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DuckDuckGo delivers 49% more visits, as organic search traffic from Google falls further

“DuckDuckGo has become one of the feistiest adversaries of Google,” The New York Times reported a few days ago. Merkle’s latest digital marketing report shows exactly why the privacy-focused search engine, in spite of having a small share of the search engine market, is making waves.

While organic search visits fell 6% overall, with traffic from Google down 8% from the same time period in 2018, DuckDuckGo organic search visits were up 49% Y/Y across all devices as the search engine saw its share of total US organic search rise. Yahoo and Bing saw declines of 11% and 26%, respectively.

DuckDuckGo was the only major US search engine to post positive growth in Q2 2019, and although phone organic search produced its weakest rate of growth since mid-2016 overall, DuckDuckGo saw visits grow 64% on mobile devices.

According to the report, Google and DuckDuckGo lead in the share of organic search from mobile. Phones and tablets produced 63% of organic search visits to brand sites from Google in Q2 2019, just ahead of the 62% of visits that mobile devices produced for DuckDuckGo. 

In Q4 2017, mobile’s share of DuckDuckGo was over 10 points lower than its share of Google, but DuckDuckGo saw big gains in mobile share over the first half of 2018. Bing still trails the other major search engines by a wide margin, with just 23% of its organic search visits coming from mobile in Q2 2019.

“DuckDuckGo runs search ads provided mainly by Microsoft Advertising, so the more traffic volume they produce, the more ad revenue they can generate,” said Mark Ballard, Vice President of Research at Merkle.

From a pure UX perspective, most users probably don’t find the experience on DuckDuckGo to be that different from Google. DuckDuckGo is going to have fewer ads than Google for most searches, but they are there, along with other familiar aspects of the search results page. DuckDuckGo positioning itself as the more privacy-friendly search engine has likely been the bigger driver of its recent growth.

DuckDuckGo’s share of the search engine market has tripled over the past two years and is now handling around 40 million searches a day, the Times reported. It has also made a profit in each of the last five years. Quite a feat for a search engine that emphasizes protecting searchers’ privacy, and avoiding the filter bubble of personalized search results.

“All of these companies were saying you can’t make money without tracking your users,” said Gabriel Weinberg, the founder and CEO of DuckDuckGo. “By us existing and getting bigger and being profitable, we serve as the existence proof that it is possible.”

As Google directs more and more search clicks back to Alphabet-owned properties, and organic visits to publishers from all major search engines continue to fall, maybe it’s time to pay more attention to the search engine that “has become one of the feistiest adversaries of Google.”

For more details, download Merkle’s digital marketing report here.

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