Undoubtedly, when most people think of a search engine their minds lock in on Google. However Google isn’t the only search engine in town, though they are the most popular with 7 out of 10 of the internet’s searches. There exists a wide range of search engine sites that work just as effectively as Google and without invasive tracking tactics.
As a wave of new privacy-conscious searchers start to wander away from Google, search engine sites like DuckDuckGo are beginning to garner attention.
As its name suggests, its logo features a duck and isn’t used for quality driven search as much as for its privacy. DuckDuckGo even boasts its niche feature within its tagline: “The search engine that doesn’t track you.” It also pokes fun at other sites’ use of your searches to track you under its donttrack.us., a quirky synopsis of their search policy.
For those irritated by ads that follow digital bread crumbs that are left behind and being tracked by advertising software and online cookies, DuckDuckGo doesn’t allow advertisers, let alone the National Security Agency (NSA,) to track their users through their internet browsing sessions. Furthermore, search results aren’t filtered based on a user’s past searches so they are offered a broader set of search results that, in most cases, aren’t based on lengthy algorithms.
So why hasn’t DuckDuckGo picked up traction that other search engines such as Yahoo, Bing and Ask?
It has lacked an aesthetically pleasing look that so many of us have become accustomed to. Its 90’s style logo and bland search results have deterred many users who aren’t willing to give up the clean lines of other search engines for a visually dated search engine, privacy or not. Go figure! To be fair DuckDuckGo is reminiscent of Google when it was first introduced and look where they are now.
A New Interface Means New Competition
It seems that DuckDuckGo has finally gotten the memo and has decided to join the rest of the search world in the 21st century by releasing its new user interface. Wednesday May 7th, CEO Gabriel Weinberg introduced a redesign for DuckDuckGo that features filtered, algorithmic information we’ve all been accustomed to from new age search engines. Users will be able to experience the new interface before its official launch at https://next.duckduckgo.com/. The new features include quick answers for things such as dates and weather that work in partnership with Wolfram Alpha, and are displayed in clean boxes much like Google’s cards. Gone is the blocky red search banner at the top which has been replaced with a single logo and a very thin red strip.
Videos and images are also featured in a carousel, also similar to Google’s product listings and movie listing. This new feature is a shift away from DuckDuckGo’s quirky “bang” searches (adding shortcuts with exclamation points to the end of searches).
Users may experience a few kinks in the new interface since the link is a beta version of the site. I’ve found a couple broken links and a few other hiccups. If you find, like I have, a few snags just provide feedback to help the search engine fix the minor snafus that come with updating an interface.
Why Businesses and Marketers Should Care
All of this matters because the search engine is finally in a definite position to challenge Google and as users start to tighten access to their online personas, many marketers and business owners may find that DuckDuckGo will be an alternative to Google searches; which means less data collection and metrics. Oh the humanity!
While it is unlikely that consumers will be shutting themselves off in tents in the barren landscapes of Alaska with only an antenna and tin foil, they are becoming increasingly aware of advertisers and the government’s intrusive lens on their search patterns. For example, in a recent article a woman hid her pregnancy from online data miners and let’s just say it wasn’t an easy task. That is why it is important that market researchers begin to think outside the search box to develop alternative tactics to understanding search and buying behaviors of targeted consumers. I doubt that much will change in the years to come, but even Facebook is listening to its users who want a semblance of privacy as they navigate through the latest apps.
Privacy is becoming a hot topic whether we like it or not and it will only intensify as related stories of data breaches and the “internet of everything” (coined by Cisco) continues to enter the mainstream. DuckDuckGo is only an example of the shifting mentality of internet users.
What are your thoughts on DuckDuckGo? Do you think it can actually compete with Google? Sound off below.