Article, Feature Box 2, Tech
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The Search Engine That Doesn’t Track You

The last decade has seen us primarily focus on a single search engine, so much so that it’s become a popular verb. But there was always room for something a little different.

DuckDuckGo doesn’t want to change the way you search the Internet. It’s not like that. It’s not trying to reinvent the search engine and you won’t see words like ‘innovative’ being used to describe it. That’s because there’s already a search engine that does all these things and more (you might have heard of it). Where DuckDuckGo succeeds is in its simplicity and its message: “The search engine that doesn’t track you.”

To illustrate the power of that message let me describe a typical scenario for me. As a journalist and blogger, I am often browsing hundreds of websites I’d never actually visit otherwise. I might be writing a story about big data analytics for small businesses. Typically, I would use Google to search keywords like “Big Data analytics small businesses” and visit the first five (at least!) sites on the list. While I’m on those sites I’ll browse through products and blog posts trying to gather as much information about the market as possible. It’s how you do research.

Which search results look more appealing to you?

For the next month however, when I’m browsing other non-IT related websites, chances are good I’m being shown ads for any number of analytics solutions or data centre hardware.

Want to know what I’ve been writing about for the last month or more? Just fire up my browser and start looking for ads. It rarely fails.

The “Old” Days

The very first website I ever built was a multiplayer clan homepage for a game called SWAT 3. I built it using Homestead website creator (it was amazing!). To make sure people knew about my great website, I created a profile on Yahoo and submitted a link. The listing was approved and eventually I could browse over to my link on Yahoo. It was like electronic Yellow Pages. I was listed with a few other websites that were dedicated to the same scene.

When I was finished with Yahoo I headed to Lycos and did it again. Then Alta Vista…you get the idea.

The point is that the idea of SEO was mostly unknown. You found websites by searching a database. No one was worried about tracking your browsing, because “surfing the web” was really about browsing not searching.

DuckDuckGo and The Future

Google changed the search engine game around the time of its IPO and has basically owned the market since. Today, with Android, Gmail, Apps, Maps, it’s clear Google is so much more than search and there’s no denying that its tools are tremendously useful.

I Pity The Fool who doesn’t consider the implications of Internet privacy!

But what I don’t appreciate is the tracking. Whether it’s to deliver more “personal” results, or to customize my experience, I simply wish I could research a story without being constantly reminded of it for weeks.

This is where DuckDuckGo shines. Its simple layout is reminiscent of the first years of Internet search, and its honesty about tracking is well, refreshing.

When Apple announced OS X Yosemite earlier this month it added the option for Safari users to select DuckDuckGo as their default search engine. It’s just a start but it’s a fantastic plug for the service.

DuckDuckGo’s fundamentally different approach to search results doesn’t mean your results will be worse — in fact, I often find what I’m looking for much faster on DuckDuckGo. Plus it has most of the popular features of its competitors like image, video and map search.

In the end, I’m not saying it will replace Google. Admittedly there are certain Google services I’d be lost without, and I’d rather not go back to the pre-2004 Internet. But DuckDuckGo has finally given us a viable alternative search engine that’s not called Bing or Yahoo, and it’s about time.

Do you agree? What search engine are you using?

Filed under: Article, Feature Box 2, Tech


Christopher is Co-Founder and Managing Editor at The Reply. He has a fondness for strong coffee, good books and foreign news services. When he was five years old his father helped him raise a family of chimpmunks over the winter, you should ask him about it. Professionally, he’s spent time as a technology journalist, PR consultant, and freelance blogger. Christopher’s work has appeared in a lot of trade magazines you’ve probably never heard of and maybe some you have. He has a B.A. in Political Science from the University of Toronto and a certificate in Media Foundations from Humber College in Toronto.