I have featured DuckDuckGo here in the Studio before, but this article at MakeUseOf has prompted me to bring it up again. That, and the fact that I always run substantive searches in DuckDuckGo as well as that other search engine everyone “flocks” to. Seems redundant, sure, but there are plenty of good reasons to do so if you want to make certain you are really getting the goods.
DuckDuckGo has the ubiquitous search box on its main page and a results page full of links. But it also has zero click pages which permit you to instantly access sources by the type of term you enter in the search box. Type “define” and a word and you will get a Merriam Webster definition. Or a name, and access Crunchbase. Or a song lyric and access LyricBase. And numerous other databases of information. Zero click allows you to get an “answer” rather than links – you will see results to queries that give answers from Wolfram Alpha, Wikipedia, and many other reputable sites, enabling you to collapse your search efforts and answer questions from the results page. If your term is more on the ambiguous side, DuckDuckGo will respond with variations on the theme, broken out by category, to help direct you to the right results. You can even enter emoticons into the search box and get back their meaning in the results.
Click the down arrow next to the search icon, and you can feel “ducky” instead of Google’s “I feel lucky” instant results. There are other prompts in the drop down as well.
Check out the Goodies page on DuckDuckGo for more search tools (there is also a Tech Goodies page, with more technologically specific data and tools). You will boxes for entering searches for Calculations, Conversions, Dates, Entertainment, Facts, Finance, Food, Geography, IDs, Language, Random, Time Sensitive, and Transformations. There are some location aware searches that will pull relevant information from your locale in responding to your search request. For example, type in “Is it Raining?” and get a local weather report discussing the chances of rain in your area.
DuckDuckGo has built-in syntax for searching that will assist in formulating queries. Related to this, the search engine features a tool called !Bang – there are hundreds of sites that the engine will search directly when you precede the search term with an exclamation point. Such as typing in !Amazon portable basketball hoops and go straight to Amazon’s search results. This covers most major sites and most general terms. For a complete list, check out the !Bang page here.
If you are missing Google’s auto-complete, a DuckDuckGo user has created a browser add-on that combines the search engine with Google’s auto-complete – check out DDG + Google Suggest.
Private browsing is enabled by default, which is a nice change of pace. Furthermore, and this is the reason I like it for searching, it does not attempt to tailor results to your interests – you will get results based solely on your search terms. DuckDuckGo’s results are a compilation of many sources, including Yahoo! Search BOSS, Wikipedia, Wolfram Alpha and its own Web crawler, the DuckDuckBot. As I previously reported, the engine automatically deletes results from sites believed to be “content mills”, ostensibly improving the quality of the results. While Google recently has made attempts to cull out similar sites, DDG has been doing it all along. You can also employ voice search on DuckDuckGo with the Chrome browser, with another user submitted add on.
There are mobile apps as well:
Check out the add-ons page for more tools.
People tend to default to Google because it’s there. But there are so many other great search options out there – you may be missing some key information. Check out the browser comparison charts here to get an overview of some of the other choices you could make when searching your terms.
Broaden your search and broaden your horizons. DuckDuckGo is a great place to start. Load it into your browser using the instructions at the Tools page and you’re good to go.