At first glance, DuckDuckGo appears to be one of the most unlikely contenders to ascend to Google’s position as the world’s top search engine, but in reality, it may actually stand a pretty good chance in due time. The small, privately-held company based outside of Philadelphia in Paoli, PA has grown rapidly and garnered substantial attention from the public and press without a multi-billion dollar ad campaign, but instead by simply offering an interesting alternative to the competition.
DuckDuckGo’s business model emphasizes “better search”; which its developers have attempted to achieve by utilizing data obtained from Wikipedia and other crowdsourced sites to supplement results, eliminating user tracking and “personalized results” and even open sourcing parts of their code. DuckDuckGo’s radical departure from its competitors has also intrigued SEOs, with many wondering what fundamental differences and similarities exist between DuckDuckGo and Google from an SEO perspective. After conducting a few searches of my own, here’s what I learned about DDG’s algorithm:
Starting With the SERPs
When entered into both DuckDuckGo and Google, the term “WebiMax” yielded relevant (albeit, drastically different) results.
Perhaps the most curious omission from the above-the-fold results on DuckDuckGo is the WebiMax.com homepage. Interestingly enough, DuckDuckGo recognizes our Careers page and the Website Analyzer tool subdomain as being of greater relevancy. However, when the term "webimax" is entered into DuckDuckGo in all lowercase letters, WebiMax.com is the first result and the SERP looks significantly different. The emphasis on case-sensitivity within DuckDuckGo is important to note and clearly impacts rankings.
As I already mentioned, both search engines returned relevant results. Commonalities such as social media profiles, news articles and review sites were noticeable, indicating that like Google, DuckDuckGo also finds these to be highly relevant and authoritative sites.
Rich Content Within Universal Results
Unlike Google, DDG does not feature image or video packs on the SERP. This will be crucial for rich content producers and video SEO practitioners to consider when attempting to gain visibility within DuckDuckGo's results.
The Bottom Line
DuckDuckGo is very similar to an early Google in its sheer simplicity and SEOs will need to take that into account when designing campaigns. I'm interested to see how DDG's continuing evolution will affect its algorithm, but for now, there are discernible contrasts between both search engines and optimizers should definitely monitor their rankings closely on the up-and-coming Google challenger.