Quack, Quack: DuckDuckGo Search Engine and SEO Strategy

Guess what? If your website is only optimized for Google search analytics, you’re not reaching potential customers who use alternate search engines to find information on the web.

Although Google has a whopping 72.54% of the search engine market, that still leaves another 25-28% of people—millions of them—who use another browser. A relatively new player in this market—but one that is growing exponentially year over year—is DuckDuckGo, a search engine primarily focused on privacy and protecting your data. Score, right?

If you’ve never heard of DuckDuckGo, don’t worry. They’re a small player in the search engine industry—for now. Additionally, the way they handle web searches is entirely different from Google and the other major players. That means your strategies for how to obtain high ranking search results for your websites also have to change.

Cyber Security with man using a laptop in a modern gray chair

Telll us, cyber security friendo, are we doing DuckDuckGo right? Also, nice chair.

If you’re mystified by this process, there is help available. Dominate With SEO has experts who are familiar with optimizing your website for all search engines, including DuckDuckGo. But first, let’s learn more about this fast-growing search engine, why it’s important, and how to make your site rank higher in its results.

What is DuckDuckGo?

DuckDuckGo is a search engine that is available as an extension to web browsers such as Google Chrome, Safari, Explorer, and Firefox. It is also available for iOS and Android as an app. Users choose DuckDuckGo over another search engine, such as Yahoo!, Bing, or Google because DuckDuckGo pledges to protect the user’s privacy. Unlike the major search engines, DuckDuckGo does not collect, store, or share your personal data when you search online. Hell yeah.

1200px-DuckDuckGo_logo_and_wordmark_(2014-present).svg

You’ve gotta admit that’s a pretty adorable logo for a privacy-based search engine.

The company does not log user information, does not store IP addresses, and uses cookies only when required. After you do your search and receive your results, DuckDuckGo erases your information, retaining only what you searched for, but not attached to who searched for it, or where that searcher was located. DuckDuckGo also doesn’t share or sell your personal information to other parties. Conducting searches on DuckDuckGo means that your search history is not used to create ads that follow you around the Internet, such as to your email or social media.

In even more bonus points for DuckDuckGo, they block the ad trackers located on most websites.

This includes Google Analytics, which is estimated to be on 75% of all sites online. It’s a standard way for businesses to get information about who is visiting their website, where they are from, and how they arrived at their site. Users who arrive via DuckDuckGo leaves no information for you to track or collect. If you’ve not thought about that, we should point out that this will affect a company’s ability to know how well its online ads are working, or whether referrer links are having an impact.

Why Should We Care About DuckDuckGo?

DuckDuckGo is still quite small as a company, but it has grown rapidly in the past two years and even continues to grow. As of November 2018, users conducted over 29 million web searches per day on DuckDuckGo. This number, as well as the number of users who have installed the DuckDuckGo extension, rises every day. Score one for the underdog, right?

The data breaches and privacy leaks experienced by Facebook in 2017 and 2018 have many people concerned about what information about them is collected and shared online. These and other leaks resulted in the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) regulations that were enacted in the European Union in May 2018 to set strict guidelines for how personal information of individuals is collected, processed, and stored by companies with websites.

Padlock on computer keyboard

Sometimes you’ve just gotta LOCK down your privacy settings. (We know, that one hurt.)

Part of these guidelines required companies to disclose what info they were collecting and how it might be used. Users then had to agree that they allowed their personal information to be collected and shared. Many people had not considered how vulnerable their information could be online until these widespread breaches were extensively covered in the media or the GDPR changes made the risks more explicit to users. Millennials are especially concerned about their privacy online and have been finding and even inventing ways to keep their data their own. Many of these millenials are migrating away from major companies to use smaller services that promise to protect their information.

DuckDuckGo has made strategic partnerships with Amazon, eBay, Yahoo!, Bing, Reddit, and other major web retailers and search engines. It has also struck deals with Samsung and Brave, positioning it well for future developments on mobile and web searching. Over the ten years the search engine has been available, DuckDuckGo has added several new features that users find valuable. These include !Bang shortcut searches that allow users to search a specific website only, such as Wikipedia, eBay, or Reddit.

Another new and popular feature is their Instant Answers, which attempts to provide the answer to a user’s question immediately in the Search Engine Results Page (SERP) without requiring them to click on any links to get to the information they need.

Simply put, pay attention to DuckDuckGo. Although the company only has a small overall market share in the search engine world at the moment, its recent growth, popularity, and higher trends cannot be ignored. DuckDuckGo may never overtake Google—and the company expressly does not strive to—but as more users choose DuckDuckGo for unbiased and untracked web searching, it will affect search engine optimization and decision-making online. In fact, it already is.

How Does DuckDuckGo Affect My SEO and Online Marketing?

DuckDuckGo works to burst the “filter bubble” most search engines and social media sites produce.

A filter bubble is labeled so because search engines or social media sites filter the search results or your news feed by seeking only to show you results they think you’ll want to click on. That means these sites filter out all other results that they think you’re likely to skip. Google and Facebook call it “personalization” of your results, but that means that they decide for you, based on what you’ve done online before, what they think you want to see or read. With DuckDuckGo, you’re more likely to get results you already agree with and have shown interest in and far less likely to see opposing viewpoints or new information.  

SEO Search Engine Optimization Data Digital Programming Business Technology Concept

Should you focus on DuckDuckGo SEO integration? That’s a resounding YES, if you can.

SEO specialists and SEO-savvy companies have recognized this filter bubble as a given, and strategies have been to get inside the filter bubble for the customers you want to attract. Afterall, if you can get that potential customer to click on specific sites or take certain actions, you increase both the chance and the frequency of your company’s site being shown to that person in the future. Every time they click on something related to you, those chances improve.

None of that matters with DuckDuckGo.

Here are some ways that SEO works differently for DuckDuckGo users:

  1. They won’t leave your information behind on any websites they visit. Including yours.
  2. You won’t be able to see, collect, or analyze information about your website visitors arriving from DuckDuckGo.
  3. You won’t be able to obtain marketing information about your own Google Ads, Adwords, or social media ads from customers using DuckDuckGo.
  4. Your current SEO strategies that rely on information gathering and collecting will not work for DuckDuckGo users. You don’t collect information from DuckDuckGo users.
  5. Current SEO strategies that improve ranking with Google do not work with DuckDuckGo. Google’s algorithm for filtering and ranking search results is completely different from DuckDuckGo’s, and DuckDuckGo does not use information that Google uses.
  6. DuckDuckGo presents the same results to all users. Results are not customized based on their previous searches, browser history, or clicks. In contrast, Google, Yahoo, and Bing filter the results to the ones they think the user will find most relevant, based on the profile they have built about you over time.
  7. DuckDuckGo will not take location into account in its search results unless the user qualifies the search with the location name.
  8. DuckDuckGo upends most company’s SEO strategies that rely mainly on Google’s preferences. DuckDuckGo is in many ways the “anti-Google,” and its searches are designed not to follow Google’s protocols or constraints. DuckDuckGo considers some such strategies as deliberate data manipulation that contributes to the “filter bubble.”

DuckDuckGo is a search engine aggregator and optimizer that takes into account information from more than 400 sources, including Yahoo! and Bing, with whom it partners. Thus, strategies that improve ranking on those search engines will also improve ranking on DuckDuckGo. It’s also collecting information behind-the-scenes on the web by using its own web crawler, DuckDuckBot, and analyzing and merging data from other APIs. In short, DuckDuckGo presents results to the user based on an analysis of the quality and relevance of the information itself, not based on your personal information and a prediction of what you might like or be inclined to value.

Can I Optimize for DuckDuckGo?

Companies can indeed optimize their websites for DuckDuckGo, but it requires different strategies than they may be currently using and focusing on in their SEO tactics. Click To Tweet

These Google-optimized strategies should not be entirely abandoned, of course, but smart companies can seek to ensure their sites provide the kind of quality information that DuckDuckGo uses to evaluate and present its search results. Some of these strategies may seem a bit “old-school” to those who remember web searching before the rise of Google. As it turns out, these strategies are still sound for all website ranking, but will especially assist your company with more privacy-oriented search engines such as DuckDuckGo. The quality of the information your company provides on the web is what makes your site rank higher, not a behind-the-scenes gimmick to attract Google, or relying on previous site visitors.

How Do I Optimize for DuckDuckGo SEO?

close up shot of cheerful diverse freelancers having fun at workplace

With DuckDuckGo optimization, you too can laugh carefree with your coworkers 😉

Here are some ways to optimize your site for DuckDuckGo:

  1. Focus on keywords, especially user-focused keywords. Those writing your web copy and creating your websites need to think like the user who is looking for your product, service, or company. Sites that contain the keywords in the user’s search will rank higher. The more times the keywords appear, the higher the ranking. SEO optimized text is a must.
  2. Focus on your strategies for Bing and Yahoo! Since DuckDuckGo aggregates information and ranking from these search engines into its results, those strategies also improve outcomes with DuckDuckGo. This includes ensuring your XML sitemaps are accurate and submitted to Bing. Bing also has some web optimizer tools that can assist with improving your DuckDuckGo results.
  3. Have quality links. This is still the number one strategy for seemingly all web search optimization. The more times your site is linked to by other sites, and the quality of the sites that link to it is crucial. Establish backlink relationships with other sites. Give blog or media interviews. Upload information to independent blog sites and industry organizations. Demonstrate that your company is synonymous with the service or product you provide.
  4. Consider adding some SEO tools that provide in-depth keyword research. Because DuckDuckGo makes it difficult for you to obtain information from the users who visit your website, additional tools will be required to discover and analyze these data.
  5. Keep DuckDuckGo, Brave, and other privacy-oriented search engines, on your radar. Keep up with industry changes in user data and how they affect your web marketing and SEO strategies.

Dominating the Competition

Of course, if all this seems daunting and confusing, you may find it best to hire an SEO specialist who will manage these strategies and keep up with these changes for you. Dominate with SEO can help you with your website development, brand management, online marketing, and search engine optimization needs. Let’s get started today so we can help you dominate your competition.

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