What is DUCKDUCKGO.com and why you should consider it
Branding itself as the search engine that doesn’t store your personal information, follow you around with ads or track you, DuckDuckGo.com has managed to undercut its rivals not on price but on privacy.
Founder of the DuckDuckGo
But what does it mean for the website’s effectiveness in finding you the most accurate results? Versus rivals like Google and Binge? What’s the catch with DuckDuckGo? And how did a search engine named after a kid’s party game come to provide results for an estimated 65 million monthly users? Here’s how it happened; DuckDuckGo was founded in 2008 by American Gabriel Weinberg, on a mission to provide the internet with a better search engine experience.
The idea was to compete with Google in the areas where it was most fiercely criticized, which meant privacy concerns. As a result, DuckDuckGo does not store or share any information on its users, which extends to search history, cookies and IP addresses.
The publicity stunt caught the eye of Union Square ventures who also believed in the need for a more privacy focused search engine and invested three million dollars in DuckDuckGo. Union Square Ventures co-founder, Fred Wilson, stared that he didn’t invest in a search because he thought it would beat Google but because he understood the need for a private alternative and believed that it would appeal to the internet anarchists, the people that hang out on sites like Reddit and Hacker News. As a result of the cash injection, Weinberg was able to hire his first employee and moved the business out of his basement and into a dedicated office facility.
By February 2012, DuckDuckGo saw an average of one million searches per day and its popularity exploded in June 2013, when Edward Snowden revealed the true extent of the United States government’s national surveillance program. Software updates in 2014 meant that DuckDuckGo was now included as built-in search options on both Safari and Firefox.
Opinion of Twitter’s CEO Jack Dorsey about DuckDuckGo
In 2020, Twitter’s CEO Jack Dorsey revealed that DuckDuckGo had become his web browser of choice as the website also reached the milestone of 2 billion searches per month.
So why are millions of people turning their backs on Google in favour of its private rival?
First and foremost, DuckDuckGo provides its users with the peace of mind that their online activity is not allowing search engine to generate a fairly accurate profile of whoever is conducting the search.
It’s understandable that most people wouldn’t want to share their personal, financial and medical secrets with a complete stranger so why would they want to share them with Google?
Research has found that the majority of web searches are usually for fairly mundane questions like capital cities, the age of your favourite celebrity or just online shopping. And a digital profile based on your entire search history isn’t all that necessary to find those answers.
What’s more, all searches conducted by Google are desperate to keep you within the company’s own ecosystem using their own products and services. For example, if you search for a film like Inception on Google, the first result may be the option to rent the film from the Google Play Store, read through Google’s own audience rating of 4.8 stars or even just watch the trailer on YouTube.
In contrast, DuckDuckGo would be more likely to offer a better balanced series of results such as the IMDB page, the average score of Rotten Tomatoes or just Christopher Nolan’s Wikipedia article not necessarily presenting your results through Google’s proprietary filter.
The unique feature offered by DuckDuckGo is its bang commands. Users can bypass DuckDuckGo’s own search to find what they want directly on a target website. Simply typing in the correct bang shortcut before your search term, would present you with the results straight from the website you’re targeting. Whether it’s a shopping site, social media or a reference website, there are currently more than 10 thousands bangs available to make your search as seamless as possible with more added every day.
Another significant factor could be that users are becoming wary of the Big Tech companies’ stranglehold on the internet. And so not wanting to add to Google’s search engine monopoly, DuckDuckGo is suitable alternative if you’d prefer not to strengthen Sundar Pichai’s ever-growing empire. Of course, DuckDuckGo’s privacy stance means their searches usually present a cleaner, no-frills interface. Although the website does contain ads, these are based only on the search term entered and not on any other information about the user. So if you’re finding Google’s auto-suggestions and personalized ads slightly annoying, maybe switching to DuckDuckGo could be for you.
Drawbacks of Cutting off Google
Although this all sounds great there might be a few drawbacks to completely cutting Google out of your life. For example, their search results are a lot smarter than DuckDuckGo’s, meaning you are more likely to find what you are looking for. If you search EPL fixtures and Google is aware from your search history that you are Manchester United fan, it may prioritize matches played by your team. And the same goes for ads too, given Google knows you are more likely to buy a United shirt than a Chelsea one.
Having applications like Gmail and Google Maps all synced together between your computer and phone can also be highly convenient. Say you’d Googled a restaurant you’d been recommended on your laptop, the next time you open Google Maps on your phone, it might suggest walking directions to that same restaurant. As you’d imagine, having over 100,000 employees make Google the most accurate search engine with the greatest range of indexes, more servers, and the most cutting-edge algorithms.
According to Hyper Loop Digital Marketing “Google is the number one search engine in the world, and it should be the number one priority on every business owners list”. There is no doubt that Google is the world’s most used search engine and if your business does not rank on this search engine you’re practically missing out on 90% of the traffic your business could get.
Google’s Al technology also makes insightful suggestions when you misspell a search term and has an excellent record of showing you what you are looking for even when you’ve entered the wrong phase. The answer to which is the best overall search engine comes down to whether you’re willing to sacrifice a small amount of convenience in return for your privacy. To some, this might seem like a no-brainer but to others it might be trickier.
Google currently boasts a 90% share of the search engine market, compared to DuckDuckGo’s share of less than 1%. But with only around 100 employees to its name, DuckDuckGo is certainly punching above its weight. As privacy become a bigger and bigger issue, we could see government policies take control in the next few years. Either way, it’s possible that DuckDuckGo could see its popularity spiral in the near future. And that’s how it happened.