Can DuckDuckGo Beat Google at Search?
Google has an overwhelming lead in the search market, with over two-thirds of all searches. But that doesn't faze people like Gabriel Weinberg, an entrepreneur who developed an odd-sounding search engine to address two flaws in Google's search strategy. Find out if DuckDuckGo is likely to knock Google off its perch as the top search engine...
What is DuckDuckGo?
DuckDuckgo is a hybrid search engine based in Valley Forge, Pennsylvania. It uses crowd-sourced information (mainly from Wikipedia), the search APIs of many vendors such as Yahoo and Amazon, and its own Web-crawling spider (DuckDuckBot) to index information.
Unlike Google, DDG does not try to index every page on the Web. It screens out obvious "content farms" that consist of low-quality content written mainly to rank highly in Google search results. DDG filters out most pages from eHow and EzineArticles, for example, as well as pages that have "too much" advertising. Whether this sort of relevance-screening is helpful or dangerous is in the eye of the beholder.
Privacy is another hallmark of DuckDuckGo. By default, search terms and other information about users are not saved by the search engine, or passed along to the sites that user click on from the search results. DDG recently introduced proxy services that protect its users against eavesdropping.
One of the more interesting features of DDG is its panoply of "bang words," special search words which, when preceded by an exclamation point, convey complex instructions in shorthand. For example, entering "!amazon bags" will launch a search of Amazon.com for the word "bags." Using bang words, you can search a set of specific sites instead of the entire Web. DDG says that hundreds of major sites are supported. Other bang word categories include downloads (e. g., "!images"), languages, online services such as "!careerbuilders", and more.
Just A Bunch of Quacks?
The name "DuckDuckGo" is a nonsense word with no hidden meaning; it was just the first name that popped into Weinberg's head, he says. Some have noted the name's similarity to the children's game, "Duck, Duck, Goose." But before you criticize DDG for having an odd name, think about the success of Google, Yahoo, and Bing.
Launched in 2007, DDG recently revealed its traffic statistics. As of September 2011, the site was getting about 9 million hits per month, up about 100 percent since the beginning of the year. Google draws 90 billion hits per month, by comparison. With a headstart that works out to four orders of magnitude, I don't think Google needs to worry about DuckDuckGo any time soon.
Nonetheless, venture capital firm Union Square Ventures and a half-dozen private angel investors recently kicked in an estimated $3 to $5 million to help DDG expand its staff and promote itself. A spokesman from USV said they invested in DuckDuckGo "because we became convinced that it was not only possible to change the basis of competition in search, it was time to do it." Weinberg's goal is to boost traffic to 100 million hits per month within the next 18-24 months.
It's unclear how many search users DuckDuckGo can attract with its privacy and "relevance" pitches. According to MarketShare's most recent Search Engine Market Share report, Google handles 82% of all searches, worldwide. Yahoo/Bing scores a combined 10%, and Baidu (Chinese only) takes third place with 5%. The nearest competitors (Ask, AOL, Excite and Lycos) together account for only 1% of searches. Other wannabe Google killers from the past few years have included Ixquick, Cuil, Wolfram Alpha, and AllTheWeb. When's the last time you used any of those?
That's not to say there isn't a place for innovation or alternatives in the search engine arena. If one of these alternative search tools meets your needs, and helps you find what you seek, then more power to ya. Have you tried DuckDuckGo? Post your comment or question below...
This article was posted by Bob Rankin on 19 Oct 2011
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Article information: AskBobRankin -- Can DuckDuckGo Beat Google at Search? (Posted: 19 Oct 2011)
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