customized search results
- In-result recipies
- Integrations with Dropbox, Google, and more coming soon.
$4.95/month, after a free 3-month trial .
Neeva is a solid early-stage search engine. The initial feature set is great, especially their recipe implemtation.
Internet users have been so accustomed to seeing ads at the top of Search results that it’s very refreshing to not see them there anymore with Neeva. And almost kind of weird.
I’m really curious how Neeva evolves and how much of Google’s marketshare it takes.