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My DuckDuckGo Investigation

With Google being so prominent in the land of search engines, it’s hard to imagine anyone new coming along and doing a good job. Well, this could be where DuckDuckGo comes into play.

DuckDuckGo Search Engine

What is it?

DuckDuckGo is a search engine that puts a huge emphasis on the user’s privacy. With everything being online these days, it can be concerning just how much you’re being watched. Big Brother truly is watching. For those worried about who might be following in their footsteps, DuckDuckGo could be for you, I mean, just take a look at their slogan ‘The search engine that doesn’t track you’ – goodbye personalised search results!

Why would I want to use it?

So, now I’ve got your attention, you’re probably wondering what makes this search engine worth your time, well, do you want a clutter free, to-the-point search experience? Yup, me too.

Zero-click Information

In a similar way to how Google has answer boxes popping up more and more frequently across search results, DuckDuckGo presents zero-click information to you, the user. Let me show you what I mean.

Let’s take the popular video game, The Sims 4. (We all know The Sims 2 was better, but we’ll use the most recent release for the purpose of testing)

In Google, when you search for The Sims 4, you’re presented with these results:

Search results for 'The Sims 4' in Google

So here we’ve got a sponsored result at the top of the results, four organic results (above the fold) a news article, YouTube video, shopping results and a link to the Wikipedia page. Whoa, information overload! All of this information is meant to be helpful, however when you actually stop and look, there’s so much going on how could you possibly decide where to visit first?

Comparing this to DuckDuckGo:

Search results for 'The Sims 4' in DuckDuckGo

A much simpler, less busy results page. So, similarly to Google, there is an excerpt from Wikipedia at the top of the page, however, it isn’t hogging all the attention like before. Something that Google doesn’t have, is the ‘Related Topics’ list, at the top of the page. Yes, there is the ‘Searches related to [search query]’ list at the bottom of page 1 on Google, but this is out of sight, and out of mind.

Moving forward, you can also see that there is only one sponsored result, and then the rest, for as long as you could possibly want to scroll are organic. Nice?

From this side by side comparison, you can immediately see how much less clutter there is on the page. Less clutter, less ads, less spam. DuckDuckGo takes into account all of the title and descriptions written by us human beings on webpages, and uses them to display simpler, hopefully more relevant content.

Okay, I see your point, but what else is there?

Visited Link in Google Search

Think about when you’re researching, there’s a lot of clicking going on, you want to find out information from multiple sources, you want to cover as much of the topic you can, but you get lost in where you’ve been before and where you haven’t. Yes, Google does change the font colour to purple when you’ve visited a link, but if we’re being honest it doesn’t exactly stand out does it?

Link with check mark on DuckDuckGo

DuckDuckGo on the other hand, puts a nice simple tick next to the sites you’ve visited, out of the way, clear. There’s no more ‘Is that text blue or purple’ debate anymore.

Semantic Topic Detection

The next cool thing I want to show you about DuckDuckGo, is their semantic topic detection. What? Let me explain, DuckDuckGo is great at providing you with all the different meanings for ambiguous search terms. It allows you to pick the one you want, and then it will offer search results based on your choice.

Let’s take the search query ‘apple’. Type this into Google and you’ll be inundated with results about Apple Inc. Suppose you want to look at the fruit though? This is where DuckDuckGo is pretty cool…

Google Search Results for 'The Sims 4'

Yes, at first you will also get a lot of results about Apple Inc, but there’s this handy little button called ‘Meanings’ you can press which changes everything.

Search results for 'Apple' on DuckDuckGo

As you can see, after clicking on ‘Meanings’ you are offered every kind of apple you could possibly think of, all at the click of a button. Once you’ve chosen one you will get results tailored to the meaning you have chosen. It’s a very simple feature, but I think it works really well.

Variations of search for 'Apple' on DuckDuckGo'Apple' description on DuckDuckGo

Paginated No More!

Ready for something else that is very not Google. What do you think about search results not being paginated? That’s right, on DuckDuckGo, you can just keep scrolling to your heart’s content. Although it is quite a nice feature, not having to head to the next page if you really can’t find anything, however I don’t think it’s really necessary. If you can’t what you want in the first ten or so results you’re more likely to change your search query rather than continue to scroll down into an abyss.

!Bang

The final feature which I think deserves a lot of attention, is the !Bang feature. This really sets DuckDuckGo apart from Google. Imagine you need a new toaster – instead of searching for ‘toaster’ then choosing from results, simply type ‘!a toaster’ and you’ll be taken directly to Amazon, where all the toasters they sell will be displayed. To put it simply, whenever you type in ‘!’ followed by one of the site options, you’re jumping ahead and doing a direct search of the site you’ve chosen.

DuckDuckGo !Bang Dropdown list

There’s plenty of sites to choose from to for this quick and simple !Bang feature! Whether you’re thinking about shopping, a location, or want to browse a trending topic on Twitter, DuckDuckGo gives you instant access.

That pretty much sums up the main features of DuckDuckGo, but why not check out these queries below to see what kind of user experience you’ll have if you use this search engine.

Recipes:

'Cake' search results (recipe) on DuckDuckGo

Shopping:

Search results for 'Toaster' (product) in Google

Youtube:

Search results for 'Taylor Swift' (video) on DuckDuckGo

Music:

'Coldplay' Search results (audio) on DuckDuckGo

Even listen to music directly from the search engine!

Weather:

Search results for 'Weather' ion DuckDuckGo

Now you’ve seen what it can do, do you think you’ll be making the switch to DuckDuckGo?

Becca Holloway

Becca Holloway

Social Media Consultant

Becca is a social media consultant at Base Creative and has coordinated Sharing Social London meet-ups since launching in early 2018.

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