DuckDuckGo is a hybrid engine launched in 2008 as a side project. In fact, it uses a mixture of APIs from other search engines and its crawlers (mainly for maintenance purposes), with an additional layer of intelligence, to create its index.
However, it has a definite mission of not tracking its users. In short, when you surf the web through DuckDuckGo, you avoid the so-called search leakage.
In fact, when searching through other search engines, your data (through the IP and User Agent) are getting tracked and stored. Eventually, they get sold to third parties (comprised governments and marketers) that use your data for their campaigns.
Today almost fifteen million queries each day, on average, go through DuckDuckGo. The search engine that doesn’t track your data stacks up record after record. Only on October 9th, it reached almost twenty million daily queries!
I believe DDG is the future of search for three compelling yet straightforward reasons.
Privacy will be a major concern
On May 20, 2013: Edward Snowden computer analyst for CIA leaked classified information. It revealed several global surveillance programs run by the NSA. The news opened a Pandora’s box.
From that moment on the web will never be the same. Back then people started to look for an alternative to Google. That is when DuckDuckGo growth accelerated even further.
Search is a very private endeavor. That is why privacy concerns have not died down. In fact, according to a survey by Pew Research Center in August 2016, says “86% of internet users have taken steps online to remove or mask their digital footprints, but many say they would like to do more or are unaware of tools they could use.”
That means more and more people will look for an easy solution to avoid getting tracked. DuckDuckGo is one of the quickest, most efficient and simple ways to avoid getting tracked on the web.
The traditional ad model is broken
When you search through a traditional search engine, not only your information but also your search history is getting stored and eventually sold to the highest bidder, part of Google’s advertising network. Besides the privacy worries, this kind of model based on tracking search history is not useful.
In fact, you end up most of the time to find retargeting advertisements about things you have already purchased or that no longer are interesting to you.
Instead, DuckDuckGo uses a more straightforward yet efficient way to advertise, based on keywords. In short, if you type in “car insurance” you may get an ad for that. In other words, you get an ad based on what you need here and now. Rather than advertising campaigns that follow you throughout the web based on your search history.
That model makes ads less annoying and useful as they represent an actual need of a user. Also, DuckDuckGo uses affiliate marketing. For instance, through Amazon and eBay affiliate programs; when a user buys after getting there through DuckDuckGo the company receives a small commission.
There is another important reason for its success. The community of developers around it.
The open source model is the future
Traditional search engines keep their projects as secretive as possible. You can find DuckDuckGo on GitHub (think of it as a sort of social network for developers) where volunteers can help fix bugs or improve features.
This model leverages the power of those communities to speed up the improvement of the product. At the same time, those communities help DuckDuckGo sustain its growth over time. They also helped build DuckDuckGo in its first years of life.
Connecting the dots
To recap DuckDuckGo is the hybrid engine, which is proliferating since its launch in 2008. Back in 2013, the Snowden case opened a Pandora’s box that made privacy a major global issue, DDG growth accelerated further. There are three simple reasons why DuckDuckGo may be the future of search.
First, privacy is a significant concern. We don’t have any reason to believe that things will change in the next future. As technology will progress and the more it will become easy to track people, the more we will see presumably growing concerns about privacy.
Second, the traditional ad model based on advertisements sold to the highest bidder – that follow the users throughout the web – has become disturbing, if not annoying for most users. DDG is the only major player in the search engine industry that proposes an alternative to that model.
Third, large corporations with secretive projects are not as appealing as companies that allow the community to take part in their growth. That is why DDG has been successful in nurturing an open source culture. We can presume that this culture will make it easier for DDG to sustain its growth in the long run
If you haven’t done yet, duck it!