Can DuckDuckGo Surpass Google’s Popularity?

Google is king of the search engines… but will it stay that way? In a world where consumer privacy is becoming endangered, Google’s eagerness to exploit user search histories has many people concerned. At the same time, one search engine is clearly leveraging that fear to its own advantage. DuckDuckGo aggressively markets the fact that it doesn’t store user IP addresses or track search histories. The question becomes clear: can DuckDuckGo surpass Google’s popularity as a result? It’s too soon to be sure but it’s clear that Google is probably observing this rival approaching in the rearview mirror.

The number of DuckDuckGo searches has grown steadily of late. For example, the platform achieved an average of 61,746,357 searches in May 2020. Although Google has that figure beat by a mile, we’re still talking about nearly 62 million searches in a day. In the future, that number is likely to continue to grow.

Can DuckDuckGo Surpass Google’s Popularity?

You may think that you know the answer, but you may not. There are a number of things to consider first. The all-powerful Google has a problem. It’s rich because it mines and sells user data. However, what’s made Google rich is also what makes a lot of users hopping mad.

Clearly, Google is vulnerable on the consumer privacy issue. It’s no accident that DuckDuckGo prominently writes on its home page, “We don’t store your personal information. Ever.” Google obviously can’t claim that capturing your personal information is a good thing. They just hope that you either don’t notice or don’t care.

Google makes a fortune from pay-per-click advertising based on its user tracking information. And the word “fortune” is no exaggeration. Currently, Google makes something like 100 billion a year by exploiting user information. It’s not something they’re likely to ever give up doing. 

DuckDuckGo, on the other hand, works from a far different business model. They’ve taken private browsing to the next logical step. They don’t store any user information. They have no database of user searches. Nor do they track users as they navigate across the web. In short, they have nothing to sell to advertisers… and nothing to turn over to government agencies if they were to come looking for personal information. In the world of alternative search engines, DuckDuckGo has some distinct competitive advantages.

Does Private Browsing Outweigh Other Features?

Although Google can never prevail when the topic is consumer privacy, there’s one area where they can compete effectively (at least for now). The reason being that their search engine is more convenient in some aspects than DuckDuckGo.

For example, Google has a link on its main screen for image search. DuckDuckGo, on the other hand, lacks this feature. To do an image search, you first have to search a term and then you have the option to search for images. It’s clumsy that an extra step is required for image search, which means people are more likely to use Google for this function. The same can also be said for convenient apps like maps, YouTube, Gmail, and others. They’re readily available doing a Google search but not on DuckDuckGo.

It’s unlikely that DuckDuckGo will ever compete with Google in terms of apps. However, It’s also possible that the company has no intention of ever trying to. One thing is for sure. For anyone asking, “Can DuckDuckGo surpass Google’s popularity?” the answer is almost certainly going to hinge on the issue of consumer privacy.

The Right Time & The Right Message

“Everyone knows that Google makes money off the data they collect,” says Dan Gemp, CEO of Dreamscape Marketing. “It’s been widely reported that your search history makes Google rich. Needless to say, a lot of people aren’t happy about it. They’re probably becoming more receptive to alternative search engines. Then, along comes DuckDuckGo. They’ve taken out ads on billboards that scream out in large letters, ‘Google tracks you. We don’t.’ There’s nothing subtle about that approach.” 

Although they’ve been around since 2008, Gemp sees the search engine gaining popularity with its attention-getting competitive advantage. “DuckDuckGo seems to be in the right place at the right time with the right message,” says Gemp. “Can DuckDuckGo surpass Google’s popularity? In a way, it doesn’t have to be extremely successful. However, don’t underestimate the ability of the little guy to knock down the giant. If people decide that they’re fed up with their data being used by Google, it’s entirely possible that the landscape of search engines could look a bit different in a few years.”