The search wars are heating up. Facebook hasn’t given up on its search dreams, Bing has taken noticeable baby steps, and Google is doing everything possible to stay on top. But in the midst of all these big names is a small but solid contender in DuckDuckGo.
The anonymous and minimal search engine has been gaining strength. A passing glance at the chart below shows how since the fall DuckDuckGo has been steadily gaining traffic, and since January it’s skyrocketed. The site’s redesign around the same time was likely part of this user boost, but the continuing drama surrounding Internet privacy rights and the unfailing revelations about search companies and their data-mongering ways probably have more to do with it.
And this very chaos has been a natural promo for DuckDuckGo. The site has been around since 2008, but just broke the million searches a day mark last month. DuckDuckGo has also gotten “in” with some very powerful Internet denizens; Reddit users and Anonymous members are known supporters.
In a recent interview with Time, DuckDuckGo creator Gabriel Weinberg talked about the application’s recent success. “[Privacy] is a good reason to try out DuckDuckGo, but ultimately if the search results and experience are worse than Google or Bing, then nobody is going to stay,” he says. “It’s been useful to educate people and get them to try it out, but they are staying for other reasons.”
Those reasons presumably being quality. The impetus behind the site wasn’t to offer a privacy-friendly option but to avoid SEO –heavy results. Still, DuckDuckGo isn’t up to fully-functioning search quite yet – it still defers to Bing and Google for a handful of searches, like images and news. Until it’s able to include those in its own database, it’s limited.
But the traffic increase means that updates are likely on the horizon. Luckily for DuckDuckGo, search skepticism remains high and the relationship between consumers and big names in Web is still on thin ice. If there were ever a time to capitalize on wavering brand loyalty and privacy fears, this is it.