Paying for Search

Since the start of the year I’ve been paying for general web search through the use of Kagi at about £8 ($10) per month. I’ve long desired the ability to have some control over the results served, and Kagi seemed like a good way to gain this control.

What I like about Kagi

What I’m not so keen on

Is it worth it?

While $10/month seemed quite a lot for something I’ve always used for free, for me I have found it worthwhile as the customized search control, ranking, and lack of ads makes searching so much nicer on a day-to-day basis. Search is a fundamental tool of the web which, looking at my usage, I’m using about 1000 times a month.

It would be hard to stomach any higher of a cost though, which is why I’ve been nervous when they’ve toyed around with pricing changes to the main service while adding extra AI features I didn’t intent to use. During this I did briefly attempt to go back to google and duckduckgo, but i very quickly missed using Kagi.


I tried for a bit last year since they advertised themselves as a customizable search engine. It kind of worked but was slow, JavaScript heavy and had questionable privacy concerns via tracking. Looks like they’ve since gone down the path of heavily doubling down on AI.

Brave search is interesting. They’re building/using their own search index which is a great achievement and I think a very healthy thing for the web, and I hope they continue to do well following this path. They also have a great (Beta status) feature called Goggles, which allows filtering and re-ranking of results via custom and shareable rule-sets. Brave search didn’t quite work for me though. The customization I desired wasn’t “native” enough to the core search, requiring some friction to use right now. That, combined with the results, just didn’t click for me.

Of course there’s duckduckgo, or similar other platforms, but I really wanted those result customization features while not being subject to ads (or feeling guilty for blocking ads).

Marginalia is an interesting alternative search, although it doesn’t quite fit the need for every-day searching for me, but it’s great for exploration. Their random page is especially enjoyable if you want to become nostalgic for the stumbleupon era of the internet.