Can DuckDuckGo Beat Google at Search?

Category: Search-Engines

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.
DuckDuckGo Search Engine

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 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...

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Most recent comments on "Can DuckDuckGo Beat Google at Search?"

(See all 32 comments for this article.)

Posted by:

20 Oct 2011

Just had a quick look, running a name to see what comes up - it still includes all the Linked-In and similar useless sites which are trolling for business, so I'd like to see more filtering of that kind of thing (unless the subject of the search really does have a profile on that site). I also prefer the "look" of the Goggle results. But I defijitely will keep checking it (and also Dogpile, which I'd forgotten about, so thank you Jim for reminding me.

And as a longtime Tourbus email rider, I am VERY sorry to hear it's pulling into the bus depot, never to trundle the Internet again. Thanks for all the great info/sites etc.

Posted by:

20 Oct 2011

Very informative and useful post. Thanks always.

Posted by:

20 Oct 2011

I love DDG - never used the final 27,946 entries that Google gave me anyway. DDG is to the point, useful, friendly - they respond to queries, and if my search doesn't produce an answer, they actually refer me to Google, Bing.

Posted by:

20 Oct 2011

While Martha's comment is off topic, I am glad she sent it and you allowed it. I did not know TourBus has 'died the death'. Did you send a notice about that? Where can I find your notice of termination? Thanks.

EDITOR'S NOTE: Yes, the TOURBUS is rolling in for its final stop. See

Posted by:

20 Oct 2011

Hey Bob. Funny name, but I will check out DDG. I like the fact that they do not save you search info, privacy being a big issue these days. As for them dislodging Google, good luck. Google is a giant now and will probably be on top for a long time. I have found everything I have ever looked for on Google, and most all the instructors I had
college said, "Google is your friend". I don't know about that, but it has been a very useful tool in a lot of areas. DDG will have to prove itself. Have a good one.

Posted by:

20 Oct 2011

To Bozly above: Tired of the flash/etc on Google? If DDG gets 1% of the search share, you will be tired of the flash/etc on DDG.

Posted by:

21 Oct 2011

I don't know if, DDG can over take Google, but, I am test-trialing it for now. So far, I am pleased with the results. I do like the uncluttered results and they seem more relevant. What surprised me, was that users of Firefox can get DDG, as an search engine on their browser page. Now, that is a real plus. This way I make DDG, my default search engine, so that, I can use it every time. Good for real testing.

Thanks for the article, Bob. This is what I love about Ask Bob, the ability to try out new methods of using your computer and new software.

Posted by:

26 Oct 2011

Hey Bob. Tried it, liked it. Straight forward, no clutter and I really like the privacy factor. I think I will stick with DDG until I have a reason not to. As for Bernie's comment above, download flashblock. It's available for Chrome and IE, it stops flash ads and flash tracking cookies.

Posted by:

31 Oct 2011

First time I heard about this search engine it looks similar to Google and the search result look pretty good, but to be honest I prefer Google since it's the search engine of my choice and I've been using it for 5 years now.

Posted by:

03 Nov 2011

I tried DDG looking for images of wedding cakes, Google beat it hands down but I will still try it again.
Probably better at some searches that others.

Posted by:

11 Nov 2011

I'm using DuckDuckGo almost exclusively now. Thanks, Bob. What pulled me in was the privacy aspect, and the fact that there is no false and misleading padding of the number of results.

Long ago, I decided to test the actual number of Google results and compare it to the number touted on the first page of results. The number of actual results was far lower, something like 10-30% of the number of results claimed, if memory serves me correctly. If Google said there were 200 results, there might be 30-50.

Posted by:

13 Jan 2012

Just tried DDG. It's very quick. I plan to use it instead of Google for a while to see how it performs.

Posted by:

13 Jan 2012

With Google, I've grown tired of searching for what I need and have to go through many websites that don't chronicle to the subject. I know those unrelated sites pay to be on there. A tech told me this. But I see it for myself. Plus, I have to reword and reword what I ask for in Google's browser. And I am very conversant in English. I'm ready for a change! I'll try DDG. And if it doesn't work for me, I'll go to Yahoo or Bing. Thank you for your info.

Posted by:

jay parlor
14 Jan 2012

I tried DuckDuckGo and I like it especially the no clutter aspect. HOWEVER one thing I do not like is it does not tell you how many pages of search results there are which would be very helpful to save time.

Posted by:

23 Jan 2012

I worked in foreign country (Internet censored) and needed Tor. In one of versions the default search/home page was DDG. I don't use Tor for over a year now, but I still use DDG.
Unlike Google, it shows (by default) less selling sites (higher percentage of relevant info).
Of course, single user (me) can't make relevant reference, this is only my own experience.
"Will DDG beat Google" is irrelevant to me. I don't need to re-phrase my questions so many times on DDG.
But I thank Google for making me practice re-phrasing. I needed more experience because English is not my native language.

Posted by:

Adam Smith
28 Nov 2012

I basically got sick and tired of Google and decided to try all the other alternative operating systems. Found DDG to be the best by far. I have set it as my homepage on all computers and everywhere I go. It has given me 99% of what I wanted, and the last 1% DDG itself will show Google results anyway. I am VERY happy with it. It's David and Goliath battle between Google no doubt but it's time for a change for me anyway. Don't even care if they remain at 1% market share, I'm happy with it and that's all that matters.

Posted by:

07 Jun 2013

I have been using DDG for about 18 months and am happy with it to the extent that I opened my Firefox and removed all the other choices. I hope they keep up the great work.Y/T ol'Dave

Posted by:

12 Jun 2013

I have closed my crapbook err.. facebook account for two years ago because of privacy reasons and now Google is next. So I am looking to phase out Google everywhere where I can. I instantly falled in love with DDG and have now changed the default search engine settings to DDG in my Chrome browser. Also, I have stopped logging in to the Chrome browser itself. I do not need that Chrome syncing feature as much as Google probably needs my data. The next thing I will do do is to replace my Gmail account with someone more secure webmail. I have looked at Hushmail, but if you read their fine print about privacy and logging, their name is just a bad joke. So an article about different secure email services would be appreciated. I still want webmail because it's access flexibility, but without (Google's) email snooping and logging.
Thank you so much for this useful article :)

Posted by:

07 Jan 2014

Over the last few years, I have slowly pulled out of most of my social media platforms, I feel liberated in a way as I don't have to tell the world everything I'm doing / thinking / planning. My life is becoming my own again.

Am already free of M$ and their NSA linked Spyware OS's, Win7 & Win8. Now I use Linux.

Now, like others who have commented, I set DDG as the default search engine on all computers I service.

Posted by:

02 Nov 2014

I only use DuckDuckGo now. I like being anonymous. I don't have a cell phone service because I don't like carrying a geolocation device in my pocket all the time. My car does not have navigation hardware. I don't use social web sites to publish what is none of anyone else's business for the whole world to read. I use my local ISP email service. I don't blog. I am as under the radar as one can be and still use the Internet. That's just the way I want it.

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