mattparcher
The elephant in the room: DDG's search results are primarily sourced from Bing.

Unfortunately, as long as DDG depends on third-party crawlers, the suggestions to improve search results (& "the algorithm") seem far-fetched & naive.

(DDG does have its own crawler, DuckDuckBot, but apparently it's only used for very specific functionality.) https://help.duckduckgo.com/duckduckgo-help-pages/results/so...

> For DuckDuckGo, it may be tricky to resolve the issue permanently as long as it relies on Bing. https://torrentfreak.com/duckduckgo-restores-pirate-sites-an...

> According to various online forums, the best way to ensure your site gets indexed by DuckDuckGo is to submit it to Bing and Yandex. https://www.jessesquires.com/blog/2022/03/25/my-website-disa...

Beltalowda
> So, that’s another opportunity for DuckDuckGo, by ranking the results based on the content’s quality and relevance, as Google used to do before.

This makes it sound like that's easy. Yes, SEO twattery is an issue, and with the growth of the web it's also much more prevalent and the stakes are higher. Google from 2022 has a much harder problem to solve than Google from 2000. DDG can't "just" solve that just as Google can't "just" solve that.

dgs_sgd
It's simple. Whenever I query for "X", under the hood duck duck go queries "X reddit".

Jokes aside I think fixing the SEO hacking as the author mentions would go the longest way. It's really bad for stack overflow posts. When I Google a programming error the first few results are copy cat sites with the exact Stack Overflow questions and replies. I don't understand how SEO has evolved to favor that over the actual, more popular, stack overflow page.

thematrixturtle
DDG is a dead end. The good news, if you already tolerate DDG mostly because of the bangs, you'll love Kagi (https://kagi.com/), which supports them and has far superior ad-free search results.

Disclaimer: No connection except as a satisfied paying user ($12/mo).

atraac
My biggest issue with DDG search results was always lack of 'context'. If i type some keywords related to recent political statement or an event, even if a bit generic one, I'd like to see information about that, the most recent one, from my country, not some years old results from USA.

Like typing 'Tusk HiT' in Google, should yield me a ton of articles about what Donald Tusk(a famous polish politican) has recently said on HiT('History and Present days' - new, propaganda school subject and highly controversial book of mostly fiction and opinions that was made bu our 'government').

If I type it in Google I get newest and relevant results. Is it at the cost of my privacy(they know my rough location)? Sure. Do 99% of users care? Not really.

If i type it in DDG, I get Songfacts about 'Tusk' by Fleetwood Mac... It's not even comparable. For every day use, it's simply a no go for most of the world, which is not really technical enough to even realize they can/should use bangs. DDG will never get higher market share unless they realize, people rarely actually know what they search for, they won't know if they wanna see a Wikipedia article or something else. They just want relevant results, and DDG doesn't really deliver that.

jccalhoun
Recently the son of a radio personality died. I was curious to if the family had released a cause of death and I was stunned by how many spam/bot-written sites where out there churning content for a fairly obscure death. If there are that many for the son of someone on the radio, I can't imagine how many junk sites there are for actual celebrities. It is a huge problem and I'm not surprised even google can't stop all the crap from rising to the top.
jarbus
For me, DDG just needs to add blacklists/whitelists to search results that users can customize and I'll stay. I'm looking at switching away because SEO is so bad.
voisin
I use DDG as my default and rarely use !g. My only wish is that DDG had better “immediate results” like Google, where if I am looking for a conversion or a time in a different city, it just displayed the result rather than me having to go to one of the first results and type in the desired conversion there. I love how Google does that, but hate everything else Google does so it isn’t enough to cause me to switch back.
math-dev
Google is optimising for ad revenue.

Is it possible to take the google results and apply a domain score overlay on it to get rid of the spammy SEO sites? ie a community curated whitelist of sites that get preferential treatment

daniloedu
With everything happening in the tech world today, I think there are opportunities for players that have users as their priority in their culture and don't consider them as a product.
matrix_overload
We will never see this happen, but I wish there was a legally mandated separation of web indexing services from the result ranking services. So user-facing search engines would be forced to rely on independent back-end companies for indexing the pages and storing results (in a neutral and interchangeable way), and launching a competing search engine would not involve a multi-billion-dollar investment.
felipelalli
By the way, "Duck Duck Go" seems to be a terrible marketing name.
mynameishere
No need to say why [particular brand] of search engine can outperform Google. Really, any search engine could outperform Google by doing the following:

1. When I search for "X Y Z", ensure that the resulting documents contain X AND Y AND Z. The plus signs and quotes don't work. No exceptions to this rule, unless the user specifically requests "OR" searches, fuzzy searches, stemming, synonyms, etc. But no one will request those things because those things suck. (Recommending spelling corrections are okay, however. Just don't automatically perform them.)

2. Do not show me what "People also ask". Fire the product manager who is keeping this shit in the results.

3. Do not mix images and video and news with web results. I see the "images" etc links. I know how to click on things.

...

Has anybody had this experience with Google lately: Fighting and fighting to get it to NOT show 800 billion non-matching results, and then finally getting the actual result you want, only to have it be accompanied by the warning, "It looks like there aren't many good results for your search." Bad design award of the year, for that one.

impulser_
The thing about DuckDuckGo is that the search results are trash compared to Google, or even Bing.

For example if I search for something super simple like:

"what is another word for happy"

Google lists synonyms at the top of the page from Oxford.

If I do the same exact search on DDG

I just get the definition of happy and no synonyms.

Today, I would bet that the majority of searches aren't to find websites but to find answers to questions.

DDG sucks at answering questions.

isusmelj
Growth of searches of DDG seems to stagnate? Any idea why? https://duckduckgo.com/traffic
Night_Thastus
I like DuckDuckGo, but I'm getting to the point where I just automatically do !g similar to adding Reddit after a search, which defeats the entire point of DDG.

The problem is I often search weird esoteric things that just don't appear well in DDG. Things about a game from 20 years ago. Specific, niche mods for said games. Indie music artists. Bits and pieces from old television or movies. Lesser known product brands. Almost anything that isn't very well named.

For those things, DDG's first couple (or several) results are often quite poor as they reference something that almost sounds related and is very popular/common, but actually has nothing to do with what I needed.

I like privacy and take easy steps to get it where I can, but I may end up ditching DDG.

siquick
Brave Search has been a nice alternative over the last few months. Still has the !g option if you need but been working well for standard queries.

https://search.brave.com/

elihu
I think any search engine with smallish market share has an interesting advantage that few people are going to do search engine optimization targeting minor search engines. So, if one uses a different ranking algorithm, even if it isn't technically better in any sense, it's still an advantage in that it's using signals that people aren't deliberately trying to subvert.
bborud
So "just make it less vulnerable to SEO". My goodness. That Google/Bing/whatever didn't think of this.
eitland
For me DDG was as useless as Google: they both ignore my keywords whenever they feel like it.

I've sponsored search.marginalia.nu a few months (it is awesome for what it is and sometimes gave me better results than Google/Bing/DDG) and now I am a paid Kagi customer.

Yes, they too sometimes ignore quoted keywords, but they treat it like a bug when I report it.

zasdffaa
I use DDG 100% of the time and maybe 5%-10% after I have to add !g to get better results.

But maybe 1%-2% of the time I find DDG's results seem utterly unrelated to what I was looking for, like it randomly rolled a dice. I do mean completely unrelated. It's not a big deal but it certainly is a puzzle.

brhsagain
Before you try to differentiate yourself with new/niche features, you should make sure you're bringing table stakes. The biggest thing stopping me from using DDG is, sorry, the shittiness of the search results. Often I try 3-4 different queries on DDG before giving up and trying my original query on Google and getting the answer in the first result.

If there were a "Google with privacy" I'd switch instantly. But right now DDG is "Google with privacy, plus every other search fails".

lumb63
Who cares about “how DuckDuckGo can outperform Google”? For some users, it does. Their value proposition is privacy, which for me was appealing enough to move from Google. When I found out they were actively censoring search queries, it was enough for me to move elsewhere. Every solution does not need to be THE solution for all users. There is nothing wrong with being a niche platform focused on catering to a specific demographic. In fact, it probably allows the platform to better cater to that exact demographic.
monetus
Their mobile browser makes search faster. It has a nice autofill email feature to proxy your own with a @duck.com domain, stripping the trackers from them. The !bang feature has been useful for me socially, like in conversations, making search quick enough to be a part of it.

Now if they can pursue some tactful strategies like the article hopes for, they can eject the Microsoft ads that they have been grinding their teeth over.

nonrandomstring
They need to put more resources into reliably handling the hidden service [1]. Since NY Times, BBC and even Facebook rolled out hidden services for privacy I see it as a sign of a mature organisation that is genuinely committed to values. DDG walks the walk, but the service is sometimes a bit slow.

[1] duckduckgogg42xjoc72x3sjasowoarfbgcmvfimaftt6twagswzczad.onion/

partomniscient
>"Total Internet Users Worldwide" *numbers are estimates.

According to the world map infograph in the article there are 4.5 million more people using the internet in Australia than there are people in Australia...?

So I'd say the estimates aren't great, or they're likely estimating number of internet connections rather than the people using them.

seanw444
Using one single search engine really holds you back, in terms of results, and privacy. Use a metasearch engine. I recommend Searx/SearxNG. It's open source, so you can run your own instance if don't trust public ones.

https://searx.be/ for example.

erfgh
I don't really like DDG's results but I keep using them just because I can scroll through results with the J key.
innocentoldguy
If DuckDuckGo really wants to beat Google, they could start by fixing the way the minus sign works in their searches. For example, if I type "cats -dogs" I don't want the first five result I get back to be all about dogs. This is the single biggest reason I ditched DuckDuckGo for Brave Search.
vzaliva
I never used DuckDuckGo because they used Yandex as one of their backends. I just did not want my queries, even anonymised, sent to Russia. They "paused" this practice only in 2022. Too little, too late.
fedeb95
DDG is so much better for technical searches related to programming
psnehanshu
I don't know about others, but Google provides me relevant and useful results each and every time. I have no plans to switch to DDG or Bing or anything else anytime soon.
cung
DDG doesn’t track you, but does it really matter if all the results have tracking cookies?

I don’t see a difference in the level of ad targeting I’m getting, even though I changed from Google to DDG.

iopq
The killer feature would be to rate this search result. If I could see other users hate the site, I won't spend time looking at it. Thumbs up and down would work just fine.
denton-scratch
> Maybe including a !Bang to search into TikTok could be a killer feature.

Seriously? I have no use for results that point into a walled garden where I don't subscribe.

jeffbee
Do you have to be completely ignorant of how DDG works to write this article? They don't index or rank anything. Microsoft is doing that.
cynusx
In order to provide the best ranking DDG would need to track beyond their results page and see if the persons' question is actually answered.

For a privacy-focussed search engine that's a very hard goal to achieve without betraying their core value prop.

Google can do that through

- Google analytics

- Chrome

- Youtube embeds

- Google DNS cache

- Android DNS

- Tracking repeat searches

- Tracking similar searches

- Google fonts

Every other player is just so far behind it's unlikely we'll see anybody beat google in their core desktop and mobile search but there are certainly niches that can be attacked.

The reality is that satisfying all privacy concerns and building a great search engine are not compatible.

richardsocher
We've been working on many of these suggestions at you.com

Giving users control over their search results is a big part of fighting SEO spam.

tenpies
The absolute flattening of the "daily searches" chart is interesting and I'm curious how it has continued.

I know a handful of us immediately switched out of DDG when they decided they were going to artificially down-rank Russian web sites from results[1], but I imagine the overlap between DDG users and people who care about this is quite small.

[1] https://slate.com/technology/2022/03/duckduckgo-russian-disi...

sharno
A couple of times I tried Yandex and found out that it gives sometimes better results than google
oceanplexian
They lost me when they decided to filter out disinformation from search results. I’m good on needing a search engine to “protect” me from wrong ideas.

Short of them completely reversing course and throwing out an apology, I’ve moved on from DDG. Companies that curate content for political reasons are a dime a dozen and we don’t need another one.

intel_brain
DDG search are heavily censored anyway.
sr.ht