If you’re concerned about your online privacy, start with the search engine you use – Google. Google has had a market share of over 90% for years so it’s more than likely that you’re turning to Google for all of your searches.
But if you want to be private, Google isn’t your friend. If you’re signed into your Google account, then all your search history is tracked and collected by default, for Google to use as it continues to amass data to add to your advertising profile. Even if you’re not signed in, you’re still tracked by (at least) your IP address and location.
Google uses that information to serve up the ad that is most likely to get clicked on based on what you search and your advertising profile. If you click on the ad, that information is collected for future advertising purposes.
Basically, Google’s search engine is the center of its tracking and advertising machine and it’s built it so it can follow you across devices and browsers.
If you’d like to limit this tracking and search without your privacy being invaded, we recommend DuckDuckGo.
DuckDuckGo Private Search
DuckDuckGo is a privacy company that provides a search engine, a privacy app, and browser extensions to help secure users’ privacy. While DuckDuckGo has several products, we will only focus on the search engine in this article.
How DuckDuckGo maintains your privacy
DuckDuckGo acts differently than traditional search engines when considering privacy. Here are some details.
Search data is not shared
When you click on a site through the search engine, they don’t send the search terms to that site, as is usually the case with other search engines.
Any clicked link will automatically try to connect to any HTTPS (a safer and more encrypted option) versions of the clicked site.
Post Request option available
Users can turn on a POST request setting which prevents your browsers from showing your search and sending it to another site. This, however, does affect some functionality, which we’ll get into later.
No data collection or storage
DuckDuckGo doesn’t collect any personal information, store your search history, or track your searches. They also don’t store information a browser sends to websites, such as User agents and IP Address, which is identifiable information. DuckDuckGo, by default, doesn’t use any cookies to track users as they search and browse the internet.
‘Bangs’ allow for more precise searching
DuckDuckGo also has a novel feature only available on its search engine. It allows you to search sites directly using ‘bangs’, a string of characters starting with ‘!’ that designate the site you want to search.
For example, if you wanted to search for tennis rackets directly on Amazon.com, you could search ‘!a tennis racket’ and it will take you to an Amazon page with their search results for the term ‘tennis racket.’
Life with DuckDuckGo
On the surface, DuckDuckGo works just like any search engine. You type in your search terms, see results, and click on links. The search engine has a different algorithm so you’ll see different results than if you were using Google.
Google utilizes a lot of personalization to serve up search results (and advertisements). This includes your search history, your current location, your browsing history, your Google profile (if it has access to it), your interaction with previous ads, and more.
Because DuckDuckGo doesn’t collect, store, or know any of that information by default, its search results are strictly based on the terms you’re using to search. Depending on what you’re searching and what your preferences are, you may find this to be a detrimental search experience.
DuckDuckGo displays ads like Google but the ads, like your search results, are solely dependent on the search terms and aren’t affected by any personal data. DuckDuckGo also earns commissions through affiliate partnerships so if you click on an organic search result and make a purchase from an affiliate partner, DuckDuckGo will earn a commission.
However, DuckDuckGo maintains that any tracking that validates this purchase isn’t done in any identifiable way.
The Bangs feature is extremely useful and if you’re more of an advanced search engine user, you may find Bangs as enough reason to use DuckDuckGo. The search engine currently has over 13,500 bangs intact and they’re open to suggestions.
We believe and trust in DuckDuckGo’s mission to protect internet privacy and think their browser is worth using if you want to live a more private life.