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Is it time we all waddled over to DuckDuckGo?

18th Feb 2016

No, do not fear, you aren’t quacking up (sorry), DuckDuckGo is very much a thing and if recent trends are anything to go by, you may be hearing the name a lot more in the near future! 

By now, you may be wondering what on earth DuckDuckGo is. Well let me enlighten you…

Founded in 2008, DuckDuckGo is a search engine, but it’s not any old search engine. Whereas the likes of Google personalise their search results for users from all the data it collects on them (user activity, IP addresses, search history etc.), DuckDuckGo does not track its users; thus protecting their privacy.  Rather than profiling its users, it deliberately shows all users the same results for any given search term. This in contrast to Google, for example, which filters search results for a user based on the sites they have been visiting.

These non-personalised results DuckDuckGo presents to its searchers therefore work universally for everyone and it even has a community of developers and users who constantly add new sources for answers to search queries. What’s more, DDG has, over time, refined the quality of its results still further by deleting search results for companies believed to be content mills. An example of a content mill is eHow; which publishes thousands of articles every day created by paid freelance writers. Gabriel Weinberg, DDG’s founder and CEO, believes such content mills to produce low-quality content designed specifically to rank highly in Google’s SERPs.

DuckDuckGo earns its revenue in two ways; through serving its users ads from the Yahoo-Bing search network and through affiliate relationships with companies such as Amazon and eBay. However, unlike its rivals, DDG shows merely 2 ads at the top of search results, rather than sponsored links above, to the side and below search results as found on Google.

So, why dedicate a whole blog post to this lesser-known search engine I hear you cry. Well, allow me to lead us as we go peking (sorry again) into some facts and figures about DuckDuckGo that I think you’ll find interesting and even surprising. 

•DuckDuckGo averages around 10 million queries per day. One day in December saw 12 million search queries. The search engine achieved a remarkable 350m queries during the month of December as a whole.

•During 2015, DuckDuckGo saw a total of 3.41bn search queries.

•These numbers become all the more significant when you consider DDG’s impressive rate of growth. It saw a 73% year-on-year increase in search queries from 2014 to 2015.

•Over the course of 2015, the search engine’s monthly traffic grew by 22% to ultimately achieve 108m visits in December.

•DuckDuckGo had a lower bounce rate than larger rival Bing throughout 2015. In December it was 31% compared to Bing’s 41%. DDG’s average time-on-site was also higher than that of Bing throughout 2015; at an average of 9:38 minutes compared to 7:29 minutes.

•It makes its money without tracking users -  Gabriel Weinberg says it is “a myth you need to track people to make money in web search”. He continued that most of their money is made by showing people ads based on their chosen keyword/s – “type in car and get a car ad” Weinberg remarked.

What’s more, DuckDuckGo is predicted to be the fastest-growing search engine of 2016, poised for immense growth, so expect these stats to only improve. 

The recent increase in popularity of DuckDuckGo is likely a result of users’ ever-increasing concerns over their personal safety and privacy online; not least in the face of breaches of said privacy. Such breaches include that of TalkTalk in November 2015, which saw almost 157,000 customers’ personal details hacked. This represented a not-insignificant 4% of TalkTalk’s 4 million-strong customer base. The company said 15,656 customers’ bank account numbers and sort codes were hacked in the attack. 

Similarly, earlier in 2015, 37 million users of controversial “dating” site Ashley Madison had their personal information released by hackers. These included names, email addresses and even phone numbers and partial credit card numbers.

Incidents such as these make a strong case as to why users are increasingly migrating (couldn’t help myself again) over to DuckDuckGo; a search engine which has built its following on not collecting user data and not tracking their activity. Econsultancy predict that brands will see an increasing chunk of their target audience coming to their sites through DuckDuckGo in the coming years, and if this is to be the case then it further reinforces the importance to said brands/organisations of conveying to their customers exactly what data they collect on them and what they do with it. 

In other words, brands should now, more than ever, consider how they collect and process customer data and reflect this in their marketing materials; particularly in the case of brands whose customers regard this as of utmost concern.

Pro Tip: Google Analytics by default tracks DuckDuckGo as a referral source. To restore it to its rightful place as an organic traffic source, simply follow these steps:

1.Navigate to an account/property. 

2.Click Admin.

3.Select the account and property you wish to edit.

4.From the property column, select Tracking Info and then Organic Search Sources.

5.Click on +Add Search Engine.

6.In the form, specify what exactly the Domain Name Contains and also the Query Parameter. You can also choose to specify a Search Engine Name and what the Path Contains.

7.Then click Create.

You can also edit or delete existing search engines you’ve previously added, as well as reorder the list from here.

Follow my advice and your marketing is sure to go swimmingly (what?... It will!) …