Everyone on the web knows about Google –the search engine giant is so ubiquitous that “googling” has become a part of our standard dialogue. And, thanks to Microsoft’s advertising budget, many consumers are now seeking out Bing as a search alternative. But what about smaller and quirkier? Have you heard of DuckDuckGo for example?

This peculiarly-named search engine is generating buzz, largely centered on their promise of total search anonymity. Their privacy policy bluntly states, “DuckDuckGo does not collect or share personal information. That is our privacy policy in a nutshell.” Their illustrated guide to why this is important for consumers is located at the website http://donttrack.us and the baiting page headline simply reads, “Google tracks you. We don’t.”

DuckDuckGo Billboard[Image copyright DuckDuckGo.com]

While many of us have experienced something akin to the scenario illustrated (the one search term that seems to follow us in targeted ads around the web), I am not entirely convinced that private search automatically equals a better web experience. Most businesses will agree that the search terms used to find their site are an important part of creating the content that users want to see. Less info means less targeted content, meaning consumers have to work harder to find what they want to see in the future.

DuckDuckGo is obviously marketing to a specific demographic of user with this approach but privacy features aside, they do present some innovative ideas for search. The ability to use !Bang commands to perform searches on other domains (e.g. ‘!amazon bikes’ will perform a search for bikes on Amazon’s website) and a robust settings menu to tailor the search experience are a refreshing change of pace.

While DuckDuckGo may have an appeal to privacy advocates and/or for searches of a dubious nature, it remains to be seen whether they can win over enough consumers for general search traffic to be sustainable. In the meantime, the search giants should take some inspiration from DuckDuckGo’s inventive feature set.

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