After hearing about Kagi from various folks in my Mastodon timeline I thought I should give it a try! Kagi is search engine that launched with a public beta in 2022 and has a completely different business model from the likes of Google or DuckDuckGo. While most of its competition is financed through advertising, Kagi is funded through subscriptions. Basically, you pick a plan that limits (or doesn’t) how many searches you can do each month, and pay accordingly. The free tier is a total of 100 queries (again, not per month but in total), followed by 300 search requests per month for $5 and unlimited searches for $10.
Yes, DDG and Google are free and at least the first doesn’t try to build a profile around you, so initially it feels strange to think about search as a service you might want to pay for. But why actually? It’s just yet another service on the internet that requires infrastructure and also quite a lot of work and maintenance to stay relevant for its users. Money has to come from somewhere and if advertising is not an option, the direct funding through users is the next logical step. $5 per month is IMO a fair price for a service that I use frequently each and every day and that I absolutely depend on.
But any service that needs to compete with “free” alternatives, has to offer something in return. Kagi is a search engine, but on top of what I get from DDG and Google, it offers (among tons of other things)…
- Blazingly fast responses
- The first couple of results are actually useful
- I can customise the ranking of certain domains in the results (e.g. I’m pretty sure I usually don’t want to see any w3schools in my results 🤣)
- Lenses which allow me to quickly limit searches to specific contexts, like the “Programming” lense that focuses on information relevant to software developers
All of these are killer features. While DDG also offers some of them, the response time is just amazing. Also in such a way as to make me fly through my trial period. In general, I vastly underestimated how many search queries I execute each day. I thought it would be somewhere between 5-10 depending on the day, but there are times when I need 25 or more! I blew through my 100 query-trial in 2 weeks but then I hadn’t enabled Kagi on every device. I’m now on the $5 plan and in just the first two days I used up 50 queries, so I think, I might even need to go to the $10-plan eventually, but let’s see.
I also use this initial 300 queries (+100) as the real trial period for me. So far, I love the experience but I will reserve my final judgement for when the stats counter has reached 400 queries (or the end of the billing period).