Ecosia is arguably the most famous charitable search engine, donating around 80% of its profits to tree planting charities around the world.
SearchScene is a brand new charitable search engine and our top pick from this category, donating 95% of its profits to various, well-known, international charities that help fight the causes and effects of climate change.
So what's the difference between Ecosia and SearchScene and why exactly do we rank SearchScene as our #1 charitable search engine, ahead of Ecosia? Read on to find out...
It's all about the search results! And this is where SearchScene really beats Ecosia!
The Charities Supported
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 100 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 say 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 natural habitat. 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 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.
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 gets one up on Ecosia here by donating a whopping 95% of their profits to the charities that you choose from their list. This is more than any other charitable search engine donates.
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's search results for "Africa by Toto" are shown below.
Let's break it down: Ecosia returns all the web results you would expect, in addition to a music video and some image thumbnails and an eBay ad for a collector's platinum album.
SearchScene's search results for "Africa by Toto" are shown below.
Immediately, you see that SearchScene's search results hit the spot far better than Ecosia's do:
Even at a glance, it is easy to see that SearchScene have done a far better job of assembling and displaying the search results for this search query. We call this one an easy win for SearchScene!
Let's try another search, this time for Lady Gaga...
Ecosia's search results for "Lady Gaga" are shown below.
Let's break this one down: apart from the usual web links, the elements that stand out on this page are:
SearchScene's search results for "Lady Gaga" are shown below.
There are several differences between SearchScene and Ecosia here that are worth pointing out, mainly in the right-hand side knowledge panel.
Ecosia's right-side knowledge panel contains just a handful of images of Lady Gaga (mostly with her head chopped off) and a short paragraph taken from Wikipedia.
SearchScene's knowledge panel contains...
This is another easy win for SearchScene!
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.
We call this one a draw!
Video Search Results
Ecosia and SearchScene display their video results quite differently. This is how they look for the search query "John Travolta"...
Ecosia's video search results for "John Travolta" are shown below.
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's video search results for "John Travolta" are shown below.
You will see immediately that SearchScene have gone for a completely different approach...
A quick look at the screenshots above and you will probably agree that SearchScene do a better job of displaying the 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. Another easy win here for SearchScene!
You will be far more likely to be happy with SearchScene as an alternative to Google than you would Ecosia.
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...
The main feature that makes SearchScene instantly stand out is the daily changing wallpaper images on its homepage - in the same style as Bing. Some of these 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 at blank.searchscene.com.
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.
All in all, 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 that makes it our clear favorite of the two charitable search engines.
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.