DuckDuckGo vs. Google

Is one really better than the other?

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.

DuckDuckGo vs Google

Overall Findings

Google
  • Best search results.

  • Multiple highly-functional integrations.

  • Personalized results.

DuckDuckGo
  • 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

Google
  • Provides accurate results at the highest speed.

  • Personalizes results based on your browsing history.

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

DuckDuckGo
  • 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

Google
  • 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.

DuckDuckGo
  • 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

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 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.

Final Verdict

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.