DuckDuckGo vs. Google

By Grace Reid

Sometimes a brand becomes so popular that it risks genericization, meaning consumers automatically associate the brand with the generic product itself. Genericization has happened to Kleenex, Taser, Xerox and more, but perhaps the most popular example is Google. When is the last time someone asked a question and you respond with “let me search that on the internet?” instead of simply saying “I’ll Google it!”

Because of Google’s dominance, it is hard to remember that alternative search engines exist (even beyond Bing!). More importantly, these alternatives do not all require the same level of personal data and compromised privacy that many users automatically relent to for access to Google. DuckDuckGo is a competing search engine founded in 2008 that vows to "not collect or share personal information” upfront in its privacy policy. This personal information is usually collected by the search engine to show you targeted ads and to personalize your search results. Here are three differences between DuckDuckGo and Google and why a user may choose one over the other:

1. Scale: Google is undoubtedly the industry giant.

Hacker Noon states, “What DuckDuckGo does in a day, Google does it within ~12.5 minutes. Yes, that’s ~33 million searches every 12.5 minutes on Google.” While DuckDuckGo has been growing steadily with 31 billion total searches as of June 2019, it’s still a drop in the search engine ocean compared to Google’s dominance.

2. DuckDuckGo doesn’t share or collect any personal information.

Google integrates numerous other features like mail, maps, image, and more to provide you multidimensional search results at the fastest speed. This free combination of speed and effectiveness comes at the cost of how Google is tracking you as you use its services. In addition to the search results themselves, Google is also saving your current location, what previous websites you have visited, webpage analytics, and more. DuckDuckGo consciously works to treat you as an anonymous visitor every time you use it. It doesn’t track or save any search results, set cookies, or attempt to build a profile of your preferences.

3. Use DuckDuckGo’s “bangs” shortcut feature to directly search a specific website.

For example, if you wanted to search for a bookshelf on Amazon, you would type “!a bookshelf” into DuckDuckGo’s search bar. The results will take you directly to results on Amazon’s website since “!a” is the shortcut for Amazon. There are thousands of !bangs available, and you can even submit your own!

Overall, both search engines serve specific purposes and which one we recommend depends on what you are searching for and how you feel about sharing your personal information. If you want local recommendations like “coffee near me” and integration with Google Maps to get there, Google is the best bet. A small business wanting SEO analytics can easily set up a campaign through Google Analytics. However, if you are looking for purely unbiased results or do not want targeted ads based on your previous search history, DuckDuckGo is the search engine for you. Google’s accuracy and speed is difficult to beat, but at the end of the day it’s deciding if the tradeoff between personal data and convenience is worth it.

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