Web browser vs. search engine: What’s the difference?

Many people still think that web browsers and search engines are the same thing. Although they do work together, there are differences between them. So let’s dive deeper into the world of web browser vs. search engine. 

The basic difference between browsers and search engines: a web browser allows you to read this article that explains, “What’s the difference between a web browser and a search engine?” However, a search engine found this article on the internet.

Table of contents

    What is a web browser?

    By definition, a web browser is a software application. It’s one of the tools you use to access the internet. Many people think that a web browser and a search engine are the same thing, but that’s wrong. 

    To put it simply, a web browser is what allows you to see what you searched for. Let’s say you know the address of the web page you want to visit. Into the search bar on your browser, you type in: www.surfshark.com.

    The browser’s job is to use your internet connection and contact the web page. The web page then sends the data requested, and your browser displays it. 

    In our example, after you type in www.surfshark.com, your browser would display the main page of Surfshark, which would look something like this: 

    What is a web browser?

    You’re probably aware of some of the most popular web browsers, including Chrome, Mozilla Firefox, Safari, Microsoft Edge (formerly Internet Explorer), and Tor. Each of these confers a different amount of security and some browsers are better than others when it comes to privacy. 

    What is a search engine? 

    A search engine is a tool that helps you find the information you need using keywords and phrases. When you type in your question into the address bar, it’s not the browser that looks for the answer for you. It’s the search engine. 

    How does that work? If your address bar doesn’t detect an address or a domain, it automatically searches the web for you. 

    Let’s stick to the previous example and say you forgot the exact URL of a website, but you know the name. Once you type in “surfshark” in the search bar, your search engine will find the most fitting and meaningful results for the query. 

    Of course, you might not always know or remember the exact web page you want to find. Queries like “VPN with shark” or “VPN that starts with S” will also bring up surfshark.com. That’s essentially what your search engine does. Think of it as the helpful librarian that deciphers your request for “a romance book about vampires or something?” 

    What is a search engine?

    Google as a search engine

    The search engine Google might be the most well-known on the World Wide Web. The brand is so synonymous with search engines that in 2006, the Oxford English Dictionary officially recognized “google” as a verb. “To google” something is widely understood to mean search the internet.

    Google is heavily relied upon, but it might not be the best if you value your privacy. There are many other effective private search engine options out there, such as Bing, DuckDuckGo, Surfshark Search, and Yahoo.

    Suppose you’ve been sticking with the same search engine for a while. In that case, you might enjoy making some comparisons and exploring the different benefits. Some perks include search results that don’t track your personal information or the ability to customize results according to your country.

    Key differences: web browser vs. search engine

    Web Browser
    Search Engine
    How it interacts with information
    Uses a search engine to find information
    Needs a browser to be able to display information
    How you use it
    Use it to access and display web pages based on an exact URL
    Search or filter information and display multiple results
    Where it exists
    Exists on your device
    Exists on a server somewhere
    What it does with the results
    Stores the results on the device
    Doesn’t store the results on your device
    The ones you know
    Google Chrome, Firefox, Safari, Edge, Opera, Brave, Tor Browser
    Google, Bing, DuckDuckGo, Surfshark Search®, Yahoo, OneSearch, GiveWater

    Are web browsers and search engines safe? 

    Some web browsers and search engines are more secure and private than others. The internet is full of cyberthreats like malware and phishing, so it’s smart to get familiar with the pros and cons of various browsers and search engines

    Remember to take the initiative if you want safe browsing. The most used browsers may not always be the best browsers for privacy. For instance, Google Chrome collects all data it legally can. You can remedy that by installing a Chrome VPN extension and logging off from your Gmail while browsing.

    As for search engines, remember that many of them profit from selling your data. Preventing targeted advertising might be your primary concern when choosing a search engine. Or perhaps you’re more focused on getting organic search results instead of having sponsored content appear at the top of your search results.

    The final difference: protection

    Your browser and search engine are two different things. You’re always using a browser to get to a search engine, but you don’t need a search engine to view a site in your browser. A browser helps you view a specific site, while a search engine crawls a massive database to provide you with multiple search results. 

    And although they work together, the measures you need to take to protect your data with them differ. With your web browser, you might want to run a browser security test, and with your search engine, you would benefit from organic results. For example, Surfshark Search prevents tracking and targeted ads without leaving any digital footprints with your searches.

    Get organic search results with a secure search engine

    Just buy a VPN and add Surfshark Search!

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    Is Google a search engine or a web browser? 

    Google is a search engine. Google Chrome is a web browser. 

    Do I need both Chrome and Google? 

    No, you can pick and choose your browsers and search engines. Multiple web browsers can be used with multiple search engines. For example, you could use Safari (the browser) with Google (the search engine) or Google Chrome (the browser) with Bing or DuckDuckGo search engine.

    If I use Chrome, do I have to search using Google? 

    No. Google Chrome (the browser) can be used with non-Google search engines, such as  Surfshark Search or DuckDuckGo.