Is DuckDuckGo a Viable Competitor for Google?

Emma Grant

Head of SEO

Results-driven Emma heads up our SEO team. A champion of best-practice SEO strategies for search engine success that lasts and delivers best value, Emma’s work focuses on boosting clients’ online visibility with the ultimate goal of increasing sales. Emma applies her extensive skill and experience to create strategies that pay off quickly for faster results. She knows precisely what to do to reduce clients’ paid ad spends for greater profits, and how to boost organic leads for better long term return on investment. After close of business, when she’s not organising exciting travel adventures, you may hear Emma strumming classical guitar tunes or working on her jazz riffs.

Google is to search what Hoover is to vacuum cleaning, and what Uber is fast becoming to hailing a taxi. When a brand becomes a verb, you know it has made it big. But as you know, there are more brands of vacuum cleaner than just Hoover. And Uber isn’t the only mini cab operator. What we’re getting at here is of course, that Google isn’t the only search engine. So, with this in mind, we thought we’d take a closer look at the up-and-coming DuckDuckGo, and explore whether this privacy-friendly search platform is a potential contender for the mighty Google.


Everyone knows that Google is the king of search. It commands over two thirds of the US search queries market thanks to its commercial arrangements. The very arrangements that led to a very significant antitrust lawsuit.

Depending on how this lawsuit pans out, it could be the case that other search engines around the world will grow in market share, finding themselves in a better position to capitalise on important benefits to consumers, such as collecting less user data for example.

Google is where it is in the search market because it returns exceptional quality results. Its technologies are pioneering. But there are competitors to consider. Especially for those who are uncomfortable with the level of privacy invasion they come face to face with when using Google.

DuckDuckGo is a privacy fan’s favourite. And it has plenty of other benefits to offer. Let’s take a look at how the less-than-one-per-cent world market share search engine stacks up against big gun Google.

DuckDuckGo… what’s it all about?

Founded in 2008, DuckDuckGo is a search engine built on transparency. It claims that it does not share users’ personal information at any point. So, use DuckDuckGo, and you search anonymously. That means you won’t keep running into re-marketing ads, have your search history stored or your IP addressed tracked. And these days, a lot of people like that. It’s certainly a USP.

Yes, the search engine has a very small market share. But it’s growing. For the first time, in January 2021, it recorded over 100 million searches in one day. And now it’s actively blocking other search engines from collecting user data too, it could well open the floodgates for even greater popularity.

DuckDuckGo privacy

So that’s privacy. But what else is there to like about DuckDuckGo?

Well, for the web user who likes the Google search results format, familiarity. There are 10 organic results per page, a couple of adverts top and bottom, and a knowledge panel on the right showing useful excerpts from the likes of Wikipedia.

It’s a nice, clean user friendly format with a few preference tweaks to help smooth the search process even further, such as a ‘see more’ feature at the end of the first 10 results, so you can continue scrolling rather than click to the next page. There are also ‘Instant Answers’, akin to Google’s Featured Snippets, related searches, and options to view results from the web, images, video, news, maps and shopping. Maps listings are provided courtesy of Apple Maps.

DuckDuckGo search

So, on the usability front, that’s a plus too. But how does DuckDuckGo compare to Google?

Is DuckDuckGo comparable to Google?

Naturally, Google is the search engine giant. The dominator. It’s massive, and has development resources to match. Which means it’s always going to be innovating and growing. Something of which we’re all acutely aware thanks to the ongoing algorithm updates.

Google is not just a search engine. It’s a suite of tools. Powerful tools, like Google Maps… a massive database of business information that spans the globe. And its search options are wider than DDG’s, with shopping, books, flights and finance also included.

Google BERT and the newer technology, Google MUM, are way out there in terms of search sophistication, using artificial intelligence to deliver personalised, intuitive results.

But DuckDuckGo is growing, and was valued at almost $75 million in 2018. But still, its market share is tiny, lagging behind not just Google, but Bing and Yahoo too.

The thing with DDG though is that, whilst the other search engines are always chasing Google and vying to compete feature wise, this minor market player is following more of a ‘do the opposite’ strategy, especially in terms of privacy. Although this pioneering privacy does mean that every result delivered by DuckDuckGo is the same, because it is not curating unique searches based on the personal interests, location, web history and search patterns of users like Google is.

DuckDuckGo privacy

Suffice to say that Google doesn’t have much to worry about in terms of maintaining market share in search engine land. The sheer quality of its platform runs rings around the others.

However, for those who have a thing about privacy, DuckDuckGo is gradually becoming the go-to search engine. It’s an above average search engine, with morals, and it’s doing a grand job of making a name for itself in a very challenging market.

It’s precisely why search engine optimisation needs to go beyond Google. Because whilst most people do, not everyone favours the big gun.

For search engine optimisation that goes beyond Google, talk to Figment

Naturally, Google is a major focus for our organic SEO efforts here at Figment. But our knowledge and expertise extends beyond this search engine alone.

When we discuss your business objectives and get to understand your target audience, we’ll ascertain whether we need to factor other search engines into your online visibility strategy. It’s all about what will get you the results you need in the timeframe you want, and of course, the best return on investment.

If you’d like to find out how Figment could help you improve your online visibility courtesy of best practice SEO, get in touch with Figment SEO agency in London.

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