When it comes to search, Google dominates its competitors. In fact, its name is synonymous with search.
Nobody “searches” online. We “google”.
Last month, Americans conducted 18 billion online searches, and Google handled more than 65% of them. Yahoo’s search engine clocks in at 15.9% of all searches, while 14.1% were handled by Microsoft’s Bing.
Do the math. These three giants handle 95% of all U.S. search requests.
Now imagine you want to start a search engine. How would you do it?
Focus on the hole in the market. And make that your story.
Google does a lot of things right. But they don’t do everything right, for everybody. So if you want to compete with Google, you find something they don’t do well and figure out a way to do it better.
That’s what DuckDuckGo does.
Never heard of DDG?
DDG founder, Gabriel Weinberg, created a search engine that blocks content mills and sites jammed with advertising (improving the quality of results). DuckDuckGo doesn’t track search results and share them with advertisers. It doesn’t store search history or IP addresses.
This past January, DuckDuckGo got a lot of attention for a billboard in San Francisco that read: Google tracks you. We don’t.
Hit them where they are weak. Find the hole.
It’s a great brand story.
Easy to tell. Easy to understand.
But that’s not all.
DuckDuckGo does other things that customers like. All search results are displayed on a single page… just keep on scrolling. The name, logo, and site design are playful and clean. You can customize the color, fonts, alignment and other elements of DDG. And the search results are pretty darn good.
The DDG experience feels a lot like what Google was ten years ago.
DDG also does a nice job with disambiguation (they have something called semantic topic detection that helps narrow your search). Try searching for “Lincoln” and you get a box at the top of the page with several choices. Are you looking for Abraham Lincoln? Lincoln Automobiles? Lincoln, Nebraska? Novels, bands, films, or albums called Lincoln? It’s a nice feature that makes results more accurate.
Compared to Google, DuckDuckGo is tiny. Barely worth noticing.
And they’ve got a good brand story.
Small companies disintermediate bigger competitors all the time. Google did it to Altavista, Excite, and Lycos (remember them?).
And somebody will do it to Google.
Will it be DuckDuckGo?