The other day I published a blog post which included an infographic identifying some of the main competitors to Google in the search engine wars. I think all too often people within the world of SEO can become obsessed with optimising for Google’s algorithm.

Now I don’t want to suggest that this is not important, but I do think that there is a danger in becoming too fixated with delivering content almost exclusively for one single search provider. There is an increasing choice of search engine today, and with many people increasingly disillusioned with Google, and with many people concerned about data privacy, other search engines are definitely seeing an increase in traffic.

For example, one of the search engines currently attracting a great deal of attention is DuckDuckGo. In fact so far in 2012 DuckDuckGo has seen a 217% increase in traffic, from 454,551 on January 1 to a recent 1,442,022 searches per day. Whilst compared to Google these are obviously small numbers, what is important is the growth.

Should You Be Optimising Your Site For DuckDuckGo?

So why is DuckDuckGo proving so popular now?

There are perhaps two main reasons;

  1. The fact that it is based very much on privacy. DuckDuckGo was founded by Gabriel Weinberg, who made it clear that it puts privacy first, not storing IP addresses, not logging any user information, and only using cookies when absolutely necessary.
  2. The fact that it calls information from a wide range of reputable sources, and appears to be in some cases actually better than Google at delivering results from those relevant and reputable sites.

For example, a search on Google for London Olympics generates 1.05 billion results, and on the first page there is one listing for the official London 2012 site, nine links to news stories, two Wikipedia pages and one general information site relating to Britain, with a panel on the right hand side containing recent activity from Google+, and a section in the middle with a few related Olympic logos.

The same search on DuckDuckGo does not reveal how many results there are, but the immediate impression I get is that the presentation of the results is much cleaner and easier to read. With Google Wikipedia pages are littered randomly in between news stories, and with images inserted randomly in between Wikipedia pages and more news stories. There doesn’t seem to be any easy way of identifying at a glance where this information has come from.

With DuckDuckGo there is a section at the top with key information taken from Wikipedia and the Yahoo Contributor Network. These might almost be considered rich text snippets, and at a glance may well provide information without any need for further exploration.

Next to each of the links in the search results is an icon which tells you exactly where the information has come from, enabling you to quickly spot listings from, say, the Telegraph, or from Wikipedia. There are other options as well, including related searches, the ability to search listings by date, or search specific sites, including Amazon, Wikipedia or Google images.

I think it is this clean presentation of information, combined with the privacy issues which have seen DuckDuckGo grow exponentially for several months.

So should we all be optimising for DuckDuckGo then?

Whilst at this stage it is too early to be able to offer any advice in terms of optimising for these rival search engines I do think it is the responsibility of every SEO professional and web marketing professional to monitor the development of these search engines, and to identify how their sites are performing.

Google certainly isn’t dead, but I think there is an inherent danger in tweaking the living heck out of a site specifically for one search provider, and ignoring the growth in traffic elsewhere.

Who knows, maybe one day Google will not be king of the search engines – after all, who would have thought years ago that sites such as AltaVista would all be forgotten, or that MySpace would be pushed out of the way by a small social networking project built for students?

Do you think it’s worth optimising for DuckDuckGo, or any other Google alternative? Let us know below 🙂