Could DuckDuckGo Be The Biggest Long-Term Threat To Google?
- under Media Coverage
Robin Wauters at The Next Web recently wrote about an interesting trend taking place at upstart search engine DuckDuckGo.
DDG (DuckDuckGo) is self-described as:
We are a search engine with:
- Way more instant answers.
- Way less spam and clutter.
- Lots and lots of goodies.
- Real privacy.
Wauters reports that DuckDuckGo’s daily search traffic has grown by 227% in three months:
Given their huge growth rate over the last three months we took a closer look at DuckDuckGo to discern why users might recently be turning to it in larger numbers.
The first reason many have pointed to is privacy considerations– DuckDuckGo promises not to track you, and with Google’s frequent and well-publicized privacy challenges many searchers may be looking for alternatives.
So the privacy ‘migrate away from Google’ angle has been well covered and surely is a legitimate argument for why users may be taking a look at Google alternatives. Instead of focusing on that aspect of the DDG phenomenon, I want to focus on other reasons why some of the ways DuckDuckGo is innovating in search might be a long-term threat to Google search dominance.
Before we jump into how DuckDuckGo and Google differ in their treatment of a sampling of queries in the SERPs, it is worth first contextualizing why some of the differences we will call out are meaningful, and also lay the groundwork for what it takes to succeed in consumer search.
Retrieval + Presentation: Like Chocolate & Peanut Butter
We’ve argued before that despite the bells and whistles introduced to the SERPs lately, the core goal of the searcher remains unchanged since internet search first became a reality: to ‘get in and get out’ with the information she is looking for.
Using this standard as a litmus test, we can infer that any reduction in the mental cycles a searcher must invest to extract the information they want from the SERP (what we are calling the ‘search work quotient’) is a positive step forward.
If our measure of success in consumer search, therefore, is that the searcher ‘got in and got out’ with the information she was looking for, there are two distinct competencies a search engine must do well to be considered successful:
1. Retrieval: The search engine must sort through massive quantities of data, weight the relevancy of that data, and determine what is most relevant to addressing the searcher’s query.
2. Presentation: The search engine must organize and present the results in such a way that the user can ‘get in and get out’ with the information she was looking for, with minimal effort.
The two necessarily go together—the most relevant of results presented in an incomprehensible way do nothing for the user, and irrelevant results with good presentation do the same.
Google (and many others in the industry) continue to put great amounts of R&D dollars into making headway on improving relevancy. Surely any engine that is able to make substantial steps forward in this regard would grab their fair piece of the market share pie, but advances since internet search became a discipline in the late 90’s have been more evolutionary than revolutionary (remember Ask Jeeves?).
That leaves ‘presentation’ as an area that even small search upstarts can innovate on, and is one area I’d argue, DDG has begun to beat Google at its own game.
Let’s take a look at some queries to see how DDG has begun to innovate on presentation.
Read the full Search Engine Land article here