My Thoughts on Kagi Search

18 Jan 2024 | ~4 minute read

I've been trying Kagi Search for the last couple of weeks; my trial has now ended and I've decided to subscribe. Here's why...

There was a lot of chatter about Kagi over on the fediverse recently. Some good, some bad. I'd heard of Kagi before and I know a few people who use it; of those that do use it, they all say how good it is.

I particularly like that you can tailor results in Kagi by doing things like hiding certain URLs, prioritising others, and specifically requesting results from the small web.

So I signed up for a trial (which gives you 100 searches) and I took Kagi for a spin.

Setting the default search

The first challenge I had was setting the default search engine to Kagi. This isn't a Kagi issue, by the way, it's a Safari one. There's no way to set custom search engines in Safari, so I had to install the Kagi extension, which effectively intercepts search traffic and redirects it to them.

I did try setting the default search engine in Firefox too, but because it was a custom search, I couldn't get search recommendations to work there, which is a shame. I've emailed Kagi support to see if there's something I can do to get suggestions working. I'll update here when I get a response.

The results

Kagi's search results were very good on the whole. I've had no issues, and at no point have I felt the need to use another search engine to get better results. The fact that there's no ads taking up space on the page is a welcome change too. I haven't got to the point where I've felt the need to filter results yet, but it's nice to know I can if I need to.

The performance of Kagi does feel sluggish compared to my usual search engine, (DuckDuckGo). At times it can take a second or two for the search to complete, and at one point Kagi had an outage for multiple hours, which was a pain. But reading the post mortem, it sounds like it was down to user misuse, rather than incompetence on their part.

Shit happens, and long term users have assured me that this was a one off. Time will tell, I suppose. 🤷‍♂️

Ending the trial

After a couple of weeks, my 100 searches are all used up and I'm happy with the experience overall. It's now time to decide whether I want to upgrade to one of their paid packages so I can continue using Kagi.

Kagi Search plans
Kagi's packages

Given 100 searches lasted me around 2 weeks, the STARTER package will be more than enough for my needs, so I've decided to sign up and see how it goes.

I'm still not 100% sold on Kagi, as I'm not sure what the benefit is over DDG, let alone if it's worth $5/month. So I'm considering this an extended paid trial.

It's mentioning that I'm not unhappy with DuckDuckGo. Like Kagi, I rarely feel the need to switch to another search engine for better results. Sure there are ads on DDG, but that's ok with me as the adverts tend to be relevant to the search query.

Also, the performance of DDG (in terms of search speed) seems to be better. Search results tend to be instant, and for the years I've been using DDG, I've never experience and outage.

Then there's the "it's only a coffee a month" argument, which doesn't fly with me. So yeah, still very much a trial at this point.

Final thoughts

I like what Kagi are trying to do. They offer a private search engine that prioritises the small web - that's commendable. But I'm still not sure if that's not enough for me, especially when compared to DuckDuckGo, which I can access for free. Having said that, search engines appear to be going to shit, so it seems like a good time to try switching.

Let's see what the next couple months brings. Are you a Kagi user? Have I missed something obvious that makes it worth the money? Please do let me know.

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