Google is widely acknowledged as the singular industry leader when it comes to internet search engines. But as the general population becomes more aware of security concerns and privacy issues around our online activity, unlikely contenders like DuckDuckGo are surging in popularity.
DuckDuckGo report that their daily search query numbers have grown 600 per cent since 2013, when Edward Snowden became one of the digital era’s most famous whistleblowers by exposing the NSA’s nasty spying habit.
Since DuckDuckGo is specifically focused on protecting user privacy, they’re now headed towards astronomical daily numbers that could very well change the game of web searching.
The dramatic and rapid success that DuckDuckGo has found over the past two years is correlated directly with their privacy-first business practices. In recent months, popular media has been flooded with reports of all the data and information the sites you use every day collect and store about you.
While most of the sites we rely on are recording our personal data, a Pew Research Centre survey from earlier this year reported that 40 per cent of adults in the US don’t want the search engines they use to collect any of their information at all.
DuckDuckGo is perfectly positioned to bridge that gap in customer concerns and the frightening reality of what it really takes to maintain privacy online.
Since it launched in 2008, DuckDuckGo and CEO Gabriel Weinberg have been promoting the combination of solid customer experience and tight information security protocols that the service provides.
“People are finally becoming aware of all the downsides of online tracking, including surveillance, ads following you around the Internet, and being charged different prices based on your profile,” Weinberg told Fast Company.
“If you can get both a great experience and privacy at the same time, then it’s really a no-brainer to switch to a private alternative and prevent yourself from being tracked.”
The basic premise of DuckDuckGo is a fundamental solution to precisely those privacy concerns: the search engine does not track your online activity or any of the searches you input.
Without user accounts or login information, and no interest in tracking user activity, DuckDuckGo doesn’t have access to the multi-billion dollar industry where companies like Google have staked their claim. The company’s business model is as straight forward as their approach to privacy: other than affiliate links, their revenue source comes from connecting query keywords with relevant ads placed by anyone willing to pay.
And as DuckDuckGo’s traffic grows, so does their revenue. With a new pool of resources, the company has grown their staff to nearly twice its previous size, focusing on development and design to improve the search engine’s basic framework.
Even though the Snowden scandal and subsequent NSA revelations made web users around the world far more concerned about online privacy, DuckDuckGo still occupies a tiny corner of the search market compared to behemoths like Google, Microsoft and Yahoo.
It looks like DuckDuckGo will continue answering the queries of privacy-conscious web users, and focus on boosting their platform to meet the growing public demand for a secure search-engine option.
Since DuckDuckGo has got this far on word-of-mouth marketing alone, who knows what they will accomplish now that they’re inching their way towards the big league.