The concerns of internet users regarding their privacy have grown immensely in recent years. It is no wonder that privacy-oriented search engines such as DuckDuckGo have a significant increase when it comes to their traffic and popularity, especially amongst those who are seeking better anonymity, information security and data privacy while surfing online.
What is DuckDuckGo?
DuckDuckGo is a privacy-oriented search engine which was founded by Gabriel Weinberg on February 29, 2008, named after a reference to a kids game - Duck Duck Goose.
This alternative search engine is more privacy-oriented than any other before. It doesn't collect any of your data while browsing the Internet and, at the same time, displays relevant results. The interface is nice and clean, with one results page you can continuously scroll down.
Additionally, there is also the Instant Answers section, which is similar to the Featured Snippets that Google shows. These answers come from WikiHow and are shown on the right side of the screen, next to the results.
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Is DuckDuckGo really more private?
DuckDuckGo does not collect any personal information such as your IP address or any other personal information. It also forces sites to use encrypted connections when available.
The browser prevents search leakage by default and you can also be sure your search history is safe. This is because the browser doesn’t create or store any user profiles, nor does it keep track of the IP address of a given requests’ origin. This means that your activity cannot be tied to your in any way, as each user query comes and remains unknown for the browser.
But how is this profitable for DuckDuckGo?
The company has been highly profitable since 2014, even though they are not storing or sharing any personal information about its users. The company’s business model is to simply earn income from their advertising and affiliate revenue programmes.
The primary business model of DuckDuckGo is to offer keyword-based advertising. Search advertisers are bidding on keywords that would allow their ads to be shown in the first SERP results.
If you are browsing for shared hosting, you are more likely to respond to an ad that is an exact match to your search, rather than something you have been browsing for in the past week, which is why targeted advertising is based on searched keywords rather than user profiles.
The other income channel of the company is by participating in the Amazon and eBay affiliate programs, where the company receives small commissions after a customer makes purchases on those sites through DuckDuckGo.
How DuckDuckGo and Google work
When browsing the Internet, we all reveal personal information that can be used to influence our decisions without even thinking about it. This is why we should be aware of how the search engine of our choice works and how our personal information is both stored and used.
Needless to say, Google is the largest search engine on the market, dominating both in Europe and the US, which is why we want to make a comparison between it and DuckDuckGo.
Simply put, the Google algorithm browses the Web with automated scripts called crawlers. After a page is found, the search engine tries to understand what it is about. This is the so-called indexing process, which allows resources and pages to be present in Search.
Next, the different algorithms come into action and they begin ranking and penalizing the pages based on a number of factors such as user experience metrics, content relevancy, keyword stuffing and others.
The most appropriate answer to the user’s query is then displayed at the highest positions based on relevancy.
This goes to show that there is no need for personal information to be used when it comes to delivering relevant search results for users queries, which raises many questions and doubts when it comes to user privacy.
Some of Google’s main advantages in terms of displaying such relevant results are the user profiles it creates and the cookies which are used to keep track of our searches. Based on the knowledge of our behavior and queries, the algorithm presumes what our interests are. Then relevant adverts related to our profiles are shown across Search and the giant’s partner network, including products and services such as YouTube, Gmail, Docs, Calendar and others.
DuckDuckGo works similarly to any other search engine, Google included. To complete a search result, it uses its own web crawler - DuckDuckBot, and up to 400 other sources, including search engines like Bing, Yahoo and Yandex as well as crowdsourced websites like Wikipedia, which is exactly how Google operates, just on a smaller scale.
The most significant difference is that DuckDuckGo doesn't store any personal information about its users such as browsing history and IP addresses and it also doesn’t generate user profiles to later on use when displaying ads either.
Because of this, DuckDuckGo offers the most private search engine that you can currently get on the market, meaning that if you want to protect your privacy, you could look into using the search engine.
What do you miss out on when using a private search engine?
Using Google is really convenient. Users can create profiles and enjoy using all additional products that are developed so that they can have a pleasant and intuitive experience while browsing online.
Passwords and information for the user profile are kept, and you don't have to constantly have to log in when switching between YouTube or your email for example. Google Drive is another great product that allows users to store data online while also enabling them to have access from multiple devices. All of this, however, has a price and that price is your privacy.
DuckDuckGo, on the other hand, doesn’t support all of these features. But while your experience might be a bit incomplete, your privacy will undoubtedly be better preserved.
What do you gain by using DuckDuckGo?
By switching to DDG, you will gain control over your privacy by guaranteeing that your personal information or searches will not be collected or stored. You won’t be chased by adverts from website to website because there are no personalized ads.
The only adverts you will see are those related to the search terms you enter. Using the private browser means that no more social engineering techniques will be employed based on your searches and interests. Because profiling and targeting aren’t present in the algorithm of DDG, each search with a particular keyword will generate the same results for all users.
If you are concerned about your personal information, you want to protect your privacy and you don’t like the idea that Google’s algorithm might know too much about you, it's time to start thinking about switching your current browser to a more privacy-oriented one.