DuckDuckGo vs Google: Who’s the winner?

In the last months, I’ve been using both DuckDuckGo and Google as leading search engines. Which one is the best?

If you’re not familiar with DuckDuckGo, that is a search engine that focuses on privacy. In other words, while Google follows you around the web and passes the information that leaks through your IP, DuckDuckGo doesn’t.

Below you can learn more about DuckDuckGo and its story:

DuckDuckGo: The [Former] Solopreneur That Is Beating Google at Its Game

For how much I love what DuckDuckGo stands for. I’m also a daily user of both. And as such I want to compare three aspects which I believe are critical to picking the one or the other.


Privacy vs. Tracking

The first questions that might pop to mind is: “what’s the difference between DuckDuckGo and Google in Incognito mode? “The difference is that while in Incognito Mode you will in some way avoid the so-called filter bubble, you will still be tracked by Google. Therefore, the main differentiator between DuckDuckGo vs. Google is privacy. Indeed, ever since its launch, DuckDuckGo‘s founder was looking for three things:

  • offer a private navigation experience
  • less spammy (Google ads follow you anywhere)
  • give more answers (at the time Google featured snippet didn’t exist yet)

In other words, if you’re looking for private navigation, DuckDuckGo is a no-brainer. Thousands of people are switching toward DuckDuckGo for that reason alone. It seems that the more people learn about how Google works and the more they look for alternatives that respect privacy. This trend can be expected to continue over time. Who’s the winner here?

DuckDuckGo 1 – Google 0 

Filter Bubble vs. Tailored Search

Another main differentiator between DuckDuckGo and Google is the navigation experience. In fact, since DuckDuckGo doesn’t track you, it can’t offer a “tailored search.” In other words, the only customization you can set up is based on localization. However, one may argue whether a tailored search is useful for the users. In fact, the sort of filter that Google applies to the search is also based on what Google thinks its right for you. On the one hand, this can lead to finding information that you will likely agree on with.

On another hand, this raises another question, “is this kind of information good for you?”In short, many believe that the web has been one of the most significant technological achievement because people can see beyond the end of their nose. Yet that is not what happens when you surf the web through Google. In fact, when you fall into Google’s filter bubble (most people aren’t even aware of that) your vision of the world instead of widening, it narrows down.It is true that from the practical standpoint what you have been looking for in the past might work as a good predictor of what you will like in the future. However, we can argue whether that is good or not.

I don’t think there is a winner here. In fact, for how much people might recognize the need to have a search engine that gives them diverse results, many in reality will opt for the one that keeps confirming what they think is right. We look for similar people and similar ideas to ours that is homophily in action.

Who’s the winner here?

DuckDuckGo 0 – Google 0 

Ideally, I’d love DuckDuckGo to win. But in reality – while I believe privacy is a good reason for people to switch – I don’t think that is the case for the filter bubble.

Localization vs Cookies

Most people believe that what’s genial about Google is the algorithm put together by its engineers. Of course, that is an incredible technological marvel. However, what I think is ingenious about Google is the business model. In fact, Google had created the most profitable advertising network ever existed. Google has an advertising network called AdWords. Businesses that enroll in AdWords bid on keywords; The bidder that pays a higher price per click will also be the one featured on that specific keyword.

On the other hand, there is another network, called AdSense that allows publishers to monetize their content. In fact, the websites that enroll in AdSense can monetize their content by showing advertising from business enrolled in AdWords based on the number of impressions on each banner. This business model is so smart that as of today it still what makes most of Google’s revenue.

Even though Google is the most successful ad network on earth, it is also a search engine that works quite well. In short, many people don’t even realize that Google is an ad network because its results are incredibly accurate. Therefore, Google managed to balance between its business model and the quality of results for its users.

That is why – I argue – the search engine from Mountain View was so wildly successful.This business model has become the so widely accepted that is hard to think of an alternative. DuckDuckGo instead, argues that what users care about isn’t a localized search.

Who’s the winner?

DuckDuckGo 0 – Google 1 

Summary and Conclusion

Google is the most used search engine in the world. It’s no surprise. In fact, besides Google‘s quality of results what makes it so unique is the business model it created. Google managed to create a win-win-win situation. Businesses win because they can bid on keywords and track their results. In the past, companies would spend tons of money on advertising that probably didn’t make them a dime.

Now they know exactly how much they make with their ads. Publishers win because they can quickly monetize their content. Of course, they get quite a little money. Yet for now, a little money seems better than nothing. Last but not least, users win because they get quality results based on the questions they input into Google’s search box.The business model worked so far.

Yet something might be disrupting the win-win-win model that Google created. First, it is true that Google ads are still convenient for businesses. Second, publishers realized that the business model based on Google ads isn’t sustainable. Third, users are getting more aware of privacy issues.

In conclusion, even if from the match DuckDuckGo vs. Google ended with a draw.

That might soon change in favor of DuckDuckGo!

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Gennaro Cuofano

Creator of | BizDev at | International MBA

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