Last week I came across an excellent review of the major search engines. Well, almost major. David Nield examined Google, Microsoft’s Bing (let’s assume Yahoo! is the same), and little DuckDuckGo.
Actually, there is no real winner because comparing search engine results has far too many variables and requirements. If you don’t want your searches to be tracked, don’t use Google, because no search engine tracks users more than the verb. You could use Bing, but it’s advertiser supported so there’s that tracking thing again.
As Nield found out in the Popular Science search comparison, results vary even more than features.
Speaking of Google Assistant, one of the advantages of Google is of course the way it ties into all the other Google apps and services: You can search for places on Google Maps, or bring up images in Google Photos, or query your Google Calendar, right from the Google homepage (as long as you’re signed in). Try Googling “my trips” for example to see bookings stored in your Gmail account.
And we’re back to the obscene amount of tracking again. On the surface, it looks as if Google is just helping you out with access to more relevant information. Remember, there is no such thing as a free lunch, so anything with a Google logo on it means the company is working diligently to track your online whereabouts and what you’re doing.
DuckDuckGo does not.
Google and Bing and Yahoo! have privacy statements which run a few pages in length. This is the one for DuckDuckGo.
Well, that’s nice. Is there anything else? I mean, advertisers need some information, right?
We don’t follow you around with ads. We don’t store your search history. We therefore have nothing to sell to advertisers that track you across the internet.
What’s not to like about that? It works that way even in Privacy Mode. The idea here is that search engines deserve alternatives, choices, options– and getting privacy from Google or Bing requires that browser users have to jump through a few hoops.
What about features?
All three of these search engines feature filters for images, videos, news, and products; Bing and Google include a Maps option as well. You can dig in further on all three sites as well—filtering images by size or by color, for example. Google and Bing let you save searches to come back to later, whereas DuckDuckGo doesn’t
The key to understanding the value of a search engine is to understand what you get for what you give away. Both StartPage and DuckDuckGo also have apps for iPhone and iPad, and extensions for Safari on the Mac.
How do their search results compare?
Maybe you’re happy enough to have this data collected and to see a few adverts related to what you’ve just been searching for in return for all the extra bells and whistles that Google offers, or maybe you’re much more interested in locking down how much other firms know about you as you travel the web.
In other words, life isn’t so bad without Google or Gmail or other free apps which you get to use in exchange for giving up some privacy while you’re online.
I wish Apple would buy DuckDuckGo.