DuckDuckGo – The Next Major Search Engine?

Back in the day, we all used AltaVista or Yahoo! to find everything we needed on the Internet. It was slow and often didn’t find what we were looking for, but hey, it was all we had. Then Google came along, and blew us away at how much faster and better search could really be. We switched, and never looked back.

So isn’t Google good enough? Do we really need another search engine, let alone one named after a game? Let’s take a closer look at today’s search market and what DuckDuckGo has to offer that might make you want to switch.

Searching for a Search Engine

Today, there’s renewed attention on search engines from all sides. Microsoft’s Bing has gained a sizable share of the search market, while Google has released new search features faster than ever. Yahoo! has now bowed out of the search engine race, using Bing to power their search while they focus on their other properties.

And then there’s the new search engines, like DuckDuckGo. This search startup with an unusual name is run by its founder, Gabriel Weinberg, is self-funded, and has already topped 5 million searches on average per month. Rather than focusing on having the absolute most exhaustive index of the web, Weinberg is focusing his search engine on providing the best instant answers with less spam than other search engines. He seems to be doing a pretty good job of it, too!

DuckDuckGo's Main site

Just Duck it!

We’ve all trained ourselves to automatically search whenever we need to find anything online. Many people don’t even type in URLs anymore, opting instead to just search the site name every time. The problem is, for the most part you still don’t get what you’re looking for right on the first page. You’ll either have to click a link to see more about the topic, or search through consecutive pages to keep looking.

DuckDuckGo tries to solve this problem by giving you more information right on your search page. It includes information from Wikipedia, WolframAlpha, and more, and formats the results in such a way that the text preview is actually useful.  It’s easy to figure out what Envato is and where its official site is located in the DuckDuckGo results below, while on Google you’d likely have to click through to a couple sites to find out exactly what it is. Even if you do click through a link, DuckDuckGo maintains your privacy and doesn’t let the site know what you searched to find their site. They’ve worked hard to make sure their search engine is fully private, and even created a special site just to discuss privacy issues with search engines.

DuckDuckGo brings quick answers from WolframAlpha, Wikipedia, and more

These features let you do much more than just simple searches in DuckDuckGo, finding the info you need quickly and privately. You can find President Obama’s age, the square root of 2, a random number between 1 and 10, and much more right from the search box. Some of these features are included especially in DuckDuckGo, while others are made possible through its integration with WolframAlpha and other search tools. Be sure to check out the Goodies page to see more of its unique search features.

DuckDuckGo’s most exciting feature, though, is its !Bang. DuckDuckGo is designed to let you search hundreds of specialized search engines about all types of topics, and you can specify what you want to search with easy to remember bang syntax. Want to find a video on YouTube? Enter !youtube followed by the type of video you want to find. Need to find more info about a certain part of PHP? Enter !php and your quiery, and you’ll find your answers quicker than ever. Often you can just enter a bang you think would work, and it does, which is a great way to find precisely what you need. Check out the Duck Duck !Bang page to see all of the supported bangs together.

Dig deeper and learn more, all on one page

Quacky Clean Search

DuckDuckGo takes Google’s clean interface to the next level, removing absolutely all of the clutter to leave you with just the results you want. It’s even less cluttered with ads, showing only one small, nicely designed ad from Carbon ads, as well as affiliate results from Amazon when applicable. If you’d like, you can tweak the interface further and refine what you see. You can change the header color, chose the default font family, show updates from Twitter on the main page, tweak what content is automatically displayed, and more. And, if you find the default URL, http://duckduckgo.com/, too difficult to remember, you can also use http://ddg.gg/ or http://dukgo.com/, which are much easier to remember and type, especially on mobile devices.

Configure it the way you like

Conclusion

Whether you’re perfectly satisfied with Google or have been frustrated by your search results lately, DuckDuckGo is definitely worth giving a try. It’s exciting to see new innovation in search, and the competition is good for everyone. I really appreciate DuckDuckGo’s stand for privacy, and find it exciting to see how much one developer can do to take on the web’s giants in one of the most competitive areas online: search.

What search engine do you usually use? Have you given DuckDuckGo or another newer search engine a try? Or have Google’s recent changes kept you happy with the world’s most popular search engine? We’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments!


Responses

Add Yours
  • I’ve been using DDG as my main search engine since October and the !Bang syntax is hands down the best thing ever. Being a perl developer, I often do !cpan, !mcpan and !perldoc. My other favourites are !gm (google maps), !gi (google images), !w (wikipedia), !yt (youtube) and !imdb.

  • Totally agree on the bang syntax and the other favourites. :)
    Using it since a couple of months or so, as default.

  • The combination of !bang and privacy really make DDG a great search engine.

    I have removed all other search add-ons from my firefox, it’s quicker to type a !bang than it would be to change search add-on with the mouse. If a !bang doesn’t exist, you can submit it and it gets implemented in two days max.

    Also, Gabriel is an approachable, nice man, who will listen to any suggestion and improve the site for the users. Seeing the implementation of an idea I came up with, however small, makes me feel DDG is also mine. This human-ness is something that cannot be underestimated in the age of social-networks.

  • Looks really interesting, I’ve set it as my default search provider in Chrome to give it a try and see how it works. One thing that is more complicated is the image search – I’ve got used to simply click the “Images” link on top of google searches to get images, but !gi can solve that (it’s just something to think of before starting the search).

    I was also surprised they do not have a !bang for geocaching yet, so I’ve tried to use the form to add a new !bang syntax with all the details (like the search URL etc). I’m curious to see if it gets added and how long will it take.

    • After 2 weeks I’m switching back to Google. Most of the results DDG provided were relevant and I like the features, though sometimes it didn’t return the results I expected. But the major reason for my switchback is that it’s quite a bit slower than Google (at least here where I live – I have to wait for a few seconds for DDG to come up whereas google comes up in a second or 2)

      On a side note, the bang syntax for geocaching that I suggested via the “new bang” form with all the details has not been added so far. Anyway, I’ll keep an eye on DDG in the future 😉

      • Just a note, the geocaching bang syntax is now live (!geocaching or !geocache)

  • Go! DuckDuckGo