Alternatives to Google. The rise of DuckDuckGo.

Duck Duck Go logoIt might be the ubiquitous word for searching on the internet, but there are different ways to google (verb: small g not capital G). But why would you want to? You do wonder why anyone uses Yahoo without their anti virus software changing their search engine preferences, but there are advantages to the alternatives.

For designers and SEO purposes, Google still has the lions share of searches (approx. 60%) with Bing, Yahoo, Ask and the others in its wake with the remaining 40%. But that means you still need to focus on the other 40%.

For end-users, there are advantages to the alternatives. Due to the ‘intelligent’ way that Google’s algorithms work, we can rely on our answers or searches to be better than ever before. But that also gives an element of mistrust, in that we’re seeing what Google wants us to see more and more, and it’s tailored to us rather than a collective general answer. Geolocation, previous searches, profiling etc are all used to give the answer Google thinks or is sponsored / paid for, to give.

To get a different view, I often use alternative search engines or private browsing modes to see what the alternative responses are – which often give a better answer, or at least a different range of answers, good or bad.

This is where DuckDuckGo comes to the fore. It’s a relatively new search engine that’s built by a small team (20) of employees working in open source to give a standard response to a term search. Unlike its competitors, it doesn’t gather your personal data to slant your result. Enhanced privacy on its own, is enough for many people to be won over, on top of the other benefits.

It feels a bit retro, but has a clean simple look. It’s search answers will also look and feel different as it uses a combination of popular websites and search engines, with a smattering of Wikipedia integration to get some accuracy, then overlaid with it’s own algorithms to filter the best answers. It’s a different approach, and one that’s worth trying. Perhaps it’s not a replacement for Google, but it’s certainly an excellent sidekick.

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