Niche Search Engines Part 1: DuckDuckGo

Michael Bergbauer - June 30, 2014

It’s no secret that Google (and to a degree, Bing) has an iron grip on the search engine market. But believe it or not, there are other search engines out there. As any business owner knows, the only way to compete with giants is to differentiate and do something special. In this series, we’ll cover some niche search engines that have interesting and useful features. These engines may represent only a tiny blip in the search engine industry, but they can come in handy the next time you need to do some specific searching. First up is DuckDuckGo, “The search engine that doesn’t track you.”

Like the tagline indicates, DuckDuckGo’s main draw is that it doesn’t track users. It also has privacy settings that help you control what data websites can learn about you when you visit them through search results. With internet privacy an ever growing concern, DuckDuckGo is popular for anonymous searches.

Besides privacy concerns, DuckDuckGo is useful for its “bang” searches, which allow you to quickly perform onsite searches straight from DuckDuckGo. The format is simple: ![resource] > [query]. For example, if you wanted to search for shoes on, you could search [!amazon shoes] and you would be sent straight to Amazon’s onsite search results for shoes.

Bang searches only work with large and popular websites so its usefulness can be limited for casual users. Where it really shines is in the hands of programmers, designers, and IT professionals. Searches starting with !python, !perl, !ruby, !appledev, !android, etc. quickly return a plethora of computer and coding resources.

In spite of its niche user base, DuckDuckGo was recently announced to be included as a search engine option for Safari users in upcoming iOS and Mac OS updates. Perhaps that kind of exposure will earn it a more mainstream appeal.

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