Is one really better than the other?
Which search engine is better at finding the information you want, fast? We compare the features of DuckDuckGo and Google. Despite efforts by others, it’s come down to two search engines vying for attention: Google and DuckDuckGo. Depending on your needs and priorities, Google may not be the best search engine. DuckDuckGo is rapidly gaining users due to its privacy focus, especially in contrast to Google’s all-seeing eyes. We reviewed the search engines for you so you can determine the best one with assurance.
In the world of search, Google towers above the rest.
It’s the “industry standard” search engine that is relied on in most any instance (at least in the United States), and, let’s be honest: it’s for good reason.
Google search is an amazing tool.
But competitors are always going to be vying for search market share. And from time to time, there are going to be some great search engines that are actually worth using.
DuckDuckGo may just be one of those competitors, especially if you’re looking for privacy that you may not get elsewhere. But DuckDuckGo has plenty more to offer searchers.
What follows is an in-depth comparison of the features of two great search engines we love – DuckDuckGo and Google. As we try to answer the question: which search engine should you use?
- Best search results.
- Multiple highly-functional integrations.
- Personalized results.
- Most private search engine.
- Clean interface.
- Easy to use.
For many, Google is like the slightly unpleasant co-worker everyone puts up with because they do a good job. The degree to which Google tracks you is as astonishing as it is endemic to the use of its services.
DuckDuckGo has been at the privacy game for years. DuckDuckGo’s claim to fame is that it tracks (nearly) nothing about you. But this could affect its search abilities.
Search: Powerful Results
- Provides accurate results at the highest speed.
- Personalizes results based on your browsing history.
- Sometimes knows what you’re thinking before you do.
- Good search results in most cases.
- Innovative bangs direct your search to specific websites.
- Results are sometimes inaccurate or poor.
Google’s searches are unquestionably top-notch. The search engine has an undeniable intuition for what you actually meant to search for. It can decode a muddled string of misspelled search terms and, somehow, return exactly what you were hoping for. That’s what all its tracking makes possible: the fastest and most accurate search results. But it’s not the only game in town.
DuckDuckGo’s bangs are the search engine’s best feature. Named after the exclamation point that proceeds a bang, bangs are text strings that redirect search terms to a specific website’s internal search. For example, if you want to look for a movie on IMDb, type the !imdb bang and then the movie name. The query is sent to IMDb, and you’re redirected to the results page on imdb.com.
Privacy: Somebody’s Watching You
- Tracks every move you make, even when you leave the search results.
- Sells ads based on user information.
- The chief concern is advertisers, not searchers.
- Doesn’t track users or save search results.
- The first priority is protecting users’ privacy.
- No web services means no integration between services.
Google saves and tracks search results. It also tracks more, such as your current location, web page analytics, and web browsing history. Google is likely the largest tracker of human behavior in recorded history. There are some benefits to the panopticon. Google’s all-seeing eye makes its search and other services more effective and keeps these services free.
DuckDuckGo doesn’t attach your searches to any persistent identifier to build a picture of your likes and dislikes. No cookies are set by default. When cookies are set, it’s to track user-implemented settings. Also, there’s no method for identifying unique users.
A modern search engine can’t function without examining whether or not users clicked links for a search term. That’s why search data is only collected in aggregate. No personal information, like IP addresses, UUIDs, or user agent strings, is attached to the results.
Appearance: Easy on the Eyes
- Includes multiple highly-functional integrations, like mail, images, maps, translate, and more.
- Broad library of web services makes novel and valuable cross-service integrations possible.
- Advertisements take priority over organic search results.
- Custom visual themes make it easy on the eyes.
- Search is limited to textual search, sometimes with contextual options, which don’t always appear when expected.
- Mapping and image results are markedly worse.
Part of the fun of using Google is the Google Doodle, which is a series of temporary logos that commemorate holidays, events, notable historical figures, and more. When you log in to your Google account on your birthday, you’ll see a special Google Doodle. Users are comfortable with the look of the search engine. Ads are not obstructive or overwhelming. If you use Google Chrome as your browser, you can use themes to change the appearance, as well.
The appearance of DuckDuckGo is basic and easy to view. However, users can apply themes, change fonts, control the page width and alignment, and apply background colors from the search engine’s settings menu.
Privacy has become a major issue in today’s digitally reliant world. Every day we hear of new large-scale privacy breaches with leaks of email accounts, personal credentials, or private information.
Much of the increase in these privacy concerns is centered around the rise of big data and big tech companies. Organisations have recognised the enormous value locked up in personal data. So they have created complex ecosystems to harvest as much personal data as possible that can either be used to directly increase sales or passed onto third party organisations to use in marketing to their customers.
As a result of these moves, many people have legitimate concerns around:
- Hacks and data breaches
- Selling of user data
- Mismanagement of private information
- Heightened feelings around invasion of personal privacy
- Head to head on privacy
Because of these concerns, new players have emerged with a privacy focus that offer alternatives to the established big tech companies. One such option is DuckDuckGo, which offers privacy protected search functions as an alternative to Google.
There is little disputing the effectiveness of Google’s search technologies, which revolutionised internet search. But DuckDuckGo and Google have two very different outlooks on privacy:
- DuckDuckGo has been designed from the ground up to create a privacy-focussed environment where no IP addresses or user information is stored.
- You can choose to search directly via the DuckDuckGo website or to integrate DuckDuckGo as an extension into Chrome.
- It includes no personalised ads or search results. This results in a very different search experience to that offered by Google and is much less “Big Brother” like.
- DuckDuckGo still relies on advertising to generate revenue so you will still see visible ads in your searches. The difference however is that the ads aren’t personalised to the individual user.
- DuckDuckGo doesn’t include any protection from viruses, malware, ransomware, or other internet dangers.
- Google is the leading search provider for a reason. Some users may still find Google’s search results are superior to DuckDuckGo.
- Google Chrome can be further privacy optimised by launching ‘incognito’ browsers.
- Other privacy boosting features include the ability to change encryption options in settings to alter how data is collected or to select which online services Chrome uses.
- Google’s default settings allow for the storage, tracking, and sale of personal user data to third parties.
- Can pull data from your private emails.
- Similar to DuckDuckGo, Google Chrome is still susceptible to some viruses and malware.
Maximising your privacy
No search engine is perfect. DuckDuckGo is more secure than Google but Google can be altered to become more privacy friendly. Ultimately the decision about whether you use DuckDuckGo or Google will likely come down to how much you value your privacy vs how much benefit you get from Google’s broad and personalised ecosystem.
If you do opt to use Google, take advantage of the privacy options it does include by being vigilant about cookies and other settings that allow you to maximise privacy. And whichever option you choose, you should also use them in conjunction with good anti-virus software to protect yourself and your devices from privacy and other threats.
For web users concerned about privacy, DuckDuckGo is the way to go. However, this protection comes at a cost, which is sometimes-lacking search results. Learning ways to get the best search results could help you find what you want online without giving up private or personal information.