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DuckDuckGo vs. Google: How to recover your privacy on Search Engines

Do you want to be treated as an anonymous user every time you type a search query online? Well, this is the reason behind all the hype about DuckDuckGo. You probably thought we are years away from ever seeing a competitor to the renowned Google, well we might be, but DuckDuckGo is certainly gaining outstanding traction.

If you are concerned or preoccupied with your online privacy, or maybe just curious, then read on to find out what it’s all about. This article will compare the giant search engine Google against one of its most notorious competitors, DuckDuckGo.

Online privacy, is it really all that important?

In the real world, privacy is pretty straight forward, but somehow when we’re online, it almost feels like its an entirely different world where the same sentiments don’t seem to apply anymore. Privacy is closing your curtains when you go to bed or visiting your doctor behind closed doors. See that seems to come naturally to us with almost little to no thought. In the digital world, all this seems to be bent – probably people don’t really understand what digital privacy is all about.

What are you trying to protect?

People might assume that digital privacy is all about hiding what you are doing – deleting your search history, etc. But that’s not what we are talking about here.

“We are talking about who you are and not what you’re doing.”

We all have bank accounts, medical history, date of birth, home address; all these are data that can be used to identify you as a person. Online data is king! Data is probably the single most valuable thing online; It can be hacked, stolen, collected, analyzed, and of course, sold to the highest bidder.

Who wants to collect your data?

Today, some companies live off collecting full sets of data, analyzing them, and selling them without your knowledge, and here’s the catch – they do it entirely legally too. Such companies are known as “data brokers” that sell your data for different reasons like target ads, credit assessments, and obviously direct marketing. However, on the bright side, such data is usually anonymized thanks to regulations like the GDPR.

No matter the reason for you wanting to protect your data, it is imperative to remember that:

“Privacy is yours; it’s your information, habits, patterns, and actions.”

Whenever you visit a website, use your social media accounts, download an app, or even purchase something online, chances are that your data is being collected. With all our online activity, we are leaving behind a colossal digital paper trail of all sorts of personal data.

What does all this privacy have to do with Google and DuckDuckGo?

Well, if you haven’t heard of Google, you’re probably living under a rock! Google is more than just the largest search engine with a colossal digital library of everything on the internet. Google has expanded into almost every corner of our everyday lives, yet they keep most of their services free of charge. To do this, Google collects staggering amounts of data on your online habits (offline as well, if you consider the location tracking on google maps that keeps suggesting things for while you’re on the go). This accumulating data is the primary source of income for Google. They use it for various things, probably the most prominent is targetted advertisements.

So what? DuckDuckGo also has advertisements – how else would they keep the company profitable. Yes, while that’s true, they do not display ads based on collecting your data. Their ads are displayed solely based on keywords in your search query, and that’s the main difference between the two.

What is DuckDuckGo?

DuckDuckGo is a search engine that promotes privacy and user-data protection as its core principles and part of its operation policy. If you visit their landing page you will quickly recognize their various slogans:

“We don’t store your personal information. Ever.”
“We don’t follow you around with ads.”
“We don’t track you in or out of private browsing mode.”


DuckDuckGo is using this as their main selling point – they don’t store personal information, they don’t follow you with various ads, and they do not track you. The company was first founded in 2008, and 2 years later, in 2010 already had almost 80,000 daily searches. Today about a decade after inception, DuckDuckGo has around 40 million daily searches. Still nowhere close to Google’s 5.6 billion daily searches, but for anyone going head to head with Google, this is impressive.

For most people, all this doesn’t really matter in today’s fast world. Users want answers, and they want them now and fast. No one has the time anymore, so what are the pros and cons of turning your back on Google and join the mere 40 million daily users on DuckDuckGo?

Here you can see a summary of the main points:

DuckDuckGO Pros

  • Privacy: the most obvious is you don’t have to worry about your data being collected and used.
  • No targetted ads: You won’t see any targetted ads based on your data or even your search patterns.
  • No social engineering: the results you see are not based on your interests or your behaviour.
  • Same results as all users: you are getting the same results as any other user typing the corresponding keywords as you are.
  • 1-page SERP: most users don’t go beyond the first page on the SERP, DuckDuckGo has made an infinite scroll on their page, the more you scroll down, the more results pop-up. If you want to see more results, all you have to do is scroll down, and you can quickly scroll back up to see the top results.

DuckDuckGO Cons

  • Fewer perks: You don’t get as many perks and features as might find on Google, like Google Maps, Google Books, Google Flights, etc.
  • No personalised results: DuckDuckGo does not remember your searches – so no personalized results, which could be an advantage if your thinking privacy – but also an inconvenience if you rely on personalized search results.

Should I use Google or DuckDuckGo?

Well, that all comes down to your priorities and preferences; there’s no right answer. If you are concerned and value your privacy most, then probably DuckDuckGo is for you. But if you are dependant on all the perks and features that come with Google well then, you are not alone.

Many users use both; for work, they rely heavily on Google and Google products, but once their shift is over, they switch back to DuckDuckGo for all things in their private life. The decisive take away here is to know what you are giving away and what you are getting back in return and finding the balance in between it all.

If this post has made you more curious about your privacy and personal data in the digital world, and you want to find out more, you can always leave a comment below. Or you can contact us here for an informal chat about privacy, security, and all options in between.

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