DuckDuckGo brings back memory of Google in its early days. With a few generic and technical queries, you will soon realize that DuckDuckGo can compete with Google on many fronts.
We tested a few queries, and this is what we found.
1) No Right Sidebar Ads
First, there are no Ads on the right Sidebar. Instead, you will see "Search Suggestions:"
Keyphrase: “iphone 5 specifications”
DuckDuckGo shows the search suggestions on the right sidebar
To get the related keywords in Google, you have to scroll down at the very bottom.
2) Long Tail Related Keyphrases
Since the related key phrases are compiled based on the search pattern of the users, the quality of related key phrases varies drastically.
The + sign that you see in the Search Suggestions on the right sidebar concatenates the word like
iphone 5 specifications + features to "iphone 5 specifications features"
Instead of concatenating the words if the query were rebuilt to "iphone 5 features" then it could have been useful for the consumers.
iphone 5 specifications features don’t make any sense.
The long scroll down in Google to see the related key phrases seems to be worth the effort.
3) Personalized Results
Personalised Results were created with the assumption that you are more likely to be influenced by someone in your network than by someone outside, but the truth is that for many queries you don’t want the feedback from your network. To increase more users in G+, Google is using G+ network’s comments and ratings to personalize your results. Unfortunately, for publishers it means sharing articles in one more social network.
With DuckDuckGo, the results are universal. The results that you get with a search query is same for you and your friend. The regional settings can be changed, but DuckDuckGo doesn’t automatically change the settings. You have to do that manually.
For Example, when I am searching for “Best Indian restaurants”, the first three results are based in London, Auckland and Chicago.
I am in India, and the results are not personalized for me.
To change the regional Settings, Click More-> Settings and change the Region to India
Now let us see if the results are relevant.
Out of the top 4 results two are not relevant for an Indian user.
4) Infinite Scroll
Although DuckDuckGo needs to focus more on personalized results and the general quality of the ranked pages, one feature that we love the most is the infinite scroll. According to research, only 5-10% reaches the second page in Google Search Results.
With Infinite scroll, users get the chance to see some of the best content in page 2 and beyond. Google was planning to introduce infinite scroll, but then Google would have to restructure the bidding process in AdWords program, which is the most profitable product for Google. In Aug 2011, Google started testing Infinite Scroll, but instead of automatically showing more results as you see in DuckDuckGo, Google asked the user to click More Results. The purpose of infinite scroll is to allow users to scroll without clicking. Google infinite scroll seems to lack this feature.
5) Context Filtering
There are certain keywords or phrases that have multiple context and intent. With Google, the pages are ranked based on previous user’s click through pattern. In DuckDuckGo, the user gets the chance to filter the context.
For Example, if I search for Jamaica, I get the following
The meaning of the search term is an interesting concept. It allows users to choose the context.
On the other hand, Google shows results for “Jamaica, the Caribbean island nation” based on the intent of the majority of users who have used this search term.
Google’s approach seems to serve the most users, but DuckDuckGo’s meaning feature looks interesting.
6) Information Queries
Google has made it easy to get answers to informational queries like metric conversions, currency conversions, temperature and other related queries. If I search for “Dollar to Rupee” in Google, I get the results without visiting any page.
For Google, I get today’s conversion rate with trends for the past 4 years.
However, DuckDuckGo shows me a C program to do the conversion – a clear proof that the search engine is predominantly used by technical users.
DuckDuckGo (DDG) looks promising, and with the right support from the community, it can transform into a Google alternative. As of Nov 2012, DDG has a long way to go.
DuckDuckGo: 7.5/10 Google: 7/10
DuckDuckGo: 6/10 Google: 8/10
DuckDuckGo: 6.5/10 Google: 8/10