The Rise of Alternate Search Engines Beyond Google

Katie Tweedy
April 12, 2021
Google has always reigned as search engine king. But as more search engines like Duck Duck Go gain popularity in a world focused on data and privacy, the question is raised; what does that mean for the likes of Google? We examine what the rise of alternative search engines means below.

The Rise of Alternate Search Engines

The Rise of Alternate Search Engines Beyond Google

Could Duck Duck Go Be the next Google?

Google has become synonymous with search, but what if we’re approaching a future where Google isn’t the primary search engine?

In January of 2021, the search engine Duck Duck Go surpassed 100 million searches in a single day, a milestone in a meteoric rise thanks in large part to their focus on privacy. While Google still owned 70% of the market share on desktop at the end of 2020, increasing user interest in privacy warrants a closer look at the rising star that is Duck Duck Go.

What is Duck Duck Go?

Duck Duck Go is a search engine founded in 2008 that operates on the philosophy that search should be private. This focus on privacy means Duck Duck Go doesn’t track search history. Every searcher sees the same results for a search term with no personalized search results based on past searches. It also means no ads based on search patterns and purchase history. Instead, advertisers purchase based on the search itself, “not on you as a person.”

The rise of privacy-focused search engines

Privacy is a hot topic right now in the digital marketing community. Searchers are more in tune than ever with how their data is being used, and search engines are responding to this pressure for transparency. As we’ve reported, Safari has been reducing the third-party cookie shelf life, Chrome is working toward dissolving third-party cookies by 2022, and Mozilla and other browsers are following similar trends.

As all these search engines are pivoting their data collection policies and relying less on third-party cookies, Duck Duck Go remains the only search engine that has protected searcher privacy from conception. This interest in privacy has definitely contributed to Duck Duck Go’s sharp rise in the past year.

Is Duck Duck Go really a threat to Google?

In a word, no. But as always in the digital marketing world, the longer answer is more complicated.

Right now, Google still holds the lion’s share of searches. Bing and Baidu have the second highest market share, each with only 10%, while Duck Duck Go is left with a measly 0.8% of the desktop market share. Although Duck Duck Go has grown dramatically in the past few years, this growth is still a drop in the bucket compared to the market share Google dominates.

So why should marketers care about Duck Duck Go?

Think of Duck Duck Go as an early symptom of an underlying issue. The symptom here being the shocking rise in use of what was once considered a fringe search engine; the underlying issue is privacy.

We’ve written about privacy and data collection a lot. Heck, transparent technology was even one of our top trends to watch in 2021. Consumers are more aware of privacy and data collection than ever before and are starting to demand transparency from the brands they use.

This continued trend toward transparency and a demand for privacy isn’t going anywhere. Marketers are already preparing for a shift away from relying on third-party data. While Duck Duck Go may never rival Google for search market share, their steady rise in use illustrates users’ underlying interest in increased privacy. Transparency in marketing, from on-page copy to targeting and advertising practices, will become expected as consumers continue to become more internet savvy. Marketers who don’t notice this mood shift run the risk of looking dated, or worse, predatory.

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