SearchScene vs Ecosia

Ecosia is arguably the most famous charitable search engine, donating around 80% of its profits to tree planting charities around the world.

SearchScene is our new charitable search engine that donates 95% of its profits to various, well-known, international charities that help fight the causes and effects of climate change.

So what are the other main difference between Ecosia and SearchScene? Read on to find out…

It’s all about the search results! And this is where SearchScene really beats Ecosia!

The Charities Supported

Ecosia:

Ecosia is all about planting trees. It donates all of its charitable contributions to tree planting charities that work to plant trees in South America, Africa and Indonesia, where the cost of planting trees is lower. Ecosia has been in business for over 10 years and, in that time, it has planted over 125 million trees! Since each tree can remove around 50 kg of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere over a 15 year period, this equates to around 5 million metric tonnes of CO2 removed from the atmosphere, thanks to Ecosia. (To put that figure into perspective, there is around 43 billion tonnes of CO2 in the atmosphere (2019), so Ecosia have so far (as of 2020) removed around 0.01% of the CO2 in the atmosphere.) It is important to note that the tree-planting projects that Ecosia support also help to give paid work to local villagers and farmers in the world’s poorest places, thereby helping to lift them out of extreme poverty.

SearchScene:

Here at SearchScene, we recognise that fighting climate change is not all about planting trees. Climate change is here right now and is already affecting the lives of millions of people around the world, and those in the poorest countries are hit the hardest. That is why SearchScene donate to charities that help fight the effects of and not just the causes of climate change, including Oxfam, UNICEF, UNHCR and WaterAid who help alleviate the suffering caused by climate change on the most vulnerable. SearchScene also donate to WWF, who help safeguard wildlife and the oceans and fight climate change by lobbying for the preservation of the Earth’s rainforests and natural habitats. SearchScene also support Eden Reforestation Projects, one of the world’s largest tree-planting charities (and a major recipient of Ecosia’s donations). Eden Reforestation Projects work to plant trees in the world’s poorest places, which helps to fight climate change and gives local villagers a decent wage, thereby lifting them out of extreme poverty.

Most importantly, SearchScene gives you a choice. You can select the charities you want to support by clicking on the heart-shaped charity icon at the top-right of SearchScene. Each search you make counts as a vote and that vote is split between your chosen charities with every search you make. So if tree-planting is your one and only concern then you could just select Eden Reforestation Projects as your sole charity and all your raised charitable contributions will go towards tree-planting, just as it would if you were searching on Ecosia.

Unlike Ecosia, SearchScene gives you a choice of charities to support, helping you to not only tackle climate change by planting trees, but helping the poorest and most vulnerable in society too.

Charitable Contributions

Ecosia:

Ecosia donate 80% of their profits to tree-planting charities – nice and simple! It is worth noting that this is far in excess of the 50% donation percentage offered by most charitable search engines.

SearchScene:

Here at SearchScene, we donate 95% of our profits to the charities that you choose from our list. This is more than any other charitable search engine donates.

Search Results

It’s all about the search results! And this is where SearchScene really beats Ecosia! At the end of the day, nobody is going to want to use a search engine that doesn’t give them the information they’re looking for, presented in the nicest way possible. Both SearchScene and Ecosia are powered by Bing as the underlying search results provider. Both search engines then have their own algorithms in place to further refine and add additional information to the search results. And both search engines have free rein over how they display all this information. As you will see below, SearchScene beats Ecosia in the way it displays the results and also in the additional information it provides within the search results.

In assessing the difference in the search results, it is useful to break them down and look at the various parts of the search results for a couple of example search queries. So let’s get cracking…

First, let’s search for a popular song: let’s search for “Africa by Toto”…

Ecosia:

Ecosia’s search results for “Africa by Toto” are shown below.

Ecosia's search results for 'Africa by Toto'

Ecosia’s search results for ‘Africa by Toto’

Ecosia returns all the web results you would expect, in addition to some music videos and some images.

SearchScene:

SearchScene’s search results for “Africa by Toto” are shown below.

SearchScene's search results for Africa by Toto'.

SearchScene’s search results for Africa by Toto’.

Immediately, you see that SearchScene’s search results hit the spot far better than Ecosia’s do:

At the very top of the search results, you see the official music video for “Africa by Toto”, filling the full width of the search results container. Click on this and the video will start to play in-situ, without you having to leave the page (you can change this behaviour on the user settings page if you choose). There is a link underneath for watching the video directly on YouTube instead. Below this you will find more music videos, whilst all the links to YouTube on SearchScene have large accompanying thumbnail images, as you can see here throughout the page.

The main difference between SearchScene and Ecosia are the knowledge panels. Look to the right-hand sidebar and you will find our knowledge panel for the song, complete with a gallery of thumbnail images above and factual information about the song, including when it was released, who wrote it, an audio sample, and so on. Click on the “Summary” tab in the knowledge panel for the story behind the song.

Even at a glance, it is easy to see that we’ve done a better job of assembling and displaying the search results for this search query.

Let’s try another search, this time for Lady Gaga…

Ecosia:

Ecosia’s search results for “Lady Gaga” are shown below.

Ecosia's search results for 'Lady Gaga'

Ecosia’s search results for ‘Lady Gaga’

Let’s break this one down: apart from the usual web links, the elements that stand out on this page are: a scrolling carousel of videos, half way down the page and three top news stories with image thumbnails. You will aslo see a knowledge panel on the right hand side with a short snippet on Lady Gaga.

SearchScene:

SearchScene’s search results for “Lady Gaga” are shown below.

SearchScene's search results for 'Lady Gaga'

SearchScene’s search results for ‘Lady Gaga’. The knowledge panel on the right hand side gives a lot more information than Ecosia’s.

Immediately, you will see that SearchScene’s knowledge panel contains a lot more information about Lady Gaga than the short snippet provided by Ecosia.

SearchScene’s knowledge panel contains…

  • A gallery of images at the top
  • A summary paragraph about Lady Gaga
  • Social media icons linking to Lady Gaga’s profile on facebook, twitter, instagram, etc.
  • Factual information about where and when she was born, net worth, famous relatives, etc.
  • A list of albums (in a sliding carousel)
  • A list of movies and TV shows (in a sliding carousel)
  • A list of similar artists (in a sliding carousel)
  • The “Summary” tab at the top of the knowledge panel gives a detailed summary about Lady Gaga
  • The “Albums” tab displays all her albums in chronological order
  • The “Movies & TV” tab displays all her movies and TV appearances in chronological order
  • The “Similar” tab displays all similar artists

Image Search Results

There is little point comparing image search results because both SearchScene and Ecosia handle them in much the same way – both display them in a gallery of images and both will drop down a panel with a larger version of the image if you click on any of the thumbnails. Within the expanded panel, both SearchScene and Ecosia provide links to the source site and links to a full-size version of the image. Both allow you to filter the images by size, color, type, etc.

Video Search Results

Ecosia and SearchScene display their video results quite differently. This is how they look for the search query “John Travolta”…

Ecosia:

Ecosia’s video search results for “John Travolta” are shown below.

Ecosia's video search results for 'John Travolta'.

Ecosia’s video search results for ‘John Travolta’. Videos are displayed in a list with 10 videos per page.

As you can see, Ecosia display their videos in a list with a small video thumbnail, the date and a description next to each video. This is how Google also display their video results. In total 10 videos are displayed per page. If you click on a video, you are redirected to the source site, e.g. YouTube.

SearchScene:

SearchScene’s video search results for “John Travolta” are shown below.

SearchScene's video search results for 'John Travolta'.

SearchScene’s video search results for ‘John Travolta’. Videos are displayed as a gallery, with 50 videos per page. Most will play in-situ.

You will see immediately that we’ve gone for a completely different approach with SearchScene…

  • Instead of presenting our videos in a list, we’ve presented them in a gallery, with large thumbnails about twice the size of Ecosia’s.
  • In total, 50 videos are presented per page (5 times more than Ecosia).
  • Video titles are shown along with the date they were published and also a view-count (which is missing from Ecosia).
  • As on the web results, hovering your mouse pointer over a video thumbnail on SearchScene usually gives you a video preview of the videos. Ecosia does not have this feature.
  • Unlike Ecosia, clicking on a video will usually allow the video to play in a drop-down panel without you having to leave the page (although this can be changed in the user settings page). The drop-down panel will give you a link to the source site and more info on the video.

A quick look at the screenshots above and you will probably agree that SearchScene do a better job of displaying videos in a much more engaging way than Ecosia (and Google, for that matter) and with 5 times the number of videos displayed on the page.

You would be more likely to be happy with SearchScene as an alternative to Google than you would Ecosia.

Dark Mode

Another great feature of SearchScene is its dark mode. Open the side menu using the burger button at the top right of the page and flick the switch to enable dark mode. This makes all the search results go dark, which is great for reducing eye-strain in low light, such as reading the page in bed on your phone or laptop. It also uses slightly less energy than the light mode. We think it looks great and this is our default setting for SearchScene in our offices. This feature is also available on Bing (mobile version only) but is lacking on Google and most other search engines. Notably, it is lacking on Ecosia too. Check out the search results for Britney Spears in dark mode below…

SearchScene's search results on dark mode.

SearchScene’s search results on dark mode. You can enable this setting from the side menu.

Bowser Extensions & Mobile Apps

Both SearchScene and Ecosia offer a number of different ways of accessing their site and search results. Both search engines have browser extensions for Chrome, Firefox and Edge browsers. In each case, the browser extension sets SearchScene/Ecosia as the default search engine, which means that any searches you perform within the browser’s URL omnibox are executed on SearchScene/Ecosia. Additionally, the SearchScene browser extension also sets SearchScene as your homepage, start-page and new tab, where the ever-changing homepage scenery makes for a great experience when you first open your browser or open a new tab. If this is all a bit too much SearchScene for you, then you’ll be pleased to know that we also offer browser extensions that only set SearchScene as your default search engine and browser extensions that only set it as your homepage and new tab, so you can take your pick.

Both SearchScene and Ecosia have apps available for iOS (iPhone and iPad) and Android (phone and tablet). These apps are self-contained web browsers with SearchScene or Ecosia set as the homepage and default search engine. Ecosia’s apps appear to be based on Chrome/Chromium, whereas SearchScene’s apps are based on Firefox, and thus offer enhanced privacy protection (see below).

Install SearchScene by visiting our install page…
https://www.searchscene.com/install-searchscene

Links to Ecosia’s mobile apps can be found here…
https://info.ecosia.org/mobile

Privacy

Both SearchScene and Ecosia take your privacy seriously. Both search engines encrypt your searches and neither will track you across the web (like Google do). Neither search engine sells your data to advertisers and neither search engine uses tracking tools (like Google Analytics) in order to prevent third-parties from accessing your search results. Ecosia store your search results but anonymise them within one week, whilst here at SearchScene we don’t store your search results and we also run an automated routine every day to delete our web host’s server logs, which elimiates any trace of your searches on our servers.

Both SearchScene and Ecosia use Bing’s index as the source of the underlying search results. In order to provide you with ads to monetise the site, both SearchScene and Ecosia need to provide Bing with your search term and your IP address. These are anonymised by Bing soon afterwards. You can read Bing’s privacy policy here, which is very robust compared to Google’s!

In addition to the above, SearchScene’s mobile apps are based on Firefox, which has additional privacy protection that extends beyond our search engine to every website you visit. Our Firefox-based apps remove cross-site tracking cookies, social trackers, cryptominers and fingerprinters from every website you visit. Ecosia’s mobile apps seem to be based on Chrome/Chromium (although we are not 100% sure about this). We couldn’t find any mention of any additional protection provided by Ecosia’s app.

Homepage

The main feature that makes SearchScene instantly stand out is the changing wallpaper images on its homepage, which change each time you load the page (although this setting can be changed). Some of these scenes are wildlife images, but most are scenes from some of the most beautiful places on the planet, from seascapes with sandy beaches and palm trees, to under water caves; from impressive architectures, to atmospheric scenes of stormy oceans. In contrast, Ecosia have followed Google’s lead with a predominantly blank homepage. If this type of minimalism is your thing or if you’re on a very slow internet connection, then SearchScene also have a blank homepage available – simply click on the gear icon on the homepage’s header bar and switch off the homepage scenery.

If all other things were equal – the charities supported were the same and the search results were identical – then this might just be enough to tip you towards SearchScene. However, with SearchScene’s superior search results and choice of charities, this is just one extra feather in SearchScene’s cap.

One of SearchScene's stunning homepage scenes.

One of SearchScene’s stunning homepage scenes. Click on the image info box at the bottom right to reveal the location of the image.

Conclusion

All in all, we hope you will agree that SearchScene do a much better job of assembling and displaying their search results than Ecosia, meaning that you will be far more likely to be happy with SearchScene as an alternative to Google than you would Ecosia. Not only that but, unlike Ecosia, SearchScene gives you a choice of charities to support, helping you to not only tackle climate change by planting trees, but helping the poorest and most vulnerable in society too. Add to that SearchScene’s stunning homepage and dark mode feature, and we hope that you will have a better search experience on SearchScene than on Ecosia.

There are millions of different search queries we could have tested, but we tried to focus on a few where there were clear differences between the two sites. We hope that this analysis helps you make the right choice for your charitable search engine. Either way, well done on deciding to take a punt and leave Google in pursuit of a search engine that gives back to society and the planet.

Follow our links to check out SearchScene and Ecosia for yourself.