Internet privacy has become a particularly hot topic as of late, especially as a growing number of users are realizing just how much of their information is being collected for advertising purposes.
For those of us that work behind the scenes of the digital world, the complexities of online privacy – and its numerous loopholes – are not exactly new. But recently, it’s become increasingly clear that Google, in particular, is monitoring its users far more than many would like.
At the same time, the search engine giant has become such a go-to source of information that it’s actually been included in the Merriam-Webster Dictionary as a verb… as in, “I’m going to go Google that to find out!” And in addition, Google search is a massively important tool for businesses seeking to connect with new and existing customers, build their brand, and pursue success both online and in-person.
So, if you’re looking for an alternative to the seemingly all-powerful Google, do you even have any viable options? And if so, is it worth making the switch? As it turns out, a search engine called DuckDuckGo is garnering plenty of attention for its apparent ability to measure up to Google. The number of online users that have left Google in favor of DuckDuckGo is rapidly growing, but is it the right move for you?
To help you better understand the debate of DuckDuckGo vs. Google, we’re exploring the pros and cons of each and giving our honest opinions in a DuckDuckGo review. Ultimately, how you search is up to you – but knowing what options are out there is always a good idea.
Google vs. DuckDuckGo
We aren’t here to convince you that Google is on its way out because there’s no question that it’s a search engine with serious staying power. Simultaneously, many people use Google simply because that’s what they’ve always done – regardless of the fact that there may be a better fit for their wants and needs.
By weighing the pros and cons of both DuckDuckGo and Google, we hope to put the decision back in your newly-informed and very capable hands.
Privacy is arguably the biggest issue that users currently have with Google. And if you’ve never found yourself raising your eyebrows at the amount of data that’s being collected from you on an ongoing basis, we might be about to surprise you.
Have you ever been chatting with friends on Messenger, talking about something like the new PlayStation game that’s coming out soon, only to realize that it suddenly seems like PlayStation-related content is popping up everywhere you look online?
From Amazon targeting you with pre-order ads for the game to Twitter suggestions to follow top gamer influencers or brand leaders, it can feel as if you’re being spied on. And actually, you kind of are.
Google has yet to explain exactly how much user data they’re collecting, what they’re doing to monitor privacy, and where your information is going (often without you even realizing it). Their privacy policies are confusing, and they’ve even been questioned by Congress on related topics.
Unlike Google, the search engine doesn’t collect and share your inquires with advertisers, so you won’t be targeted based on what you’re searching for. There are advertisements on DuckDuckGo, but they are simply powered by relevance – not your personal data. In fact, they’ve recently expanded their work to include the development of tools that are specifically engineered to help you maintain your online privacy. In other words, they’ve invested in fighting back against the questionable information collection practices that Google and countless other websites utilize.
So, if you’ve been wondering, “Is DuckDuckGo safe?” the answer to your question is a definitive yes.
Organization of Results
Both Google and DuckDuckGo work in generally the same way, using a model that most other search engines also rely on. Through a combination of their own web crawlers and data from hundreds of sources (such as Wikipedia, Bing, and Wolfram Alpha), both platforms help you dig up the results most relevant to your search query. Google does operate on a larger scale, as you’d probably expect, but the method is generally comparable.
But if that’s the case, then why is there sometimes such a difference in the search results you receive when using DuckDuckGo vs. Google? Or, if you do get the same results, why are they organized in a different order?
The variances in how DuckDuckGo works when compared to Google often produce markedly different search results. And for many proponents of DuckDuckGo, the “why” behind this contrast is highlighted as yet another reason to ditch Google.
When you click on a search result link on Google, the platform sends your specific search term directly to the website you’re visiting. If you take a look at the HTTP referrer header, you might even spot your original search words spelled out right in front of you. Your IP address is also shared so that the website can identify it. But at DuckDuckGo, they’ve labeled this practice “search leakage,” and they do not engage in it. This protects your search history – and any possible control of results – from both the websites you visit and the search engine itself.
Even in the suggested autocomplete results, you will notice that the ones offered by DuckDuckGo appear far more skewed than those from Google. And have you ever noticed that many of the top search results on Google just so happened to be powered by services that they own? That’s no coincidence. It all comes down to search engine neutrality, a characteristic that more and more people are concerned Google is losing.
Google also uses a tactic called “echo bubbles,” meaning that you have the ability to view what your friends are searching for and then align your search results with their queries. So, your search results can be influenced by whatever your friends are searching for. When you consider the effect that these kinds of personalized results can have, especially when it comes to personal, religious, and political bias, you can see how it can become a problem.
DuckDuckGo doesn’t store any sort of personal profile, and there are no filter bubbles shaping your results. When you submit a query, you can be confident that you’re receiving clear, unbiased results.
Quality of Results in Response to Varying Queries
Most of us aren’t searching for out-of-the-box topics – in fact, if you take a look at your recent search history, it’s probably a collection of random topics like daily weather, news, and trending topics. Odds are, you likely submit many searched for things like names, places, companies, locations, and definitions. And DuckDuckGo is more than capable of providing all of that information, equally so to Google.
However, DuckDuckGo does run into some challenges when you submit very specific or vague search inquiries. At one time or another, haven’t we all searched for something like “movie with black and white dog and famous child actor”? It’s those searches that require a little extra help where Google truly excels. Because Google has a vastly larger pool of search data to dive into, it can often make an effective guess as to what you’re trying to find. DuckDuckGo can also get the job done, but you might have to clean up your unusual search terms a bit to hit the nail on the head.
But before you disqualify DuckDuckGo based on this alone, keep in mind that those types of searches are generally pretty rare. More often than not, you’re asking your search engine to help you answer simple, straightforward questions: and DuckDuckGo can absolutely do that.
The Final Say
There’s no question that Google commands the search engine market in a way that no other platform does. However, DuckDuckGo is proving that it’s possible to offer users a comparable search experience without asking them to make the same kinds of compromises on privacy. And although DuckDuckGo is a significantly smaller company without the same level of brand power that Google boasts, it’s definitely putting up an impressive fight.
If you ask us, it’s more than worth giving DuckDuckGo a shot. Sure, Google has plenty of bells and whistles that seem impressive at first, but do you really need them? And when they come at the cost of your online privacy, is it a fair tradeoff? Those are questions only you can answer. But for the VDS team, DuckDuckGo has definitely captured our attention – and plenty of our future search queries.
Discover Why Search Engine Selection Matters with Help from V Digital Services
No matter who you are, where you’re located, or what you do professionally, you’ve probably used an online search engine at least once today. Most of us would agree that if there was any tool that we were planning to use multiple times a day, every day, we would probably do at least some basic research on how it works and whether it’s the best option for us. But if that’s the case, why are the majority of online users simply defaulting to the most popular search engine out there?
At V Digital Services, we’re passionate about every complexity of the digital world, from search engines to content marketing. Whether you’re an experienced business owner who’s ready to upgrade your marketing strategies or just getting started with digital strategy, we’re here to help. Together, we can take a closer look at how to put the Internet to work for you.
Contact the V Digital Services team today to start a professional partnership that can change your digital experience for the better.
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