Search Engine Review

Three years ago, the SEO tool creator Ahrefs announced that it was developing its own search engine because Google did not share its ad revenue with content creators. So Ahrefs decided to make its own search engine that would offer revenue sharing. Now, the Ahrefs search engine is available to the general public. So I decided to check it out and see how it performed on fintech keyword searches. The first thing I noticed was that there were no ads.

Finding Information Is Easier Without Ads

For my first search engine experiment, I picked the keyword “payment processor” and searched for this keyword on as well as Google and Bing. The Google and Bing results for “payment processor” included a lot of ads. The first four results for this keyword on both Bing and Google are ads, although the search engines each display ads from different companies. Many of the ads are from price comparison websites that help merchants select payment processing software. does not display any ads, at least not yet. So the top results are an informative article from NerdWallet and the Wikipedia page for payment processor. Those pages also show up in the top organic results from Google and Bing, but they appear below the ads for the price comparison websites. Major payment processors like Stripe, PayPal, and also rank highly in all three search engines for this keyword, which makes sense.

So could be very useful for researching fintech keywords if you don’t want to see lots of ads mixed in with your results. Many fintech startups invest in PPC so it’s normal to see lots of ads in the results for financial keywords. Aside from that, the results for this keyword are comparable to the results from Google and Bing, but I also noticed something else. Uses the Ahrefs Database

The top three organic results from Google for payment processor are FIS Global, NerdWallet, and Kabbage in that order. The top three organic Bing results are Ecommerce Platforms, Wikipedia, and NerdWallet, with Kabbage getting the featured snippet. But displays NerdWallet, Wikipedia, and then Shaw Merchant Group in its first three positions.

Those results demonstrate that is using its own index to display keyword results and is not relying on either Google or Bing. I’ve tried out several alternative search engines and they usually display Google or Bing results next to their own ads. It takes a huge amount of work for a search engine startup to actually rank websites itself, so many of them don’t do that, they just license results from major search engines.

What is doing is possible because Ahrefs already has a database that contains every website and its backlinks. And with the subscription revenue from its SEO tool, Ahrefs can afford to hire developers to use that data to build a search engine. It cost Ahrefs $60 million dollars to create And that article also explains that Ahrefs is hosting on its own servers in Singapore and is not using cloud services from a US tech company. This is one of the few truly independent search engines. Does Not Consider User Intent

For my next experiment, I picked the keyword “payday loan”. For this search, both Google and Bing display maps with the locations of retail stores that offer payday loans. These search engines also display driving directions, operating hours, and other important information for these stores. These results make sense. A user who searches for “payday loan” probably needs to borrow money right now and isn’t looking for a long article that explains what payday loans are. displays the payday loan article from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau first, followed by the Investopedia and Wikipedia articles about payday loans. So doesn’t consider search intent, although that’s normal for search engine startups. It would also take a lot of work to classify websites into categories based on intent. In fact, I checked Yandex, which is also a major search engine, and it doesn’t consider search intent or display maps for this keyword either.

High-Risk Topics and Safety

I picked “high risk payment processor” as my next keyword after “payday loan”. I wanted to see if screened out dangerous financial websites that could appear in the results for certain keywords. Google and Bing obviously filter their results, but is capable of doing that?

The top three results from Google were a Merchant Maverick article and then the SoarPay and Payment Cloud websites. Bing also displays one informative article and two merchant websites. It displays a result from High-Risk Gateways (India), a PaySpace magazine article, and then the High Risk Payment Processors website. This website was created by a company called Global Card Payment. displays the Premier One Payments website first, followed by the High-Risk Gateways (India) website and an informative article from Forbes. So all three search engines displayed one informative article and two websites from high-risk payment processors. Further down the list, displays results from major high risk payment processors such as SoarPay and Securion Pay as well as financial publishers like NerdWallet.

All three search engines provided similar results for this keyword. They ranked the high-risk payment processors in different orders, but all of the payment processors appear to be legitimate. As for the informative articles, displayed major financial publishers like its competitors did. So it appears that provides appropriate results for financial keywords, including high-risk keywords. Google uses the term E-A-T, or expertise, authority, and trustworthiness, to measure a website’s credibility on these topics. Is a Useful Search Engine provides results comparable to the results from Google and Bing, but it is obviously using a different index. So it may be able to find useful websites that do not appear in the top Google results. And doesn’t have any ads, at least for now, so you’ll only see organic results and not a bunch of ads in the results. Its main drawback is that it does not have more advanced search engine features like snippets, user intent, and maps, although these features may be added later. This is a basic search engine but it does its job well.

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