There are at least a couple of "don't track me" search sites which get their search results from Google. (I'm thinking of Scroogle.org and StartingPage.com). [Note: I don't know exactly how StartingPage.com works; Scroogle.org apparently "scrapes" Google search results. I assume StartingPage.com does something similar.]

However, I notice that neither StartingPage.com nor Scroogle.org return exactly the same results as Google.com. I tried searching, for instance, for "boingboing", and while the top three hits were the same for all three services, after that there was some amount of variation.

StartingPage.com also has an "image search", which at first blush appears similar to Google's. However, I get essentially completely different results when using StartingPage vs. Google image search (in contrast to the regular web page search, where at least the results were somewhat similar).

So I'm just curious, if StartingPage and Scroogle are scraping Google for search results, why the results are not identical?

Edit (5-Feb-11):

Some additional weird data regarding StartingPage (from http://www.boingboing.net/2011/02/04/startingpage-now-ret.html#comment-1018293):

In the book Javascript For Dummies one of the 5th Wave comics shows a woman being introduced to a natural language programming expert. She says something like, "Nice to meet you." and he says "Glorsplitz."

If Starting Page is just acting as a proxy and passing the info directly from site to site then we should get the same results:

Starting Page: Web Results 1 - 4 of about 4 for Glorsplitz (0.03 seconds) Google: About 1,310 results (0.06 seconds)

How about another semi-random search term? The anime Azumanga Daioh has a girl named Chio as its main character:

Starting Page: Web Results 1 - 10 of about 2,530 for chiochan (0.03 seconds) Google: About 38,800 results (0.09 seconds)

So why the difference?

  • 2
    They could be caching results for long periods of time, or I've noticed the google search APIs often return different results to the main search page.
    – Phoshi
    Commented Feb 5, 2011 at 0:10
  • That makes sense. I still wonder about StartingPage's image search, since its results seem to bear little or no relation to Google's image search results. [I wonder if they're just using their own search engine for images.]
    – BeSlayed
    Commented Feb 5, 2011 at 0:51
  • StartPage has their own engine. They use to be called ixquick.
    – Moab
    Commented Feb 5, 2011 at 1:06
  • @Moab: Whether Ixquick/StartPage have their own engine, I'm not sure (I thought Ixquick compared the results from various search engines). But StartingPage (though run by Ixquick) is distinct from StartPage, and is supposed to be a "private" version of a Google search.
    – BeSlayed
    Commented Feb 5, 2011 at 1:39
  • From the Startpage site "Startpage and Ixquick are one and the same. Startpage is just easier to remember." startpage.com/eng/aboutstartpage
    – Moab
    Commented Feb 5, 2011 at 1:50

1 Answer 1


I don't know about the technical details of the implementation of those other sites. However, if there are sites that don't use account or cookie prefs to know what you normally search, I would expect nothing less than different results.

Google has been personalizing search results for years to give you information tailored to your needs. Recently, Google search results have been more explicit, displaying search results based on what people in your friend network work have shared. Also, see ratings and reviews on Google Places, for example, where your ratings and those of your friends modify your results giving you better, more personalized information.

  • "To your needs" is just the sugar-coated way of saying "congratulations to having your own filter bubble". I strongly recommend the book "Filter bubble". Commented Jul 16, 2014 at 21:58

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