Want to make money online from something you’re already doing? In this article, you’ll learn how to get paid for searching the web.
Ideas are broken down into three main categories:
- Data Collection Apps — These apps generate passive income for you while running in the background.
- Get Paid for Changing Your Search Engine — Companies are willing to pay you for using their search engine.
- Search Engine Evaluation Job — Earn money evaluating search engine results for companies like Google, Bing, and Yahoo.
Best Data Collection Apps
Consumer data about ourselves and our internet habits — what we search for, what we like, and what we buy — is extremely valuable. Companies compile this kind of information and use it for things like market research and targeted advertising. And some companies sell the data they collect, our data, to other companies for lots of money.
Why should you give this valuable information away for free?
You shouldn’t. You should get paid for searching the web, for providing your email address, and for “liking” a post or a site.
Fortunately, there are data collection apps that do just that.
Nielsen Computer & Mobile Panel
How it works: This app collects data on how people use the internet. The information is used to design and improve products and services that are sold online. Nielsen is one of my favorite apps that make money because it’s entirely passive after registering, answering a few survey questions, and installing the app on your mobile devices and computer.
Pros: You literally get paid for doing nothing. Your account will be credited on a monthly basis, and you can cash out your earnings as soon as your balance hits $5.
Payment method: Nielsen does not offer a cash payout option — you have to choose from one of the 50+ gift cards offered. Options include Starbucks, Amazon, Target and other major retailers.
How it works: This app collects data on trends in smartphone data usage. To join, sign up and complete a short registration form, and then download the app from the App Store or Google Play. The app works in the background, and shouldn’t impact your device speed or battery life. Users can also take surveys for additional rewards.
Pros: MobileXpression is another app that pays users money for doing nothing, and offers the option to take surveys to earn more rewards.
Cons: There is no cash payout option, and some users have complained online about being locked out of their accounts and having to contact support to get them reactivated.
Payment method: Points can be redeemed for Amazon gift cards, exchanged for a charitable donation, or used for sweepstakes entries.
How it works: This app conducts market research by collecting data in the background when users download it to their devices, providing a way to make money online with essentially zero effort. Users also have the option to complete surveys.
Pros: SavvyConnect is one of the best side hustles for college students (who can always use some extra cash) because users can earn $5 per month for each device the app is installed on (up to three) and an additional $1 to $3 for each completed survey.
Cons: Certain demographics are more valuable, so if you’re not in the preferred age group, you won’t qualify for as many surveys.
Payment method: Payments are issued via paper check.
CrossMedia Research Panel
How it works: This app, which was recently acquired by Google, collects data on internet usage related to the company’s products and services. Once users sign up, they can download the app to their mobile devices and computers, where it works in the background.
For now, Google has closed the panel to new signups. Your best chance of getting notified the next time it becomes available is by signing up for Google Opinion Rewards (which we listed in our top survey sites).
Pros: Users earn money as soon as the app is installed, and for each week it remains installed. Installing it on one device earns $2 upfront and $1 per week. On two devices, it’s $4 upfront and $2 per week, and so on.
Cons: This is an invite only program and is currently not open. It also has the highest minimum payout among data collection apps at $25.
Payment method: Earnings are paid out via gift cards from a selection of major retailers.
Get Paid For Changing Your Search Engine
What is your favorite search engine? Google?
Yeah, that’s everyone else’s favorite too. Google is so dominant that the brand has become a verb: “to Google.”
Well, other search engines would like a slice of the pie for themselves. That’s because when a search engine gets traffic, it generates income from advertisers. More traffic means more revenue.
But smaller search engines know that most people prefer Google. So, in order to attract new users, they’re willing to pay a little bit to encourage activity on their platforms.
Here’s how to get paid for searching the web.
How it works: Once you sign up for Swagbucks, you’ll get access to “Swagbucks Search,” where you can earn around 50 points per hour of search activity. Unless you’re searching for very obscure information, you’re unlikely to notice any difference between the results you get from Swagbucks (which uses Yahoo! search results) and Google.
Pros: Swagbucks provides several ways to earn money. For example, you can get paid to watch ads for money and take advantage of cashback shopping opportunities, in addition to using the search engine.
Cons: With the minimum payout being $25, it will take you a long time to hit the threshold using only Swagbucks Search. Taking advantage of the other earning methods will help you cash out faster, and adding the browser extension will help you make sure to never miss a cashback opportunity.
Payment method: Users can redeem their points for gift cards, or for cash deposited into a PayPal account.
How it works: Bing is a search engine owned by Microsoft, which created it to compete head-to-head with Google. It hasn’t really achieved that goal, which is good news for you — because you can get paid to use it. Microsoft will reward you with five points per search, up to a total of 50 points per day. You can then redeem those points for gift cards.
And here’s a fun fact: One of the most searched for terms on Bing is… Google.
Pros: Microsoft recently changed the name of this program from Bing Rewards, and expanded its “paid to” activities beyond just web searches. Users can now earn points for things like shopping at the Windows or Microsoft stores, playing trivia games, and taking quizzes. The old version of Bing Rewards was search-only, which made it harder to earn enough to cash out.
Cons: There is no cash payout option.
Payment method: Gift cards for the Xbox and Windows stores (as well as other Microsoft products), major retailers like Amazon and Starbucks, charity donations, and Microsoft-operated sweepstakes.
How it works: Who needs Google when they have you? Wonder provides you with questions from clients, and you get paid to research, find the best answer, and provide the client with the source of your information.
Once you sign up, you’ll be asked to complete a sample search. Your approval for the program depends on your performance on this test, so make sure to conduct it thoughtfully.
Pros: Excellent pay. Earnings per search depend on the difficulty of the assignment, but researchers can make anywhere from $8 per question to as much as $35 for more complex queries. This makes it a great work from home job for generating a significant chunk of extra income.
Cons: Unlike many online side income ideas, not everyone will be accepted as a member of Wonder.
Payment method: Wonder members are paid every two weeks via PayPal.
How it works: InboxDollars is one of the biggest and most well-known sites around, boasting more than 10 million members. Signing up is quick and easy: provide your email address, create a password, and then confirm via a link sent to your inbox. Then, just answer a few basic questions and you can get started earning. Using the InboxDollar search engine pays one cent per four searches.
Pros: There are several ways to earn cash through InboxDollars, including answering surveys, reading emails, and signing up for special offers. The site offers cash options for payouts.
Cons: Users must have at least $30 in their accounts to cash out.
Payment method: InboxDollars members can request a paper check, a prepaid Visa card, or gift cards to several retailers.
How it works: This app is another that offers users the ability to get paid for using its search engine, for watching videos, and for completing a variety of other tasks. Signing up is easy and just requires basic information.
Pros: FusionCash is one of the few options that will send payment via direct deposit, which can be helpful if you don’t have a PayPal account.
Cons: The payout threshold is $25, and your earnings expire if your account is dormant for 90 days. This makes FusionCash a good side hustle for college students who have a lot of downtime, but a less appealing option for those who work full time.
Payment Method: Direct deposit, PayPal, or paper check.
How it works: Qmee works a little bit differently than the other services on this list. After signing up, you’ll need to install the Qmee browser extension. Then, rather than paying you per-query for using a specific search engine, Qmee monitors your searches in the background and offers you opportunities to save money and earn cash-back rewards based on what you’re looking for.
For example, if you search for “best countertop kitchen mixer,” Qmee might offer you 10% cash back if you purchase that item through one of its partners. It might ask you to watch an ad about a particular brand of mixer, or it might offer you the opportunity to take a paid survey about how you use appliances in the kitchen.
Pros: There’s no minimum cash out — you can transfer your balance to PayPal at any time. Plus, because of the way Qmee works, the recommendations it offers tend to be highly relevant. There’s also a dedicated Android/iOS app, if you happen to do most of your browsing on a phone or tablet.
Cons: The volume of ads and offers Qmee has in its inventory is fairly low, as are the payouts, which are typically in the 5 to 10-cent range for watching ads. Those two factors combined mean you’re not going to earn a ton of money very quickly. Plus, keep in mind that you’re sending Qmee a lot of personal data — it’s paying attention to all of your searches… even the ones that don’t generate an earning opportunity.
Payment Method: PayPal or a charitable donation.
Become A Search Engine Evaluator
One legit online job is becoming a search engine evaluator. An evaluator rates the results from sites like Google and Bing, checking to make sure they’re relevant and useful, and that they fall within the site’s guidelines. This helps refine the complex algorithms that do most of the search ranking behind the scenes.
Evaluators need to have excellent research skills and broad knowledge of both current events and popular culture. This gig is a little tougher to land than the others listed here. Applicants may need a college degree to be considered, and there may be an interview (which typically includes a test).
Evaluators work from home as independent contractors and typically earn $12 to $15 per hour. Not bad for a job you can do in your pajamas! If that sounds good to you, there are several companies looking for search engine evaluators.
- FlexJobs offers an up-to-date listing of legit part-time and full-time work-from-home and freelance jobs. There aren’t always search engine evaluator positions listed here, but new jobs are added to the site daily. (Tip: FlexJobs has a small monthly fee, and you can save 30% with the code WEALTH.)
- Appen is a leader in the work-at-home industry and offers several job opportunities, including “Raters” (which is what they call search engine evaluators).
- Lionbridge has provided legitimate work-at-home opportunities for 20 years, so you can rest assured that it’s not a scam. The company offers opportunities for search engine evaluators, as well as translators and content creators.
Further reading: FlexJobs Review: A Feature-Rich Work-From-Home Resource.
Summary: Get Paid for Searching the Web
While few individuals make a full-time leaving searching the web, it’s one way to generate a decent side income.
And if you’re not sure searching the web is right for you, check out our recent post 14 Best Online Jobs That Pay Weekly (& Require No Experience)