DuckDuckGo is a search engine that values your privacy and doesn’t violate it. Compared to Google, which has evolved from “just” a search engine to one of the biggest and most influential companies in the world with hundreds of different products, it’s still a relatively small project. However, it’s a viable alternative for people who want to keep their private information safe.
Is it really as good as Google, though? Or has the focus on privacy taken away from the search engine’s overall functionality and usability? Let’s take a closer look at how DuckDuckGo compares to Google in the present day and age.
DuckDuckGo doesn’t collect any personal information about the users
It’s no secret that Google’s overall business model is strongly connected to collecting their users’ personal data and then using it to display targeted ads that are more likely to capture their attention and generate revenue not only for the company paying for the ads but also for Google. That’s one of the reasons why most of Google’s services can be used for free by the general public.
This is exactly what DuckDuckGo doesn’t do. The search engine doesn’t collect any personal information from its users. The user experience is very similar to the one you get when you use Google, but the results aren’t personalized for you.
That also means that if two people enter the same query into DuckDuckGo, they get identical search results, at least if they are in the same country (the search engine allows users to opt-in for localization of search results based on the country they’re in or any other country for that matter). That can’t be said about Google, in which search results are personalized, although the company admitted to only personalizing them slightly.
The importance of privacy in 2019
People are getting more and more protective of their personal information and how it’s being used and often exploited by companies worldwide. That’s at least part of the reason for DuckDuckGo’s success and growth, which you can clearly see from the search engine’s usage statistics.
But that’s not the only visible sign of people being increasingly cautious about the data they want to keep private. Examples can be seen all over the internet. Usage of Virtual Private Networks (VPN) is on the rise, and the same can be said about adblocking software. Apple has built anti-tracking features directly into Safari, Mozilla is doing the same, and Opera includes a free built-in VPN directly in the browser.
However, it goes beyond internet browsers and search engines. We’ve witnessed the rise of so-called anonymous online casinos in recent years, which was something unheard of five or ten years ago. And privacy was definitely one of the reasons behind the increased popularity of Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies in this decade.
It’s obvious that concerns about privacy are not going anywhere. They’re only rising. And that’s definitely good news for DuckDuckGo and other businesses that offer privacy by design.
How does DuckDuckGo make money?
That brings us to the question you might already have on your mind. How does DuckDuckGo make money without leveraging the personal data of its users? That’s easy. The private search engine also sells advertising space in the search results, just as Google does.
The difference is that DuckDuckGo doesn’t use personal information to target the ads, it relies just on the keywords you enter when looking for something. The company believes that tracking simply isn’t needed to make money, and the results only prove that. The company has been profitable since 2014, as its founder and CEO Gabriel Weinberg mentioned on Quora.
Is it as good as Google?
Talking about Google strictly as a search engine, DuckDuckGo does pretty much the same thing as Google does. You input a search query, press a button (or hit enter) and get search results. The results also look reasonably similar, too. However, the search results themselves and their orders are different. DuckDuckGo uses a slightly different approach and its own algorithms, so it makes sense that the results are not the same.
When talking about everything else that Google provides, DuckDuckGo obviously can’t match the products and services of the tech giant. But that’s not what DuckDuckGo is trying to do. It’s trying to help internet users protect their personal information, not only using the search engine itself but also by apps and extensions that protect privacy outside on the internet as a whole.
And the smaller, anonymous search engine has some tricks up its sleeve, too, with the most notable being DuckDuckGo bangs. This feature allows users to search third-party websites directly from the search engine. For example, by searching for “!w filter bubble” on DuckDuckGo, you’ll be taken directly to a Wikipedia article about another thing DuckDuckGo has the potential to protect you from. Try it for yourselves and see what it is.
As a search engine, DuckDuckGo definitely delivers. If you are cautious about your privacy on the internet, you’ll likely be happy with it and the protection it ensures.