Tuesday, April 3, 2012

How High Can Duck Duck Go Go?

In my 1996 article "Finding Needles in Haystacks" I presented an overview of what were then the most popular search engines for finding what you were looking for on the Net. Lycos, Magellan, Excite, Webcrawler, Alta Vista, Inktomi and Yahoo were among the herd of contenders for search engine dominance. Google was still two years from conception!

The Internet was so new that in order to learn about it I pitched a column to Printwear magazine (I was then with a company in the screen print industry) in which I would explain to readers the various aspects of many things we take for granted today. For example, what is a browser? How does email work? What is the Internet? The starting point of this particular article was explaining to readers what a search engine is.

When Google came along in 1998, the search engine competition was fierce. I listed 25 different search engines in my column, each with its own interface, advantages and disadvantages. But Google found a niche and quickly exploited it, a clean, fast search engine that existed for this one purpose, to find information and images fast. In fact, Google was so successful that it has been unrivaled since becoming the king of search engines. Microsoft tried to dislodge it with Bing, and Yahoo gave it a go. Google was simply too strong, too efficient, too easy, too fast.

One of the keys in warfare, in this case marketing warfare, is to exploit a weakness, to find a breach in the wall. If you were going after Google, what would you see as their biggest weakness? Well, DuckDuckGo is the search engine company that seems to have found that Achilles heel. People have become increasingly aware of all the data that is floating around out there in cyberspace. Nearly everyone is aware of how Google utilizes our browsing decisions and other activities for the purpose of marketing. Google has ways of making money off our cyber-surfing experiences. A lot of people don't like it and have become increasingly concerned about protecting their privacy.

This is where DuckDuckGo shines. Like Google, they are a fast, efficient search engine with a funny name. Unlike Google, DuckDuckGo does not gather information about you. They simply help you find what you're looking for.

According to user stats, DuckDuckGo has been growing really fast. Once you give it a whirl you'll understand why. For a bit of back story on DuckDuckGo.com you can get up to speed over at
Search Engine Land.

By the way, don't forget that today is the 19th Annual Empty Bowl benefit fund raiser for the Second Harvest Northern Lakes Food Bank, 10 am–6:30 pm at the Depot, 506 West Michigan Street, Duluth. Northern Lakes Food Bank provides food more than 3.3 million meals annually to people in need throughout northeastern Minnesota and northwestern Wisconsin. $20 includes a handmade bowl and a simple,delicious soup meal. After 4 p.m., cost is $15.

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