DuckDuckGo vs. Google

Is one really better than the other?

Despite efforts by others, it's come down to two search engines vying for everyone's attention: Google and DuckDuckGo. Even with Microsoft making a valiant effort, you just don't hear people saying "Bing it." At all.

Depending on your needs and priorities, Google may not be the best search engine. DuckDuckGo has been rapidly gaining users thanks to its privacy focus, especially in contrast to Google's omnipresent all-seeing eyes. We've reviewed the search engines for you so you can determine the best one with assurance.

DuckDuckGo vs Google

Overall Findings

Google
  • Best search results.

  • Multiple highly-functional integrations.

  • Personalized results.

DuckDuckGo
  • Most private search engine.

  • Clean interface.

  • Ease of use.

For many, Google is like the slightly unpleasant co-worker we put up with because he's really good at his job. The degree to which Google tracks you is as astonishing as it is endemic to the use of their 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

Google
  • Provides accurate results at the highest speed.

  • Personalizes results based on your specific browsing history.

  • Sometimes knows what you're thinking before you do.

DuckDuckGo
  • Good search results in most cases.

  • Innovative “bangs” allow you to direct your search to specific websites.

  •  Results are sometimes inaccurate or bafflingly poor.

Google's searches are unquestionably top-notch. The search engine has an undeniable intuition for what you actually meant to search for. It's able to decode a muddled string of misspelled search terms and, somehow, return exactly what you were hoping for. That's what all their 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 them, bangs are text strings that redirect your search terms to a specific website's internal search. Let's say that you know you want to look for a movie on IMDb: type the !imdb bang, then the movie name you're searching for. The query will be sent to IMDb, redirecting you directly to the results page on imdb.com.

Privacy: Somebody's Watching You

Google
  • Tracks every move you make, even when you leave the search results.

  • Sells ads based on user information.

  • Chief concern will always be advertisers, not searchers.

DuckDuckGo
  • Does not track users or save any search results.

  • First priority is protecting users’ privacy.

  • No web services means no integration between services.

Google saves and tracks search results, of course, but it also tracks so much more: current location, webpage analytics, web browsing history, and more beyond. Google is likely the largest tracker of human behavior in recorded history. There are some benefits to the panopticon. Google's all-seeing eye helps make its search and other services more effective and keeps them all free.

DuckDuckGo does not attach your searches to any persistent identifier in order to build a picture of your likes and dislikes. No cookies are set by default. When they are set, it's to track user-implemented settings, and there is no method for identifying unique users.

Of course, a modern search engine can't function without examining whether or not users clicked on links for a given search term. That's why search data is only collected in aggregate. No personal information, like IP addresses, UUIDs, or user agent strings, is ever attached to the results.

Appearance: Easy on the Eyes

Google
  • 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.

DuckDuckGo
  • 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 special, temporary logos that commemorate holidays, events, notable historical figures, and more. If you are logged in to your Google account, you'll even see a special Google Doodle on your birthday. 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 basic appearance of DuckDuckGo is basic and easy to view. However, users also have the ability to apply themes, change fonts, control the page width and alignment, or apply background colors from the search engine's settings menu.

Final Verdict

For web users concerned about privacy, DuckDuckGo is the way to go. However, the 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 really want online without giving up private or personal information.