What it is, why use it, and how to install it in 4 simple steps

Have you ever heard of DuckDuckGo on the web? You’ll think you’ve come across a children’s game that inspired this name and logo (Duck, duck, goose). In reality, it is a search engine that makes user privacy its philosophy of life.

Born in 2008 from an idea by Gabriel Weinsberg, an American physicist with a Master’s in Technology and Politics at MIT, this ” search engine” comes out of the box in a world where online giants feed on users’ personal information and their every step is tracked.

duckduckgo on the web


With the slogan “The search engine that doesn’t track you” and its nice duck face, DuckDuckGo invites in its “search-box” and in its app all those who want to browse and search online in total privacy, which one can hope to do on Google.

If I have aroused a little curiosity in you, on this page you will find all the information you are looking for to learn more about the browser in question. I will explain:

  • the peculiarities of DuckDuckGo;
  • how to install it on your PC and your smartphone;
  • how it differs from Google;
  • how to do SEO on DDG.

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What is DuckDuckGo and why use it

DuckDuckGo is a free search engine focused on user privacy  This is precisely the peculiarity that distinguishes it from others such as Google, Bing, or Yahoo: it makes the “user” experience completely devoid of the possibility of being tracked.

Their mantra is clear and essential: “We never store your personal information, ever”. If you start using this browser, the Search Engine Experience you are used to will be completely changed.

The philosophy of DDG can therefore be translated into three simple points:

  1. Private Search. You have the option to browse online anonymously.
  2. Tracker blocking. Block trackers on the websites you are visiting.
  3. Encrypted Browsing. Whenever possible, encrypt all connections.

This is the perfect recipe for enjoying online without being followed and in a safe way. Your history and information will not be saved by the browser, no cookies will follow you and no ads will disturb your internet browsing, in short, total anonymity.

But how does Duck Duck Go work? The “search engine” founded by Gabriel Weinberg, written in the Pearl programming language, runs on a lightweight server known as Nginx and a free operating system called FreeBSD.

For its survival, it uses crowdsourcing information (from crowd “crowd” and “source” sourcing) that derives from other sites. It is a system based on the sharing of data and ideas, chosen to increase and optimize traditional results.

It relies for its “results” on more than 400 sources that start from crowdsourcing websites, such as Wikipedia, and arrive at its crawler called DuckDuckBot.You just have to type your query online and worry about reading the SERP.

Browser search results have seen a dramatic boost this year. According to reports from the DDG website itself in November 2021, it reached a daily average of online searches of over 101 million (with a peak of almost 109 million in one day), about 22 million more than in November 2020.

reports from the ddg website


Why have Internet users started to take an interest in this engine more frequently? It all began when those who habitually surfed the internet began to worry about their personal information. With the “antitrust” affair crashing into online giants such as Google, Facebook, Apple, and Amazon, people have begun to fear sharing their “personal information”. So, they’ve taken refuge in the only place that gives them safe navigation.

Now you may be wondering: how does DuckDuckGo make money? It does this through advertising and affiliate marketing strategy (for example, Amazon is a partner). Even if it is possible to deactivate it, the browser provides advertisements displayed while the “users” carry out their searches on the internet.

If you also want to browse the internet safely, protect your data and block cookies from the websites you visit, you should install it. In the next paragraph, I will explain how to do it in a few simple steps both on your PC and on your mobile device using a simple app.

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How to install DuckDuckGo in 4 simple steps

Installing DuckDuckGo and using it as the default search engine on your PC and with an app on your smartphone is easy and takes a matter of minutes.

I start first with the installation procedure on your personal computer. Regardless of your operating system (Microsoft or Mac), you will need to follow 4 quick steps:

  1. Turn on your PC, connect to the internet, and open your browser (for example Google Chrome, Firefox, or Safari).
  2. Access your browser settings.
  3. Click on “search engines” and set DuckDuckGo in Italian (or in another language if you prefer) as default.
  4. Now you can finally open a new tab and type your query without your IP being tracked.

You can install it on your browser using the free “Privacy Essential” extension that you will find on the corresponding app store (Chrome Web Store or Mac App Store) or, if you don’t want to download it, you can simply access the official DuckDuckGo website and do your research by typing in the “search box”.

As I said earlier, this browser is also designed to have maximum confidentiality and safe navigation on smartphones  Just download the app from your operating system store (Play Store or similar for Android and App Store for iOS) and you’re done.

If you change your mind, you can always go back to your old browser by following the same procedure or by deleting the extension or, for mobile devices, the Android or iOS app.

Differences between DuckDuckGo and Google: privacy issue

DuckDuckGo and Google differ a lot from each other primarily on the issue of privacy. But I go in order. Before getting to the heart of their most striking differences, I would like to list a few points that unite them and which facilitate internet navigation and the user experience. Here are some:

  • They have a very similar design. The logo and the “search box” are in the center, and the SERP is structured in the same way (but without pages in the duck’s browser).
  • They both have related searches that help the user in his online navigation.
  • They provide the voice search service (DDG introduced them in 2011 as an extension of Google Chrome’s ” Voice Search”).
  • They follow the rule of “responsiveness”, therefore they are optimized for mobile devices and can be easily installed with an app.

However, as far as the final rendering is concerned, these two browsers are poles apart. The Google Chrome User Experience is more complete and personalized as it works on user queries, interpreting them based on their behavior and the data collected on them through cookies and the personal information they provide online.

duckduckgo and google

The results of DuckDuckGo on the other hand, are profiled differently: the browser in its SERP avoids the filtering bubbles or rather the “results” personalization system. Furthermore, it likes to have quality pages with few ads rewards rich and relevant content, and penalizes ad hoc content to be indexed by Google. Typing an identical keyword on the Google Chrome bar and on that of DDG, you will get different results.

The biggest difference, however, lies precisely in the question of privacy that moves the gears of the single “search engine”. While personal user information, tracking, cookies, and geolocation are the bread and butter of Google, they are off-limits to others.

Of these differences with Google, Gabriel Weinberg’s browser made viral advertising campaigns that marked its rise. Among the most famous is that of the site and the slogan “Google tracks you. We do not.”

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Below I will explain in detail some of the features that distinguish the Duck from Google:

  • The untracked search
  • Geolocation
  • Bang and Instant Answers.

Search not tracked

One of the most interesting features of DuckDuckGo is the fact that you can navigate online without being tracked. To provide an experience of total privacy on the Internet, it never collects user data or his IP and cookies. However, it saves the searches of its “users” anonymously, so that it cannot link a particular user’s query to his identity. This level of privacy is not even found in Google incognito searches, which do nothing but delete temporary data, leaving a trace of your IP address.

Many websites access internet user data through third-party cookies so that they can understand browsing habits and incorporate targeted ads. How many times have you visited a website and then seen ads about it? This does not happen with DuckDuckGo as it blocks access to personal data: as you are not identified you cannot be tracked.

For this reason, Gabriel Weinberg’s Open Source has a feature called “Privacy Grade” that is automatically activated when a website tries to track you, assigning a privacy grade to each of these. This feature gives you the ability to see which tracking cookies have tried to follow you.

The problem of social media would remain: every time a website incorporates the content of a post from a social network (Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin or Instagram, and Youtube) it will be able to access the data of who viewed it. The browser with the duck has thought of that too: it blocks social media posts integrated from other platforms. For now, it works with Facebook on both the PC extension and the Android and iOS mobile apps.


The fact that DuckDuckGo doesn’t store your IP address doesn’t completely preclude location-based search. This accesses the approximate position of users through GEO: IP searches and returns results that can be more or less precise. To return more precise “results”, the browser, via a pop-up, may ask you to temporarily access your position without saving it on its online servers.

Google’s geolocated searches are certainly more precise and personalized, also has a monopoly on maps thanks to Google Maps which reigns supreme over all its competitors. DDG, however, is looking to refine its geological results and has therefore partnered with Apple for map sharing.

Bang and Instant Answers

Two features that facilitate the user experience on DuckDuckGo and that we do not find in Google Chrome are Bang and Instant Answer. The first allows the user to redirect the internet search to a specific site simply by using the exclamation point, the indicative letter of the “search engine” of the website that interests us and the keyword to be searched for.

For example, if you want to search for a keyword on Wikipedia without entering the website but typing directly into the DuckDuckGo “search-box” (also on the app), just write:

“w third-party cookies”.

In this way, you will find yourself directly on the Wiki page dedicated to cookies. Or for a query addressed to Amazon, the string will be:

“to Android smartphones”.

The same thing can be done on social networks, for example on Facebook (using the “fb” command), on Twitter (“w”), and again on Youtube to search for a video and on Linkedin.

With Instant Answer, on the other hand, the search engine intends to provide faster answers through Open Source functions, ie which may undergo corrections and updates.

The differences with Google are considerable and therefore we have to ask ourselves: will we also need to optimize for DuckDuckGo? Will doing SEO for this browser be that different?

What changes with DuckDuckGo in SEO?

Search Engine Optimization on DuckDuckGo is not as alternative as the engine itself proclaims, or at least there is still no official guide to optimizing this browser. Both Open Source Duck and Google like authoritative, “responsive” and quality websites, therefore optimizing a web page will not be so different for the two search engines.

The rules of a good SEO strategy are the same but given that Gabriel Weinberg’s browser is not based on user habits and their position (it does not use cookies and personal information) but only on the quality of the pages it will return, priority must be given to certain aspects. For example, it will be useful to work on the different approaches that a user aware of his total anonymity can have with his queries.

If the “user” navigates on DuckDuckGo he knows he cannot be geolocated with precision so when he opens his app he will enter a place in his query that will specify the position of interest to him.

It might seem premature to optimize for a search engine that has numbers that are nowhere near comparable to those of Google or others, but given the agreements with Apple, the change, evolution, and leaps and bounds of Search Engine Optimization, it is better to know what Do.

In the next paragraph, I will give you 7 tips to optimize a web page for DuckDuckGo.

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7 steps to optimize DuckDuckGo

I have compiled for you 7 fundamental steps that you must always follow for an excellent SEO strategy that will make your website a guaranteed result on the DuckDuckGo SERP. You will:

  1. Create quality content. The quality of the results of the “Papers” is its flagship, after the privacy. The search engine will never offer its user a web page that it considers to be of poor quality. You will therefore have to write relevant, correct, and complete content to appear in the SERP.
  2. Make your website “responsive”. It’s good practice to optimize for mobile devices for any “search engine” and this one is no exception. All those who surf the internet do so most of their time through apps downloaded on their smartphones, so you need to keep up.
  3. Getting into the DuckDuckGo user head. Optimize your content and keywords by thinking about the behavior of “users” on the privacy browser, ie people who browse the internet knowing they are not being tracked and need to make more precise queries.
  4. Use georeferenced keywords. As I have just explained, the user of Gabriel Weinberg’s engine, not being able to have very precise geolocated results, will formulate a query by adding a geo-qualifier. The engine also works well with local search results.
  5. Focus on quality links. For example, you could create links to insights on sites like Wikipedia, which the browser has a lot of consideration. So build a natural and quality link building.
  6. Remember to refresh the Apple Maps tab.  If you don’t have it, request it on the Apple Business Register website and remember to update it.
  7. Optimize for Bing. The privacy engine collaborates, among the various sources, also with Bing so it can be useful to optimize for this browser as well, consequently benefiting your websites on DuckDuckGo.

Those just listed are the steps that you must never forget to follow to optimize this search engine. For the rest, my advice is to stay up to date because SEO, whether it’s done for Google or other “search engines”, is constantly evolving as is the whole world of Web marketing and Social media.

Conclusions and free advice

As you may have understood, DuckDuckGo is an alternative search engine that can be defined as the complete antithesis of Google. It has pros, privacy, and the absence of tracking cookies, and cons, such as less accurate search results than the internet giant. However, it all comes down to the type of experience you want to have on the web.

It’s not a bad idea to integrate the use of different search engines based on your current needs: Google Chrome when you need a more personalized online survey and DuckDuckGo when you want to surf the internet without being tracked or disturbed by cookies and ad advertisers. And you can also do this on your mobile through their downloadable apps on both Android and iOS.

The optimization strategy, however, remains the same by putting into practice all the suggestions I have given you. If you follow them you will be able to position your websites on the browser of the physicist Gabriel Weinberg and, with other precautions, also on many other search engines.

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