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Google’s search has gone down the toilet, Bing is on the rise and then we have DuckDuckGo, the privacy-focussed browser. But is it any good? 


The 3 Month Test…

DuckDuckGo Is Now A True Viable, Alternative To Google

I don’t feel like I’m sacrificing anything by using DuckDuckGo. The search results are great, the user experience is top-notch, and features like Bangs and Instant Answers have become indispensable to me.


Richard GoodwinPin

Google seems hellbent on turning its search engine into a store front for ecommerce brands, so if you actually like using the web to read about stuff you’re interested in, switching to DuckDuckGo is something you should definitely try

— Richard Goodwin, Editor

DuckDuckGo PROS

DuckDuckGo doesn’t track your searches or share your personal information with anyone

Clean, user-friendly interface. Fewer ads, less mess in the SERPs

Loads of thoughtful, useful features like Bangs

Available on all computing platforms

Wider range of news and content sources than Google



More and more people are ditching Google as their go-to search engine.

The reason? Bad results.

The Big G’s focus on ads, AI, and pushing users towards what it thinks they want versus what they actually searched for is now starting to irk quite a lot of its long-term users, myself included. 

DuckDuckGo is a search engine and a privacy browser that, unlike Google, does not track you, store information about you or build profiles about you to sell onto third-parties for advertising purposes. 

And people kind of like this. I mean, we now live in a world where social media giants like Meta own the rights to most of your pictures, and no one likes being followed around the web by retargeting ads. 

Powered partially by Bing, DuckDuckGo also pulls from 300+ additional sources to build its index. Google’s index is far larger and still controls the lion’s share of the market – way over 90% as of 2024. 

But people are waking up to the fact that Google, once the poster boy of everything cool, progressive and innovative, has become a completely different entity in recent times.

The focus on money, profits, and dictating how the web should work (as well as things like this) continue to leave a bad taste in many peoples’ mouths, mine included. 

And that’s why, for the last three months, I have been using DuckDuckGo for ALL my internet searches. Here’s everything you need to know about what life is like switching out Google for DuckDuckGo…

DuckDuckGo & Privacy – It’s Main USP

DuckDuckGo 101 What You Need To KnowPin

The first thing that drew me to DuckDuckGo was its strong stance on privacy. And while there have been some controversies over the years, DDG as a company has done all it can to ensure its service remains focussed on delivering the utmost privacy.

Unlike Google, DuckDuckGo doesn’t track your searches or share your personal information with anyone.

When you search on DuckDuckGo, you’re completely anonymous. For a lot of people, this is important.

Once you realize just how much data companies like Meta, Google, and Microsoft are gleaning from your searches, you too will think twice about what you do on their platforms.

DuckDuckGo’s No Tracking Policy

I love that I can search for whatever I want without worrying about it being tied back to me or used to target me with ads. It’s liberating.

But DuckDuckGo’s privacy features go beyond just searches. They also prevent search leakage, which means the sites I visit from the search results page can’t see what I searched for.

Google doesn’t do this, so sites can essentially see your search history. With DuckDuckGo, my clicks stay private.

I also appreciate that DuckDuckGo uses HTTPS encryption by default, ensuring my connection is always secure. And the privacy grade feature is really handy for quickly seeing how privacy-friendly a website is before I visit it.

The SERPs Are Basic & Simple – But That’s A Good Thing In 2024

DuckDuckGo Review: Is It Ready For The Big Time? Pin

Privacy features aside, I’ve found DuckDuckGo to be a joy to use. The interface is clean and uncluttered, which I find refreshing compared to Google’s increasingly ad-filled search pages.

The search results themselves are just as relevant and useful as what I was getting with Google. In fact, I’ve found that DuckDuckGo often surfaces more informative, high-quality sites rather than the ad-ridden, keyword-stuffed pages that sometimes dominate Google’s results.

Google seems hellbent on turning its search engine into a store front for ecommerce brands, so if you actually like using the web to read about stuff you’re interested in, switching to DuckDuckGo is something you should definitely try – I’m reading more and more blogs than ever before. 

And I’ve found some utter gems that I now visit daily. Had I been using Google, thanks to its recent industry-crushing Helpful Content Update, I would never have stumbled across these brands and what they do. 

The fact that Google doesn’t seem to care about this, about small publishers that are passionate about their topics and/or interests is very telling about the core culture at work inside Google right now. 

And there’s loads of useful features built into DDG, like the Bangs feature which I wasn’t sure I’d use at first. But for the sake of this review, I tried it out. And you know what? I now use it multiple times a day.

Bangs

DuckDuckGo Review: Is It Ready For The Big Time? Pin

DuckDuckGo’s Bangs feature is like a shortcut that lets you quickly search on other websites straight from DuckDuckGo.

It’s super simple to use. All you do is type an exclamation mark (!) followed by a short code (called a “bang”) and then your search term.

For example:

  • If you want to search Wikipedia for information on penguins, just type “!w penguins” and hit enter. DuckDuckGo will take you straight to the Wikipedia search results for penguins.
  • If you want to search for a new pair of headphones on Amazon, type “!a headphones” and voila, you’re searching Amazon directly.
  • Want to find a funny cat video on YouTube? “!yt funny cats” will do the trick.

There are thousands of bangs for all kinds of websites – from social media sites like Twitter (!twitter) and Reddit (!r), to news sites like CNN (!cnn) and BBC (!bbc), to speciality sites like IMDb (!imdb) for movies and Wolfram Alpha (!wa) for calculations.

The beauty of bangs is that they save you time. Instead of going to a website first and then searching from there, you can do it all in one go from DuckDuckGo. It’s a nifty little feature that once you start using, you’ll wonder how you ever lived without!

Instant Answers – DuckDuckGo’s Answer To CoPilot / SGE

Google SGEPin
Google’s SGE: Oh, The Horror…

DDG’s Instant Answers is an AI model like Google’s SGE and Microsoft’s CoPilot. It’s built directly into the search results but, unlike SGE and CoPilot to a lesser extent, it doesn’t feel quite as invasive. 

It’s there if you need it, but it is used as a complementary addition to the results on the SERPs, not as a replacement. Like most things related to generative search, I’m not really a fan. Mostly because companies like Open AI and Google have been scraping third-party content, like the type you’re reading now, and then passing it off as their own. 

From an ethical and copyright standpoint, I find this kind of thing morally reprehensible. Lawsuits will happen once big companies start to fail, but this kind of thing should never have been allowed to happen in the first place – regulators really missed the boat on this one. 

Either way, Instant Answers is fine. It’s AI, so take it with a pinch of salt. And, as always, support actual content creators – not plagiarism machines like Google SGE

Performance & Usability

DuckDuckGo privacy browserPin

In terms of performance, I’ve found DuckDuckGo to be every bit as fast as Google. Search results load instantly, and the search page is packed with useful features like maps, news, images, and videos.

he news section on DuckDuckGo – and Bing now, also – is vastly superior to what you get on Google. With Google, News has been on a downward curve for years with fewer and fewer independent brands appearing in the News Carousel. 

With DDG (and Bing as well) there appear to be a broader array of brands in the news sections which, in turn, gives you a better chance at getting a handle on what’s actually happening with any particular breaking news topic. 

Brave is also great for news (more on this in a bit though in the DuckDuckGo alternatives section).   

I also love that I can take DuckDuckGo’s privacy features with me wherever I go. The mobile app is fantastic – it’s clean, fast, and has handy features like tabs and a fire button to clear all my data.

For desktop browsing, I’ve installed the DuckDuckGo extension on all my browsers. It brings DuckDuckGo’s tracker blocking and encryption to every website I visit, which gives me great peace of mind.

The Pros Outweigh the Cons Pros:

  • Unmatched privacy features
  • Clean, user-friendly interface
  • Relevant, high-quality search results
  • Useful Bangs and Instant Answers features
  • Fast performance
  • Handy mobile apps and browser extensions

Cons:

  • No personalized search results (which I’m okay with for the added privacy)
  • Occasionally misses some obscure results that Google finds
  • Doesn’t have some of Google’s more advanced features

DuckDuckGo Alternatives

DuckDuckGo Review: Is It Ready For The Big Time? Pin

DuckDuckGo isn’t the only privacy-focussed search engine in town. You also have Brave to consider. And while I do love DuckDuckGo, I have now switched over to Brave browser full time, although I still run either DuckDuckGo or Bing for my search results. 

You can read more about the pros of the Brave browser and its approach to building a truly secure and private search engine inside our Brave content hub – it is well worth checking out, Brave is a super interesting company. 

The Bottom Line

DuckDuckGo Review: Is It Ready For The Big Time? Pin

After using DuckDuckGo extensively for the past few months, I can confidently say I’m a convert. The privacy features alone are enough to make me stick with it, but it’s also just a really great search engine overall.

I don’t feel like I’m sacrificing anything by using DuckDuckGo. The search results are great, the user experience is top-notch, and features like Bangs and Instant Answers have become indispensable to me.

Generally speaking, I do use Brave browser more these days. But that’s because I just prefer how the app – both the desktop and mobile versions – work; Brave is just incredibly fast and is more efficient on CPU and memory.

And I’m also madly collecting BAT in the hope that it one day has a mad rush in value. 

I do use a combination of DuckDuckGo’s search engine, Brave’s and Bing inside Brave though, depending on what I’m doing. I tend to use Bing for more work-related stuff and DuckDuckGo for casual / personal searches. 

What’s the takeaway here? Mostly that I completely removed Google from my (search) life, so you can probably do the same too.

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