Over the last few weeks, multiple clients have asked me about DuckDuckGo and if their websites are optimized for this search engine.
It was a great question, because DuckDuckGo has been quietly attracting users and generating more traffic to websites. I set out on my own research and discovery to uncover what it takes to perform well in DuckDuckGo results.
Now, before you continue reading, understand that there is no magic bullet or easy answer.
Instead, most of what you need to focus on in terms of DuckDuckGo search engine optimization (SEO) is not shocking, newsworthy, or tricky. We’ll get to that in a bit.
First, here’s a little background on DuckDuckGo.
Why We Should Care About DuckDuckGo
Data privacy concerns are on the rise. Facebook has received a lot of heat recently, causing many individuals to start questioning their own privacy.
I have heard people who never seemed to take notice before, now showing apprehension regarding how their information is collected and shared.
This area is one that DuckDuckGo really shines. In fact, the way DuckDuck Go handles data is what set this search engine apart from the beginning.
According to DuckDuckGo, it never stores your personal information or search history. It doesn’t follow you with ads or track you across the Internet.
DuckDuckGo’s mantra is simple, “no tracking, no ad targeting, just searching.” It calls out Google on its site by pointing how much Google is tracking you and using your data for ads.
According to DuckDuckGo, there were 6 billion searches conducted on its site in 2017, which reflected an approximate 50 percent increase from 2016. The daily average number of searches in 2017 was around 19 million.
Below is a chart published on DuckDuckGo.com that illustrates the growth:
The company now has a partnership with Samsung and Brave, which will likely drive more searches over this year.
While these are all impressive numbers, it’s important to put it into perspective.
DuckDuckGo’s market share pales in comparison to the other major players: Google, Yahoo, and Bing. Per Netmarketshare.com, DuckDuckGo’s global search market share is only around .22 percent (below Ask.com, but above AOL).
After looking at these statistics, it’s easy to say, “forget it,” the market share is too low to worry about.
You need to watch your own analytics trends, though.
When reviewing various websites, I discovered that some, not all, are getting traffic at a growing rate from DuckDuckGo. Although these numbers are still small, it’s something to watch.
Below is a comparison of analytics over the last 6 months showing an upward trend of visitors from DuckDuckGo. The total percentage of traffic from DuckDuckGo only comprised about .12 percent over the last 6 months, but this number more than doubled from the previous period.
What We Should Know About DuckDuckGo
DuckDuckGo states that it gets its results from more than 400 sources, ranging from crowdsourced websites to its own crawler, DuckDuckBot. It also pulls from other search engines, including, Bing, Yahoo, and Yandex.
In a community post that is now quite dated, DuckDuckGo stated that it uses “the ranking of the underlying APIs, and then re-rank[s], omit[s], merge[s], etc. on top of that.”
Similar to Google’s ability to provide an answer in search results, DuckDuckGo has its own instant answer. DuckDuckGo will, depending on the query, provide an answer directly in the SERP:
Because DuckDuckGo focuses on privacy, it does not know exactly where the searcher is located. However, it can approximate the location information through a GEO::IP lookup. I tested this with a query for, “restaurants near me,” and it was pretty close:
Now that you understand DuckDuckGo better, how can you use this information?
How to Approach SEO for DuckDuckGo
There is little information about optimizing for DuckDuckGo outside of the traditional SEO methods.
Therefore, let’s break it down in terms of what we know about DuckDuckGo and how we can apply the information.
1. Attract Quality Links
Don’t roll your eyes at this tip. It is directly from DuckDuckGo:
Search Engine Journal has a great resource for link building that you can reference for this particular DuckDuckGo tip: Illustrated Guide to Link Building.
Also, SEMrush, SpyFu, Ahrefs, and Majestic are all tools that can help you identify and vet link opportunities. The focus needs to be on quality links, but shouldn’t that always be the case?
2. Know What the Searcher Might Query
Given the privacy approach of DuckDuckGo, searchers will likely adjust how they conduct queries.
For example, if I know that DuckDuckGo cannot pinpoint my exact location, but I want a local result, I might add a geo-qualifier to my query.
You will need to get into some pretty deep keyword research to truly understand your visitors coming from DuckDuckGo.
Tools, such as Seed Keywords, Answer The Public, and Demographics Pro, can all give you some good insight into how people are searching for your products or services.
For more tips, check out my article: A Deep Keyword Research Process That Will Attract More Customers.
3. Optimize for Bing & Yahoo
Wait, weren’t we talking about DuckDuckGo?
We know that this search engine is pulling from Bing and Yahoo, so let’s ensure we are following best practices for these search engines too, which is something that you should be doing anyway considering they have a decent share of the search market.
For example, review your XML sitemaps. Make sure they are accurate and error-free and submit them to Bing Webmaster Tools (credit to Micah Albert on this tip).
In addition, use Bing Webmaster Tools to check the health of your website, monitor crawl and indexation performance, and identify optimization improvements.
Bing’s SEO Analyzer can also come in handy at this point.
For additional information on Bing SEO, read 5 Ways SEO for Bing is Different from Google SEO.
Keep DuckDuckGo on Your Radar
Again, there is no magic bullet or secret sauce when it comes to optimizing for DuckDuckGo.
Instead, you have to focus on attracting quality links, user-focused keyword research, and optimizing for the search engines that DuckDuckGo is using.
Basically, it’s a matter of getting all of your SEO ducks in a row, row (sorry…I have been waiting to throw in this bad pun).
More SEO Resources: