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Another startup with a silly name? Sounds like something I’d like to get my teeth into. 

For the uninitiated among you (where have you been?), DuckDuckGo (DDG) is a private search engine that has seen exponential growth since its inception a few years ago. 

So why should you care? 

Because an increasing chunk of your target audience may well be heading to DDG in the coming years.

Don’t believe me? Rand Fishkin of Moz fame said it will be "the fastest growing search engine of 2016."

If you’re still not convinced, here are some enlightening stats about DDG that might make you pay attention. 

1) It averages 10m queries a day

According to its own traffic stats, DDG averages around 10m queries a day.

DuckDuckGo traffic stats

This might not be up there with the likes of Google, but it means DDG is definitely a significant player in the search market. 

2) 12m queries in a single day last December

While average search queries are at 10m, DDG managed a 12m-query day back in December. 

3) 350m queries last month

DDG achieved an impressive 350m search queries for December 2015.

4) 3.41bn queries last year

For the whole of 2015, DDG achieved 3.41bn search queries. 

Again, this might not seem much next to Google, but for a relatively young search engine it’s pretty significant. 

5) 73% growth in 2015 

Part of the reason these numbers are so significant is the pace at which DDG is growing. 

The 3.41bn 2015 number was up from 1.97bn in 2014 – a 73% YoY increase in search queries.

6) 22% increase in traffic from January to December 2015

Over the course of 2015, DDG’s monthly traffic grew by 22%.

In December the site had 108m visits. 

DuckDuckGo traffic stats

7) Tech fans love it

DDG users show a strong affinity toward tech news sites, according to a report by SimilarWeb.

Comparatively, Bing users show affinity to typical websites you would expect of average internet browser (Reddit, Amazon, Google, etc). 

8) Average bounce rate is 31%

The average bounce rate for DDG users is 31%, according to the same SimilarWeb report. 

This is significantly better than Bing users’ average bounce rate of 43%.

duckduckgo bounce rate stats

9) Average time on site is 9.5 minutes

DDG users spend an average of 9.5 minutes on sites they visit through the search engine. 

By contrast, Bing users spend an average of just 7.5 minutes on each site. 

duckduckgo time on site stats

10) It offers people what Google can’t (and won’t): true privacy

This infographic from Tech.co and Optilocal has a pretty good run-down of the privacy differences between DDG and Google, along with a load of other interesting facts and stats.

Click to see the full version

duckduckgo vs. google infographic

11) It does other things that Google can’t

But privacy is just one feature DDG has over Google

DDG also offers functions such as the ability to view someone’s social media profile without leaving the search engine, the ability to easily expand shortened links or check whether websites are down, and there’s even a password generator. 

These little UX tweaks could be key to DDG attracting an increasing number of users away from Google, not just relying on the privacy issue but actually providing an even better user experience.  

12) It’s the default search engine in the new Adblock Browser for mobile

Ad blockers are here to stay. Let’s not kid ourselves about that. And there’s the old saying: ‘if you can’t beat them, join them.’

If DDG is the default search engine for arguably the most popular ad blocking app of them all, brands should take that very seriously. 

Failure to optimise for DDG on mobile could lead to brands missing out on an increasingly large mobile ad blocking audience.  

13) It has signed the Acceptable Ads Manifesto

This one is less about ad blocking but more about a clear commitment to creating a user experience that benefits people rather than brands. 

The Acceptable Ads Manifesto was created by Adblock Plus as a way to encourage brands to stop ruining the online user experience with crappy ads like the ones in the screenshot below. 

Annoying display ads

Here are the key points of the manifesto:

acceptable ads menifesto key points

It might be a PR move  - in fact it almost certainly is – but it also suggests DDG is taking UX seriously and this can only have a positive impact on people wanting to use it. 

14) It makes money without tracking people

In short: DDG is not going anywhere. It isn’t just a political flash in the pan. It is a profitable business. 

In an ask-me-anything session on YCombinator’s Hacker News site last year, founder and CEO Gabriell Weinberg said:  

DuckDuckGo is actually profitable. It is a myth you need to track people to make money in Web search.

Most of the money is still made without tracking people by showing you ads based on your keyword, i.e. type in car and get a car ad. These ads are lucrative because people have buying intent. 

All that tracking is for the rest of the Internet without this search intent, and that’s why you’re tracked across the Internet with those same ads. 

I will be writing a post about how to optimise for DDG in the near future, so keep your eyes peeled!

Jack Simpson

Published 9 February, 2016 by Jack Simpson

Jack Simpson is a Writer at Econsultancy. You can follow him on Twitter or connect via LinkedIn.

252 more posts from this author

Comments (9)

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Eoin Kenneally

Eoin Kenneally, Ecommerce Consultant at Consultant

It is a good search engine, but the made headlines not so long ago when they advised that they wouldn't save a persons search history and pass ti on to security companies.

8 months ago

Emeline Tissot

Emeline Tissot, Consultant at Emeline Tissot

Browsers have certainly diversified! In the same lines, have you heard of Lilo.org? It blocks ad tracking and encourages users to contribute to eco-friendly or social projects. It still uses Google and Yahoo search engines, but it's an interesting concept.

8 months ago

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Deri Jones, CEO at SciVisum.co.uk

my young-adult kids have introduced my wife and I to DDG, so the word seems to be spreading.

But the article didn't spell out how 10M searches a day compares to Google or Bing. A tiny % probably, but I like numbers!

8 months ago

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Liam O'Dowd, Director at Pop Digital LTD

@Deri - Think Google is something like 3.5 billion a day off the top of my head!

7 months ago

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Liam O'Dowd, Director at Pop Digital LTD

@Deri - Think Google is something like 3.5 billion a day off the top of my head!

7 months ago

Lee Wilson

Lee Wilson, Head of SEO at Vertical Leap

I've really enjoyed reading this and am seeing more a more people talking about the potential added value of DuckDuckGo.

For me the thing that is missing though is any specific ways to optimise for this search engine. Mostly feedback is just tied with following Google/Bing/standard best practices.

What would be your number one tip for specifically optimising for DuckDuckGo?

7 months ago

Lee Wilson

Lee Wilson, Head of SEO at Vertical Leap

You could argue that based on the private data, things like site health, security and user experience may be slightly more pertinent to DuckDuckGo, but I doubt it would be much, if any more than Google/Bing etc.

7 months ago

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John Bernier, Owner & Chief Geek at Bazinga! Web Design

So, how do I:
check whether websites are down?
access the password generator?

7 months ago

Jack Simpson

Jack Simpson, Writer at Econsultancy, Centaur Marketing

Cheers for the comments everyone!

@Lee and John - I'm planning a follow-up article which will address both your questions (and many more).

7 months ago

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